If you are looking to take time off a hectic or horrid schedule either working to enjoy a truly valued time away from all the hustle and taints that is called life either alone or with your family, there really is no better place than the famed island that is Saint Helena. Known for its truly rich and glorious history and it’s quietly rolling and kingly hills, mountains and beaches, Saint Helena isn’t just a place to come and relax and live in that fantasy of holiday (well, yea although that is usually the idea), it is a place to really come and experience the pristine peace and feel the true depth of the full meaning of nature.
Known prefunctionarily as a volcanic island, Saint Helena is located in the South Atlantic Ocean , 4,000 kilometers east of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and 1,950 kilometres west of the mouth of the Cunene River between Namibia and Angola. Famously known as one of the stops made by the great English voyager Cavendish on his legendary trip across the world. Saint Helena is not a very large island, with a population of around 5000 in the last conducted census. What it lacks in landmass and population however, it makes up in an incredibly rich history and seemingly endless troops of tourists that visit almost daily to get a taste of life in its most natural and purest form.
The history of Saint Helena is quite intriguing and awe-striking. Thought to have first been discovered on May 21 1502 by the Portuguese sailor Joao da Nova, it is believed he was named Saint Helena in the honor of Helena of Constantinople, a then empress of Rome and the Matriarch of Constantine the Great. Initially found uninhabited by no local natives and the excessive growth of flora and fauna, importation of fruits, vegetables and other crops started to be imported into the island and gradually, the island started to teem with people and became known as a break point where seafarers could get food and the sick ones be treated, before seeking a ship on from the island. Although this human colonization greatly affected the floral and fauna shape of the island, there was still a retention of most of its beauty and some of it’s more unique catalogs of plants and animals still remain to this very day.
With a capital of Jamestown, the breathtaking Island of Saint Helena however is more popularly known as the exile state of the then emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, whose attempt at conquering the world was eventually foiled and he was sent to live out the rest of his days on the island. He died here on the 5th of May, 1821 is his permanent residence of Longwood House. This preserved landmark is also a key attraction point for tourists who are old war and history nuts to come and experience and stand on the grounds on which one of the most feared and influential men in the history of the world ever stood.
The climatic conditions that can be found in Saint Helena is tropical and quite mild, and is mediated by the Benguella current and also the more traditional and astute trade winds which tend to blow almost all year round. Temperatures, especially in the capital Jamestown, are usually varied and ranges from 21-28°C in the summer and 17-24°C for the rest of the year. It should also be noted that rain doesn’t fall as much as you’d think it tend to, as the annual rainfall measurement is around 750-1000mm per annum in higher grounds.
Now enough of the somewhat boring stuff and let’s delve into what majority of prospective tourists are truly interested in: The “touristy” stuff. There is a marked sense of adventure that stirs in the blood of tourist that just draws you towards its hills and paths, daring you to shed the world and proceed to take on life. An island known for for its myraid of unique plants and animals, this isolated nirvana has been thought to being the inspiration behind many a book and poem. There simply isn’t a shortage of activity to undertake in Saint Helena, as over the years the island has gradually morphed into being customized almost primarily for tourism.
One of the most popular activities usually undertaken on Saint Helena involves taking tours across the island. These tours are always carefully planned and organized and hardly anything every goes wrong. The primary objective of this tour is to show tourists the major landmarks, from its landscapes to its sites of major historical importance and its interesting folks. On these tours, tourists get the opportunity to fully explore the land and view the dynamism and synergism with which the geology, geography, and biology of the island blends and operates. A list of some the most established tour services one can find within the island to get the most exhilarating experience include:
1. Aaron’s adventure tours
2. Green wagon tours
3. Larry’s Island tours
4. History on wheels
5. Peter’s Island tours
7. Stedson’s scenic tours
8. Harry Legg’s tours
9. CJ’s taxi service
10. Corkers tourist service
11. Magma way limited
12. No limit travels and tours
and a host of others. These establishments provide mostly conversational tours so as to share their experiences verbally with other tourists and guides and better enjoy a good time. This is surely an activity you would like to book down to partake in alone or with the family.
Full truth be told, a large portion of Saint Helen’s tourism is built around the basis of the imprisonment and exile, coupled with the eventual death of Napoleon Bonaparte. Quite a dexterous amount of effort has been put into maintaining and preserving the landmarks, mainly the house in which he lived and the grave in which he was buried and this serves as a great pull for tourists from all over the world, as they come to see the man who sent shiver and tremors across Europe and the rest of the world. That being said, it will be quite misleading to think that this was the only attraction. Saint Helena caters to the usual and expected relaxation that is to be expected during vacation, as there is a golf course and a number of rated hotels to help provide that guest feel.
