First timers guide for travelling to St Helena.
Smiles, waves, and greetings are tokens you will become accustomed to very quickly in St Helena. Whether it’s your first, second or fifth time to visit this beautiful Island with it’s Jurassic landscapes, sub-tropic temperatures and pristine waters teeming with wildlife, there is always something different to see and do.
For the first timer seeking adventure, or escape to the peace, tranquility and warmth of St Helena, here are some travel tips to consider before you embark on your trip of a lifetime:
St Helena is a wild, far-reaching destination and is still fairly remote in global terms.
Travelling here got a whole lot easier with the introduction of weekly flights from South Africa, and the peak season twice weekly flights. At all costs, visitor safety is paramount and all visitors must have valid medical insurance to the value of £250,000 to include aeromedical evacuation or other means to pay for treatment to cover themselves for the duration of their stay.
2. Your allocated baggage allowance with SA Airlink is 20 kilos.
If connecting from other countries and other airlines the baggage allowance varies, but keep this in mind for the onward journey.
3. Fly SA Airlink from Johannesburg in the early morning and be in St Helena for lunch (which may or may not consist of the traditional signature fishcake).
Navigating OR Tambo, is quite straight forward, but you’ll want to arrive fairly early to check in at one terminal and get yourself to the next terminal comfortably to make the 9:00 am C.A.T departure.
If connecting from another country we would recommend arriving to Johannesburg at least one day prior.
4. Entry and Visa requirements
The Island has a colonial British feel and in many ways it is still a fairly patriotic outpost. Immigration laws do vary to the UK however, and it is always advisable to check our visa and Immigration guidelines in advance. It goes without saying that all visitors must have valid passports, but in addition there is also a requirement to see return tickets and confirmation of pre-booked accommodation.
5. Landing fee:
It is not uncommon for airports to charge a landing fee, and many airports like London Heathrow pass on this charge to the airline, who then incorporate this into the ticket price. A St Helena air fare does not include an integrated landing charge so this is requested by Immigration at arrivals. A £20.00 fee is payable for all visitors over 12 years of age.
To save time at Immigration we recommend carrying sterling to cover this cost.
Once through arrivals there is a Bank kiosk a the far end where you can get St Helena currency from a credit of debit card.
6. Cash only society.
While we have moved on from the days of trading livestock and yam as currency, we still haven’t quite mastered the credit card yet.
The option of using credit and debit cards on St Helena is limited. Cash is the best form of making payments locally. The Bank of St Helena, the only bank on the Island (mainstreet) also has kiosks available at the Airport and Jamestown Wharf. Services available to visitors include cashing travellers’ cheques and currency exchange for Sterling, US Dollars, Euros and South African Rand banknotes.
Customers can obtain cash advances on major debit and credit cards, and UK clearing bank customers can cash UK cheques, up to the limit of the applicable cheque guarantee card.
Charges for these services are advertised in the bank: www.sainthelenabank.com/
There are currently no ATM cash machines on St Helena.