Visit St Helena
Saint Helena is small island in the South Atlantic Ocean that many have not heard of. It is actually one of the UK’s overseas territories and lies almost 2,000 kilometres from the coast of Africa. It is a very small island as well, being only 16 kilometres by 8 kilometres and having a total population of under 5,000 people. As far as tourist destinations go, it does not seem like a likely tourist destination. However, that is where you are wrong, Saint Helena is somewhere that surprises many, and you can be one of them. All you need to do to discover this wondrous place is to take a look at this guide and have access to all the relevant information.
Is That Really True?
All of these facts are 100% true and they are all about the interesting island of Saint Helena.
- The actual Saint Helena (not the island) is the patron saint of archaeologists, converts, difficult marriages, divorced people, empresses and the island itself.
- Because Saint Helena is so small and has less than 5,000 people living on the island, it only has one newspaper, one radio station and one internet service provider.
- The actual Saint Helena (once again, not the island) was supposed to have found the original cross that Jesus died on.
- The island of Saint Helena, before it was a beautiful holiday destination, acted a British prison for Napoleon (the second time) and around 5,000 Boer soldiers during the Boer Wars.
- The great naturalist Charles Darwin once visited the little island and described it as “a curious little world within itself”.
All of these are true. However, if you read below then you may find some even more crazy reasons to visit this undiscovered paradise.
Where is St Helena?
Saint Helena is one of the more remote locations you may ever travel to- as mentioned above, it is just under 2,000 kilometres from Africa and is only 16 kilometres by 8 kilometres wide. If you still do not believe that it is remote, the way to get to the island is really quite a trek. You will need to fly to Cape Town in South Africa and then get a boat to the island. The boat is called RHS Saint Helena fittingly enough.
When it comes to temperature, Saint Helena mirrors that of other Southern Hemisphere countries and the hottest months are from January to around March. However, for most of the year the average temperature will hover around the 20-27°c mark. The island will be coldest during the nights and the early mornings of the months of June through to August time, but during the day it is normally warm enough.
Where to stay and what to do?
With Saint Helena being such a small island, you would expect to find only a number of suitable hotel options. However, Saint Helena being the island that it is, it is full of surprises and you can find a wide variety of places to stay to fit your specific needs and budget.
This is a hotel right in the middle of Jamestown, a town right on the coast of the beautiful island. The hotel itself truly is picturesque with a lovely first floor balcony and traditional architecture that would not have looked out of place when the Boers were kept here all those years ago. When it comes to ratings, Google puts this hotel as a 4.5-star hotel and looking at the reviews, previous customers loved the balcony, the location and the home-from-home feel to the place.
When it comes to things to do nearby, the Consulate has you covered. Nearby are a wealth of exciting things to do that you definitely will not find anywhere else in the world. For example, why not visit Longwood House, the final residence of the great French leader Napoleon. We were really not joking when we said that Napoleon spent a great many years here on the island. It lies on 6km away from Jamestown and your accommodation. However, since then it been transformed into a museum and is actually owned by the French government. Another similar activity is called Jacobs Ladder and is a grade I listed staircase of all things. The ladder is the last remains of a cable railway that was built in the same place in the 19th century. The ladder goes from Jamestown all the way up the cliffside to Ladder Hill Fort- if you do not mind the walk then you will be met with breath-taking views at the top and a chance to catch your breath as well.
For those who want a slightly more contemporary place to stay when you visit St Helena, then the Mantis Hotel is the place to go. It is an up scaled 18th century barracks with all the needs of the modern traveller.
Reviews from those who have stayed at the hotel previously also hold it in high regard with many complimenting its tasteful design, good food and great service. Also, it is located right in the centre of Jamestown, meaning that you will be near many of the best restaurants and bars and many of the islands best attractions. All of the attractions that are nearby the above hotel, the Consulate, will be within easy reach of The Mantis- specifically Longwood House and Jacobs Ladder.
Some others that you can reach from The Mantis are the Museum of Saint Helena. This a museum run by the local heritage society and charts out the entire history of the island- covering all times in history from early man all the way up until its more modern use as a prison. And even if history isn’t really your thing, it sits at the bottom of Jacobs Ladder which, if you want to brave the stairs, will give you an amazing view and the chance to take some once in a lifetime pictures.
Why not take a quick look at the oldest church in the southern hemisphere? Saint James’ Church in Jamestown is exactly that and the current building that it is situated in was built in 1774. This building has seen much of what has gone on in recent times on the island and is definitely worth a visit- even if it is only for a few pictures.
Since both of the previous hotels have been in the capital- Jamestown, we thought we would shake things up a little and recommend something out of the hustle and bustle of the town. Bertrand’s Cottage is exactly what it sounds like, a cottage. It lies in the locality of Longwood House- where Napoleon spent a lot of his time on the island, and it is easy to see why.
Bertrand’s Cottage offers a slightly homelier feel with it being more of a Bed and Breakfast than a full blown hotel. There are three rooms in this B&B with each being named after one of the islands natural volcanic rock formations. All of these red-hot rooms are ensuite and for those lazy afternoons, there is a lovely lounge area to enjoy a few drinks. Looking out of the French windows, you will see all that natural Saint Helena has to offer- with some beautiful sights to behold.
Since the cottage is a little out of Jamestown, it opens you up to a wider range of activities. The first and aforementioned Longwood House is a great option and one that requires little travelling at all. A little drive out from Longwood, you can take a look at the Heart Shaped Waterfall on the island. This natural rock formation is something that no romantic should miss and a couples photo with this waterfall in the background is a great shot.
Just up the road from the waterfall is High Knoll Fort and is something that you are going to want to see. It is quite hard to not see because it is situated up a huge hill with a track leading up the side of the hill to the fort itself. It is a relic of the East India Company who had a presence on the island for much of the time they were operating in the area. It looms over Jamestown and gives you spectacular views of the capital itself and the ocean beyond- although, once again this does involve a fairly steep ascent, something that some may find more painful than enjoyable, but like Jacobs Ladder, once you are at the top it is most definitely worth it.
Our Final Thoughts
We love to help out at Visitalot, and if any of our fellow travel lovers want to ask us a few questions, we would love to answer them. Just pop them down below or find our contact details and we will happily assist- it can be about Saint Helena or any other quirky travel destination it does not matter.