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Visitor Information

Come and discover our island

It’s better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times{b}

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

Why come here

One of the giant tortoises at Plantation House
One of the giant tortoises at Plantation House

Is St Helena just: An unremarkable island famous only as the place to which Napoleon was exiled in 1815{c}? If you think so, please keep reading…

15°58’48”S 5°45’0”W

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 and where the air-quality is unimaginably high, even in the City of Jamestown. 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 pages indexed from Island Pictures. For starters read A Very Brief History of our island then perhaps our page Quick Facts, 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.

Want to try our local food in your own home? We have some local recipes.


All visitors require passports that will remain valid for six months after the intended departure date, confirmation of pre-arranged accommodation, and medical insurance that will cover the cost of their emergency evacuation if necessary. They will normally be granted an entry permit for a period of three months, which may be extended up to a period of one year. Please note that there is no Wi-Fi access at the airport, so any documentation needs to be downloaded to your Device or printed before arrival.
Do I need a Visa? Check and apply here or see here.

How to get here

The many ways to get to St Helena are discussed on our page Getting Here, 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.{d}

Facts about St Helena

Below: Can I bring my pet dog/cat/parrot/elephant?Time ZoneDistrictsEnvironmentMoneyWeather

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

Gurrs with Stanley

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 Veterinary 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. We do not use Daylight Saving Time.



St Helena is divided into eight administrative districts, each of which has a page on this site, and there is also our page Districts of St Helena. In alphabetic order they are: Alarm Forest, Blue Hill, Half Tree Hollow, Jamestown, Levelwood, Longwood, Sandy Bay and St Pauls.


The world was not left to us by our parents, it was lent to us by our children.{e}

St Helena National Trust

St Helena’s natural history and unique flora and fauna are discussed on ourpages indexed from Island Nature , in particular our page Endemic Species. The St Helena’s Nature Conservation Group (SNCG) and St Helena National Trust websites also have useful information.

In 2022 St Helena was declared the Best Eco-location and Sustainable Tourism Destination in the World Commerce Review Awards.


Local money - the St Helena Pound

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, though St Helena is not yet using plastic banknotes. Learn more about the money we use on St Helena. A currency converter is available from XE.com.

Banking services on St Helena{3} are provided by the Bank of St Helena from whom further information may be obtained.

The financial year for the Government of St Helena and all businesses/organisations runs from 1st April until 31st March. We are currently in financial year .


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. Learn more on our page Weather and climate. Remember also that St Helena is in the Southern Hemisphere, so our summer runs from (roughly) November through to May.

A tip about the sun: St Helena is much closer to the Equator than Britain and the rest of Northern Europe, which means the sun here has much more Ultraviolet light, which in turn means you sun tan/burn much faster. If you are fair-skinned you will need strong sunblock or should limit your exposure to the sun (not just direct sunlight, but also reflected light off, for example, light-coloured buildings).

Take a tour!

The way to go

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 buddleia, 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 hayfield. 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.{f}

Below: Suggested ToursTour HistoryExploring on your own

Suggested Tours

If you don’t want to explore the island yourself, or if you’d prefer to be guided, numerous tours are available. These are the ones we recommend{4}:

Note that only the tours listed above are recommended. If you can personally recommend a tour we have not listed please contact us.

There are various other taxi-tours, usually covering the whole island or whatever parts you agree with the driver, operated by most of the island’s taxi drivers. To get the full selection and book onto a tour, contact the Tourist Information Office.

Tour History

Your tour guide may tell you stories that are at variance with the history presented on this website. Do not allow this to disturb you. What you are hearing is the folk-history of St Helena, as passed down through generations and based on half-remembered lessons at school from teachers who themselves learned St Helena history from others. Enjoy this for what it is - just don’t base your St Helena History Doctoral Thesis on it!

Exploring on your own

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 page Where To Stay.

