St. Helena - Facts

Select your download option below


  • Notice: St Helena government have closed the Jamestown mooring field since January 2024 until further notice, due to ongoing maintenance and health and safety issues. Anchoring is now the only option. See this news item for details.
  • Important pre-arrival information: St. Helena Harbor Master requests an Advance Notice of Arrival. See Formalities for all the details.
  • St. Helena Island lies nearly halfway between Southern Africa and Brazil. It is a British Overseas Territory that measures just 47 sq. miles but is home to more than 30% of the endemic biodiversity in the whole of the UK and its Territories.
  • St. Helena is Britain’s second-oldest Overseas Territory after Bermuda and is one of the most remote islands in the world.
  • It was discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, settled by the British in 1659 and became an important stopover for ships sailing to Europe from Asia and South Africa.
  • The island’s isolation made it a frequent place of exile, including for Zulu Chiefs, Bahraini nationalists, Boer Prisoners of War and perhaps most famously, French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who died there while in exile.
  • The island’s isolation also made it vital in Britain’s effort to abolish the transatlantic slave trade in the 1800s.  The island today has the most significant remaining physical trace of the transatlantic slave trade on Earth.
  • It is populated mainly by descendants of British settlers and slaves from Africa, India and Madagascar, who came to the Island in the 1600s.  The current population is 4439.
  • English is the spoken language, but with a strong local dialect.
  • The time zone is UTC all year-round.
  • Local currency is the St Helena Pound (£) which is on parity with the Pound Sterling (£). There are no ATMs on the island. It is recommended to either register and load the Tourist Card App before departing for St Helena to deal with payments on the island, or arrive with Sterling. See Money for more details.
  • The climate is temperate, with moderate rainfall and high humidity. The wind is strong most days and gales are frequent all year round.
  • St. Helena is surrounded by a Category IV Marine Protected Area in which only one-by-one fishing is allowed.  The high visibility and relatively warm waters are ideal for viewing a diversity of marine life and a variety of shipwrecks.  December to March is Whale Shark season. A diving excursion including rented equipment costs about £20.
  • St. Helena’s popularity as a port of call for passenger liners has been taken over by sailing yachts, a large number of which stop there every year. A warm welcome awaits the visiting sailor ashore in Jamestown, the island’s main settlement.
  • St. Helena has only one harbor suitable for yachts. It is called James Bay and benefits from a field of mooring buoys. Rupert’s Bay, lying 1km NE of the moorings, is not available to yachts as the pier there is for cargo.
  • Most of the coast is towering rocky cliffs backed by lush green slopes climbing up to the highest spot on the island, Diana’s Peak, at 823 metres.
  • There are weekly flights to and from Johannesburg and monthly flights to and from Ascension Island. An additional midweek flight operating on a Tuesday will commence 28 November 2023 to the end of February 2024. Visit the Airlink website for flight bookings.
  • Short-term haulouts in emergencies can be arranged. There is a breadth of marine systems knowledge among the many local boat owners and experienced mechanics on the island, so usually emergency repairs can be fixed without too much delay. See Yachting Essentials for more information.
  • Due to logistical factors like remoteness, St Helena hasn’t been able to make technological advancements (like telephone, banking and internet services) at the same pace as elsewhere in the modern world.  However,  since 1 October 2023, internet prices and speeds have improved dramatically, allowing both locals and visitors greater accessibility to the internet. This development is thanks to the landing of the Equiano undersea fibre optic internet cable.

Read and Post Related Comments

If you have information for this section, or feedback on businesses used, please let us know at [email protected]. We also welcome new information about businesses you have used (see Related Businesses).


Select your download option below


Next Section: Profile: Security

St. Helena was last updated 6 months ago.

Related to following destinations:


YachtFlags.com provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world.

YachtFlags.com offers a discount to Noonsite members.

Use the coupon code NOONSITE_5A2B when checking out to get 10% off today.

Buy Now On YachtFlags.com

YachtFlags.com provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world.

YachtFlags.com offers a discount to Noonsite members.

Use the coupon code NOONSITE_5A2B when checking out to get 10% off today.

Buy Now On YachtFlags.com

YachtFlags.com provides high quality courtesy flags that are manufactured in durable Knitted Polyester fabric. Knitted so that the fabric itself does not deteriorate in the constant movement that marine flags are usually exposed to, and polyester so that the flag does not weaken in the strong UV-light usually found in the main sailing areas of the world.

YachtFlags.com offers a discount to Noonsite members.

Use the coupon code NOONSITE_5A2B when checking out to get 10% off today.

Buy Now On YachtFlags.com

You must Login or Register to submit comments.

  1. April 23, 2024 at 11:06 AM
    profile photo
    Sue Richards says:

    Notice: St Helena government have closed the Jamestown mooring field since January 2024 until further notice, due to ongoing maintenance and health and safety issues. Anchoring is now the only option. See this news item for details – https://www.noonsite.com/news/st-helena-closure-of-moorings/

  2. July 17, 2018 at 10:45 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Stop over between Cape Town South Africa to Salvador Brazil. Not a cheap stopover at all, rather the opposite. Country currency is British Pounds.

    Formalities example landing fees, mooring fees, customs ect etc was way over 200£. Then you have to use the local ferry from your boat to shore at 2£ per person return trip. Operates from 8am to 6pm daily. They are supposed to work until 8pm but say NO, when you ask. So no late returns to boat.

    Food supplies- don’t count on it. Make sure you have provisioned enough to complete your crossing. Don’t even count on fresh bread, fruit & veg. If you find it’s an added bonus and you extremely lucky.