One major thing Saint Helena is famed for, apart from being Napoleon’s final abode is that it produces the most expensive coffee in the world. Not what you were expecting right? This is true however, and the popularity of this coffee is thanks in no small part to the great Napoleon Bonaparte who was believed to have actively participated in the process of production. He is also responsible for planting some of the seeds by himself. It is even suggested that his dying wish was to have a sip of this pristine coffee and that has only added a fuel to the fire of its legend. Going for 90 dollars per pound and 200 dollars per kilo off the island, it is interesting to note that while expensive off the island, the coffee is neither rare nor expensive on the island, but islanders take great pride in brewing the best coffees and this has led to a rivalry of some sorts as to who brews the best coffee. All of this is to the benefit of the tourists however, as they get to taste in many forms some of the best brewed coffees in the world. Also, tourists gets to experience the privilege of seeing the production of the most expensive coffee in the world first hand and also acquire some maybe even more cheaply and getting to take home as souvenirs. Trust me, that is one valuable souvenir.
Coffee is not the only drink of note produced in Saint Helena, as there is also the Tungi spirit. This is a distilled drink produced from the fruit of the cactus pear. Tungi is the local Saint Helena name for the fruit from which the drink is produced. Tourists are also affordable the opportunity to go on and experience how this unique and special drink is produced, as it will better integrate and familiarize tourists with the customs and ways of saint Helena.
It is important to note before deciding to choose Saint Helena that English is the major, if not only, language spoken on the island. This is important so as to decide on going on vacation to a place where communication will not serve as a problem and in the end lead to a marked reduction in the quality experience to be observed during the trip. Another noteworthy fact is that a majority of the population of Saint Helena are Anglican, and Jamestown, the capital and Chief town, accounts for about one sixth of the entire population of the island.
An important landscape that shapes Saint Helena tourist into being one of the most visited tourist sites, are the restaurants and bars and variety of local meals they offer. These establishments are all guest friendly and the atmospheres around them are serene and welcoming. While Jamestown houses a lion share of these establishments, they can also be found in other settlements around the island such as the Half Tree Hollow, Longwood, Bottom Woods and Sandy Bay. It is also nice to note that there are mobile food trucks around and this is an underrated howbeit important food supply chain as they cater to touring tourists and hikers by providing food on the go.
Food, especially the preparation of an elegant cuisine is important to the people of Saint Helena. That said, for those who prefer to cook their own meals, fret not as there is a very well stocked market which provides you with a myraid of ingredients and food items which you will need to produce that meal. Supermarkets around also have groceries and items for easier shopping and to cater for snacking at the whims of the tourists. No stone is really left unturned.
To fully live the Saint Helena experience, it is really important to try and get a taste of the local cuisine of Saint Helena. This is because their culture and history is literally seeped in the food they make as the assortment of dishes hints and indicates the effects of coming in contact with a multitude of cultures such as the Portuguese, English, Africans and Asians has had on their style of food. Known for their love of spicy foods, every meal truly is a delight as an even well known and gregariously common dishes are prepared with true Saint Helena quirks, much to the delight of locals and tourists alike. Some of the local dishes that can be found include the Pilau, grilled and battered tuna, the famous Saint Helena fish cakes and a host of others. Popular eating establishments include
1.Andrews Takeaways, Ann’s Place, The bib and tucker coffee shop, Orange Tree Oriental Restaurant, Pat’s Enterprise, Tasty Bites, Sandwich Bar, Reggies Takaway,Jamestown
Reggies Takaway, Longwood
Rosie’s “Taste 4 Life”
Blue Lantern Restaurant and a host of others.
Saint Helena is known as one of the most remote islands in the world, and one of the primary means of accessing the island and leaving it was by sea, mainly by the now defunct *Royal Mail Ship RMS St Helena* which ran between Saint Helena and Cape Town on a five-day voyage. However since the opening of the new commercial airport in 2017, accessing this remote beauty has become markedly easier and is also expected to increase the annual number of tourists to up to 30,000 yearly, thus helping to boost development of the area and give more people an opportunity to experience first hand the true meaning of beauty in simplicity.
Lest we forget, it is also important to visit the Sandy Bay beach, as beaches tend to be in short supply at Saint Helena. This is because water mostly meets land in a vertical cliff, reducing the chance of beaches. This beach however helps to provide shoreline relaxation and rest for the tourist to fully complete the Saint Helena experience.
Saint Helena is an island that is assured in its beauty and purposeful in its elegance. Come and be part of the experience today.