Discover centuries-old military fortifications and the legacies of past exiles, encounter fascinating flora and fauna found nowhere else on the planet, and meet the locals - affectionately called ‘Saints’ - renowned for their warm and friendly welcome. Whether an active explorer, avid historian or marine enthusiast, this must-do destination has something for everyone. View our promotional packages below.View Packages Sample Itineraries
St Helena’s contrasting and spectacular scenery, centuries-old military fortiﬁcations and graceful buildings make it the perfect place for active exploration. From ‘the quintessential Atlantic port’ of Jamestown to the cloud forests of Diana’s Peak, via the rolling hills of the island’s interior, there is much to do to fill a week on St Helena.
To fire the imagination and provide inspiration, we’d like to suggest the following...
As well as its native marine fauna the waters are visited by a huge variety of transient species. Humpback, Sei and Sperm Whales, Bottlenose, Rough-toothed, Spinner and Pantropical Spotted Dolphins, Whale Sharks, Hawksbill and Green Turtles and Devil Rays are all seen regularly.
Humpback whales - quite typically cows with calf – can be spotted from June through December, “breaching” along the leeward side of the island. Four species of dolphins are present all year round and often perform dizzying spins, flips and spyhops. Pantropical dolphins amass in pods of 200 or more.
Whale Sharks reach lengths of up to 40 feet (12 meters) or more. These docile giants scoop up plankton, along with any small fish with their colossal gaping mouths while swimming close to the surface. Whales Sharks are seen around St Helena in large pods, sometimes exceeding thirty, between December and March. All encounters and interactions with Whale Sharks should be with an experienced local guide.
Dating back to 1903 the St Helena Golf Club offers visitors the chance to play at Longwood on one of the world’s most remote and challenging courses – despite being just 4,783 yards long. The nine-hole course is played twice with two different tee placements for each hole. Visitors are made very welcome and clubs can be hired. The green fee is £15.
‘Saint' dishes and ingredients are partly influenced by the British, Malay and Chinese. Fish is a staple ingredient on St Helena and is used in a variety of ways: fish cakes, curries, roasted fish, soups and much more. Spices and curries are common, rice dishes such as pilau (pronounced 'plo') originate from South East Asia, but has its own curried twist when served on St Helena.
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to St Helena by the British after his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. He spent the first two months on the island at Briars Pavilion, and the last five years before his death, on 5th May 1821, at Longwood House. He was buried in tranquil Sane Valley, at his request, on 9th May. In 1840 the Emperor’s body was exhumed and returned to France and placed at Les Invalids in Paris.
The three main French-owned Napoleonic sites - Longwood House Museum, the tomb, and the Briars Pavilion - are open for the public to visit and view some of the most exclusive artifacts in the world. One ticket covers the entrance to all three properties and multilingual audio guides are available.
Jonathan is St Helena’s oldest resident, and quite possibly the world’s oldest reptile. He arrived on the island in 1882 at an estimated age of fifty. In 2018 Jonathan will be around 188 years old and will have seen almost forty Governors pass through Plantation House. Jonathan is a Seychelles Giant Tortoise, Dipsochelys hololissa. As such he is a solitary example of a handful of survivors existing in the world.
The original tramway or funicular, was built in 1829 to haul manure and military supplies up from town and send goods down. In 1871 it was reconstructed to its present form, 699 steps climbing 600 feet. The name Ladder Hill predates the funicular by 150 years, referring to the rope ladders used to climb the cliffs.
Once you have completed the climb, get your souvenir certificate from the Museum, situated at the bottom of the Ladder. The current record is 5 minutes 11 seconds.
“The world’s most remote distillery”, produces a number of spirits and wines, most notably Tungi, a clear smooth spirit made from the prickly cactus pears. The distillery also produces its own spiced rum, brandy, lemon liqueur, chocolate liqueur and gin. Shipwrecks and Gunpowders are popular local tipples.
St Helena grows green tipped Bourbon Arabica coffee, introduced from Yemen in 1732. It is amongst the most rare and highly prized in the world.
