The most distant wave of green on the big blue portrait of the Atlantic Ocean, St Helena is one of our earth’s only lonely lands. But for intrepid travelers, that’s share of its unusual charm. Napoleon Bonaparte spent his final days here in sullen exile, but contemporary visitors deliberately abandon themselves to enjoy welcoming locals, wild walking trails, and incredible wildlife encounters. After millions of years of isolation, it boasts 700 endemic species and a coastline frequented by marine life, including whale sharks and dolphins.
How to move around Saint Helena?
Rental cars are perhaps the best method of travel in Helena but don’t forget to reserve one in advance. There are not too many cars around, and when the plane arrives at Saint Helena Airport with its 75 tourists, the travel business can be overwhelmed, and don’t expect your rental car to be a modern vehicle. You can also walk around the island. Walking is excellent and safe, but mainly in the highlands in the center of the island.
Top Things to do in Saint Helena
Hiking and Camping at Sandy Bay: Sandy Bay is at the foot of one of the deep ravines that cut from the interior of the island to the coast and is the only sandy beach on the isle. Despite the somewhat dark grey sand and that it is hazardous to swim in the sea, it is a preferred destination for family barbecues, with kids enjoying dancing in the waves. It’s also an excellent place to start your hiking adventures.
Swimming in Lot’s Wife’s Ponds: Lot’s Wife’s Ponds are perhaps the best swimming spot on the isle. They are sizeable natural tide pools, and though it can be a bit hard to get there, it is indeed well worth it.
Stargaze: The mysterious darkness of the Helena night sky passes the Gold Tier status, the highest rating by the International Dark-Sky Association, the air is crystal clear, of course, and it’s also not cold; even at night, the cold rarely falls below 14° Celsius. This is the best place in the world to stargaze.
Dolphin and Whale Watching: Saint Helena is encircled by pristine waters, overflowing with exciting wreck sites and underwater wildlife. Saint Helena is usually visited by whale sharks, humpback whales, and the scary devil rays. Permanent populations of dolphins can be observed around the island, and other large cetaceans have been spotted, including the famed pygmy sperm whales. Also, some boats offer whale watching and dolphin trips, and numerous dive operators on the Island offering cave, wreck, and recreation dives.
Top Things to see in Saint Helena
- The Museum of Saint Helena: The Saint Helena museum is a fabulous place to begin your journey, though, like most other attractions, the open hours are minimal. The museum is situated in an early 19th-century CE warehouse at the bottom of Jacob’s Ladder in Jamestown. It has a blend of exhibits on the natural history and island’s past.
- Heart-Shaped Waterfall: You are not the first to think that these waterfalls are in the shape of a heart and thus named so. However, in reality, this waterfall is so named merely because of the prehistoric heart-shaped rock over which it collapses. It can be observed from the north road out of Jamestown or walk to the foot of the 90-m fall.
- Jacob’s Ladder: Jacob’s Ladder is a staircase that extends from Jamestown to Ladder Hill Fort above. It is said to have nearly 700 steps. The “Ladder” was established in 1829 CE as an inclined plane to assist Jamestown haul resources up to the post on Ladder Hill. Then people used it to bring goods down from the farming areas in the center of the island and manure up out of villages. The planes are on both sides of the steps, and the cart on one side was extensively used to properly counterweight the cart on the other.
- Fortifications: These were built across the entrance of the James Valley, where it meets the ocean only after Napoleon was infamously brought to the island in the 19th century CE. Apparently, it was constructed without an entrance, but a splendid archway has been built that borders the harbor in one direction and famed Jamestown in the other.
- Longwood House: In the city of the same name, Longwood House was the home where Napoleon spent most of his time on Helena and where he died. It has many wings and contains the kind of furniture it would have when he lived there, though most of the originals have been taken away by other nations.
Now You Know