A Short Touristic Guide for Visitors

An emerald set in bronze
St Helena is small yet beautiful. It is an island of contrasts, from wind eroded desert with multi coloured ridges and valleys, to emerald hillsides, soft pastures and lush vegetation filled valleys. It has a magnificent bronze surrounding
coastline with 1000 feet high cliffs that have been carved over the centuries by the pounding Atlantic rollers. This ancient volcanic island is set in the tropical South Atlantic 1500 miles north-west of Cape Town. There is no airport and the island can only be reached by ship. St Helena became a British dependency in 1834 and still retains its 19th century values and is imbued with some 300 years of colonial history; manifested in the architecture and ambience of Jamestown.

A Georgian seaport
Protected by 18th century fortifications is Jamestown the island's capital, a Georgian seaport which is abundantly endowed with a living heritage from its early days. The town nestles in a deep narrow valley, is the seat of Government and houses the museum, hotels and shops. The way out of Jamestown by road is by one of two routes (Side Path and Ladder Hill) each cut into steep hillsides. For the more adventurous, there is Jacob Ladder with its 699 steps embedded into thte steep cliff face, rising from the valley floor to the top of Ladder Hill.

The Discovery
Discovered 21 May 1502 by Portuguese admiral Joo da Nova on his return voyage from India, the anniversary of Saint Helena mother of Emperor Constantine. The island soon became a haven for sea travellers because of its luxuriant vegetation, equable climate and wealth of fruit trees. Ships would drop off those suffering from scurvy so that they could benefit from the citrus fruits and then been picked up by another ship after recovery. The Saints, as the islanders are affectionately known, have their own special charm, having descended from British settlers sent out by the East India Company, slaves and indentured workers from Africa and the East. This amazing combination has contributed to the Saints captivating, friendly and unique character.

Famous visitors
Over the centuries St Helena has welcomed many famous visitors among them Darwin, Halley, Bligh, and Cook. The most internationally renowned figure associated with St Helena is, of course, Napoleon Bonaparte who was exiled to the island in 1815 following his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. he lived in Longwood House until his death in 1821, and the residence is now a museum owned by the French Government.

St Helena began issuing stamps in 1856. The discovery issue was released in May 1997 and the fifth part in the serie will be released in May this year - celebrating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of St Helena.

Leisure activities
The island is ten and a half miles long and 6 and a half miles wide is blessed with a pleasant climate with temperatures ranging between 14C to 32C in summer and 14C to 26C in winter. The island has a rich history and a fascinating heritage evidenced by the early military fortifications set in a spectacular scenery. There are superb walks which can be gentle or ardous, offering a chance to see the endemic flora and fauna. Visitors can enjoy the magnificent underwater scenry by diving or snorkeling around our island but should note that they must be accompanied by a local diver at all times. Spear fishing is prohibited. Good sport can be had by fishing in our waters. Tuna, marlin and barracuda are in abundance. If golf is essential part of your relaxation you will enjoy the opportunity of playing 18 holes on one of the remotest golf course in the South Atlantic.

There are three fully operational hotels: The Consulate and Wellington House in Jamestown and Farm Lodge in the country. There is also a range of self catering and bed & breakfast accomodation available in Jamestown and the country areas. Pressure accomodation is at its peak during the traditional summer holiday months of December and January.

Local cuisine
As with most isolated communities throughout the world St Helena has developed its own unique multi ethnic cuisine. There are six eating places on St Helena each with their own special character: Consulate Hotel Tel: 2380; Wellington House Tel: 2529; Ann's Place Tel: 2797; Dot's Cafe; C&M's Coffeee Shop Tel: 2730 in Jamestown and Farm Lodge, St Paul's Tel: 4040.

St Helena currency is used on the island. Coins in use have values of 1p, 2p, 10p, 50p and 1. Notes in circulation have values of 5, 10 and 20. One St Helena is equal to One British Sterling. There are no international banks but credit cards are now  accepted in some places with a small commission charge. Travellers cheques (1% commission charge) are recommended.

Visa requirements
All visitors require valid passports and will normally be granted an entry permit for a period of three months. Visitors must have a return ticket and pre-booked accomodation. The entry permit may be extended up to a period of one year.

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