Get the best of both worlds, terrestrial and marine, as you explore the island and surrounding waters. Let us know your preferences when booking and we will tailor an itinerary just for you. Marine activities include: dolphin and whale watching; swimming with and watching whale sharks (seasonal December to March); scuba diving; snorkeling; and boat tours, including sunset cruises.
Land-based activities include: hiking, choose from twenty two spectacular graded Post Box walks (from easy through moderate to very challenging), how many can you complete in a week?!; guided nature walks through national parks, like Diana’s Peak, Millennium Forest and George Benjamin Arboretum; 4x4 off road tours; conservation activities, like tree planting; and birdwatching.
Explore the island at your leisure. Please enquire about car hire when booking to reserve a car in advance. Visitors must bring a valid driving license with no endorsements for dangerous or drunken driving in the last five years. Visitors may drive on their own national driving license for up to 3 months.
Rental cars are only available to those 25 years and older. Visitors 70+ must have a medical certificate to prove they are fit to drive. This test can be done on the island and costs £80+. Car hire charges from £15 per day. Delivery and collection fees may be charged. Rental rates include insurance. On St Helena we drive on the left. Picnic hampers can be arranged through our concierge.
St Helena sits within the tropics and the waters surrounding the island range in temperature from 19 to 25°C. Visibility can be up to 30m. The leeward side of the island offers a huge range of dives, with wrecks, rocky reefs caves and areas of sand and boulders to explore. Each habitat has its own marine life, much of which is unique to St Helena - every year new species are being discovered. Dives range in depth from 12 to 40m. All dives are within easy reach of the wharf, some, like the wreck of the Pappanui in James’ Bay, within snorkeling distance.
Anyone planning to scuba dive should bring their certification and log book. The two main PADI diving instructors are very experienced locals and Mantis St Helena recommends Sub Tropic Adventures and Into The Blue. Click here to get an indication of dive services and prices, as well as rates for boat tours. Scuba equipment can be hired, but generally gear hire is included in the rate. The hotel’s concierge can arrange scuba diving for guests.
St Helena is a rambler’s paradise, offering breath-taking views and an incredibly diverse selection of routes that take walkers through ever-changing biomes and microclimates, from the stark coastal areas through rolling hills, past dense New Zealand flax, up into cloud forest at the island’s zenith. All within 47 square miles. There are twenty two Post Box walks, so titled because at the summit of each walk there is a post box containing an ink stamp and a visitor’s book. Booklets detailing the post box walks are available from the reception desk at the hotel. Walks are rated on a difficulty scale of 1 to 10, and we advise that for walks rated 5 and above that a local guide accompany guests.
St Helena has acquired a remarkable legacy in just over 500 years of recorded history. A rich tapestry that encapsulates and reflects many aspects of world history.
The island’s importance ensured it was fortified against attack, and the lookout points and gun emplacements – many still with cannons in place – can be explored. Jamestown, the island’s capital, includes the seat of Government and Grand Parade, and Mantis St Helena is located at No1 Main Street, which is lined with Georgian and Victorian buildings which harks back to the days when over a thousand sailing ships called at the island each year. The island was also home to Prince Dinizulu and 6000 Boer Prisoners. Recently, excavations have revealed the island’s pivotal role in the abolition of slaves.
The hotel’s concierge can arrange a variety of walks and tours that range from the general, to the specific (Boers, East India Company, Fortifications, Napoleon, Zulus, etc).
From a quiet day casting off the rocky coastline, to the thrill of the ‘fighting chair’ in pursuit of big game fish, the fishing grounds around St Helena offer a wide range of angling experiences that include Marlin, Wahoo, Sailfish, Tuna (Yellow Fin, Big Eye and Skipjack) and Barracuda. From the rocks expect to catch Conger Eel, Grouper and Bullseye. The hotel’s concierge can arrange your St Helena fishing experience. Please indicate the type of fishing that you are interested in when booking.