Reaching St Helena, the remote island in the middle of the south Atlantic where Napoleon was famously exiled, is now easier than ever before, with a new weekly scheduled flight launched this week. Incredibly, until late 2017 the only way to access the island was aboard the Royal Mail Ship RMS St Helena on its five-day journey from Cape Town. Since then a limited service into the island’s new airport has been provided from Johannesburg by SA Airlink, but this has just been boosted substantially by the airline’s additional flights, which will see planes taking off every Tuesday and Saturday between December 2018 and April 2019.
This window of opportunity to take advantage of the new flights coincides with the best time of year to visit the island, when warm summer weather arrives along with whale sharks on their annual migration. These magnificent, massive and docile creatures are drawn to the rich waters of St Helena, where they can be seen scooping up plankton not far from shore. This provides the opportunity for visitors to swim alongside them at a responsible distance to observe their behaviour.
With upwelling currents, the nutrient-rich waters around St Helena foster incredible aquatic life year-round, and diving is understandably one of the island’s major draws. Activities are also a highlight along the coastline and in the mountainous interior of the island, where 21 ‘Post Box’ walks link dramatic natural landscapes with historical sites.
Helena Bennett, Director of Tourism for St Helena said, ‘The expansion of flights open up plenty of opportunities for prospective visitors to the island. During the summer season, visitors can expect to see the island’s incredible mix of heritage and walking, and the chance to spot spectacular marine life including magnificent whale sharks.’