You may say that we travelled a long distance to find a little fort, three pubs, some decaying houses, odd Europeans, nice islanders, a few historical relics, dramatic views, flowers and sunshine. We would not agree with you. Had we travelled twice as far and stayed half the time, we would still have been uniquely enriched.{g}

Tips and tricks when here

Set out below are some tips and tricks that may help you when you are here. Our page Quick Facts may also be a helpful introduction.

Below: ShoppingTransportEntertainmentLawEmergencyOther


This subject is covered on our page Shopping on St Helena.



The Law

These are just a few points. Please remember that the law here is not the same as in England.

In Emergency


Enjoy the following independent 2024 video from Sailing SV Cassius:


Official Tourist Information

Tourism Poster 2016
Tourism Poster 2016

The Tourist Information Office is located in Jamestown, in The Cannister. The office is usually only open in normal office hours: 08:30h-16:00h, Monday to Friday. If the office is closed, but the adjacent Art & Crafts Shop is open, you may be able to get some help in there.

There is also information on the Tourist Information Office logo @@E@@Tourist Information Office website.

See the Tourist Information Office brochures on:

The following Tourist Information Office Videos{h} may be of interest{10}:

Tourist Information Office Video, 2022 ⋅ Right-click to download this video
Tourist Information Office Video, 2011 ⋅ Right-click to download this video

There are also some videos posted on YouTube™ on the Tourist Information Office channel.

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 page Could you live here?, including a guide to What to bring (and what to leave behind).

Features for today

Read More

Below: World Tourism DaySomething to discussFeature: Abercrombie & Kent Announces a New Private Jet Journey Departing in October 2024Article: Sustainable Tourism and a Remote Island19th Century visits

World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day is celebrated globally and on St Helena every year on 27th September. Learn more about the day on the Wikipedia.

Events on St Helena, organised by the Tourist Information Office, are mostly focussed on showing locals the tourism opportunities the island offers. If 27th September falls at the weekend activities take place on the preceding Friday or the following Monday.

Something to discuss

The following was written by two tourists departing St Helena after a two-week stay. Their views are interesting and should prompt discussion. Saint Helena Island Info does not necessarily agree with the views expressed.

We have spent the last two weeks on your beautiful Island staying at the Mantis Hotel. The experience has been broadly positive but there are areas which could be improved to enhance the tourist experience, perhaps attracting a greater number of tourists in the future.

The following were excellent experiences:

Less good but still interesting were:


Excellent rooms with air-con & WiFi. Staff friendly and helpful but on occasion there appeared to be more staff than necessary. The terrace areas would benefit from introducing potted plants/greenery. The provision of free WiFi is a big plus for tourists


Name & email address supplied

Feature: Abercrombie & Kent Announces a New Private Jet Journey Departing in October 2024

Abercrombie & Kent Announces a New Private Jet Journey Departing in October 2024

This New 26-day Private Jet Journey Makes 7 Iconic Stops, Including Dinner With a King, Cocktails on a Volcano, and Tea in a Famous Japanese Garden.

By Stefanie Waldek, published on www.travelandleisure.com September 20th, 2023{11}

Are you shopping around for the private jet journey of your dreams, but can’t find an itinerary to suit your fancy? Abercrombie & Kent’s newest trip has some tantalizingly unique stops that might win you over.

The 26-day trip, which departs on Oct. 13, 2024, makes seven stops around the world and offers guests unique experiences at each and stays at top luxury hotels.

The adventure begins in Portland, Oregon, where up to 46 guests will boardNa private Boeing 757 with all lie-flat seats. From there, they will fly to Kanazawa, Japan, where guests spend three days on the ground. A notable highlight from this leg of the trip is a private tea ceremony in the Kenroku-en Garden a unique experience that has never been offered to garden visitors before.

The following part of the journey brings you to India. Specifically to the territory of Ladakh, where the Ladakh’s royal family will host a gala dinner for guests at Stok Palace. (The Indian government formally abolished its princely families in 1971.) Then the itinerary continues in Malta, where activities range from a visit to the World War II-era Lascaris War Rooms, a polo match at the Malta Polo Club, and a village feast complete with a marching band procession.

