On Wednesday 26th March, Cape Grace’s Executive Chef Malika van Reenen, set sail for the island of St Helena as part of a hospitality initiative between Cape Grace and the island’s new hotel school.

Besides spending 10 days on the island, it is also a 5-day-one-way sail on the last remaining mail ship, the RMS St Helena so I caught up with Malika to find out what her sea legs were like!

This has to be the most important question – do you get sea sick?
I have no idea! But they have assured me that you can get a motion sickness jab on board.

St Helena seems so off the beaten track. How do you feel about travelling out of your comfort zone?
I think it’s the total of 10 days on a boat that worries me more! I’m so used to being busy till all hours of the morning so I’m not sure what I’ll do with all that free time.  It will also be the first time I’ll be on a boat throughout the night – which I find slightly overwhelming!

Do you have any idea of what the island is like?
Other than what I’ve seen on the web and in their brochure, not really.  I hear the islanders are very friendly and I’m really looking forward to exploring all there is to see. Plus they have quite a history – Napoleon is buried there and the oldest tortoise still roams the island!

The RMS St Helena takes 156 passengers and is just 105 metres in length.  You’ve been doing a lot of walking up Lion’s Head lately so how do you plan on staying fit?
There is a gym on board but just to be safe I’m taking a set of weights with me – but I may need to assess how seaworthy I am first!


  • Discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, St Helena is situated in the South Atlantic Ocean and has a land mass of 122km².
  • The island is 1950km from the Southwest coast of Africa and 2900km from the coast of South America.
  • An airport will be fully operational in 2016 so ship or yacht is still the only way to get to the island.  The Royal Mail Ship [RMS] St Helena, built in 1989, is one of only two ocean-going vessels in the world to carry the title of Royal Mail Ship.  Besides ferrying passengers she is a vital lifeline for island residents as she also carries all goods and supplies – from clothes, cars, medicines and machinery, even the Christmas turkeys! Details of sailings are available from
  • The climate is mild and equable despite its location within the tropics. The South East Trade Winds blow fairly constantly making the weather changeable but it does mean that what starts out as a dull rainy morning can lead to a bright sunny afternoon. Water temperatures range between 19°C and 26°C
  • The estimated population is around 4000 and all St. Helenians are referred to as ‘Saints’
  • The remote location made it a place of exile for key prisoners, including Napoleon, who later died there.
  • Currency is the St Helena Pound which equates to one British Pound Sterling. There are banking services on the island but no ATM machines.
  • Driving is on the left-hand side of the road and while seat belts are not compulsory, drink-driving rules are strictly applied.
  • St Helena has a Distillery where they make Tungi [pronounced Toon Gee]. It is a smooth, clear alcoholic spirit full of flavour made from the prickly or cactus pear [called Tungi].
  • The island’s oldest ‘Saint’ is tortoise Jonathan. It is estimated that he is between 170 and 200 years old.

Malika is due back in Cape Town on the 14th April and once settled, I will catch up with her again for a post-trip interview, but in the meantime, why not see for yourself why they call St Helena the ‘most extraordinary place on earth’ –



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    • South Africa Travel Online - 29/03/14 -

      An awesome adventure, I thoroughly enjoyed my cruise to St Helena Island.

      Go for a climb up Jacobs ladder (watch out for the loose stones which are constantly falling from the cliff face down towards Jamestown).

      Do : take your golf clubs along – course isn’t in the finest nick, but the views are amazing.
      Do : go for a swim in the sea

      Don’t : expect much in the way of fresh ingredients for your cooking!

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