On Saturday, 14 October 2017, the first commercial flight landed on St Helena.
Giltedge Co-Owner, Murray Gardiner, was on board the historic flight as it touched down on St Helena’s spectacular runway. The smooth landing opened a new chapter for this remote and truly remarkable island which, until that moment, was only accessible on a five-night voyage on the Royal Mail Ship St Helena.
Now offered weekly, the new Airlink flight to the island cuts travel time from six days to six hours!
History & Heritage
St Helena has a rich history dating back around 500 years. Rising up out of the South Atlantic, this remote British territory’s strategic position made it an important port for the East India Company. Centuries-old fortifications dot the forbidding cliffs with High Knoll Fort, St Helena’s most visible landmark, commanding superb views over the island.
A small island with big stories to share.
The volcanic island also acted as a natural fortress for key British prisoners including around 6,000 Afrikaners captured during the Boer War and, the island’s most famous resident, Napoleon Bonaparte. After his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, the exiled French emperor lived out his last years at Longwood House. Faithfully maintained, the house still has original furniture and artefacts used by Napoleon.
Another building with great history to share is St James’ Church, the oldest surviving Anglican church in the southern hemisphere. You can also visit Plantation House, built by the East India Company in 1792. This fine looking Georgian mansion is the country residence for the island’s Governor and home to Jonathan the 183-year-old giant tortoise (which makes him, quite possibly, the oldest living land animal in the world!).
Activities & Adventure
St Helena is a fantastic destination for hiking, mountain biking, scuba diving, snorkelling and game fishing.
Just 16 km / 10 miles long and 8 km / 5 miles wide, this extraordinarily beautiful island is a hikers’ paradise! Pick from 22 graded hikes, ranging from gentle strolls to a bit of heart-racing ledges and a bit of cliff-hanging. Known as Post Box Walks, these trails reveal the most scenic parts of the island, and each ends at a ‘post box’ containing a visitors’ book and stamp.
For an island of its size, St Helena is surprisingly diverse. Hike Diana’s Peak, the highest point on the island, and you’ll find yourself amongst lush tree ferns and dense cloud forest. Other trails cross bare volcanic slopes of fiery oranges and reds, while hikes like the popular Lot’s Wife’s Ponds takes you down to the coast and a series refreshing rock pools.
The clear waters around St Helena are rich in marine life. Exciting dive sites include 18th century wrecks where colourful fish dart in and out of rusted hulls. Boat trips take you out to spot dolphins and the colonies of seabirds nesting on the cliff faces. And, between December and March, St Helena is one of the best places to swim with whale sharks. An incredible experience!
Imagine jumping into the clear ocean, and swimming alongside a 12-metre whale shark!
Jamestown & The Saints
Expect a warm welcome from the Saints, as St Helena locals are known. Life on the island moves at a laid-back pace, and there’s always time for a chat. The capital, Jamestown, lies at the foot of a steep-sided valley; it’s Main Street lined with Georgian-era buildings.
For the best view of Jamestown, tackle the 699 steep steps of Jaccob’s Ladder! Once back in town you may want to reward yourself with a cup of St Helena’s famous coffee. Or, for something a little stronger, head out to the St Helena Distillery for a Jamestown Gin or an exquisitely smooth Midnight Mist Coffee Liqueur.
Where to Stay on St Helena
During his brief visit, Murray enjoyed a wonderfully comfortable stay at Mantis St Helena (officially opening on 1 November 2017).
This beautiful boutique hotel sits right next to St James’ Church on Jamestown’s main (and only) road. Choose between one of 8 Heritage Rooms, housed in restored officers’ barracks, or the newly built Contemporary Rooms. Staying here puts you a short walk from the seafront, Jacob’s ladder, and a choice of restaurants, shops and bars.
Find out more about this remarkable island, or get in touch to start planning your St Helena holiday.