Up next is Senegal guests will ride 4x4 buggies across dunes on an exhilarating Dakar Rally experience, then catch performances of folk lore ballet and Senegalese music. From there, the private jet heads across the Atlantic, making a stop at the island of St. Helena, where Napoleon lived in exile.

Stop number six, for those keeping track, is Uruguay. Guests will visit the workshop of artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, enjoy an Uruguayan meal crafted by chef Francis Mallmann, and taste wine at Estancia Vik.

Then it’s time for another remote island: Easter Island. Yes, guests will see the iconic moai statues, but they’ll also have sunset cocktails on the dormant volcano Rano Kau. And finally, the journey ends in French Polynesia. After so much activity, guests can simply relax at the private island resort The Brando to wind down the trip.

This adventure takes us around the world on one of the most compelling itineraries I’ve ever created, with nearly every stop well off the typical tourist paths, Geoffrey Kent, Abercrombie & Kent’s founder, said in a statement obtained by Travel + Leisure. Kent, who will also be on the trip, said there are several places he will be visiting for the first time.

Abercrombie & Kent’s new private jet journey starts at $184,950 per person.

Article: Sustainable Tourism and a Remote Island

By James Bainbridge, Round Trip Foundation, 17th February 2019{11}

Following the opening of St Helena Airport, the remote island is looking for ways to boost its economy through sustainable tourism.

The great primeval bulk of the Barn, part of the rocky coastline of this island formed by volcanic eruptions, towers above the crashing waves as the 100-seat aircraft shakily approaches St Helena Airport. It’s quite an entrance to one of the world’s remotest islands, located about a third of the way across the South Atlantic from Southern Africa to Brazil and accessible, since 2017, by weekly Airlink flights from Johannesburg. St Helena is so remote that the flight here takes six hours, as opposed to four hours on the way back, because the plane has to refuel in Windhoek before it crosses Namibia’s Skeleton Coast and the open sea: if the small Embraer aircraft is unable to land at the island’s wind-shear-prone airport, it needs enough reserve fuel to make it back to mainland Africa.

Sustainable Tourism and a Remote Island

The sheer remoteness of this British Overseas Territory once inspired the Brits to banish Napoleon Bonaparte to the island’s green hinterland, where he died after five years in exile. Around 6000 Boers and a party of troublesome Zulus would also spend several years here, in a history that saw 1000 ships dock annually during the island’s heyday as an English East India Company outpost, before its fortunes declined when trade routes shifted north with the opening of the Suez Canal. Today, tourism is a key plank in the island’s economic development plan for the next decade, but transforming the sector into a healthy and sustainable industry faces challenges.

Firstly, there is the inevitable issue of access. The announcement of weekly flights, following the controversial airport’s construction, was welcomed by Saints, as the 4500 islanders are known. There are also extra flights around Christmas, partly catering to the many Saints, who work in Ascension Island, the Falklands, the UK and beyond; a great leap forward from the five-night ocean crossing from Cape Town, even if Saints wax nostalgic about the RMS St Helena (1990-2018).

That said, the Embraer’s limited capacity is restrictive and, more significantly, so is the cost of flights, coming in at around £800 return from Johannesburg. Considering the wonderful Southern African destinations that can be reached for less from Johannesburg, including well-established tourism destinations from Cape Town to the Okavango Delta, it is unsurprising that planes to St Helena are rarely full. There is also the risk of not being able to land at the island’s windy airport, which could lead to a long wait in the Johannesburg Holiday Inn. A good illustration of these factors was the Fox family whom I met on the plane, six brothers and sisters who had emigrated to South Africa as children and were finally returning, 60 years later. They could no more afford to fly than they could face the sea crossing, and were finally visiting their birthplace thanks to a special on flights.

