St Helena

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Overview

A volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, St Helena is one of the most remote islands in the world and the second-oldest British Overseas Territory after Bermuda. Uninhabited until the Portuguese landed there in 1502, it was an important stop over for centuries for ships sailing from South Africa and Asia to Europe, while its most famous resident was Napoleon Bonaparte who was exiled there by the British in 1815.

Today, this solitary speck of land attracts intrepid travellers to experience its historical connections, natural beauty, welcoming locals, fantastic walking trails and memorable wildlife encounters. After 14 million years of isolation, St Helena, often nicknamed the Galapagos of the South Atlantic, is home to 500 endemic species and an ocean frequented by dolphins (three species), whale sharks, humpback whales and other marine life.

St Helena is a hotspot for snorkelling and scuba diving with its clear, warm waters, fascinating marine life and wrecks. There are dive sites within easy reach of the wharf at Jamestown, ranging from rocky reefs with caves to cobbles and sand, all teeming with marine life. 

Packed full of endemic flora and fauna, there are at least 45 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world and a high proportion of endemic birds - the highland areas contain most of the 400 endemic bird species, which includes the national bird, the Saint Helena plover or wirebird, due to its wire-like legs. Diana’s Peak National Park is home to much of the island's flora and fauna, testament to its pristine natural environment, and the highest point on the island at 823 m. 

The island's varied landscapes are remarkable; soaring crags, alpine meadows, steep-sided ravines, wooded valleys, green mountains, coffee plantations and beautiful waterfalls. Walk up the 699 steps of Jacob's Ladder for panoramic ocean views; choose one of the 20 'Post Box' walks through stunning scenery; visit Plantation House, a Georgian mansion built in 1791, to meet the island's oldest inhabitant - Jonathan, a Seychelles tortoise more than 180 years old! 

 

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Quick Facts - St Helena

Travel Seasons

  • Year-round - temperatures remain between 20-27deg;>C (70-80°>F), colder morning and nights Jun-Aug. The climate is kept mild and equable by the South East Trade Winds, which also make the weather so changeable.
  • Jan-Mar - Hot summer months, temperatures in Jamestown range between 20°C and 32°C.
  • Mar-May - Rainy season, April being the height.
  • Jun-Sep - The coldest months, temperatures in Jamestown range between 15°C and 26°C. The rainy season is from July to September, August being the height.
  • Central areas - the temperatures can be 5-6°C lower in the country areas than on the coast and in Jamestown. Jamestown can be sunny and lightly humid whilst areas like Longwood experience chilly mists and a higher rainfall.


General Information 

  • Capital city - Jamestown
  • Largest settlement - Half Tree Hollow
  • Currency - Saint Helena pound (SHP)
  • Language - English
  • Size - 121 km² (47 sq mi)
  • Population - 4,534 (2016)

 
Health & Safety

  • Travel insurance is essential for all international travel. Click below to find out more:

  • The CDC recommends the following vaccinations for St Helena: hepatitis A and typhoid. Check with your doctor which other vaccinations you might need and make sure your routine vaccinations are all up-to-date.


Tourist Information 

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Incredible landscapes
  • Fascinating history and landmarks
  • Endemic flora and fauna 
  • No drastic weather patterns so suitable for visiting year-round

 Cons

  • Very remote and therefore expensive to get to

Travel Info

Arriving in St Helena

  • From Johannesburg in South Africa, there is a weekly flight (Saturdays) to St Helena on SA Airlink (via a refuelling stopover at Windhoek International Airport in Namibia)
  • During the summer months, Dec-May, there will be an additional mid-week flight (Tuesdays)
  • The RMS St Helena who served the island of St Helena for 27 years has now been decommissioned


Getting Around

  • Hiring a car is a good option to explore the island at your own pace; there are a number of hire car companies to choose from, book well in advance as there is a limited supply of cars on the island

Visas

  • An Entry Permit costs £20 and allows a stay of up to 183 days. You will need to provide evidence of a return ticket, or funds for a return ticket, medical insurance, adequate accommodation and sufficient funds for your stay
  • Some nationalities require an E-visa, check here >>
  • If you need a visa for South Africa, make sure it is valid for the date of your planned return journey. There are no facilities to issue international visas on the island

 

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