It is one of Britain’s oldest and most remote outposts, isolated in the South Atlantic and more than 1,200 miles from the nearest major landmass. Welcome to St. Helena Island. For decades the only way to reach this fascinating island was to take the five-night journey aboard the RMS St Helena ship, but with the announcement of a new airport scheduled to open in 2016, there will be new ways to reach this fascinating island. This island evokes a sense of wanderlust with its wind eroded desert to emerald hillsides to lush vegetation. The surrounding coastline features 1000 feet high cliffs that have been pounded and carved out by the crashing Atlantic waves. Discover this beautiful island, what to see, what to do and how to experience this magical place.
6. Where to Stay
There are currently three hotels on the island, a number of guest houses and a handful of bed and breakfasts. During the summer months (December through March) the island is at its peak tourist time and booking accommodations in advance is a must. The Consulate Hotel is located in Jamestown and features comfortable and relaxing accommodations in an 18th-century building.
The Farm Lodge Country House Hotel, on the other hand, is spread over 10 acres with lush tropical gardens affording peace and tranquility to its guests. Bed and Breakfasts include the Sleepy Hollow B&B located just outside of Jamestown and Willowdene, an establishment based upon a coffee plantation. Visitors are welcomed to all hotels, guesthouses, and others with open arms on this island.
5. Where to Eat
There are a surprising number of restaurants and pubs to be found on this small island and across the board, the atmosphere is generally informal and children are welcome. Whether you are looking for a coffee shop, take-out or a more sit down formal restaurant, you can find it here. If you are looking for great local fare head to Tasty Bites, a relatively new joint that opened in 2014. Patrons can dine on local produce including meat, fish and locally grown veggies along with snagging some of the best sunset views on the island.
If you are looking to score some incredible coffee head to the St Helena Coffee Shop where owners have been growing coffee on the island for 20 years. Offering light lunches, breakfast and afternoon tea, this is the place to be to snag a great cup of joe. The best part about all the places to eat here is that you will be fully surrounded by some pretty epic scenery.
4. Explore Jamestown
Jamestown, the island’s capital can keep you occupied for a few days with all that it offers. To start your day, make sure to head to the Museum of Saint Helena where you can learn all about the islands history and natural history. Located in a 19th-century warehouse, the hours are limited so make sure you check before going. The information is up to date and the installations are stunning. If you are feeling adventurous head over to Jacob’s Ladder, a somewhat misnamed staircase that is said to have 699 stairs.
The ladder is a heck of a climb, the stairs are high and although there are railings, there are no landings for the entire length. You may want to snag a local kid and ask them to teach you how to slide down the railing in order to reach the bottom faster. Other attractions in Jamestown include the Heart-Shaped Waterfall, the post office in which you can buy the most famous exports-postage stamps, the Castle and its gardens and the oldest Anglican Church in the southern hemisphere.
It wouldn’t be a trip to St. Helena Island without golfing on one of the most remote golf courses in the world. The course is unlike others in many ways, starting with the ground conditions. Here you will find fairways that are both weedy and patchy, as well as made up of loose volcanic earth, and double as a grazing ground for goats. The bunkers are compacted sand, a public road crosses four of the fairways and you tee off on the ninth hole in the shadow of Napoleon’s final living quarters.
It may come as a shock but there are no actual sandy beaches in which to sunbathe or swim at on this island. In fact, the best swimming is in the south at Lot’s Wife’s Ponds, large natural tide-pools that although can be difficult to get to, are entirely worth the trek. Start off at Sandy Bay, which isn’t actually Sandy and follow the hiking paths. There is also a public pool located in Jamestown that can be used.
1. Visit the Country
Leaving Jamestown behind and discovering the country of St. Helena is a must when you are on the island as a ton of awesome things to see and do await visitors. Start off at the St. Helena Distillery which is located in the Alarm Forest. It is here where you will discover White Lion Rum, Midnight Mist coffee liqueur and the islands Juniper flavored gin. Head over to the plantation house where the island’s governor resides to take in the charming gardens, the oldest tortoise in the world and a tour of the house.
Just make sure you book your tour in advance if you want to go into the house. Outdoor lovers will want to check out Diana’s Peak National Park where many of the islands endemic plant species live. Diana’s Peak rises 823 meters above sea level and is actually the highest point on the island, and on a clear day boasts the best views.