Flung out into the Atlantic, about midway between Africa and South America, the island of St Helena is about as isolated as it’s possible to be. It’s a near-untouched idyll of jungle-dotted shorelines and rolling coffee plantations where British colonialists, Napoleon Bonaparte and an abundance of endemic wildlife have all left their mark. What’s more, long only reachable by a once-a-month ship, the recently opened flight route has made St Helena more accessible than ever.
Indeed, this tiny British Overseas Territory packs a lot into its 50 square miles. First discovered by Portuguese sailors, it soon became an important stop-off point for the British on their way to New World. And, you’ll still be able to visit cannon-lined forts, a pastel-coloured town home to the southern hemisphere’s oldest Anglican church and the 19th-century mansion where an exiled Napoleon saw out his last days. There’s also the chance to uncover the island’s tragic role in the slave trade.
But, it’s not just about history, with St. Helena also host to a fascinating natural present. The likes of astronomer Edmond Halley, of comet fame, and Charles Darwin himself have all been drawn here, with the resident marine life said to rival even the Galápagos. Alongside dolphins and whales, you can even swim with whale sharks. Don’t worry, these friendly giants are strictly filter feeders. Then, back on land, hikes bring you between cloud forests dappled with waterfalls and extinct volcanoes that offer ocean views that stretch to the size of Belgium. There's also the world's oldest living animal – Jonathan the giant tortoise.