The world‘s finest diving

Philippines Anilao pink fan fish shutterstock 261263369 optOFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH
Snorkeling with whale sharks + diving
March 4-13, 2023

The volcanic island of St Helena, located in the Atlantic Ocean far from the shore of Africa, is home to courting whale sharks from January to March. Join us to observe the rituals of the courting whale sharks & enjoy the diverse south Atlantic diving and a bit of exploration of Napoleon’s exile home.


Located in “the middle of nowhere” in the Atlantic Ocean, St Helena is 4,000 kilometres (2,500 miles) east of Rio de Janeiro and 1,950 kilometres (1,210 miles) west of the mouth of the Cunene River, which marks the border between Namibia and Angola in southwestern Africa.. You may know of it as the place Napoleon Bonaparte lived in exile until his death. 

The whale sharks of the area apparently know it as “Lover’s Lane” during the early months of the year.

Current regulations prohibit deliberate scuba diving with the whale sharks during this season but snorkeling is permitted.  Also, should you encounter the whale sharks during the regularly scheduled dives on this expedition, you will be allowed to hang out to observe them. The trip includes two planned whale shark snorkels and may include encounters during planned dives.  Should the whale sharks happen to appear at a site where there is a planned dive, you will snorkel with them and dive the site later.


The diving on St Helena is diverse and very interesting.  ​You’ll find beautiful caverns housed in limestone rock and good-sized schools of fish, many of which are endemic.  Photo ops are excellent. Chilean devil rays seems to love the fingers of lava which extend into the ocean and pinnacle sites are home to schools of Rainbow runner and jacks. There are a handful of excellent wrecks too.

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Budget accommodation:
Accommodation options are limited on an island of 4400 inhabitants. There are a few local bed and breakfasts, but generally the rooms dated and expensive for what they offer. However, there is one set of self-catering bungalows at Half-Tree Hollow, a five-minute drive down the hill to Jamestown, that we have chosen as a budget option, starting at £75 (that’s GBP) per night per unit with a rental vehicle included.  They are two and three-bedroom cottages, built in 2014, located above Jamestown with a magnificent view of the coast and the ocean. Each cottage has a small lounge, kitchen and a bathroom. Single occupancy guests will share a three-bedroom cottage. There is a small supermarket in Half-tree Hollow and other food shops in Jamestown. Fresh fish can be purchased in Jamestown, a five-minute drive away.

Deluxe accommodation:
The 4-star Mantis Hotel is a combination of restored historic buildings dating from 1774 and a new contemporary building situated in the heart of Jamestown, a few minutes’ walk from the sea front, swimming pool, museum, Jacob’s Ladder, public library, archives, shops, and bars.  The buildings originally served as an officer’s barracks for the East India Company. They served as military accommodation up until the last garrison left the island in the 1900’s. The original buildings were constructed from stone, bonded together with mud and mortar, pointed and rendered with lime which also formed the whitewash, with teak flooring. This 30-room boutique hotel has a large restaurant, the best on the island, bar and guest lounge and two outdoor terraces.

St Helena : Mantis Mantis Hotel below

st Helena mantis hotel composite


{slider These trips will be led by photographer Christopher Bartlett who has been involved in whale shark conservation since 2009.  |dest|closed}


Budget: March 3-13, 2023
Two sharing a double room £1220
Single occupancy £1395

Deluxe: March 10-19, 2023
Two sharing a double room £1795
Single occupancy. £2355


Take your international flights to Johannesburg, South Africa.  Your first night, in Johannesburg, is included in the package. Please don’t hesitate to ask us to help with flight reservations from Johannesburg to St Helena.  Fares are roughly $840 round trips.  We can usually arrange to put the entire group together to facilitate logistics. 


Below is the tentative itinerary, which, as always, is subject to change based on weather and sea conditions

ITINERARY FOR DIVERS (non-divers, consult us for a special itinerary):

Find the deluxe version below … the budget version has an extra day with two additional dives.  It’s the accommodation which delineates budget or deluxe:

Day 1: After clearing immigration in Johannesburg, transfer to accommodation 10 minutes from the airport. Dinner at your cost.

Day 2: Return to the airport for the 9am flight to St Helena, arriving 13:30 local time. After clearing immigration, you will be transferred to your accommodation. On the “deluxe” option, dinner is included.

Day 3: Two dives, on sea mounts or ledges, often visited by whale sharks. Afternoon visiting Jamestown.

Day 4: Full day island 4×4 tour to visit the key historic sites and viewpoints of the island.

Day 5: Two reef or wreck dives in the morning, whale shark snorkeling in the afternoon.

Day 6: Two dives, on sea mounts or ledges

Day 7: Two dives, on sea mounts or ledges (possible whale shark encounters)

Day 8: Two reef or wreck dives in the morning, whale shark snorkeling in the afternoon.

Day 9: Morning free, transfer to the airport at midday for the 2:30pm flight to Johannesburg. Transfer to Johannesburg accommodation. Dinner at your cost.

Day 10: Transfer to the airport.

Included in the rate:

Extras :



Your trip leader, professional UW photographer Christopher Bartlett, has led groups to St Helena in 2018, 2019, and 2020.  He has been involved in whale shark conservation since 2009. and has led diving trips to the Galapagos and the Maldives. to swim with sperm whales in Dominica, to dive & view the hill tribe shows in Papua New Guinea … plus he has years of guiding safaris in Africa.



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