Saint Helena

Saint Helena – A Breath of Fresh Air

Matt Eade
By Matt Eade
Operations Manager
June 2024

In March, Operations Manager, Matt Eade, joined a week-long tourism showcase event to the remote island of Saint Helena. This small island, set within a 450,000km2 Marine Protected Area, located 1,165 miles off the coast of Angola and home to only 4,200 people, is most famous for its Napoleonic history, this being where Napoleon himself spent his final years whilst in exile. In addition to the remarkable historical events, this tiny island harbours an array of endemic wildlife, including the Wirebird (aka. Saint Helena Plover) and also offers a tremendous opportunity for snorkelling with marine-life, including the majestic Whale Shark, which abounds here during certain months of the year. Matt goes on to write:

‘Descending through the clouds above the Atlantic Ocean, the remote, volcanic island of Saint Helena finally came into view and I soon landed upon the recently extended runway – this being an early initiative by the tourism board to further promote this island. Clearing customs, I was greeted by a wall of smiling locals as I myself soaked up the warm, sub-tropical temperatures of the mid-Atlantic. Due to the size of the island and good road network, it took a mere 30 minutes to arrive at Jamestown, where I was based for the week in the perfectly adequate Mantis Bay Hotel. Offering 32 spacious rooms, excellent dining and only 150 metres from the wharf, this will serve as a perfect base for a future Naturetrek holiday, more so as swirling above the hotel were large numbers of White Terns and Red-billed Tropicbirds.

Having a week on the island was ample time to fully relax and enjoy the many sea and land tours available. On the land, it may appear a week may be too short a time to enjoy what is on offer, but fully guided tours of Longwood House (Napoleon’s home), a visit to Napoleon’s tomb, Plantation House to see the oldest known living animal (Jonathan the tortoise), the Millennium Forest where several endemic species of plant and insect thrive, a Wirebird tour to photograph this wading bird that is reminiscent of the Kittlitz’s Plover of mainland Africa, and lastly, a walk in the lush, but endangered, forest of Diana’s Peak to view several incredible creatures, notably the Yellow Woodlouse, are all activities one can’t miss out on. While undertaking all of these memorable activities, of which there are many more, one is never alone, as countless White Terns were never too far away as they hovered close by, no doubt protecting their precarious nesting sites.

As a seabird enthusiast, each morning I would wander down to the wharf and scan out to sea, finding a host of exciting seabirds, all while super pods of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins would swiftly go past, making the closer Bottlenose Dolphins look slow in comparison. In addition to the large numbers of Masked Booby and both Black and Brown Noddy, there were fewer numbers of Band-rumped Storm Petrels, Brown Booby and Ascension Frigatebird!

However, the lure to this archipelago is the opportunity to snorkel with the largest extant fish species in the world – the Whale Shark. Each year, usually between December and April, Saint Helena supports a mysteriously large number of sharks, and under strict measures not to interfere in any form (including attracting them to boats for feeding), I had a wonderful opportunity to swim close to one of these magnificent animals, while the same afternoon a Devil Ray also mesmerised me with its presence. Being in the water with such species is truly unique and, for me personally, an overwhelming experience. Set away from any other land, the rich seas here support a host of endemic fish species, all within the shallows around the wharf and nearby rocks, with the most colourful being the Saint Helena Butterflyfish, ensuring an early morning swim was always rewarded with something special.

Visiting Saint Helena was a surreal experience, and whether it be the incredibly safe and friendly atmosphere, the unique wildlife, or the historical background, this small island has lots to offer! Their slogan, ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’, couldn’t be truer.’


Masked Booby


Jonathan the Tortoise © Matt Eade


Wirebird © Matt Eade


Diana's Peak




White Tern

We are planning a week-long wildlife and history holiday to Saint Helena Island in 2025 and again in 2026. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information or register your interest below.

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