As Guernsey’s largest parish, Castel is home to many of the island’s most scenic destinations. Occupying the heart of Guernsey’s west coast, Castel boasts many of the island’s best beaches with charming bays, quaint coves and Guernsey’s most popular surfing spot. The Castel coastline also has a rich military history and is where you will find an abundance of impressive forts, ancient batteries and many German fortifications from the island’s Nazi occupation during World War II. A parish with everything to offer, Castel also features multiple nature reserves, a host of charming villages and one of the island’s two championship golf courses. An idyllic parish with a laid-back character, Castel is one of Guernsey’s most impressive destinations.
Castel Historic sites and Attractions
With a long stretch of breathtaking coastline and the Channel Islands strong military history, it is no surprise that the parish of Castel features a wealth of coastal defence. From ancient forts to old batteries, Castel is the best location in Guernsey to explore this side of the island’s history. The most notable is Tower 12, at home overlooking the iconic Vazon Bay and an integral part of the island’s former defence system. The Napoleonic loophole tower dates back to the late 18th century and was one of 15 to line the island, although only 12 remain to this day. Whilst identical towers can be found in other corners of Guernsey, Tower 12 is one of the most accessible and occupies an impressive prime location.
At one moment in history, Guernsey had more than 60 batteries in operation to protect the coastline, a number of which have now been restored as historic sites. Also dating back to the Napoleonic era, the coast of Castel is also lined with ancient batteries including Hogue Batteries, Burton Battery and Grandes Rocque Battery. Known as Grandes Rocque Fort, this battery was extensively modified by the Germans during the war. Grandes Rocque is one of Guernsey’s best locations of war history with multiple levels to explore, hidden trenches and impressive gun placements.
On the headland of Vazon Bay sits Fort Hommet, a Victorian fortification later used and enhanced during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands in the Second World War. The Germans constructed four gun casemates at Fort Hommet with the bunker open to the public on Saturday afternoons only throughout the summer months. Fort Hommet Casemate Bunker is one of the island’s best examples of Guernsey’s war history.
Guernsey also boasts an impressive number of megalithic sites and in Castel, you will find a notable one at the entrance to the parish church, St Marie du Catel. The two-metre tall upright stone welcomes worshippers to the church and is said to be one of the world’s finest examples of early menhirs.
In addition, Castel features one of the island’s most visited museums, the National Trust for Guernsey Folk and Costume Museum. A must-visit for those interested in social and economic history, the Folk and Costume Museum is one of the island’s flagship visitor attractions. Step back in time and explore island life over the last 250 years with fascinating exhibitions on daily life, work and school as well as special costumery exhibitions.
Sausmarez Park, Castel, Guernsey
The largest public park in Guernsey includes a large adventure playground for toddlers to teens, formal gardens including a rose garden, a Japanese Fishing Hut, pond and Japanese walk and tea rooms and bouncy castle. There is a Sausmarez Nature Trail from Cobo Bay to Sausmarez Park.
Fort Hommet Gun Casement, Castel, Guernsey
A restored German gun site that was operation during 1943-1945.
Port Soif Nature Trail, Castel, Guernsey
Port Soif Nature Trail, Castel, Guernsey
Parish Church, Castel, Guernsey
Guernsey Telephone Museum
Make a call down memory lane in this quirky museum that includes a hands-on exhibition of telephone communications in Guernsey since 1898.
National Trust Folk Museum
Castel Other Points of Interest
Occupying the coastline of Castel and stretching for 2 miles, one of the parish’s biggest attractions is the award-winning Blue Flag beach of Vazon Bay. Considered one of the island’s most breathtaking beaches, Vazon Bay is also one of the most famous and popular beaches in the Channel Islands. The scenic bay offers unspoilt scenery for as far as the eye can see with glistening turquoise waters, golden sands and a rugged shoreline. Vazon Bay is also the island’s leading water sports destination, a hotspot for surfers and other extreme sport enthusiasts. The bay boasts one of the world’s best tidal ranges making it a popular destination for those looking to ride the waves.
Heading inland, Castel is where you will find Guernsey’s largest public park, Saumarez Park. Inspired by Japanese gardens, Saumarez Park features a rose garden, an exquisite nature trail and an oriental pond. For little ones, children of all ages will delight in the playground with equipment suitable for tots to teenagers. When it comes to dining, Saumarez Park is home to an idyllic tearoom whilst picnic benches are abundant.
Situated in Saumarez Park in beautifully restored outbuildings and open daily from March to October, it is ran by the National Trust of Guernsey. Contains a collection of domestic Victoriana, old farming equipment, cider barn etc, all of which combine to give you a feeling of having stepped back in time. Also has a shop, tea room and children’s playground.
Castel Shopping, Dining and Nightlife
As a busy hub of outdoor activity, the parish of Castel is very relaxed when it comes to shopping, dining and nightlife. Here you will find friendly family-run businesses with charming boutique stores and delicious local restaurants. The beachside cafes and restaurants in Castel are particularly noteworthy specialising in seafood and European cuisine. Meanwhile, nightlife in Castel is very limited but local pubs often offer live music and entertainment on select nights throughout the week.
Castel Sports and Events
The parish of Castel is very outdoor-based with a large selection of sports and activities on offer. In addition to surfing at Vazon Bay, bodyboarding, kitesurfing and other water sports are also highly popular. With a long stretch of coastline, hiking and cycling is a favourite activity in the parish with spectacular points of interest along the way.
To complete the outdoor highlights on offer throughout Castel, the parish is home to one of the island’s two championship golf courses, La Grande Mare Golf Club. Spanning over 100 acres of parkland and overlooking Guernsey’s scenic west coast, La Grande Mare Golf Club features an 18 hole course and welcomes players of all abilities.
In events, Castel hosts one of the biggest in Guernsey with the annual North Show and Battle of the Flowers taking over the parish. This event has been the biggest on Guernsey’s events calendar for decades, attracting thousands of visitors to Saumarez Park. The North Show is an agricultural and horticultural event with the addition of workshops, fairground attractions and live entertainment. On the second day of the event, the Battle of the Flowers is hosted, the Channel Islands annual carnival with a parade of vibrant, floral floats accompanied by dancers and street entertainers. If your plans align, this event is not to be missed.
For those navigating Guernsey by car, Castel is very accessible with parking relatively easy to find. Top attractions such as Saumarez Park and Vazon Bay have free parking providing cheap and easy access to the parish’s leading spots.
Castel is also well serviced by Guernsey’s public transportation system. All routes through Castel connect to St Peter Port bus terminus with three routes running to Vazon Bay (42,60 and 91) whilst three also stop at Saumarez Park (41, 42 and P2). Guernsey’s bus service run by CT Plus offers cheap, convenient and reliable transportation across the island with a variety of fares available for your Guernsey exploration.