Visitor Information

Come and discover our island

It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times
Asian Proverb


St Helena is approximately 1,900Km west of the Angola/Namibia border, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

This page is in indexes: Island ACTIVITY Saint Helena Island Info Visitor InformationIsland Activity, Island Detail Saint Helena Island Info Visitor InformationIsland Detail

One of the giant tortoises at Plantation House Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
One of the giant tortoises at Plantation House;
Read more about Jonathan…

15°58’48”S 5°45’0”W Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

On this site we are pleased to provide information for anyone considering visiting St Helena, one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands. St Helena’s environment is truly remarkable, from dramatic cliff tops to a sub-tropical interior, all of it surrounded by pristine seas. St Helena offers world class opportunities for activities such as walking/hiking, ornithology, marine trips, Diving and Fishing. Our incredibly clear skies also attract astronomers and you can explore our many forts, batteries, other military installations and other Historic Buildings. Maybe you’re interested in the darker parts of our history and you may also be interested in our Pictures pages. And if the only thing you know about St Helena is that Napoleon Bonaparte died here, you may be interested to read some fascinating facts about him.

Below: How to get hereCan I bring my pet dog/cat/parrot/elephant?Time ZoneWeatherTake a tour!Where to stayTips and tricks when hereEnvironmentMoneyOfficial Tourist BrochuresVisiting in the 1870sA longer stay?Read More

I can strongly recommend St. Helena to persons who do not enjoy good health, and to nervous folk who dread thunderstorms and snakes!
Governor Gallwey in ‘A Sojourn in St. Helena’ for the Journal of the Royal African Society, 1941

I had been told about how friendly a place it is before, but was still charmed by it when I got there. I was quickly smitten with St Helena even more so than I had already expected anyway. What a magical place!
Peter Hohenhaus, dark-tourism.com

All visitors require valid passports and will normally be granted an entry permit for a period of three months. The entry permit may be extended up to a period of one year. Visitors must have a return ticket and pre-booked accomodation is advised.
Do I need a Visa? check and apply here.

The faintest flourish of green on the big blue canvas of the Atlantic Ocean, St Helena is one of our planet’s truly lonely lands. But for intrepid travellers that’s part of its eccentric charm. Napoleon Bonaparte spent his last days here in grumpy exile, but modern visitors maroon themselves deliberately, to enjoy wild walking trails, welcoming locals and wonderful wildlife encounters. It’s not for nothing that St Helena is nicknamed the Galápagos of the South Atlantic; after 14 million years of isolation it boasts 500 endemic species and a coastline frequented by marine life including dolphins, whales and whale sharks. The journey - a 3,100km, 5-day-each-way boat expedition from Cape Town aboard iconic RMS Saint Helena - is part of the adventure. A long-awaited airport will open in 2016{3}, but St Helena isn’t expecting a revolution. Phone reception will remain a rumour{4}, cars will still be brilliantly behind the times, and life will continue at a similar somnambulant pace to Jonathan, the giant tortoise that started tottering around the island shortly after Napoleon died.{a}

How to get here 

The many ways to get to St Helena are discussed on our Getting Here page, and they include flying here!.

Its appearance from the sea is very unpromising - inaccessible rocks and stupendous crags frowning from every side… but once you ascend Ladder Hill Road, everything changes, and all seems enchantment… fruitful valleys, cultivated hills and diversified scenery of every description.{b}

Can I bring my pet dog/cat/parrot/elephant? 

Gurrs with Stanley Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

It’s not impossible, but because of disease control the process is rather complicated - too much so to summarise it here. If you really can’t be separated from your furry/scaly friend, you are best to contact the Senior Vetinary Officer at the Agriculture and Natural Resources Division - Tel (+290) 24724.

Of course, Governor Gurr (2007-2011) had no trouble getting permission to bring his family dog, Stanley…(right)

Time Zone 

St Helena is permanently on GMT (UTC). We do not use Daylight Saving Time.


