Diving St. Helena

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St. Helena, West Africa

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Country: West Africa  Area: West Africa

Water Temp: 19 - 26°C (66 - 79°F)

Visibility: 15 - 30m (49 - 98 ft)

Depth Range: 12 - 28m (39 - 92 ft)

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St Helena Island is one of the remotest places in the world. It lies some 2000km away from the nearest land mass. Visitors can only arrive via a postal vessel out of Cape Town, which takes some 5 days to cruise the intervening distance.

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Before the Suez Canal, the island was an essential stop off point so it’s bathed in a living history like nowhere else on earth. People are attracted to this remoteness and feeling of old-time adventure.

 

Marine Conservation

The island has an active nature conservancy and is involved in whale shark monitoring and tagging projects.

Climate

St Helena's climate varies over the island. In the northern area temperatures, are 5–6 °C (9.0–10.8 °F) higher than what you will find in the centre of the island. Summer is January to April where temperatures in the north are 21–28 °C (70–82 °F). Temperatures for the remainder of the year are 17–24 °C (63–75 °F). Rainfall is low and it tends to fall on high ground and on the south coast. The wettest month is April.

 
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The Diving

The main draw for diving here, much as the visiting he island itself, is its unique remoteness. The visibility runs to 30m and there is much to explore. You can see Whale sharks, whales, dolphins, mantas and devil rays here.  While you can dive year around in St Helena the best visibility is Jan to April.  As you might expect on an island with a history dating back to the 1600s, there are plenty of wrecks to explore. Many islands are scattered around St Helena offering many diving opportunities all there for your exploration.

In terms of Wreck Diving the Papanui is a steam vessel that went down in 1911. She caught fire and ran aground and lies in just 13m of water. In the intervening hundred years, she has attracted a significant amount if life. The Dark Dale went down in WWII courtesy of a torpedo strike and is also rich in life. If you are lucky, you might see a whale shark here. While only the ribs and cannon can be found the wreck of the 16th-century sailboat While Lion, it was a much-dived favourite of Jacques Cousteau. She lies at 35m and is not so rich in life, simply made famous by her celebrity diver heritage. The Bedgellet, lies upright in 16m of water, and is a salvage vessel that only went down in 1999 but has already attracted life. 

For actual reef dives, Long Ledge is attractive due to its archways, cavities, overhangs, huge clams and general fish richness. Cavally Point is also notable for its archways swim throughs. Red Island is popular with the locals, its volcanic reef offers homes to a great number of fish but keep your eye out to the blue for a passing manta ray.

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How to Get there

At the moment, the island can only be accessed via boat from Cape Town or Ascension Island.  Many operators fly to Cape Town from a multitude or origins. To fly to Ascension Island, you need to fly via military plane leaving RAF Brize Norton in the UK. A postal vessel provides transport from Cape Town and Ascension Island taking 5 and 3 days respectively. St Helena’s airport is expected to be open in 2016 which will most likely see a significant increase in tourists.        

St. Helena's deep blue sea, Credit

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Where to Eat & Drink

Jamestown has the majority of restaurants and pubs with a family and convivial atmosphere and while many close on a Sunday you can arrange a home cooked meal in a local household.       

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Other Activities

The island has a rich and fascinating history recorded back from 1673. Napoleon was exiled there until his death, the oldest tortoise, 180yrs old, lives here and in 1673 Edmund Halley arrived to site his observatory, the island has been involved in the Boer War and WWII too. As such there is much to see and do. Hiking is popular, as is the ascent up Jacobs Ladder, some 699 steps from Jamestown to the top of Ladder Hill. 

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There are whale shark and dolphin spotting excursions which children are bound to love.

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Tips

There are no ATMs and credit cards are only accepted in very few places, so cash and travellers cheques are required. Cash advances can be obtained from major debit and credit cards.  If you need to hire a car book in advance as there can be high demand.

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Rating 10/10

Diving in St Helena

St. Helena15 Nov 2012 - 31 Dec 2015

St Helena does not appear on the draw down list of sites so you need to find it - slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic and six days by ship from CT. Bit the voyage, which will be shorter once an airport is completed in 2016, is worth it all. Yesterday six of us snorkeled with a whaleshark; today we dived to 33m to the Darkdale, a WW2 ship sunk by a u-boat and were accompanied by a devil ray. Dives, including equipment and air, cost £20 with the excellent subtropic adventures.

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Catherine Jones

Lovely report Andy! I actually did not have this on our Guide Development map.. so thank you for raising the location's profile with us. We will do some work on the location over the next month or two and we can relocate your report to the location once we create it!

Elli Byrne

This place is now on my wish list! (Santa, please note)

Jon La Clink

Great article you can now fly to St Helena. This time of year the highlight is not only amazing diving but the whale sharks are there you can dive fish and go whale watching with some operators Craig and Keith are great for this as they have some great experience talk to them http://www.divesainthelena.com this is an amazing place

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