Reaching the island of St. Helena, which is situated in the middle of the South Atlantic, is now more accessible thanks to a new weekly flight.
St. Helena is an island so remote, not even Napoleon Bonaparte, who came so close to conquering Europe after the French Revolution, couldn't escape from it during his lifetime exile. It's a notoriety in the annals of history that make most nations envy when hankering for a piece of heritage to share with the rest of the world for the sake of tourism dollars. And yet, the island was inaccessible for centuries until 2017.
Now for those who want a Napoleonic taste of what's available on the south Atlantic island that's under U.K. domain, more flights are available including a weekly route that launched early December. South African carrier SA Airlink has taken up the initiative to provide flights between Johannesburg and St. Helena, located about 1,200 miles west of the shoreline of Namibia.
In fact, SA Airlink was the first airline to add St. Helena to its list of destinations in 2017, when it provided limited service to the island airport, first commissioned by the British government in 2010. However, concerns over wind conditions and environmental damage delayed the opening until SA Airlink added to its fleet a Brazilian-made Embraer jet, which was the ideal craft for landing on the island. Flights now take place on Tuesdays and Saturdays and will be part of SA Airlink's roster until April.
This season, the tourist board on St. Helena claims this is the best time of year to visit the historic island. Besides the Napoleon connection, island temperatures are at its warmest now that the sun shines more in the Southern Hemisphere. Additional tourism amenities include getting a glimpse of whale sharks that swim near the shores of St. Helena to feed up the plankton. More adventurous visitors have a chance to swim in the waters nearby to observe them relatively closer.
The plankton and other nutrients in that part of the Atlantic also attract a great deal of other marine life such as dolphins, parrotfish and butterflyfish, while the island itself is a habitat for several unique species of flora and assorted plant life, accessible by walking trails.
Flights to the island are only available from Johannesburg and cost around $998 US. The island has a luxury hotel, the Mantis St. Helena in the island capital of Jamestown, with rates from $98 to $108 per night.