The weather on St Helena is one of the island’s more unusual features. It can be sunny and calm in one place, and wet and windy only a few Km away. Read more on our Weather and climate page. Remember also that St Helena is in the Southern Hemisphere, so our summer runs from (roughly) November through to May.

How about St Helena at Christmas? Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
How about St Helena at Christmas?

Take a tour! 

Top Twenty things to do Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

A tour is one of our Top Twenty things to do during a visit to St Helena.

Top Twenty things to do Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

The way to go Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

The ride or drive along the mountain-tops, from Longwood across Sandy Bay ridge, and by Government House to Ladder Hill and Jamestown, is, for beauty of scenery, scarcely to be surpassed. The shady lanes, lined on each side with bright yellow blossoms of gorse, brilliant scarlet geraniums, and the deeper tints of the fuchsia mixing with the blue-green foliage and orange-coloured blossoms of the buddlea, and the pale-green leaves of the young oak trees, are very charming, and not less so when these suddenly give place to a rich meadow or sunny hayfieldhayfield. The intricate nature of the roads, winding in and out of numerous valleys and ravines, sometimes making it necessary to travel more than a mile to reach a spot but a few hundred yards distant, conveys an impression of greater size than that which the place really possesses, and several days, at least, are necessary to obtain even a general idea of the Island.{c}

If you don’t want to explore the island yourself, or if you’d prefer to be guided, numerous tours are available. These include:{5}

  • Various taxi-tours, covering the whole island or whatever parts you agree with the driver. Operated by most of the island’s taxi drivers.

  • Aaron’s Adventure Tours, using an off-road vehicle to access areas of the island that normal vehicles can’t reach.

  • The Charabanc. Built by Chevrolet in 1929 and now operated by Corker’s Tours.

Taxi tour Robert Peters Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Taxi tour, Robert Peters

Aaron’s Adventures Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Aaron’s Adventures

The 1929 Charabanc Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
The 1929 Charabanc


To get the full selection and book onto a tour, contact the Tourist Office.

Touring 1939-style! Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Touring, 1939-style!{1}

Where to stay 

We regret that we can’t provide a comprehensive list of accommodation providers on St Helena. We have provided lots of useful general rentals advice on our Where To Stay page.

Tips and tricks when here 

Here are some tips and tricks that may help you when you are here:

Dutch sail-training vessel The Gulden Leeuw in 2016 Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Dutch sail-training vessel The Gulden Leeuw, in 2016
Walking St Helena Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
High Knoll Fort Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Carnival Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Blue Hill Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Dolphin watching Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Diana’s Peak Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Christmas Celebrations Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Castle Gardens Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Guns Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Jonathan the tortoise Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

Below: ShoppingTransportEntertainmentThe LawIn EmergencyOther


  • 24-hour shopping has not reached St Helena! Shops normally open 09:00-17:00 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 09:00-13:00 on Wednesday; and 09:00-13:00 and 18:30-20:30 on Saturday. A few open on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons and/or on Sunday mornings.

  • Most of the week’s fresh food (meat, vegetables) goes on sale on a Thursday. Some more arrives on Friday. Foods may be available on these days that you will not find for the rest of the week. Fresh fruit is available only for a day or so just after the Sea Freight ship comes up from Cape Town, though some is now air-freighted in (at a somewhat higher price).

  • There is no fresh milk - it is all UHT. There are local eggs and imported ones. The latter are shipped in frozen from South Africa and are really only good for cooking with. Ask which you are buying. All eggs need to be checked before use - break each into a cup before adding it to the pan/mixture.


  • There are no trains. Most buses are for home/duty transport only and do not carry fare-paying passengers. There is a very limited public bus service.

  • Taxis cannot be flagged down on the street. There is a taxi rank in Jamestown, in Market Street behind the Tourist Office. Otherwise you need to telephone - numbers are in the telephone book. Taxis are not required to carry a taxi sign; many are ordinary saloon cars - and not necessarily modern ones!

