The island of St Helena is located in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is an important overseas territory for Britain together with Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha Islands. Although it is one of the many isolated islands in the world, Saint Helena is an important stop for ships and ferries en-route to England and Europe.
The island of Saint Helena was discovered as early as 1502 by a Portuguese explorer who named it Santa Helena after the Saint Helena of Constantinople. It the Portuguese that introduced the livestock and many fruit tree species to a previously an uninhabited island. They also put up a few buildings and this made it an important stop to get food and supplies for ships and ferry on Asia-Europe voyages.
In 1580 and the following years, English explorers visited the island as well as Dutch settlers coming from the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa. Through the years, the island was run by British colonialists. In 1814, the British selected the island as the potential exile destination for a stubborn Napoleon Bonaparte who later died at Longwood on the Island in 1821.
People and Culture
The very first settlers on the island were Portuguese and English in 1659. Other settlers on the island were freed slaves and soldiers from other countries such as Cape Verde, India and Madagascar. Chinese laborers were brought in 1834.
Many of the people on the island are Anglicans. Other people on the island are Roman catholics, Baptist, Jehovah ’s Witness and Seventh Day Adventist among other religions.
The island is located in the tropics with mild and marine temperature regulated by Banguella currents blowing in the oceans. Climatic conditions on the island vary-Jamestown in the north and other surrounding areas has summer in January to April with average temperature ranging 21-28ºC. The central region is very cold with temperature around 17-24ºC.
The island is actually covered in hundreds of volcanic peaks and hills occupying a total area of 122sq km. The highest peak of the volcanic ranges that make the island is Diana peak at 823m above sea level. Several rocks form islets on the coast of Saint Helena and these include the Castle rock, Egg island, Flat Rock, Sand Bay island, the chimney, white Bird island and many others…to mention a few
The highlands are a protected national park with some of the island’s endemic plants such as ebony, gumwood trees from Millennium forest. There are dogs, rabbits, rats, mice and feral cats are animals on the island while the Wirebird is a national bird nesting on the island.
Must see attractions include James Town’s cenotaph memorial sites, the castle gardens, Jacob’s ladder built in 1829, St James church, one of the oldest buildings near Portuguese chapel built in 1774.
The Plantation House, now residence of the town governor was built in 1792 surrounded by lush forests that have century old giant tortoises. The cathedral and its cemetery built in 1851 make tours to the island’s long lost history. St. Helena museum is another interesting place to visit now celebrating more than 5 centuries of existence.
The heart shaped waterfall from James valley is a romantic site that trails through Drummond’s point on Barnes road to the wild mango and shrub forest at the foot of the falls.
The island is identified with wine and spirits making the St Helena distillery a must see for every tourist. Be part of the distilling procedures and taste tungi spirit, midnight coffee liquor and the ermuda juniper flavored gin, all product of the island.
The waters around St Helena are home to some pristine coral gardens with spectacular marine life clearly visible 20m below. Fish caught and found here includes Pufferfish, Butterflyfish and Wrasse.
There is so much more to see on the islands that you can take your retirement here and enjoy each place. Now that you know where to go and place to visit, the question is then how do you get to St. Helena?
There is no airstrip on the island but the RMS Saint Helena offers cruise ship travel from Cape Town to Ascencion Island, Walvis Bay and other neighboring islands. There are ongoing works and plans for the construction of the main airport on Saint Helena by the British government.
There are plenty of tourist activities and adventures. The Governor’s Yacht race and Cup is one of the sporting activities on the island held after two year period in December. Other sports on the island include cricket, volleyball, tennis, golf and many others.