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10 Awesome Things To Do in a Week on St Helena

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR HOLIDAY | Sharon Henry

Voted as one of Lonely Planet’s ‘Top Ten Best In Travel’ for 2016, St Helena finds herself pinned on the world tourism map as an off the beaten track destination. For the island the world truly will be getting smaller as the airport chomps travel time from the current five day voyage to a five hour flight.

Comair will be operating weekly Saturday flights from Johannesburg to St Helena in five hours. With careful planning a lot can be achieved in a week. Here is a list of things to do on St Helena; ideas to fit into your itinerary whilst here.

1. Meet The Saints

They say people make the place and even more so on St Helena. We don’t have actual halos but Saints (St Helenians) are amongst the friendliest in the world – or so we’ve been told. Come find out for yourself.

Things to do on St Helena - meet the Saints.

St Helenians have a mixed heritage that includes white British settlers, African slaves, Malay and Chinese indentured workers.

2. Swim with whale sharks

Not many holiday destinations can offer the opportunity, like St Helena can, to swim in the open ocean with the world’s biggest fish. Whale shark season normally runs from January to April where aggregations (groups) of up to 35 of these gentle giants have been sighted. It’s thrilling stuff and what adventures are made of. Definitely one of the most exhilarating things to do on St Helena.

Things to do on St Helena - swimming with the St Helena whale sharks.

Whale sharks are the largest fish on the planet. It is named ‘whale’ because of its size and not because it is related to them. Whale sharks are a protected species on St Helena.

Something for the whale shark off season. St Helena waters are ‘jumping’ with resident populations of pan tropical, bottle-nosed and rough toothed dolphins. We don’t swim with them but they do put on exuberant displays to delight boat trips goers.

3. Feel the ghost of Napoleon

Napoleon Bonaparte’s incarceration and death has left an indelible mark on St Helena and his presence will be felt forever. Trace the French Emperor’s footsteps by visiting The Briars Pavilion, Longwood House and The Tomb.

Things to do on St Helena - visit the island's most famous attraction, Longwood House.

Napoleon’s presence in 1815-1821 is St Helena’s biggest attraction. Longwood House where the French Emperor spent his last six years is now a museum restored to replicate the house the way it was on the day he died.

4. Hike the summit of Diana’s Peak

Known for our Post Box walks Diana’s Peak is a must for breathtaking, panoramic views across the island. There are 21 post box walks in total. The Peaks is a National Park and is home to an array of endemic plant and invertebrate species.

The Peaks National Park on St Helena is a cloud forest habitat where plants gain moisture directly from settling clouds and fog condensation. Diana's Peak is the highest point on St Helena at 823 metres.

The Peaks National Park on St Helena is a cloud forest habitat where plants gain moisture directly from settling clouds and fog condensation. Diana’s Peak is the highest point on St Helena at 823 metres.

5. Meet Jonathan, the oldest guy on St Helena

Estimated to be at least 183 years old, Jonathan, a rare Seychelles giant tortoise is the island’s oldest resident. He was brought to the island in 1882 as an adult. If documentation can be found that verifies his age he could be catapulted into the Guinness World Records as the oldest living land animal. Jonathan lives on the lawn of Plantation House, residence of St Helena’s Governor.

Things to do on St Helena - Meet Jonathan the tortoise who is around 183 years old.

Jonathan the tortoise is around 183 years old. He lives on Plantation House lawn with four other tortoises. Jonathan enjoys celebrity status on St Helena where he is featured on 5 pence coins.

6. Try St Helena Fishcakes

A culinary island favourite made simply of tuna, potato, onion and herbs. Fishcakes feature highly on island menus and can be found at most eateries. Taste a little bit of St Helena.

St Helena fishcakes are probably the favourite island food for most locals and visitors alike. The sound and smell of these frying in the pan is really hard to resist.

St Helena fishcakes are probably the favourite island food for most locals and visitors alike. The sound and smell of these frying in the pan is really hard to resist.

7. Picnic at the George Benjamin Arboretum, Casons

The park is a tribute to, and named after the man who rediscovered the ‘extinct’ ebony and St Helena olive. Picnic benches dotted among cabbage trees, ebony flowers and other endemic plant life makes this a peaceful spot to enjoy the countryside. Cooking at home and taking it out to eat in the country is one of the things to do on St Helena like the locals.

Picnic tables, like this one in the George Benjamin Arboretum, are located at various places around St Helena and always near the road.

Picnic tables, like this one in the George Benjamin Arboretum, are located at various places around St Helena and always near the road.

8. Take a St Helena Road Trip

There’s no better way to experience the diversity of St Helena’s dramatic landscapes than by taking a drive. You’ll definitely need your wits about you though when driving St Helena’s steep, narrow and sometimes hairy roads. However, master your clutch and handbrake, observe local road courtesy (wave at passing motorists) and you won’t get into trouble. Just be sure to take your camera with you and park with room for others to pass.

Driving on St Helena is one of the best ways to experience the diverse landscapes. This the road to Levelwood with a great view of the new St Helena Airport site in the distance.

Driving on St Helena is one of the best ways to experience the diverse landscapes. This the road to Levelwood with a great view of the new St Helena Airport site in the distance.

9. Take Aim at the Jamestown Rifle Club

Rifle shooting is the island’s unofficial national sport and bronze, silver and gold medals have been won in recent international competition. The club’s 25 metre range is nestled inside the Castle moat near the swimming pool entrance and they welcome all to come take a shot. No previous experience is required and you could find yourself shooting alongside one of our Small Island Games medallists.

The Jamestown Rifle Club's weekly shoot takes place on Tuesday evenings. Non-members are always welcome to come along and try the sport provided they are over 14 years of age. A safety brief and beginner coaching is available to first time shooters.

The Jamestown Rifle Club’s weekly shoot takes place on Tuesday evenings. Non-members are always welcome to come along and try the sport provided they are over 14 years of age. A safety brief and beginner coaching is available to first time shooters.

10. Walk Jacobs Ladder

A ‘must do’ for all visitors is to walk the 699 steps of Jacob’s Ladder. The trick is to take your time and plan plenty of rest stops, if you’re worried about heights, don’t look down! Afterwards, drop into the St Helena Museum at the foot of the Ladder for a certificate to prove you did it.

Things to do on St Helena - Walk Jacob's Ladder, all 699 steps.

Jacob’s Ladder has 699 steps and rises 600ft up the valley side of Jamestown. It was constructed in 1829 by Governor Charles Dallas and featured a tramway to haul manure out of town.

More Information About Things To Do on St Helena

Breeze e-magazine, issue 2, by What The Saints Did Next - Photography magazine produced on St Helena Island available for free to all blog subscribers.

Breeze e-magazine, issue 2, by What The Saints Did Next – Photography magazine produced on St Helena Island available for free to all blog subscribers.

Want to learn more about St Helena and things to do on the island?

What The Saints Did Next have now produced two e-magazines on St Helena, 66 pages each, filled with stories and stunning photography. The magazine is called, ‘Breeze’ and both issues are free.

The first can be downloaded right away. To access the NEW Breeze (2016) you will need to subscribe to this blog by email (which can be done in less than 30 seconds).

Click Here for more about our Breeze e-magazine.

 

COMMENTS

  • Patrick G Henry

    January 26, 2016

    My top number have to be No.6 as you can only get them on St Helena. As for shooting, you tell me about it when you come and visit us.

    • January 28, 2016

      Agreed No 6 – every Saint’s favourite!

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