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What To Do

The essential things

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

Our ‘top 20’ recommended things for any visitor to do on St Helena

What To Do

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 here to do them all!

We welcome feedback on our list. There are some other suggestions (below).

The Top 20

Below: #1 Take a tour#2 “Do Napoleon”#3 Visit Jonathan and Plantation House#4 See a Wirebird#5 Meet some Saints#6 Climb Jacob’s Ladder#7 Watch dolphins on a boat trip to Lemon Valley#8 Have a walk#9 Walk up Diana’s Peak#10 Admire the stars#11 Try our coffee#12 Taste Plo and local fishcakes#13 Visit our Museum#14 Dive our clear blue waters#15 Investigate our built heritage#16 Set off for a drive#17 Relax in Castle Gardens#18 Meet a donkey#19 Take lots of photographs#20 Do some shopping

#1 Take a tour

Take a tour

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.

Here are some tours we recommend{1}. For more about tours see our page Visitor Information.

  • Aaron’s Adventure Tours, using an off-road vehicle to access areas of the island that normal vehicles can’t reach. Aaron has a good knowledge of island history and some interesting family stories. Tours can be customised to your needs. Email aat@helanta.co.sh or call (+290) 23987 to discuss.

  • Robert Peters’ ‘History on Wheels’ Tour. Robert drives you around the island and talks of St Helena history, much of the more recent material from personal experience (at he remembers much of it!) Tours can be customised to your needs{2}.

  • The Jamestown walking history tour. Don't miss this - you will learn a lot; not just facts but stories from the lives of past residents.

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

Aaron’s Adventure Tours
Aaron’s Adventure Tours

Taxi tour, Robert Peters
Taxi tour, Robert Peters

Walking History Tour
Walking History Tour

Book at the Tourist Information Office.

Relevant pages: Island History; Jamestown; Visitor Information

#2 “Do Napoleon”

“Do Napoleon”


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 visit to The Briars too. Souvenirs are available at Longwood House.

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

#3 Visit Jonathan and Plantation House

Visit Jonathan and Plantation House


Jonathan may well be the world’s oldest living land 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

#4 See a Wirebird

See a Wirebird

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 Information Office or the St Helena National Trust offices (in Broadway House, Jamestown).

Relevant pages: The Wirebird

#5 Meet some Saints

Meet some Saints

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

#6 Climb Jacob’s Ladder

Climb Jacob’s Ladder


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

#7 Watch dolphins on a boat trip to Lemon Valley

Watch dolphins on a boat trip to Lemon Valley

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 Information Office.

Relevant pages: Lemon Valley; Dolphin watching; Seabirds; Islands

#8 Have a walk

Have a walk

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; Air-Quality

#9 Walk up Diana’s Peak

Walk up Diana’s Peak


You must walk up to the top of Diana’s Peak. Why? Because it’s there!{3}. 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

#10 Admire the stars

Admire the stars

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

#11 Try our coffee

Try our coffee

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.

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

#12 Taste Plo and local fishcakes

Taste Plo and local fishcakes

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? If you’re more adventurous, try St Helena black pudding, or maybe have a ‘poke’!

Relevant pages: Fishcakes, and other food; Speak Saint

#13 Visit our Museum

Visit our Museum

See all of St Helena’s fascinating history, with lots of exhibits from the years since the island was discovered. Rather like our pages A Brief History and A Brief History (continued) but in 3D and you can also buy souvenirs at the gift shop.

Relevant pages: Museum of St Helena; Island History; A Brief History

#14 Dive our clear blue waters

Dive our clear blue waters

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

#15 Investigate our built heritage

Investigate our built heritage

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

#16 Set off for a drive

Set off for a drive

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

#17 Relax in Castle Gardens

Relax in Castle Gardens

Everyone goes to Castle Gardens at some point in their stay. Although in the middle of busy Jamestown{4}, 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

#18 Meet a donkey

Meet a donkey

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{5}. 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

#19 Take lots of photographs

Take lots of photographs

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; Island Pictures

#20 Do some shopping

Do some shopping

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: What to buy

Other Suggestions

We decided to open this up to public debate on our Facebook™ page. Here are some of the suggestions{6}:

Trip to Lemon Valley

A trip around the island with Enchanted Isle Limited

A walk around fairyland the scenery is stunning

Saint Helena is the Galapagos of the south Atlantic - let tourist see this endemic, let people see the nature of the island, and 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 in front.

Take a walk down to Sandy Bay, take a dip in Lot’s wife ponds, visit High Knoll Fort, 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.

The Sentinel, 22nd June 2017, published its own Top Ten, which is reproduced below.

See also the Tourist Information Office brochure on St Helena Activities.

Related Information

Below: Tip for ExploringExpected WeatherHolidays

Tip for Exploring

Expected Weather


You can read about our official ‘days off’ (when many attractions may be closed) on our page Holidays and other festivals. The annual calendar is on our page This Year.

Read More

Article: Celebrating St Helena

Published in The Sentinel, 22nd June 2017{7}


{a} Mark Twain{b} Andrew / Peter Neaum{c} Paul Tyson{d} Bruce Salt, ZD7ZD{e} Marc Lavaud/Tourist Information Office


{1} 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.{2} See his tour brochure: [Image, right]

Robert Peters’ tour brochure

{3} 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.{4} Well, busy by St Helena standards!{5} For “main road” read “only road”!{6} These are reproduced verbatim with no attempt to adjust spelling or grammar.{7} @@RepDis@@