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Island Activities

Things to see or do

It is better to wear out than to rust out.

This is a subset of our Island Information pages which covers things to see and do during a visit to St Helena.

If there is a St Helena activity that we have not covered please contact us and we’ll try to add it in.

Below: Tips for Exploring • Pages • Read More

You participate in any activities described herein entirely at your own risk.

Swimming off the Wharf steps
Swimming off the Wharf steps

Tips for Exploring

You will find our Tourist Office helpful in providing information and arranging tours, though you may find the tour guide’s knowledge of some of the more obscure parts of our history somewhat limited. Whether going on a tour or setting out on your own we recommend that you download to your mobile/pad the relevant pages from Saint Helena Island Info{1} and then you can have detailed information at your fingertips wherever you go! But note that we said ‘download’ the pages. St Helena’s mobile network is not reliable in all parts of the island so if you look for us online at the actual site you might only get ‘NO SIGNAL’.

The Pages

Random Activity Page:

Information Index
Start here… • This is the master index of all our island information pages

Community Pages
It’s what’s happening… • This is an index to our pages relating to community groups and activities.

Subject Index
These are the pages you are searching for • All good books contain an index…

Terms used • Here are some terms used on St Helena or within Saint Helena Island Info that we thought might benefit from further explanation

Image Search
Find images on our site • This page provides a facility to find images on our site

Dark skies, warm nights • Want to really see the stars? And not freeze while doing so?

Masters of the air • We have an eclectic collection of birds

Fun in the sun • Every second year, in October, St Helena has its Carnival.

Castle Gardens
Sit and watch the world go by • Castle Gardens, in the heart of Jamestown, is a great place to just sit and watch the world bustle by.

A great time to be here • Christmas in St Helena occurs in the early summer so the fun and festivities have a distinctly outdoor flavour.

Churches of St Helena
And other religious buildings • St Helena has historic and more modern churches to investigate.

Classic Cars
Travel back in time • One of the stranger features of St Helena is the collection of classic cars, mostly not just in running order but actually in day-to-day use.

St Helena Coffee
‘The only good thing about St Helena is the coffee’ - Napoleon Bonaparte • St Helena coffee has been judged the best in the world. It’s also possibly the rarest in the world. And the best place to buy it is here!

Getting the message • We’re not exactly up-to-date but we can still communicate with the world.

Country Music
Keepin’ it country… • If you like good ol’ country music this is the place for you .

Cruise Ship Days
An unusual hive of activity • When a cruise ship arrives, St Helena is an unusual hive of activity.

Dark Tourism
Visiting the darker parts of our history. • Like everywhere else, our history has its darker parts.

Diana’s Peak
Our highest point • Diana’s Peak is highest place on our island, and also one of the more interesting.

For old wrecks - and anyone else • The clear and unpolluted waters around St Helena provide ample opportunities for divers of all abilities. And the island’s seafaring history contributes plenty to explore. Read on to find out more …

Dolphin watching
And other marine activities • The waters around St Helena provide ample opportunities for all sorts of marine activities.

The former backbone of island transport • For many years before the arrival of the motor car donkeys equus africanus asinus were the mainstay of St Helena transport.

Driving in St Helena
Keep left…almost always • If you’re here for a few days or less you can take a tour. Otherwise you’ll need to drive.

Easter Activities
Fishing and camping • Easter is a time for outdoor activities.

Endemic Species
They only live here • St Helena is officially recognised as Britain’s wealthiest place on Earth when it comes to natural treasures.

Fishcakes, and other food
A taste of St Helena • Here are some of the foods you can taste when you visit. And we’ve provided recipes so you can try them at home.

Hook, line and sinker • Surrounded by sea, fishing is inevitably part of our culture.

Fly here
The fastest way to get here • Flying is the fastest way to get to St Helena…

Fly Yourself Here
Open for visitors • You are now able to fly here in your own plane.

The Governor’s Cup
The yacht-race from Cape Town to St Helena • The Governor’s Cup is a 2,700Km bi-annual yacht race from Cape Town, South Africa, to James Bay, St Helena Island.

‘Gravity Rush’
It’s all downhill from here • OK, although not exactly Formula 1…

Old and older • With all the military history of St Helena it’s no surprise that the island has lots of old guns.

Amateur (‘Ham’) Radio
CQ, CQ, CQ • Before international telephones and the Internet there was Amateur Radio - still going strong on St Helena.

The Heart Shaped Waterfall
For lovers everywhere • If you travel out of Jamestown towards the Napoleonic Sites you can’t miss the Heart Shaped Waterfall.

The Historic Environment Record
A catalogue… • The Historic Environment Record is a database of anything old and important on the island.

High Knoll Fort
Important, in the past and today • As the largest military installation on the island High Knoll Fort is certainly important; and it’s also interesting…

Historic Buildings
A standing reminder • St Helena has an abundance of interesting historic buildings to explore.

Historic Buildings In Brief - Country
A sample • St Helena has many historic buildings. The ones here are only introduced - to learn more, just explore them!

