Island Activities

Things to see or do

It is better to wear out than to rust out.
Richard Cumberland

This is a subset of our Island Information pages which covers things to see and do during a visit to St Helena

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If there is a St Helena activity that we have not covered please contact us and we’ll try to add it in.

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You participate in any activities described herein entirely at your own risk.

Tips for Exploring

If setting out on your own we recommend that you download to your mobile/pad the relevant pages from Saint Helena Island Info{1} and then you can have detailed information at your fingertips wherever you go! But note that we said ‘download’ the pages. St Helena’s mobile network is not reliable in all parts of the island so if you look for us online at the actual site you might only get ‘NO SIGNAL’.

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We aim to present the best information about St Helena - most relevant; most accurate; most interesting and most useful. Please contact us with your opinions on how we are doing and suggestions about how we might do better.

 

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Article: St Helena’s Hidden Attractions

By Andrew Turner, published in the St Helena Sentinel 27th September 2018{a}

In celebration of World Tourism Day Thursday, Sept. 27 The Sentinel is looking at a few hidden attractions of St Helena.

This is because St Helena isn’t just about Napoleon, Jonathan the tortoise and Whale Sharks - in fact the little things about St Helena that aren’t typically marketed, are often the things that impact tourists the most.

Sundowners

Although many bars offer sundowner drinks, one area that is perfect for sundowners but often overlooked is the historic High Knoll Fort.

The fort is one of St Helena’s The Seven Wonders of St Helena, and provides stunning views overlooking Half Tree Hollow, Longwood and St Pauls. It is an ideal place to enjoy drinks as the sun sets over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, you’ll have to take your own supplies up to the Fort as it has no toilet facilities, electricity or running water (though on occasion, Amphibians portable bar has set up to offer evening drinks).

So especially if you want a quieter and historic setting, sundowners at High Knoll is a great item to put on your St Helena bucket list.

The Monk-cat

If Jonathan the tortoise is the island’s most famous animal, the Monk-cat (or Moncat) is a close second. This elusive creature has been spotted across the island since 2014 (most recently in April 2018) but has never been captured or confirmed as more than modern myth.

Many people have theories as to what the creature really is and why it’s here. Many believe it is an African wild cat that arrived via the Basil Read vessel NP Glory 4, but nobody knows for certain.

This creature - St Helena’s own Bigfoot- could represent quite the attraction for tourists who enjoy mysteries or are interested in finding the creature themselves. If eventually found, it could provide a significant environmental story as the island otherwise has no similar predators.

Food

St Helena is a melting pot of cultures, and similarly has a melting pot cuisine; Indian, European, African and even Chinese elements (among others) have influenced the island’s food.

More food venues on the island have begun offering traditional St Helena curries, fishcakes, black puddings and more - but for the versions of these dishes that provide the most kick, smaller cafés and home-based businesses are still the best choice.

Of course, one thing that’s definitely not marketed about the island is the food shortages that are a common problem for St Helena residents. But if visitors are prepared for this reality, it can also add to the charm of the island. For those who enjoy a cooking challenge - sometimes reminiscent of a real-life Guy’s Grocery Games - rushing to the shops when the ship visits with potatoes or flour, or making dishes without basics such as eggs or onions, could be considered as a fun part of your visit.

Dark Tourism

Dark Tourism (a.k.a. ‘grief tourism’ or ‘black tourism’) began as a trend in the late 90s and involves people travelling to a destination to study the darker side of its history.

St Helena is just entering the early days of Dark Tourism tours. A pilot scheme for tours is taking place in early October and St Helena Tourism hopes islanders will help develop dark tourism from there.

But through looking at www. sainthelenaisland.info and within the Museum of St Helena, it’s clear St Helena houses a wealth of Dark Tourism potential.

Most notable is the island’s historic involvement in the slave trade and its eventual abolition. From the fist settlement of the island (1695) until 1834 St Helena made heavy use of slave labour and just as elsewhere in the world, slaves were frequently treated as less than human.

Historical records show that slaves who committed minor offences were punished with flogging, castration and cruel execution. The few slave revolts were brutally suppressed.

Today, people can still sit beneath the same trees under which slave auctions once took place outside the Canister, Jamestown. Until the BFI is complete in Ruperts, however, it seems any further Dark Tourism efforts in this regard won’t be able to progress.

The island also has many traditional Ghost Stories of St Helena to fascinate the world’s tourists, Free Molly being one example. The story goes that Molly was a young woman imprisoned by her father, who would not allow her human contact apart from with her immediate family and would not allow her out of the house. Molly was often seen looking out of her window at the children playing, wishing that she could be free like them. She died young, in her early twenties, some say from suicide. Now, it is said, her ghost walks at night near Pilling School, enjoying the freedom she was never permitted in life.

The island was also home to the Boer and Zulu prisoners (the sites of their camps are marked), political prisoners from Bahrain (whose cliff-top house is also accessible) and of course the site where Napoleon died.

For those interested in a history of crime, St Helena’s last execution is also well-documented. This was the murder of Robert Gunnell and the subsequent execution of the two perpetrators, Louis and Richard Crowie: The site of the murder itself is visible from the plane as you come into land; and the site of the execution is now the Museum of St Helena, where people can see pictures of the two on their way to the noose and the actual rope used to hang them.

Credits:
{a} South Atlantic Media Services Ltd (SAMS){2}

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Footnotes:
{1} Since December 2018 this site has been fully-compatible with mobile devices.{2} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.

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