Hidden in the heart of the South Atlantic between Africa and South America, lies the fascinating island of St. Helena. More than 2,000 kilometres from continental shores, it is one of the most remote places on earth. Famous as Napolean Bonaparte’s place of exile, the former French emperor was imprisoned on the island by the British until his death in 1821. Today, St. Helena offers travellers an incredible island experience and a chance to explore one of the world’s best kept travel secrets.
Only accessible by sea, visitors to St. Helena won’t be able to arrive on the island by air until 2016, when the Jamestown airport is completed. Instead, the British Royal Mail Ship St. Helena sets sail on a five day voyage from Cape Town bringing with it both the latest post and a cargo load of passengers eager to explore this mysterious island.
Upon arrival, soak up the stunning beauty of Jamestown. Nestled between two steep hillsides, the island’s capital is a maze of colourful colonial buildings and lush trees. Winding through James Valley, the town eventually spills out into the cerulean waters of the Atlantic. Take a moment to explore. From the Archives with records dating back to 1673, to the Distillery boasting a unique juniper Gin, to the Castle Gardens, there’s plenty of exciting things to see and do. Challenge yourself with a hike up Jacobs Ladder, walk the walled channel of the Run or experience some of the islands natural beauty at the Heart Shaped Waterfall. Located at the top of the valley surrounded by wild mango, this stunning waterfall is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
Then, travel back in time and experience St. Helena’s colourful past. See how Napoleon spent his final days. Sitting atop a small plateau and surrounded by country gardens, Longwood House served as the French military and political leader’s residence during his exile. Visit Briars where he was takenupon his arrival to St. Helena in 1815, and his original tomb where he was buried until his remains were returned to France in 1840. Be sure to check out Plantation House as well. Serving as the formal residence of the island’s Governor, it is also home to the world oldest living animal- a 180 year old giant tortoise named Jonathan.
Boasting exquisite natural beauty and a fascinating maritime and political history, the island of St. Helena is an enchanting place with much to discover and enjoy. And, with the annual Governors Cup Yacht Race setting sail from Simon’s Town to St. Helena, there’s sure to be much more excitement to come for the island in 2014.