Historic Buildings In Brief - Jamestown
A sample • St Helena has many historic buildings. The ones here are only introduced - to learn more, just explore them!

Holidays and other festivals
Time to celebrate • St Helena celebrates nine public holidays each year.

Jacob’s Ladder
Stairway to heaven? • ‘Jacob’s Ladder’? That’s something to do with the Bible, isn’t it? To find out, read on…

Where it all happens • On the whole, if something is going to happen in St Helena, it’s likely it’s going to happen in Jamestown.

Jonathan the tortoise
The world’s oldest land resident? • Jonathan is believed to be the world’s oldest living land animal.

The Leisure Park
Eat, drink and be merry • The Leisure Park at the Seaside is a place to relax and enjoy life.

Lemon Valley
Everything but the lemons • Lemon Valley is a popular recreation spot, with added historic interest.

Longwood House
Napoleon’s residence • For most of his time on St Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte lived at Longwood House.

The Millennium Forest
Haven’t you grown… • St Helena aims to recreate the ‘Great Wood’ - a natural forest destroyed in the 17th Century.

The Mule Yard
No longer a place for donkeys • The Mule Yard is the main permanent outdoor performance and event venue in Jamestown.

Napoleonic Bicentenary
A reason to celebrate… • Napoleon Bonaparte lived on St Helena from October 1815 to May 1821.

Napoleon’s Tomb
But not his final resting place • Set in Sane Valley it is a peaceful spot for quiet contemplation of the life of Napoleon.

National Flower
Unique to St Helena • Our national flower was thought to be extinct and only rediscovered in 1980.

Our national song, ‘My St Helena Island’
Unofficially, at least • Find out how a non-Saint who had never even been to St Helena came to record the island’s national song…

Our Newspapers
All the week’s news and views • Our two newspapers. Every week.

Oh, yes it is…! • Every year the ‘Ivylets’ treat us to a Pantomime.

Leave only footprints; take only photographs • With such a variety of scenery and outdoor activities compressed into such a small space, St Helena offers much to the keen photographer, of whatever level of experience.

Plantation House
The Governor’s Residence • Plantation House has been the official home of the Governor of St Helena since 1792.

Radio on St Helena
A surprisingly large number of stations • With three current stations and several amateur operators St Helena’s radio waves are truly buzzing.

Reading Sports
Home from home • Every August Bank Holiday, Saints from all over the UK (and beyond) gather in Reading for a weekend of fun.

So near, and yet so far • Ruperts is the valley next to James Valley, yet by tourists it is rarely visited.

S.A.M.S. Radio 1
News, features and entertainment • S.A.M.S. Radio 1 broadcasts a mixture of news, features and entertainment.

S.A.M.S. Radio 2
The BBC World Service on FM • S.A.M.S. Radio 2 re-broadcasts the BBC World Service.

S.A.M.S. Pure Gold
Continuous music • S.A.M.S. Pure Gold broadcast continuous music.

SaintFM Community Radio
News, features and entertainment • SaintFM Community Radio broadcasts music, news and features.

Sandy Bay
Let’s go to the beach! • Beaches are in short supply on St Helena but Sandy Bay has one…

Fairy Terns… and others • One of our sea-birds is known as a ‘Seabird’. Confused? Read on…

The Seven Wonders of St Helena
Your itinerary? • The ancient world is not alone in having Seven Wonders - and these are ones you can see today!

Speak Saint
Understand what Saints are saying • English may be St Helena’s official language, but isolation and our complex heritage have given islanders a special way of speaking.

Sport in St Helena
Playing the game • Despite its tiny population, a wide variety of sports is played regularly on St Helena.

St Helena’s Day
Celebrating our island’s discovery • Every year on 21st May we celebrate our island’s discovery.

St. James’ Church
The oldest Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere • Built in 1774 St. James’ Church is the oldest Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere

St. Paul’s Cathedral
Important, but with humble beginnings • Originally just the ‘Country Church’, St. Paul’s now has Cathedral status.

Go Swimming!
Sport/exercise/fun • When it’s hot, there’s nothing like a dip for cooling off.

Visitor Information
Come and discover our island • St Helena is approximately 1,900Km west of the Angola/Namibia border, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Walking St Helena
Well off the beaten track • You can see a lot of St Helena from a car, but finding the best places involves a bit of walking…

Whale Sharks
Fun to swim with! • Every year in February/March Whale Sharks visit St Helena, and you can swim with them!

Shopping: What to buy
A bit of St Helena to take home • Apart from photographs, what else will you take back with you after your visit? You can find a few suggestions for your shopping below…

What To Do
The essential things • These are our ‘top 20’ recommended things to do on St Helena.

Where To Stay
Advice for first-time visitors • If you are coming for a short visit you need to decide where to stay. Here is some advice.

The Wirebird
St Helena Plover Charadrius Sanctaehelenae • The Wirebird is St Helena’s only surviving endemic bird.