Sustainable Tourism and a Remote Island

So how does St Helena build its brand and compete with the stiff tourism competition? Already, many Saints are frustrated that the airport has not provided the hoped-for boost to the island’s economy, which remains reliant on the UK, and tourism businesses receive low footfall. The island does, however, have strong appeal, both to adventurous seekers of a bucket-list, once-in-a-lifetime experience of this remote British outpost and to niche markets. The Napoleon connection is a marketer’s dream, with sights including the French-owned Longwood House, where the Emperor spent his days drinking sweet wine and dictating his memoirs, his tomb (now empty) and his first residence on the island, Briars Pavilion. I met several French tour operators on a recce and one already specialising in St Helena, while St Helena Distillery, the world’s remotest distillery, is making a brandy to mark the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death, which is set to attract French pilgrim-tourists in 2021. Producing spiced rum, coffee liqueur, gin from the local juniper and schnapps-like Tungi from the island’s prickly pears, the distillery opened in advance of the airport and benefits from both souvenir hunters and local consumption. (In the bars of maritime Jamestown, the Shipwreck, a mixture of spiced rum and Coke, has long been a Saint favourite, while beer drinkers generally choose between South African and Namibian lagers.)

In terms of niche tourism, the rich marine life and shipwrecks attract locally run boat, snorkel and dive excursions; St Helena is one of the best places to swim with magnificent Whale Sharks, the world’s biggest shark. There is also an 18-hole golf course and resort in the pipeline, but its slated development in the island’s pristine heartland has angered some locals and, as a bleak report on St Helena by British mogul Lord Ashcroft notes, the developer recently changed hands. For me, there was major appeal in the fascinating history of this 120-sq-km island, the quirks of life here and the friendly Saints themselves. In the era of Trump, BREXIT and terrorism, when the number of Brits and Americans emigrating to sleepy New Zealand has doubled, St Helena offers a safe and old-fashioned village atmosphere, where everyone knows each other (literally) and motorists unfailingly wave at passing cars. The mixed-race Saints trace their roots back to the settlers, soldiers and slaves who arrived across the ocean, including British sailors, African slaves, Chinese and Indian workers and Boer prisoners; not unlike South Africa’s ‘coloured’ population, whose mixed genealogy includes the slaves and Islamic dissidents brought from the East Indies by the Dutch East India Company.

Sustainable Tourism and a Remote Island

Unlike South Africa, St Helena’s is an uncommonly non-racial and colour-blind society, but the comparison between the two carries through to language. Like Afrikaans, a creolisation of Dutch by the ancestors of today’s coloured people, the thickly accented, rapid-fire, slang-peppered English spoken by Saints is the unique legacy of the diverse people brought by the Trade Winds. Somehow managing to simultaneously echo Cornish, Irish, American and Australian lingo, the best description I heard of the Saints dialect was ‘like a cross between Yoda and a pirate’.

With this sociological interest in mind, the historical Magma Way tours run by Basil and Kevin George were fascinating, not just to see the sights but to hear their anecdotes of island life. Showing us Jamestown’s vertiginous 699-step Jacob’s Ladder, built in 1829 to haul up manure and send goods down, 82-year-old Basil demonstrated the technique he developed for sliding down the railings on his way home from school. The many historical sights range from capital-in-a-canyon Jamestown and the imposing 19th-century High Knoll Fort to the Boer Cemetery and the white stones in Ruperts Valley, a memorial to the slaves once buried in unmarked graves.

Culturally, tourism can help Saints to preserve their traditions - a concern for some with young people leaving in search of work while the airport, not to mention the forces of globalisation, brings in outsiders. Given the island’s small population, an influx of even just a few hundred people could have a profound impact; South Africa comes to mind with its high rates of crime and emigration, and one family on my flight was a case in point. Answering this issue was the hands-on cooking experience at Richards Travel Lodge, where Linda Richards taught us how to make island specialities including spicy fishcakes and Plo, a kind of curried paella.

