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.
SA Airlink operate 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.
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.
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.
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 range is a National Park and is home to an array of endemic plant and invertebrate species. Hiking Diana’s Peak is a highly recommended of top things to do on St Helena.
In 2019 we started photography-hiking tours with WTSDN, taking in most post boxes, plus other trails that we recommend.
Top 10 Things To Do on St Helena
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.
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.
7. Picnic at the George Benjamin Arboretum, Casons
The park is a tribute to, and named after the man who rediscovered the previously thought ‘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.
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.
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 International Island Games medallists.
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.
More Information About Things To Do on St Helena
Want to learn more about St Helena and things to do on the island?
What The Saints Did Next have now produced five-magazines on St Helena, 66 pages each, filled with stories and stunning photography. The magazine is called, ‘Breeze’ and all issues are free.
They can be downloaded right away.