Ascension Island Travel Guide

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Ascension Island is an exceptionally remote volcanic island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. It has unique lunar landscapes and beautiful wildlife that not many people get to see due to its remoteness. 

Place: Ascension Island

Where: South Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and Africa (1,000 miles from the coast of Africa and 1,400 miles from the coast of Brazil)

Remoteness:  9 / 10

Accessibility: Difficult  

Overview: A British overseas territory that was formed by a now dormant volcano. The island has a rugged, volcanic coast and interior that looks more like the surface of mars than a desert island. Ascension Island has the second largest nesting population of green turtles in the Atlantic. 

Ascension Island Interior

The interior of Ascension Island is a volcanic desert 

Why visit?

In this well travelled world it’s great to visit somewhere no one else really goes to. A trip to Ascension is just that. There are deserted white sand beaches with big rolling Atlantic waves. I saw green turtles nesting. I even managed to track down some masked Booby Birds nesting near an ancient lava flow.

I saw more volcanic rock formations than you could ever imagine. The interior of the island is a desert with hot temperatures. In the centre of the island is a 3,000ft high peak which is covered in a lush vegetation. It’s a welcome break from the heat as it is usually cloud covered and  cooler than the lower parts of the island.

It’s perfect if you’re curious about remote islands and don’t want to see any other tourists. The odd cruise ship stops off and that about it. I personally enjoyed the alone time and having a lot of places I visited to myself. Although Ascension is under 8 miles across at it’s widest point there is a surprising amount of exploring to be done.

a road on Ascension island
green mountain on ascension island
green Mountain on Ascension Island

The contrast of Ascension Island’s landscapes from desert at the lower points to lush greenery on the mountain

What to do on Ascension Island

  • Visit Long Beach at night between November and May to see Green Turtles nesting on the beach.
  • Go to the top of the Green Mountain to experience the cloud forest and get the best views of the island.
  • Visit the beach at Comfortless Cove and then walk to the spooky Bonetta Cemetery where fever-ridden sailors were quarantined in the 1800’s.
  • Hike the volcanic landscape. Ascension has plenty of trails and letterbox hikes. It’s highly advisable to pick up a map from the hotel before you head out. Take plenty of water!  
  • Go bird watching. I found Masked Booby birds on the east of the island and 1000’s of Sooty Terns by Wideawake airfield. 
green turtle on Ascension Island
green turtle
masked booby bird on Ascension Island
Sooty Tern

Above: Green turtles heading back to the sea after nesting  Below: Masked Booby Birds and Sooty Terns

You can see some of the wildlife I was lucky enough to encounter in this video. The Ascension Island shots start at 00:37 and show Sooty Terns, Masked Booby Birds and Nesting Green Turtles. 

How to get to Ascension Island

Unfortunately getting to Ascension Island has become very difficult in 2017. The main airstrip at Wideawake airfield has been closed to commercial traffic and is currently in a state of repair. For more information please check the Ascension Island Government’s website here for updates. 

Previously an RAF flight from the UK to the Falkland Islands would stop here to refuel and it was possible to stop over. There is a possibility this service will resume in the future, but it is dependent on the airfield being repaired.

It was also possible to visit the island on RMS St Helena from Cape Town via St Helena, but sadly she stops service in February 2018.

There is talk of a possible air service from the new airport on St Helena to Ascension Island but currently nothing is confirmed. I advise to check the Ascension Island Government’s website here for updates on a regular basis.

Currently the only way to reach Ascension Island is by cruise ship or personal yacht.

cloud forest on Ascension Island
ascension Island

The cloud forest on Green Mountain contrasted by the harsh volcanic coastline and turquoise waters 

Where To Stay:

Sadly as of September 2017 the only hotel on Ascension Island called the Obsidian has closed down due to the inaccessibility issues caused by the runway not operating. It is hoped the hotel will open it’s doors again in the future, so it is worth checking their website periodically.

For now the only real option is to visit on a cruise ship.

When to go:

Ascension Island has a hot desert climate with a fairly constant temperature across the year with an average high of 30°C 86(°F). September to December have less sunshine hours than the rest of the year which have the most. Ascension Island is well worth a visit at any time of the year.

If you would like to see more of Ascension Island please check out: Explore the Strange Beauty of Ascension Island in Photos

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