What To Do

The essentials!

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did.
Mark Twain

The ‘top 20’ things to do on St Helena.

This page is in indexes: Island Activity, Island Detail

What To Do Saint Helena Island Info

Below: Take a tour“Do Napoleon”Visit Jonathan and Plantation HouseSee a WirebirdMeet some SaintsClimb Jacob’s LadderGo by boat to Lemon ValleyHave a walkWalk up Diana’s PeakAdmire the starsTry our coffeeTaste Plo and local fishcakesVisit our MuseumDive our clear blue watersInvestigate our built heritageSet off for a driveRelax in Castle GardensMeet a donkeyTake lots of photographsDo some shoppingOther suggestionsRead More

This is our ‘bucket list’ of the top twenty things you must try to squeeze into a visit to St Helena. There is a mixture here - some are for anybody but some will require a degree of physical effort; you must decide what you are capable of doing. You will probably need about two weeks to do them all!

We welcome feedback on our list.

Take a tour 

Take a tour Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

There is no better way to get an overview of St Helena than from a guided tour. It could be your best first activity. Then you can go back later to the places that interested you most and explore further. Many are available - book at the Tourist Office.

Relevant pages: Island History; Jamestown; Visitor Information

“Do Napoleon” 

“Do Napoleon” Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Possibly the island’s best-known resident, Napoleon and his effect on St Helena are hard to ignore. A visit to Longwood House will also include a stop at Napoleon’s Tomb, and possibly a vist to The Briars too. Souvenirs are available at Longwood House.

Relevant pages: Napoleon; Longwood House; Napoleon’s Tomb; Alarm Forest

Visit Jonathan and Plantation House 

Location map:
Location Map jonathanplantationhouse Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

One of the 2018 Seven Wonders of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Visit Jonathan and Plantation House Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Jonathan may well be the world’s oldest living animal. You probably won’t be able to actually pet him but even if you only see him in the distance he is worth the trip. You may also be lucky enough to get a tour around Plantation House.

Relevant pages: Jonathan the tortoise; Plantation House

See a Wirebird 

See a Wirebird Saint Helena Island Info What To Do{a}

There is nowhere else on the planet that you can see a Wirebird. It isn’t all that hard, though a little walking may be required. Ask at the Tourist Office or the St Helena National Trust offices (in Main Street, Jamestown).

Relevant pages: The Wirebird

Meet some Saints 

Meet some Saints Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

You will encounter Saints all the time, but make the effort to engage them in conversation and you will uncover a wealth of thoughts, feelings and aspirations. Saints are always delighted to talk to strangers and will happily converse in English (as opposed to Saint!) Share a little about yourself and why you are on St Helena and they will open up and tell you much that you would never learn from the tourist guides, or even from this website! And if you want to see Saints at play, and you are not lucky enough for your visit to coincide with one of our festivals, simply go down to Donny’s Bar at the Seaside on Friday or Saturday night (from 9pm onwards); be prepared to buy a few drinks!

Relevant pages: Speak Saint; Holidays and other festivals; Carnival

Climb Jacob’s Ladder 

Location map:
Location Map jacobsladder Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

One of the 2018 Seven Wonders of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Climb Jacob’s Ladder Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

You know you have to! The Ladder’s 699 near-vertical steps may be a challenge, but it’s one all but the elderly or infirm should not resist. Take plenty of water with you, especially on a hot day, and arrange for someone with a vehicle to meet you at the top (walking down is actually much tougher on the legs than walking up). And, in case you’re interested, the record for an ascent of Jacob’s Ladder is a shade over five minutes…but we recommend you take it slower!

Relevant pages: Jacob’s Ladder

Go by boat to Lemon Valley 

Location map:
Location Map lemonvalley Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Go by boat to Lemon Valley Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

The boat trip is an excursion in itself, including Dolphin Watching and a visit to one of the main seabird nesting sites, Egg Island. Take a picnic and also your swimming kit - Lemon Valley’s bay is safe for swimming and usually quite calm. Book at the Tourist Office.

Relevant pages: Lemon Valley; Dolphin watching; ‘Seabirds’

Have a walk 

Have a walk Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Whether you do something more strenuous like Lot’s Wife’s Ponds, something easier like Flagstaff, or something gentle like the trip up to the Heart Shaped Waterfall, you really should get out in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery.

Relevant pages: Walking St Helena; The Heart Shaped Waterfall; Photography

Walk up Diana’s Peak 

Location map:
Location Map dianaspeak Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

One of the 2018 Seven Wonders of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Walk up Diana’s Peak Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

You must walk up to the top of Diana’s Peak. Why? Because it’s there!{1}. You will also encounter many of our endemic plants and maybe some endemic invertebrates too. Plus the view from the top is spectacular!

Relevant pages: Diana’s Peak; Walking St Helena; Endemic Species

Admire the stars 

One of the 2018 Seven Wonders of St Helena Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Admire the stars Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Especially if you live in a built up area, you may find our Night Sky almost incredible. Even if you can’t identify any of the stars or constellations, the sheer density of the Milky Way never fails to impress.

Relevant pages: Astronomy

Try our coffee 

Try our coffee Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Napoleon said that our coffee was the only good thing about St Helena. We think he was wrong about the rest of St Helena, but our coffee really is special. Get it at: the Coffee Shop in Jamestown, just opposite the Mule Yard; at Ann’s Place in Castle Gardens; or at the Consulate Hotel.

