Top Things to do in St Helena
Despite its diminutive size, a St Helena holiday offers a variety of experiences and attractions for the independent traveller.
For many visitors one name is linked to St Helena – Napoleon. The French Emperor was exiled here from 1815 until his death in 1821, and the Napoleonic properties of Longwood House, Briars Pavilion and Napoleon’s Tomb each offer a fascinating insight into his final years.
Built in 1792 by the East India Company, Plantation House was originally the residence of St Helena’s Governor. Today it is home to a far more endearing resident, the legendary Jonathan the Tortoise! The property retains its charm and is enhanced by the beautiful surrounding forest.
Jonathan the Tortoise
The world’s oldest known living creature, aged 182 years, Jonathan really has seen it all. Though he’s slowed down a little these days, his amorous activities prove quite a distraction for visitors to Plantation House.
Stretch your legs on one of St Helena’s ‘Postbox Walks’, so-called because each of the 21 trails has a postbox at the end, containing an ink-stamp and a visitors’ book. The walks vary in length and difficulty but all offer the chance to immerse yourself in the island’s spectacular countryside.
Jacobs Ladder was originally built in 1829 as an inclined plane, used to haul supplies between Jamestown at the bottom and Ladder Hill Fort above. The ladder is 600ft high and boasts 699 steps. If you make it to the top don’t forget to buy your souvenir certificate from the museum – once you’ve got your breath back!
A scenic walk leads to one of the island’s most recognisable landmarks, the Heart-shaped Waterfall located at the top of James Valley. The trail cuts through wild mango and scrub giving access to the very foot of the waterfall.
High Knoll Fort
The present fort was built in 1874 on the site of the original citadel, which dated back to 1798. It was built as a redoubt for the islanders in the event of an invasion, and commands superb views across much of St Helena.
Boer War Sites
The Cemetery of the Boer Prisoners is the final resting place for those that were imprisoned on St Helena during the Anglo-Boer war in South Africa, 1899-1902. The Boer Prisoners of War camp was located on Deadwood Plain, which is now home to St Helena’s only endemic bird, the elusive wirebird.
Churches and Cathedrals
St James’ Church is the oldest Anglican church in the southern hemisphere, dating back to 1774. It was built near the site of the first Portuguese chapel. The more illustrious St Paul’s Cathedral was built in 1851 and is surrounded by the graves of past governors, bishops and clergy as well as military personnel dating back hundreds of years.
Almost 5000 gumwood trees were planted as a conservation initiative to mark the millennium. Visitors are encouraged to continue the conservation work by planting your own tree during your stay on the island.
St Helena Distillery
Visit the world’s most remote distillery to discover the unique delights of Tungi (a cactus based spirit), White Lion rum, Midnight Mist coffee liqueur, and the Island’s own Bermuda Juniper flavoured gin.