  • Cars can be hired. You can drive here as long as you have a valid driving licence issued in another country. If you are not used to driving a ‘manual’ (‘stick-shift’) car, it is possible to hire an automatic on St Helena; the Tourist Office should be able to help you find a renter. See also our Driving in St Helena page for local driving practices.

  • There are no 24-hour fuel services. Some stations open Sunday morning. Fuel is sold only in Jamestown (in Narra Backs, behind the Post Office - go down beside The Market), Half Tree Hollow and Longwood.


  • First see our What To Do page!

  • There are various bars around the island, open every night and until 1 or 2am Saturdays. All will welcome you - there are no ‘no-go’ areas.

  • There are few restaurants, as such, but plenty of more basic catering establishments. All must conform to fairly strict food hygene regulations. Most can provide a vegetarian option. Other dietary requirements are unlikely to be catered for.

  • Not all attractions are open all day, every day. Check with the attraction or the Tourist Office for opening times.

  • You can hire DVDs and Blu-Ray disks in two places, both in Jamestown. Don’t expect to find the very latest films - delivery can take a month or two.

  • Check with your accommodation provider whether TV is available, and what you need to pay. There is no free-to-air TV on St Helena.

The Law

  • Smoking is not permitted indoors in shops, offices, bars, restaurants and other enclosed places.

  • It is not permitted to drink alcohol on the street.

  • Public nakedness is not permitted. It is not clear whether or not topless sunbathing is permitted but it is certainly not practiced.

  • All drugs, including Cannabis, are illegal.

  • The age of consent for all sexual acts is 16 years.

  • Read our laws (‘Ordinances’)

In Emergency

  • For a medical emergency, dial 911 from any telephone - the call is free.

  • For Police, Fire and all other emergencies, dial 999 from any telephone - the call is free.

  • Other useful numbers (these are not free, and are not 24 hours):


  • Electricity on St Helena is delivered at 240 volts, 50Hz through a British standard 3-pin plug. Adaptors for other plug types and voltages are sometimes available but it is more reliable to bring your own.

  • IDD, Facsimile, Telegram and Internet are all available. Phone booths are located in Jamestown and the country districts. Collect calls are possible to South Africa, USA, Canada, United Kingdom and Ascension Island. Credit calls (AT&T cards only) are possible to USA, Canada & United Kingdom (for more information see our Communications page). Bring your laptop!

  • Few places accept credit cards - see Money.

  • If you are dependent on a special diet best bring supplies with you, or contact one of our grocers to check availability{6}. Be aware that you can’t import fruit or honey. Diabetics are common here and low-sugar foods and drinks are usually available.


St Helena National Trust Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

St Helena’s history and environment are discussed on our Endemic Species page and the St Helena National Trust website. The St Helena’s Nature Conservation Group (SNCG) website also has useful information.

The world was not left to us by our parents, it was lent to us by our children (African Proverb)


Local money the St Helena Pound Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

The local currency in St Helena is the Saint Helena Pound (SHP) which is linked at parity to the British Pound (Sterling; GBP). The £ symbol is used. Notes and coins are similar in denomination and appearance to their UK counterparts. A currency converter is available from XE.com.

Most businesses on St Helena will accept foreign currency for payment, but usually only Flag of The United Kingdom Saint Helena Island Info Visitor InformationSterling, Flag of The United States of America Saint Helena Island Info Visitor InformationUS Dollars, Flag of The European Union Saint Helena Island Info Visitor InformationEuro and Flag of South Africa Saint Helena Island Info Visitor InformationSouth African Rand. Sterling is accepted at par (i.e. 1:1) with St Helena Pounds; the rates at which the other currencies are accepted will be based on (but not necessarily the same as) those published weekly by our local bank. These may differ from rates advertised on websites and from other sources.

Banking services on St Helena are provided by the Bank of St Helena from whom further information may be obtained.

Please note that there are no ATMs on St Helena - cash has to be obtained manually at the Bank of St Helena during bank opening hours.

