The Magic of Ascension Island
By Carmen Gee, GA Writer
Ascension Island is a lesser known slice of paradise, slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, just below the equator. The 88km² island is surrounded by a mass of sparkling, turquoise water that is teeming with ocean life. The island itself is made up of diverse landscapes that include stretches of golden beaches, dry and rocky outcrops as well as lush bamboo forests.
I was lucky enough to get a few days to explore the little treasure as my crew and I stopped there as a midway point when sailing from Namibia to Brazil. Not many people to get to experience Ascension Island as it is pretty hard to get to. Flights to the island are quite expensive and most cruise ships opt to visit Ascension’s more popular sister island St Helena instead. It is a real pity as Ascension Island is easily one of the most gorgeous places on earth.
The most special moment of my time on Ascension happened when I least expected it. I was relaxing with my crew on Long Beach near Georgetown and we were treated to a gorgeous sunset while we picnicked on the beach. As it got dark we realised hundreds of baby turtles were hatching around us and making their way to the sea. It was a truly remarkable sight and we were all rendered speechless as the tiny green critters crept past us towards their new home. Just when we thought that we had experience the best evening ever, nature decided to spoil us even more. As we were leaving the beach, we nearly bumped into a mother turtle that was laying her eggs.
Even though Long Beach can probably have thousands of turtles hatching in one night, the beach is not closed to the public and anyone can go and watch the natural spectacle, which usually takes place between January and June. It’s truly one of my most memorable moments throughout my extended travels and I highly recommend it. It is really important to stick to the guidelines when watching the turtles hatch. These guidelines include the use of red lights only, no flash photography and not to touch or interfere with the turtles.
With only around 800 people living on the island, you can be assured that you won’t have to compete with hordes of surfers when surfing the island’s array of epic waves. The best waves on the island can be found a couple of kilometres North of Georgetown. The water is warm, the waves are great for beginners and pro’s alike and it’s one of the most uncrowded spots in the world! The local surfers are exceptionally friendly and are eager to give helpful advice about surfing Ascension. Each time we surfed we were the only surfers in the water and enjoyed some near-perfect waves all to ourselves.
Ascension Island also offers stunning hikes that take you up through the lush green, mountains towards the bamboo forests at the island’s peaks. The hikes are safe, easily accessible and take place on clearly marked paths. The grass was so soft underfoot that I explored the hikes on offer in the beautiful Green Mountain National Park completely barefoot!
Another amazing and free activity which is definitely worth doing during your time on Ascension Island is snorkeling. The sea life is just incredible. Big game fish, such as Dorado and tuna, are not yet scared of humans and swim up to you with great curiosity. The water is crystal clear and makes spotting crayfish, turtles and eels all the easier.
Ascension truly impacted me and I dream of going back some day. What was meant to be a fuel and provisions stop turned into one of my most fantastic adventures. It is such a small island, which can literally be covered in one day, but is so full of life and awe-inspiring nature. Each local we met was exceptionally passionate about their exquisite home, as they should be!