    Alcohol – most alcohol comes in from South Africa, but at triple the price. Stock your boat to the brim for the entire crossing .

    Banking – no atm. You draw money from a bank teller with between 15 to 20£ handling fee on each transaction. No shop on the island accepts cards of any sort.

    Community – wow what a beautiful friendly community. They go out of their way to great. Your go to place on the island is Ann’s place. You need assistance with anything you ask for help at Ann’s place. Sadly we only learnt that the day before we were leaving.

    Car rental on the island is cheap. We used Brendan, he went the extra mile for us. We were charged 15£ a day no hidden costs. He delivered and collected the car with no extra charge. Please support him.

    Jacob’s ladder, is a must do. 699 steps, you can do it you just need to find a rhythm. At the top about 300 meters down that road you will find Rosies restaurant, its another must visit. Once you filled up with food and beer, walking down the 699 steps comes naturally.I did it in 5 min down. I met a gent in his late 60’s heading up. His time is 13min up.

    The island is rich in history and a really must see so rent a car and get out into the island.

    Oops almost forgot – washing. Yes it can be done but at a price. Saying that it was worth every £. We did the wash and fold option. The clothing came back looking like it was ironed. It’s a serious up hill walk to the company again arrange with Ann’s place for collection /delivery.

    Yacht Club – I would prefer not to comment and sound negative. Sad as so much can and should be done to make visiting yachts feel more welcome.

  3. July 17, 2018 at 7:47 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Great write up Sam. Slow down so we can catch up.

  4. July 2, 2018 at 6:48 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    A welcome stop for those on transatlantic passages, St Helena is a beautiful and curious island. Moorings are well maintained and while the anchorage can roll a little at times, it was really pleasant and able to swim off the back of the boat in clear water to view local marine life. We met a very large and friendly manta ray and had fish around the boat most times.

    The dingy dock is across the local anchorage and best to use ferry service in and out. Our tender miraculously disappeared one night from the dock, but locals will insist there is no theft on St Helena – even after this was the third incident in recent months. The ferry service is not cheap at 2 GBP and runs hourly till 6pm. This is rather unfortunate as you cannot get back from town after dinner. The ferryman can get rather irate if people are not on schedule or request a pickup outside of the hourly schedule so best to plan around that.

    Check in is fairly straightforward, but does require a trip across town as immigration is now housed at the new police station. The small town is really quaint and people are friendly and helpful. Fuel is easily arranged via the Solomans company and water is available at the main dock. No stores accept credit cards and best to use GPB. WiFi must be the most expensive in the world and is charged by the minute at 13 GBP. It’s slow and cell [mobile] phone connection around the island is intermittent and poor – no reception at the cruiser’s anchorage. Fresh vegetables and eggs are rare to come by, and typically come to town once a week on Thursdays – grab what you can when you can. Most spares and parts are all flown in from South Africa or the UK. Flights from South Africa arrived once a week.

    Logistics aside, St Helena was surprisingly beautiful and a trip into the island’s interior is a must. It has verdant hills, green pastures, lush rainforest and arid, rock-strewn hills all in one. Diving is great and Craig at Into the Blue is patient and professional. Hazel and Peter at the consulate hotel provide a warm welcome for cruisers. While there is a yacht services company, the majority of our interactions were confusing and unpleasant resulting in pretentious lectures by the owner and recounts of his recent circumnavigation. We were not exactly sure what was being offered other than recounts of their voyage and best to clarify exactly what services are provided and the associated costs before making any assumptions and avoid unpleasantries. They did however assist in catching our catamaran after the Mantus mooring carabiner failed and she drifted. We spent 3 weeks in St Helena while waiting for a new wind transducer and really enjoyed our time there, but 1 week would have been more than sufficient for us.

  5. September 1, 2017 at 11:49 AM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Visited there in June 2017 – Harbour dues 35GPB, mooring ball 2GBP per day, Ferry service 2GBP return trip payable at the end of your stay and Immigration was 17GBP per person. Fuel is delivered to the boats at 1,27GBP per litre. We stayed a month, hired a car and really enjoyed the hospitality of everyone especially Hazel, the owner of the Consulate Hotel.

  6. March 8, 2017 at 3:52 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    According to Webb Chiles’ journal of March 7th 2017:

    “I like St. Helena very much. It is remote, quaint, and unchanged ashore from when I was here in 1988. An airport has been built at a cost of more than three hundred million dollars and was supposed to open last year, but almost unbelievably they built it in the wrong place, on the edge of the cliffs on the windward side of the island where turbulence from the trade winds meeting those cliffs makes landings and takeoffs unacceptably dangerous. How such a mistake could be made by presumably professionals boggles the mind. In any event, when any of the 4,000 residents of St. Helena see an unfamiliar face they still know you’ve sailed there on your own and are charmingly friendly.”

    Doesn’t look as if the airport situation will be solved any time soon.

  7. October 23, 2015 at 10:53 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Rather than changing currency in St Helena, bring British pounds which are accepted and are way easier to convert to another currency after you have departed.

    Everything is pretty such cash. Not able to use credit cards or debit.

  8. October 25, 2014 at 10:54 PM
    Lynda Lim says:

    Update notes for St. Helena.

    Immigration is a flat fee of 17GBP for up to 183 days.

    If the ferry service is used after hours there is an additional fee of 10GBP payable.

    If you want to see some of the island there is a lovely lady called Val Joshua tel: 22235 who loves walking and is glad to take people for serious walks. She is a mine of information. She does not charge and she may not be available. She doesn’t like to take more than 4 people.