Official Tourist Brochures 

Tourism Poster 2016 Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Tourism Poster 2016

See also the Tourist Office brochures on:

There are some videos posted on YouTube® on the Tourist Office channel. Here is an example:

Visiting in the 1870s 

John Melliss, writing in 1875{8}, describes the voyage from the UK to, and arrival at St Helena:

The first week of the voyage is occupied in reaching Madeira, by which time the sea-sick voyagers, about whose sufferings so many accounts have been written, have sufficiently recovered to enjoy the enchanting break afforded by a few hours ashore in that lovely island. The next few days are occupied in steaming down amongst the beautiful islands of the Canarian Archipelago, with, generally, a fair view of the renowned Peak of Tenerifle towering high above the clouds. A sight of Cape Verde, on the coast of Africa ; and a day or two, by way of change, of that intolerable damp, steamy, hot atmosphere so inseparably associated with equatorial regions ; and then a week or ten days amongst the fresh South-east trade winds, the deep blue seas of the South Atlantic, with bright sunny skies, and St Helena is reached ; the voyager looking back with pleasure to what has been in reality nothing more than an agreeable yachting trip, instead of the much-dreaded long sea voyage.

On landing, the stranger is beset by a whole rabble of dirty boys, each eager to get possession of his order to find him a horse or carriage to visit Napoleon’s tomb, to conduct him to an hotel, or in some way to make something out of him. Horses there are plenty of, and even carriages can be found for a trip to the tomb and back at the moderate charge of two or three pounds.

These days there is no rabble of dirty boys and no horses or carriages, but you will find taxi drivers at the wharf, ready to assist.

A longer stay? 

Think you might want to stay here permanently? The island is idyllic, the people are friendly, the weather is warm, there are no snakes; what more could you want? Before you sell up, read our useful guide.

Even if you are only coming here for a year or two, you will find useful information on our Could you live here? page, including a guide to What to bring (and what to leave behind).

Read More 

Below: Article: Napoleon, tourists, divers and flu: flight opens up remote St HelenaArticle: Ship out to isolated St Helena before the planes land

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.
For the avoidance of doubt, you participate in any activities described herein entirely at your own risk.

Article: Napoleon, tourists, divers and flu: flight opens up remote St Helena

By Ed Cropley, Reuters, 14th October 2017{9}

JAMESTOWN, St Helena (Reuters) - On St Helena, the remote volcanic outcrop in the South Atlantic where Napoleon breathed his last, big changes are afoot - well, big by St Helena standards.

Onlookers peer through windows shortly after the first ever commercial flight landed at St Helena airport near Jamestown October 14 2017 Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Onlookers peer through windows shortly after the first ever commercial flight landed at St Helena airport near Jamestown, October 14, 2017

In the heart of the capital, Jamestown (population 600), Constable Cowie is worried about the Christmas traffic; Craig, the dive-master, is checking his emails twice a day; and Lucille, the local taxi magnate, is introducing 24-hour shifts.

For the 4,500 residents of the island, separated from Africa by nearly 2,000 km (1,240 miles) of ocean, the arrival this past weekend of the first ever commercial flight was cause for celebration and marked another step closer to their inclusion in the 21st century.

Saints, as locals are known, only got mobile phones and the Internet 18 months ago, supplementing the five-day boat trip to Cape Town that represented their only connection with the outside world.

Now, there is a weekly flight from Johannesburg - via Namibia’s Windhoek - to the spectacular St Helena airport, perched precariously on the edge of a cliff. Locals are hoping for a steady trickle of aviation thrill-seekers, French history buffs and whale-watchers.

According to Craig Yon, owner of diving company Into the Blue, a group of Swedish divers who had been contemplating a trip to see whale sharks next year booked within minutes of reading online that the inaugural flight had landed safely.

Things are really picking up, he said. Before, I’d only check my emails once a day. Now I have to check them in the morning and the afternoon.


There has been talk since the 1930s of an airport on St Helena, the involuntary abode of British colonial adversaries ranging from French emperor Napoleon to the Zulu King Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and 6,000 Afrikaners taken prisoner in the Boer War.

