blank [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Go Swimming!

People have been doing it since the Stone Age

blank [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Night swimming deserves a quiet night.
R.E.M. ‘Night Swimming’

When it’s hot, there’s nothing like a dip for cooling off.

This page is in indexes: Island Activity, Island Detail

Go Swimming! [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Go to: The SeaOur Swimming PoolA Swimming Story

Unless your accommodation has an unusually large bath, you have two options for swimming while in St Helena: the sea or our swimming pool.

The Sea

Global sea surface temp, July 2016 [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
Global sea surface temp, July 2016{a}

There are four common areas for sea swimming:

Go to: Lemon ValleyRupert’s BeachThe Wharf Steps in JamestownLot’s Wife’s pondsOthers, not recommended

Lemon Valley

Location map:
Location Map lemonvalley [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Lemon Valley is just along the coast from Jamestown - a short boat ride, or a longish walk down from the centre of the island, Lemon Valley has an enclosed beach ideal for swimming. The area was improved in 2010 by the creation of a new landing stage.

Lemon Valley, looking back towards Jamestown [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
Lemon Valley, looking back towards Jamestown

Rupert’s Beach

Location map:
Location Map ruperts [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Rupert’s Beach is in the adjoining valley to Jamestown. It also has an enclosed beach ideal for swimming, though as Ruperts’s is also home to the island’s Fuel Storage facility the beach is closed on days when a fuel tanker is offloading (announced on the S.A.M.S. Radio 1 or Saint FM Community Radio local news). It is a popular venue for a swimming and barbecue party.

A busy day at Rupert’s [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
A busy day at Rupert’s

The Wharf Steps in Jamestown

Location map:
Location Map wharf [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

The Wharf Steps in Jamestown are a popular venue, though there is no beach and the bay is far from enclosed. Stronger swimmers can explore the wreck of the SS Papanui in James Bay.

Swimming off the Wharf Steps in Jamestown [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
Swimming off the Wharf Steps in Jamestown

Lot’s Wife’s ponds

Location map:
Location Map lotswifesponds [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Strictly not sea swimming as the Ponds are actually isolated pools, fed from the sea in by the larger waves. Otherwise calm for swimming but the walk is strenuous and only for the reasonably fit.

Lot’s Wife’s ponds [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
Lot’s Wife’s ponds

Others, not recommended

Location map:
Location Map sandybay [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

It is strongly recommended not to try swimming at Sandy Bay beach. There is a strong undertow and drowning is likely.

Tempting, but don’t venture in [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
Tempting, but don’t venture in

Other bays and inlets are at your own risk.

Our Swimming Pool

Location map:
Location Map swimmingpool [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Our Swimming Pool is in Jamestown on the seaside. From town it is reached by going out under The Arch, turning right towards the Wharf, and it is about half way down towards the port and Customs Building.

Our swimming pool [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
Our swimming pool

As the image shows, it is a full sized pool (33m long) with advanced water filtration and chlorination systems to current international standards.

It is open most days from early morning to dusk, though during the school sessions it is closed to the general public.

The pool is managed by Dillon and Son, who also operate The Mule Yard (next door).

Pool History

In the 1970’s drownings from fishing accidents and a survey among school children showed that the majority could not swim. Attempts were made to try and renovate the dam at the top of the town and the small pool at Ladder Hill (now no longer there), without success.

A voluntary body, the Swimming Pool Action Group (SPAG), was formed to raise money to build a new pool. It had strong public support including people pledging contributions from their wages. The Government of St Helena undertook that, if the pool were built, it would ensure that every school child was given the opportunity to learn to swim.

As a result of island wide interest and public support, the Royal Engineers were invited to build the present pool and the money raised from the public built the paddling pool. There is a plaque acknowledging this at the pool, which was opened with a Gala on 24th November 1979.

The new pool replaced an earlier Tennis Court on the site:

‘Jamestown Tennis Club’, 1903 [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]
‘Jamestown Tennis Club’, 1903

Building the pool:

Building the pool, 1978 [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]{b}

Building the pool, 1978 [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]{b}

Building the pool, 1978 [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]{b}

Building the pool, 1978 [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]{b}

A Swimming Story

RMS at night [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

One night, , two of the visiting contract workers (who shall remain anonymous) were sitting drinking at Donny’s, as they had been since around 5pm - it was now around Midnight. Seeing the RMS St Helena in the bay, conversation turned to how wonderful the breakfast was onboard. Then one had a revelation. Why not go out to the RMS and have breakfast there?

The plan almost died in its infancy because the Ferry service, they realised, had already stopped for the night. “We’ll just have to swim!”, one said. Now the RMS anchors a few hundred metres out, so this would have been no mean feat even sober, which our friends most definitely were not. But at around Midnight after many (many) beers it seemed like a grand plan, so they set off.

By some minor miracle, they actually both arrived safely at the pontoon beside the RMS, around half an hour later. They climbed aboard the pontoon and set about calling up to the ship to be allowed onboard. Imagine the reaction of the night watchman/woman. Drop-in callers at nearly 1am were not common. Indeed it is probably the case that this was the first time it had ever happened. The Captain had to be summoned.

Captain Smith was an experienced seaman with lots of nautical miles under his belt. Nearing retirement he was not overly pleased at being dragged out of his bunk at 1am to deal with drunken boarders. So having ascertained that they were not in any medical need (other than that which could be provided by a few hours of not drinking beer) and that they were not in a life-threatening situation, he gave orders that our two intepid would-be breakfast guests were to be denied access to the ship, and must wait on the pontoon for the night until the first ferry - at 6am in the morning. This they did. Fortunately for them it didn’t rain.

One of our pair was married. His wife was, predictably, just a little unhappy about his actions that night. Apparently it was quite a few nights before he again slept in a proper bed. The other was not married but was living with a woman who was so used to his antics she didn’t realise anything had occurred until he turned up the next morning, hung-over and desperate for sleep.

The moral of this story? Well, where could one begin…? Whoever said life in St Helena was boring?

closinghumourimage [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]

Laugh at funny swimming humour - LOL [Saint Helena Island Info:Go Swimming!]


{a} NASA Earth Observatory.

{b} Sheila Cook, one of the Royal Engineers’ Team from 1978/80


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