Relevant pages: St Helena Coffee; Napoleon; The Mule Yard; Castle Gardens

Taste Plo and local fishcakes 

Taste Plo and local fishcakes Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

If you want a real St Helena flavour to your stay, try our St Helena fishcakes (if you don’t like too much chilli, ask for the “less bite” version) and also a dish of Plo. Of course, “normal” food is also available, but why come here just to eat exactly what you would have at home?

Relevant pages: Fishcakes, and other food; Speak Saint

Visit our Museum 

Location map:
Location Map museum Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Visit our Museum Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

See all of St Helena’s fascinating history, with lots of exhibits from over 500 years since the island was discovered. You can also buy souvenirs at the gift shop.

Relevant pages: Island History; A Brief History

Dive our clear blue waters 

Dive our clear blue waters Saint Helena Island Info What To Do{b}

If you are a qualified diver, or are here long enough to take a course, diving around St Helena is an unforgettable experience. You can get up-close-and-personal with endemic species of fish, explore old wreck, and all in clear blue and warm water. The whale sharks are spectacular!

Relevant pages: Diving; Lost Ships

Investigate our built heritage 

Investigate our built heritage Saint Helena Island Info What To Do{c}

Not just in Jamestown but across the whole of the island we have a fascinating collection of historic buildings. Forts, churches, houses, shops - and the great thing is that these are mostly not museum pieces, they are in active use today, as they have been for the last few hundred years. And you can explore Georgian Jamestown on foot!

Relevant pages: Historic Buildings; High Knoll Fort; Churches of St Helena; Lost and almost-lost Buildings

Set off for a drive 

Set off for a drive Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Driving in St Helena is quite an experience. You will probably do more hill-starts in one day than you have in the rest of your life! The roads are narrow, winding and rough and your hired vehicle is unlikely to be the latest model (or even the one before that!) What is there not to love?

Relevant pages: Driving in St Helena

Relax in Castle Gardens 

Location map:
Location Map castlegardens Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Relax in Castle Gardens Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Everyone goes to Castle Gardens at some point in their stay. Although in the middle of busy Jamestown{2}, it’s an oasis of calm where you can listen to the birds and the trickle of the fountain. A great place to eat your lunch and relax between your morning and afternoon activities.

Relevant pages: Castle Gardens; Jamestown

Meet a donkey 

Location map:
Location Map casons Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Meet a donkey Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Donkeys were, for many years, the “backbone of St Helena transport”. Now retired, but used occasionally for demonstrations, they live in a field by Casons (in the Blue Hill district) which is easily accessible from the main road{3}. Probably best not to try and feed them but if you get out of your car they will usually come up for a pat on the nose. Watch your fingers though - they don’t intend to bite but sometimes get a bit carried away!

Relevant pages: Donkeys; Blue Hill

Take lots of photographs 

Take lots of photographs Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Whatever else you might leave behind, don’t forget your camera! There are so many amazing things to photograph on St Helena you will seriously regret not having it with you. And if it uses anything other than standard batteries, bring plenty and/or the charger.

Relevant pages: Photography; Pictures

Do some shopping 

Do some shopping Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Seek out some souvenirs to take back with you and amaze your friends! If you look around you will find plenty of locally-made items, many made from local wood or other materials.

Relevant pages: Shopping: What to buy

Other suggestions 

We decided to open this up to public debate on our Facebook™ page. Here are some of the suggestions:

Trip to lemon valley

A trip around the island with Enchanted Isle

A walk around fairyland the scenery is stunning

Saint is the Galapagos of the south Atlantic let tourist see this endemic , let people see the nature of the island , the peaks is a small rain forest , let people explore , train guides so know the geography of the island know about rear spices , show the beauty of the island , show they don’t know , not the napoleons house

Walk to the picnic bench in Plantation Forest for a great view of Plantation House and the valley infront.

Take a walk down to Sandy Bay, take a dip in Lot’s wife ponds, visit High Knoll, see the special endemic flora of the island…to suggest a few more.

Visit a coffee plantation.

A visit and snack at Ann’s Place is so memorable. It is a must…

The saint food is amazing; still use the St Helena cook book. On a slightly less serious note the organised bus ride round the island bars is probably something you wouldn’t get anywhere else!

Look at the stars on a clear night without moon. You will be flying away to the universe…

Go the spot where Halley observed the transit of Venus. Lie down and gaze into the heavens. Magical!

Get out on the boat trips and swim with whale sharks, go diving and do as many of the Post Box Walks as you can fit in.

On 22nd June 2017 the St Helena Sentinel published its own Top Ten, which is reproduced below.

See also the Tourist Office brochure on St Helena Activities (7.8Mb).

Read More 

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

Article: Celebrating St Helena

Published in the St Helena Sentinel 22nd June 2017{4}{d}

Celebrating St Helena Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info What To Do

Laugh at funny What To Do humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


{a} Andrew/Peter Neaum

{b} Bruce Salt, ZD7VC

{c} Marc Lavaud/Tourist Office

{d} South Atlantic Media Services Ltd (SAMS){4}


{1} George Mallory, one of the team that first ascended Mount_Everest is famously quoted as having replied to the question “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” with the retort “Because it’s there”, which has been called “the most famous three words in mountaineering”, though the authenticity of the quote is disputed.

{2} Well, busy by St Helena standards!

{3} For “main road” read “only road”!

{4} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.


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