Similarly, conservation of the island’s endemic flora and fauna, which most famously includes the plover, known locally as the Wirebird, has to contend with centuries of alien species. Notable incomers include African succulents, the termites that reduced Jamestown to dust in the 19th century and, most recently, the elusive simian-feline ‘Monk-Cat’, thought to be a civet that hopped off a boat from Namibia. There is now the 32-acre Millennium Forest Project to re-establish rare endemic gumwoods, while my walks with St Helena National Trust guides to Blue Point and Diana’s Peak (823m), the island’s highest point, were scenic highlights. The walks are two of the 21 Post Box Walks that explore this tropical island’s striking mix of barren, semi-desert coastline and pastoral interior, with its lanes winding between emerald hills and along windblown ridges like a chunk of Cornwall that went to sea. With more affordable air access - perhaps provided by competition on the route from Johannesburg and the option of flying straight from Windhoek - and continued marketing of St Helena’s considerable appeal, tourism can build on its positive contribution to St Helena’s economy, culture and conservation.

Based in Cape Town, James Bainbridge is the senior author of the Lonely Planet, Rough Guides and Berlitz guides to South Africa and Cape Town. Magazine and TV assignments have taken him across Africa from the beaches of the Cape Peninsula to the heights of Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, with plenty of stops in parks and reserves along the way. James runs travel writing day courses around South Africa, and works as a journalist, copywriter and copyeditor when he’s not on the road. Visit his website to find out more, and follow him on Instagram @james_bains and Twitter @jamesbains.

19th Century visits

Below: Vists of ‘The Great Sobraon’Visiting in the 1870s

Vists of ‘The Great Sobraon’

From 1866 onwards ‘The Great Sobraon’, a 19th Clipper, made regular visits to St Helena, on her way home from voyages between England and Australia. The following account comes from The Colonial Clippers, by Basil Lubbock, 1921:

At St Helena the ship made a regular stay of about three days, and this visit was as much looked forward to by the inhabitants of the island as by the passengers. As a rule about 100 tons of cargo, consisting of flour, corn, preserved meat, etc., were landed there and occasionally a few bullocks were taken there from Capetown. Whilst she lay at St Helena, the passengers roamed the Island, climbed the 699 steps to the barracks, visited Longwood and Napoleon’s tomb and generally enjoyed themselves. The Captain also made a habit of giving a fancy dress ball on board before leaving, to which all the elite of the Island were asked.

Visiting in the 1870s

John Melliss, writing in 1875{14}, 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 Tenerife 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.

Our Comment: These days there is no rabble of dirty boys and there are no horses or carriages, but you will find taxi drivers at The Wharf, ready to assist.


If you do come to St Helena, rather than going to (say) Spain, you should not encounter the problems below, all genuinely{13} reported by British tourists to their UK Travel Agents:

{a} Copyright © South Atlantic Media Services Ltd. (SAMS), used with permission.{b} Asian Proverb{c} Presenter Paul Cannon on Points West, the BBC regional news programme for the South West of England, October 1982.{d} Eliza Fay, Letter, 1817{11}{e} African proverb{f} From ‘St Helena: A Physical, Historical and Topographical Description of the Island{12}{g} Oswell Blakeston, in his book ‘Isle of St Helena’, 1957{11}{h} Tourist Information Office


{1} Visitors on the Viceroy of India.{2} Please Note All ‘current’ times on Saint Helena Island Info are calculated from your Device’s clock, so are only as accurate as you make them…{3} And also on Ascension Island.{4} Our recommendation is based on personal experience and/or comments received from visitors. Please Note We receive no reward, financial or otherwise, for recommending these tours. We do so simply because they are, by popular acclaim, the best.{5} See his tour brochure: [Image, right]

Robert Peters’ tour brochure

{6} At least, not in the usual sense. However, some women do choose to avoid certain areas, particularly after dark. These tend to be areas where drunks gather.{7} Though, for no reason we can explain, the police do permit people to ‘hang around’ on the street just outside a bar. People do this so they can drink and smoke.{8} Thorpes, Solomons or qms@helanta.co.sh.{9} Please first read this warning.{10} The second video dates from 2011 but is completely relevant today. Only the strapline has changed!{11} @@RepDis@@{12} …including the Geology, Fauna, Flora and Meteorology, by John Melliss, published in 1875.{13} Or so we are told…{14} In ‘St Helena: A Physical, Historical and Topographical Description of the Island{12}’.