The current site was selected a decade ago after the prime location on the notoriously craggy 16x8 km (10x5 mile) island was ruled out because it was home to an important colony of the endangered wire bird, a type of indigenous plover.

Even after its construction, a mammoth engineering feat involving 8 million cubic metres (yards) of rock and 285 million pounds ($378 million) of British taxpayer money, the airport nearly didn’t happen.

The first test flights were buffeted by vicious cross-winds, making it too dangerous for large aircraft to land and leading to an 18-month delay in its opening, during which time the British press dubbed it the world’s most useless airport.

Saturday’s landing, in a 100-seater Embraer, involved a pre-touch-down briefing about emergency go-around procedures but passed off smoothly, to the cheers and delight of those on board and hundreds of Saints crammed into the glass-fronted terminal.

I was quite happy to see the plane land safely because there have been a lot of problems around that, with the wind shear, said 22-year-old police officer Sophie Cowie, whose beat is managing the traffic on Main St., Jamestown’s one road.

While some in Britain may question the value for money of the airport - more than 60,000 pounds per Saint - for the islanders it has already proved its worth, enabling several emergency medical evacuations, including a newborn child.

However, one possible unintended consequence of more arrivals is the increased spread of disease to an island whose animal and human inhabitants have been protected from many of the world’s germs.

In the past week, the island’s schools have been almost empty due to a bout of flu. Said to have been brought in on the boat from Cape Town, it has laid low 80 percent of pupils.

Our Comment: Mobile ‘phones came 18 months ago; the Internet has been here for 20+ years; and there are two pricipal roads in Jamestown, not one!

Article: Ship out to isolated St Helena before the planes land

by Franz Krüger, Mail & Guardian, South Africa, 13th February 2015{9}

Please note that there are a number of inaccuracies in this article, which we have noted in footnotes, but for the feel of a trip to St Helena it is spot on.

Drawn by romance and remoteness, a family embarks on a holiday to St Helena.

Head for the hills The forbidding cliffs and rocky coastline are a stark contrast to the lush vegetation of the hilly areas in the central part of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
Head for the hills: The forbidding cliffs and rocky coastline are a stark contrast to the lush vegetation of the hilly areas in the central part of St Helena

There’s something uniquely attractive about islands. Self-contained and complete, their defined edges offer a sharp sense of being cut off from our everyday, grown-up lives. It is the attraction of the Robinson Crusoe story, the dream of being left alone to rule our own world, at least for a while.

Turned to darker purposes, that isolation has made a long line of prison islands possible: the Isle d’If, Alcatraz, Robben Island.

And St Helena, where Napoleon lived out his days, that British speck in the South Atlantic that is thousands of miles from the coasts of South America and Africa. It is one of the most remote places on Earth, and access is still only possible by ship - a five-day voyage from Cape Town on the RMS St Helena.

Drawn by romance and remoteness, our family began thinking about a holiday on St Helena. We were looking for a real break. The island seemed to be the opposite of Johannesburg, with its endless traffic, crime concerns and the twin obscenities of poverty and corruption.

After long preparations, we found ourselves at the Missions to Seafarers in the Cape Town docks, waiting to be bused to the RMS St Helena’s berth.

The RMS is the last working Royal Mail Ship in the world{10} and still the island’s only regular connection to the outside world. She brings pretty much everything needed by the Saints, as the islanders call themselves. This is all set to change in the coming months.

The island’s first airport is being built, an ambitious project that is costing the British government R3-billion and involves filling in a whole valley. It is due to become operational in 2016, and then the island’s isolation will be dramatically lessened as it takes its place on the grid of airline connections.

The ship service will be discontinued at that point, and the RMS sold off. As we steamed north, the knowledge that it was one of the last opportunities to experience this way of travel was never far away.

The ship has comfortable accommodation for about 150 passengers, avoiding the brash glitziness of the big cruise ships.

