St Helena is a British Overseas Territory, measuring 47 square miles and lies midway between the South American and African continents in the South Atlantic Ocean. Discovered in 1502, the nearest land mass is the west coast of Africa over 1,200 miles away, making the Island one of the remotest inhabited places in the world. Ascension Island (to the north) and Tristan da Cunha (further south) are dependencies of St Helena.
With a total population of around 4,500, the island is steeped in history and is culturally charming
and unique with incredibly beautiful scenery and rich biodiversity. Islanders
are commonly referred to as ’Saint’s and are well-known for being warm and
friendly to visitors
You’ll be sure to have a good time, here are some of the
things you can experience:
If you are adventurous or less adventurous even, there are many walks to attempt with different degrees of difficulty. These include gentle historical walks around Jamestown, post box walks that take in the scenic beauty of the Island, a climb up Jacob’s Ladder with its 699 steps along the vertical face of a 300ft cliff, coastal and inland walks to extraordinary fortifications and remnants of the wartime past, and nature trails that absorb the unique flora and fauna including St Helena’s many endemics.
Plantation House and Jonathan the Tortoise
Plantation House was built in 1792 and is the residence of the Island’s Governor. Set in peaceful surroundings, it is also home to the world’s oldest reptile, Jonathan the Tortoise.
For such a small environment, St Helena is very rich in land and ocean-based plant and wildlife. With a natural eco-system, adding to the beauty of the Island are the endemic plants which are being carefully nurtured and restored across the Island. There are a number of species of birds and among them is the endemic Wirebird (or St Helena Plover). The Island is also known to have well over 400 different species of invertebrates and an abundance of marine life.
The ocean is on our doorstep so there is a varied and abundance of marine life and historical ship wrecks to be easily explored. Snorkelling and scuba diving in clear warm waters makes this all possible. Perhaps the most amazing experience is to swim with Whale Sharks and Devil Rays or a boat trip to spot huge pods of Dolphin, the odd Humpback whale and seabird colonies along the coastline.
Deep water, coastal and rock fishing offer a relaxing and equally challenging experience. Yachting and leisure activities in and around James Bay are also available.
St Helena’s night sky is second to none. There is virtually no light pollution and nearly every constellation can be seen at some point throughout the year. Edmund Halley’s observatory is a key viewing point.
The Island is famous for the exile of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815. There are several sites which he occupied during his time here that are well worth a visit and these include the Briars Pavilion which overlooks the Heartshaped Waterfall, Longwood House where he spent his final years and his tomb in Sane Valley where he was first laid to rest following his death in 1821.
A holiday on St Helena is not complete without sampling the local cuisine. Be sure to try the popular Fishcakes and other delicious fish meals, St Helena pilau and curries and the locally reared pork and beef. Tomato paste sandwiches are also a must!