Now just as remote but more accessible
Further delay to airport announced on 26 April. Get in touch if you'd like us to keep you right up to date.
A British outpost deep in the South Atlantic, the island of St Helena is a very special place in many ways. Roughly half way between Africa and South America, St Helena is famed as the island where Napoleon was tucked out of harm's way for the last five years of his life. It has a fascinating history. For generations it was a bustling port of vital importance to the East India Company's trade routes and its population reflects the international influences from European, to African, to Indian and to Chinese.
Scenically it is spectacular with high cliffs rising from the sea, interspersed with steep valleys and with a lush interior. This is the safest of destinations where a genuinely warm welcome is extended to that rarest of breeds – the tourist (or visitor as the islanders think of us). Mobile phones were introduced in 2015 and a slow internet connection is possible but both services are expensive and therefore not so much a part of the way of life to the exclusion of all else. The atmosphere on St Helena therefore remains utterly conducive to complete rest and relaxation.
Safe and slow it may be, but the island holds many attractions other than its scenery and history. For walkers the Letterbox Walks offer varying degrees of challenge; the island archives are a source of fascination for people with family links in the island's colonial past; the botanist can wonder at the extraordinary work being done to re-establish the island's endemic plants and every birder wants to see the Endangered Wirebird (recently upgraded from being Critically Endangered thanks to the tireless work of conservationists). The seas around the island are home to Bottle-nose Dolphins and a school of up to 400 Pan-Tropical Spotted Dolphins are regularly sighted on boat trips along the north coast. In 2013 this activity also allowed an Island Holidays group to see seven Whale Sharks which came right close up to the boat. Fabulous. And forget not Jonathan, the famous 180-something year old Giant Tortoise who lives in the grounds of Plantation House, the resident of the island's Governor.
With the new air service there are lots of options to visit St Helena. Previously it has always been necessary to go via South Africa but now there's a new airline – Atlantic Star – who will be flying occasional charters direct from the UK (with a refuelling stop in Africa) – a flight with a duration of 12 hours total. This will allow a 2-week stay on the island or possibly 3 weeks over the Festive Season.
For those wanting a shorter visit or to combine it with time in South Africa there is a weekly flight from Johannesburg to the island. Island Holidays is happy to book this as well as accommodation on the island and recommendations on activities while you are there. Once a month Comair, the South African airline (a British Airways franchise), will run a shuttle service between St Helena and Ascension giving the opportunity for a two-island experience.
Throughout the year (except for the Southern winter) Island Holidays will be offering occasional guided tours based on the very popular trips which we started back in 2006 when we were the only tour operator taking people to St Helena. By choosing to travel with Island Holidays you can be sure of a depth of knowledge and experience. We'll have three different tours and these can be viewed via the links on this page (above).
With the opening of the airport in 2016 and the withdrawal of the Royal Mail Ship in the same year St Helena is bound to change over the next few years but it could never lose its heritage, its charm and – most importantly – it's wonderful people who make everyone feel at home on their beautiful island.