For such a small area (120 square kilometres), there is a huge amount packed into the island of St Helena. Visitors often go away having only scratched the surface of this remarkable destination. The natural environment runs from arid desert to cloud forest, and hosts many species unique to the remote outpost.
The historical legacy touches on many aspects of world history, including the expansion and height of the British Empire, the Boer War, the Anglo-Zulu Wars, the abolition of slavery, and the island’s most famous exile, Napoleon. Add to this rich history a people, affectionately known as 'Saints', who are a mix of this incredible heritage – a legacy of British, African, Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese and other influences - whose friendliness and warm welcome will make any visitor feel immediately at home.
St Helena has acquired a remarkable legacy in just over 500 years of recorded history. The island’s strategic position meant it was a key staging point throughout the British Empire, controlled initially by the East India Company, and then the British Crown. Its importance ensured it was fortified against attack, and the lookout points and gun emplacements – many still with cannons in place – can be explored. The island’s most famous resident was French Emperor, Napoleon. But 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 clear, warm waters around St Helena make for enticing diving, snorkelling and other aquatic activities. Nearly 750 marine species have been recorded in the island’s waters with at least 50 of these being endemic. The island has resident populations of Pantropical, Spotted, Bottlenosed and Rough-toothed dolphins. Humpback whales are seasonal visitors between June and December. Between December and March Whale Sharks visit the island. These massive but docile creatures can reach lengths of 12 meters. It is possible to snorkel with whale sharks, although interaction with these gentle giants is only under the guidance of accredited local marine tour operators.
St Helena is a living example of wonderful and rare biodiversity, but also of ambitious efforts to conserve and restore the natural environment. The island is home to over 400 endemic species that occur nowhere else on Earth, including the Wirebird, giant tree ferns and desert-dwelling nocturnal spiders. Marine life is equally outstanding. A series of paths and walks allows you to discover diverse biomes, and tours are available with local experts to delve further into this fascinating environment.
The island’s capital and location of Mantis St Helena
Try Tungi, Jamestown Gin and White Lion Rum
Home to the island’s Governor and 188 year old Jonathan the Tortoise
Diving, fishing, boat trips, whale and dolphin watching
Napoleon’s residence, now a world class museum
Weekly flights each Saturday
Highest point on the island
Popular whale watching and nesting site for sea birds
A breath-taking walk to natural swimming ponds