You can spend the voyage reading, staring at the ocean and enjoying more meals than is healthy, but there is also a daily programme of activities, organised by a staff of excessively enthusiastic white-uniformed pursers.

The passengers were an interesting mix: a small number of tourists, some people travelling to the island for work, such as on the airport project, and then islanders who have been away for work, for medical treatment or to visit relatives elsewhere.

At first light on the fifth day, we had our first sight of the volcanic island: a looming presence on the horizon, its heights hidden in dark cloud. It was what the Portuguese seafarer João da Nova must have seen in 1502, when he and his crew became the first human beings to set eyes on it.

No easy access Jamestown provides a difficult entry point to the island of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
No easy access: Jamestown provides a difficult entry point to the island of St Helena{2}{d}

The mind boggles at the sheer luck of finding this scrap of land in the vastness of the Atlantic, although his achievement is somewhat undermined by the fact that he promptly lost the island again. He noted down the position incorrectly, and it took the Portuguese some time before they rediscovered it{11}.

The RMS St Helena sailed past sheer rocky cliffs around the island to get to Jamestown, the main town, on the northwestern side. There are very few landing places - together with its remoteness, this made it ideal as a prison island.

Besides Napoleon, Britain held Boer War prisoners, Bahreini princes and the Zulu chief Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo here at various times.

We entered James’ Bay through a pod of what seemed like hundreds of dolphins and anchored. There is no harbour, and small lighters came to fetch us while the ship’s cranes lifted containers on to pontoons that carried them to the wharf.

Getting ashore is an adventure all on its own. It was easy enough to get aboard the lighter, but at the wharf teams of men with boathooks and ropes had to hold the boat as steady as possible.

It needs fine timing to step ashore just when the swell brings it briefly level with the land. For the infirm, the RMS St Helena offers an ‘air taxi’ - a metal box that is lifted by crane.

After clearing immigration, we drove our rented car into Jamestown, which has a population of 600 and is about as wide as a Johannesburg highway. All we had to do to be allowed to drive was report to the police station, where a British policeman entered our details into a large ledger.

The town’s main road runs from the seafront past a moat and a castle wall, a park and rows of Georgian houses to a tree where slaves were traded. There it splits into Napoleon Street and Market Street. The former leads out of town, the latter first climbs past the Bank of St Helena, which issues the island’s currency{12}, then up to the hospital and out. And that’s the town.

The roads inland are winding, steep and so narrow that cars can only pass each other every now and again. Driving needs a different set of skills: you don’t need to know about any gear higher than third, but you do need to know the intricate system of giving way. There are no traffic lights but the basic rule of the road is: greet everybody.

And there’s the surprise: as the roads climb past places with names like Ladder Fort, Half Tree Hollow and Alarm Forest, the landscape changes quickly. The coastal strip around the island is rocky and bare, almost like a desert, giving way to hillsides covered in cactuses. But the higher central part is cool and misty, green and lush.

Here, there are forests and meadows, and the roads are lined with ancient, knobbly trees straight out of Middle-earth. You expect them to spring to life like Ents.

High Knoll Fort Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information
High Knoll Fort

We climbed past ferns, thickets of flax and the occasional cannon to the highest point, Diana’s Peak. We noted the day’s significance in the Postbox on top, where you can record your presence and collect a stamp. From there, the whole island is visible, its green heart and harsh edges, and the endless ocean in all directions.

As attractive as the landscape is, the island environment has been reshaped by centuries of human activity, to such an extent that it is now almost impossible to tell clearly what it looked like originally.

There are no endemic land mammals, but goats, rabbits, pheasant and other animals and birds were brought to the island to supply passing ships. Forests were felled, and flax introduced to support an industry that flourished in the first half of the 20th century.

Among the animals brought to the island is the tortoise Jonathan who, at some 180 years, is reputed to be the oldest living land animal in the world. With other, younger tortoises, he lives in the grounds of Plantation House, the governor’s residence, where he apparently enjoys an active sex life.