A convenient stopover in the South Atlantic • Since it’s discovery St Helena has been a convenient stop-over in the South Atlantic.

Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere • A collection of items that, while about or related to St Helena, did not justify a page of their own or fit into any of our other pages.

If what you’re looking for isn’t in this index, please consult our Information Index page (the master index) or use the Page Search facility (below). We have some more advice on our About This Site page.

Read More

Article: St Helena’s Hidden Attractions

By Andrew Turner, published in the St Helena Sentinel 27th September 2018{a}

In celebration of World Tourism Day Thursday, Sept. 27 The Sentinel is looking at a few hidden attractions of St Helena.

This is because St Helena isn’t just about Napoleon, Jonathan the tortoise and Whale Sharks - in fact the little things about St Helena that aren’t typically marketed, are often the things that impact tourists the most.

High Knoll Fort
High Knoll Fort


Although many bars offer sundowner drinks, one area that is perfect for sundowners but often overlooked is the historic High Knoll Fort.

The fort is one of St Helena’s The Seven Wonders of St Helena, and provides stunning views overlooking Half Tree Hollow, Longwood and St Pauls. It is an ideal place to enjoy drinks as the sun sets over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, you’ll have to take your own supplies up to the Fort as it has no toilet facilities, electricity or running water (though on occasion, Amphibians portable bar has set up to offer evening drinks).

So especially if you want a quieter and historic setting, sundowners at High Knoll is a great item to put on your St Helena bucket list.

The Monk-cat

If Jonathan the tortoise is the island’s most famous animal, the Monk-cat (or Moncat) is a close second. This elusive creature has been spotted across the island since 2014 (most recently in April 2018) but has never been captured or confirmed as more than modern myth.

Many people have theories as to what the creature really is and why it’s here. Many believe it is an African wild cat that arrived via the Basil Read vessel NP Glory 4, but nobody knows for certain.

This creature - St Helena’s own Bigfoot- could represent quite the attraction for tourists who enjoy mysteries or are interested in finding the creature themselves. If eventually found, it could provide a significant environmental story as the island otherwise has no similar predators.


St Helena is a melting pot of cultures, and similarly has a melting pot cuisine; Indian, European, African and even Chinese elements (among others) have influenced the island’s food.

More food venues on the island have begun offering traditional St Helena curries, fishcakes, black puddings and more - but for the versions of these dishes that provide the most kick, smaller cafés and home-based businesses are still the best choice.

Of course, one thing that’s definitely not marketed about the island is the food shortages that are a common problem for St Helena residents. But if visitors are prepared for this reality, it can also add to the charm of the island. For those who enjoy a cooking challenge - sometimes reminiscent of a real-life Guy’s Grocery Games - rushing to the shops when the ship visits with potatoes or flour, or making dishes without basics such as eggs or onions, could be considered as a fun part of your visit.

Dark Tourism

Dark Tourism (aka grief tourism or black tourism) began as a trend in the late 90s and involves people travelling to a destination to study the darker side of its history.

St Helena is just entering the early days of Dark Tourism tours. A pilot scheme for tours is taking place in early October and St Helena Tourism hopes islanders will help develop dark tourism from there.

But through looking at www. sainthelenaisland.info and within the Museum of St Helena, it’s clear St Helena houses a wealth of Dark Tourism potential.

Most notable is the island’s historic involvement in the slave trade and its eventual abolition. From the fist settlement of the island (1695) until 1834 St Helena made heavy use of slave labour and just as elsewhere in the world, slaves were frequently treated as less than human.

Historical records show that slaves who committed minor offences were punished with flogging, castration and cruel execution. The few slave revolts were brutally suppressed.

Today, people can still sit beneath the same trees under which slave auctions once took place outside the Canister, Jamestown. Until the BFI is complete in Ruperts, however, it seems any further Dark Tourism efforts in this regard won’t be able to progress.

The island also has many traditional Ghost Stories of St Helena to fascinate the world’s tourists, Free Molly being one example. The story goes that Molly was a young woman imprisoned by her father, who would not allow her human contact apart from with her immediate family and would not allow her out of the house. Molly was often seen looking out of her window at the children playing, wishing that she could be free like them. She died young, in her early twenties, some say from suicide. Now, it is said, her ghost walks at night near Pilling School, enjoying the freedom she was never permitted in life.

The island was also home to the Boer and Zulu prisoners (the sites of their camps are marked), political prisoners from Bahrain (whose cliff-top house is also accessible) and of course the site where Napoleon died.

For those interested in a history of crime, St Helena’s last execution is also well-documented. This was the murder of Robert Gunnell and the subsequent execution of the two perpetrators, Louis and Richard Crowie: The site of the murder itself is visible from the plane as you come into land; and the site of the execution is now the Museum of St Helena, where people can see pictures of the two on their way to the noose and the actual rope used to hang them.

Laugh at funny Island Activities humour - LOL

{a} South Atlantic Media Services Ltd (SAMS){2}

{1} Since December 2018 this site has been fully-compatible with mobile devices.{2} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

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