For old wrecks . . . and anyone else.
The clear and unpolluted waters around St. Helena provide ample opportunities for divers of all abilities. And the island's seafaring history contribues plenty to explore. Read on to find out more . . .
Wrecks to explore
The image shows the wreck of the SS Papanui, which sank in James Bay in 1911 on her way to Australia with immigrants and a full cargo. She arrived in James Bay on fire, combustion having occurred in her coal filled holds and she sought refuge in the lee of St. Helena Island. The ship burned out and sank, but its 364 passengers and crew were rescued and looked after on the island. She is now lying in fairly shallow water and it's easy to snorkle over her on a calm sunny day. Showing above the surface is part of her steering gear and visible below is her counter stern. Visible amidships are her four boilers, three in a row and one for'ard.
There are many other wrecks to explore, including the Dutch vessel Witte Leeuw ("White Lion"), which sunk in James Bay in 1613 after a brief but spectacular naval action with the Portuguese. Returning from Java, she was carrying peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves, diamonds and precious Chinese Ming porcelain. She was armed with 30 bronze cannons, one of which is now in the Museum of St. Helena, situated at the bottom of Jacob's Ladder. Other artefacts recovered by divers in 1976 are in the Amsterdam Rijksmuseum. A locally produced rum carries the name White Lion.
The St. Helena Dive Club
This is a thriving group on the island. Many people are trained each year to dive through the club. With weekly dives to various locations, an annual sponsored swim and outings for all members it is a very active club.
More details on the National Trust Website