The only surviving endemic bird species is the wirebird, a type of plover, that can be seen running around open, grassy areas.

Beyond the landscape and the historical sites, hikes and dives, the real attraction of the island is to see, however briefly and imperfectly, what life is like for this small, remote community of about 4,000 people.

The descendants of European settlers, African slaves and Chinese labourers, they speak an English that can be hard to understand, with a tendency to swallow the ends of words and sentences, an odd use of the verb ‘to be’, and stretched vowels: ‘It’s over the-ere!’

I puzzled over the nature of the island’s isolation: there was no cellphone network yet, the satellite internet connection is slow and expensive, but a range of television channels is available and the BBC World Service can be heard on FM.

It’s not as if the island is completely cut off, but the sense of physical isolation is strong. Watching the RMS St Helena steam out of James’ Bay, one is acutely aware that there is no other way to leave the island.

Surprisingly for such a small community, there are two local radio channels and two weekly newspapers, one of each supported by the government and one independent. None of them spent much time on the South African story - local Christmas activities were much more important.

Of these, there were many. We attended two Salvation Army carol services, a pantomime at Prince Andrew High School and a concert in St. James church.

The most surprising was the Festival of Light: one evening just before Christmas, adults and children gathered at the hospital carrying coloured lights. They formed a loose and cheerful procession and made their way down to the seafront, accompanied by brightly decorated vans and cars blaring carols.

There the party continued late into the night. It felt as though every person on the island must have been there.

The shops are mostly general dealers and it takes a while to work out that the shop where you’re most likely to find stationery is also the one which sells wetsuits and costumes for hen parties, obviously a significant market. Advertising is minimal, and some of the shop signage seems to have remained unchanged for 100 years or more.

Noticeable for us as South Africans was the lack of crime. A lost wallet was announced on the radio, while police reports refer to damaged hedges, drunk driving and being cheeky to an officer.

The population of Her Majesty’s Prison, painted a pretty blue, consisted of 13, and we were not sure whether to believe the story that the inmates were allowed out on a Friday to choose videos to watch.

On a short visit, it seems idyllic, but domestic abuse is an issue and small-town politics and gossip can be pretty vicious.

The airport project is set to change life on St Helena fundamentally and irreversibly. The topic is never far from conversation, and reactions are multifaceted.

On the one hand, there are hopes of new economic opportunities to reverse the emigration of younger Saints - new hotels are being planned, and a sizeable fishing boat has been acquired that hopes to supply European markets.

There is also relief that emergency medical help will be more accessible by air than by the current ship connection to Cape Town.

At the same time, there is scepticism about whether the promised growth in tourism will materialise, worries about the costs of airline tickets and how cargo will be brought in when the regular mail ship service is stopped.

We were glad to have been able to visit the island before all this change happens.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Visitor Information

Laugh at funny Visitor Information humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


{a} www.lonelyplanet.com/st-helena, downloaded October 2015{9}{b} Eliza Fay, Letter, 1817{9}{c} St Helena: A Physical, Historical and Topographical Description of the Island, including the Geology, Fauna, Flora and Meteorology, by John Melliss, published in 1875, 1875{9}{d} Tourist Office


{1} Visitors on the Viceroy of India.{2} True, but this isn’t actually a picture of Jamestown{3} The scheduled commercial air service actually started on 14th October 2017, but what’s a year in our 500-year history!{4} Um…no - the mobile service started in 2015.{5} This is a random selection. For a full list, contact the Tourist Office.{6} Thorpe’s, Solomon & Company or the Queen Mary Stores.{7} Please first read this warning.{8} In St Helena: A Physical, Historical and Topographical Description of the Island, including the Geology, Fauna, Flora and Meteorology, by John Melliss, published in 1875.{9} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.{10} A common misconception. See our RMS St Helena page for information about the others.{11} Another charming myth! See our page A Brief History page for more.{12} Sorry, but no it doesn’t. St Helena Government’s Currency Board does that.

Take Me Anywhere But Here!

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