Ascension

Ascension Island is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, just south of the equator, 700 miles northwest of Saint Helena, the United Kingdom territory by which it is administered.

Understand

This barren and uninhabited island was discovered and named by the Portuguese in 1501. The British garrisoned the island in 1815 to prevent a rescue of Napoleon from Saint Helena and it served as a provisioning station for the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron on anti-slavery patrol. The island remained under Admiralty control until 1922, when it became a dependency of Saint Helena. During World War II, the UK permitted the US to construct Wideawake airfield on Ascension in support of trans-Atlantic flights to Africa and anti-submarine operations in the South Atlantic. In the 1960s the island became an important space tracking station for the US. In 1982, Ascension was an essential staging area for British forces during the Falklands War, and it remains a critical refuelling point in the air-bridge from the UK to the South Atlantic.

The climate on Ascension Island is subtropical. It is arid and lacking in vegetation until the elevation increases where lush forest and fertile soil exists.

The main settlement is Georgetown where the tourist information office is in the Obsidian Hotel (see Sleep).

Get in

Map of Ascension Island
Fort Hayes
St. Mary's Church
The Exiles Club

Visitors require entry approval from the Administrator's office, requested in advance in writing. They must also have full medical insurance which will cover the expense of medical evacuation, if needed.

By plane

By boat

Get around

There is no public transport (including taxis) on Ascension. Obsidian offers car rentals for £15/day.

See

Do

Sport fishing is the main attraction for visitors to Ascension Island. There are also some beaches and ocean swimming in certain coves, such as Comfortless Cove and English Bay. Long Beach, as inviting as it looks, has a very hazardous undertow and is not suitable for sea bathing. However, it is a sheer delight for wildlife fans as this is where sea turtles go to nest. There are a few paths (such as Rupert's Path) suitable for hiking into the more lush highlands, as well as mountainside lava tubes to explore. The British pastime of letterboxing - hiking to a destination that contains a "letterbox" containing a log book and a rubber stamp pad - is possible here.

Ascension Island features what was at one time reputed to be the world's worst golf course. Located between the settlements of Two Boats village and Georgetown, the course has 18 holes and the greens are in fact 'browns', a reference to the sand and oil mix used to make them. The rest of the course is made up of volcanic ash and rock, which makes for some interesting rounds.

There is some terrific Scuba Diving in the waters surrounding Ascension Island. At present, however, there are only local enthusiasts and no recognized Diving Operation. Some of locals are often willing to take experienced visitors with them

There are Fumaroles and Lava Tunnels to explore (at Command Hill, near the Catholic Grotto)

Buy

The grocery store and almost every other business on the island have really odd hours of operation (for example, the petrol station on Tuesdays is open 2-3 in the afternoon), so make sure you write up the times on the first day. The Obsidian Hotel has a nice gift shop with some good books and beach vacation-style T-shirts are very famous.

Eat

Because everything is imported, prices for food are very high on the island. If you get the chance to go out fishing with the locals, you may walk away with a bag of tuna. Sometimes the community hosts a fish fry that is open to everyone.

There are very few places to eat, with odd opening hours

Drink

Sleep

Visitors are accommodated by the Obsidian Group Accommodation and Tourist Services, +247 6246, which maintains a hotel (the Obsidian), two hostels, and two cottages (7 night minimum). Hotel rates range from £45 for a single to £79 for a VIP double. Hostel and cottage rates range from £25-£50 per night.

Connect

The country code for Ascension is 247 and the population is too small to need area or trunk STD codes.

The International Prefix is 00.

Subscriber numbers are typically 4 digits long and start with a 2 for the US Base, 3 for Travellers Hill or Airhead, 4 for Two Boats and a 6 or 7 for Georgetown.

Numbers starting with 0 or 5 have been reserved for future Mobile service.

There is a Wi-Fi hotspot in Obsidian Hotel's lobby and patio for £10/day. The Post Office in Georgetown offers a vast array of Philatelic items for sale from the three islands of St Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha. Airmail is possible, thanks to the airfield.

Go next

Saint Helena (island) is obviously the only reasonable destination you can visit from Ascension Island. See Get in/By sea

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, October 10, 2014. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.