Why the island of St Helena is a photographer's dream

Drone photographer Craig Williams’ perspective on his home island of St Helena changed when he started snapping it from the air. He shares his passion for photography and the island he calls home.

One of Craig's drone shots of the island of St Helena.

Photograph by Craig Williams
By Craig Williams
Published 17 Mar 2022, 10:00 GMT

I used to take what I had in my backyard for granted. St Helena — a volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic — is where I’ve lived my whole life. Perhaps because of this, I never thought that much about all the island has to offer; I failed to see its unique beauty, with its volcanic valleys and lush, tropical centre. 

Growing up in the island’s St Paul’s district, I’ve always been surrounded by trees and vegetation. When I started taking photos, I began to appreciate the beauty of my surroundings and wanted to give something back. I bought a drone; first a DJI Phantom 2, and then a Mavic 2, and was able to see the island from a totally different perspective. It was breathtaking. 

What I love the most is capturing top-down images of the steep, striking coastline — constantly smashed by ocean swells — plus historic fortifications such as High Knoll Fort, which towers over homes from its perch on the crest of a hill. Then you have Diana’s Peak, where the path to its summit is often shrouded in low fog — a pathway to the sky, if you will. My favourite locations to photograph are dotted around the island, but if I had to choose one, it would have to be the seaside on the outskirts of Jamestown, the capital of the island. Sunsets there are never the same, from the warming colours of the sky to the beautiful Georgian buildings with history spilling from their walls.  

One of Craig's early morning shots.

One of Craig's early morning shots. 

Photograph by Craig Williams

No visitor to St Helena will ever be disappointed — from history enthusiasts and nature-lovers to photographers and younger people looking for a fun night out. Take it from me, this beautiful island deserves to be on your bucket list. For keen hikers, there are endless routes to places like our famous Heart-Shaped Waterfall, and the challenging Sharks Valley. 

Above all, no matter where you go on St Helena, there’s always a photographic opportunity. Since I started using my drone, I go out every day to fly, and to find new locations. St Helena, I’ll forever be grateful for the views, the perspectives and the beauty you offer — and the fact I have all this in my backyard. I’m very lucky indeed. 

Photographer Craig Williams was born and raised on the Atlantic island.

Photographer Craig Williams was born and raised on the Atlantic island.

Photograph by Craig Williams

Craig’s top three St Helena experiences

1. Diana’s Peak Post Box Walk
Standing 2,700ft above sea level, Diana’s Peak is the highest point on the island, with panoramic views stretching across this tropical paradise. The peak has gained the name Cloud Forest because of its thickly forested slopes, often wreathed in mist.

2. Sunday ride followed by an ice cream from Uncle Bob
Aside from the popular attractions, for me, a traditional Sunday ride around the island, finished with ice cream from Uncle Bob’s ice cream truck, is a must. Bob is a fun, friendly, down-to-earth guy who’ll share stories about local Saints, while you watch the sun slowly set at the seaside — an experience to remember.

3. Jacob’s Ladder challenge
Climb the 699 steps of Jacob’s Ladder, the same ladder that was used to transport goods hundreds of years ago. Be warned, this is a real challenge, but it’s incredibly rewarding if you’re brave enough. Plus, there’s also the opportunity to get some close-up images of birds swooping around the ladder.

For more information on organising a trip to St Helena, head to sthelenatourism.com

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