Lidia Burford

Written by Lidia Burford

Modified & Updated: 31 May 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


Ascension Island, located in the South Atlantic Ocean, is a fascinating and enigmatic place that has captured the imagination of many. This isolated volcanic landmass, known for its dramatic landscapes and rich biodiversity, holds within it a myriad of astonishing facts that will leave you in awe. From its unique geographic features to its intriguing history, Ascension Island has much to offer for those who seek to explore its secrets.

In this article, we will delve into 15 astonishing facts about Ascension Island that will pique your curiosity and shed light on this extraordinary destination. From the mysterious green turtles that call its shores home to the iconic Devil’s Ashpit, prepare to embark on a journey of discovery as we uncover the wonders of Ascension Island.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ascension Island is a remote paradise with no indigenous population, making it a haven for wildlife, diving, and stargazing. Its unique geology and historical significance add to its allure.
  • The island’s lush Green Mountain, NASA tracking station, and rare plant species make it a fascinating destination for nature lovers and scientists alike. Its role in military history and Charles Darwin’s voyage add to its rich heritage.
Table of Contents

A Remote Paradise in the Atlantic Ocean

Ascension Island is a remote volcanic island situated in the South Atlantic Ocean, about halfway between South America and Africa. It is a British Overseas Territory and is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique ecosystem.

An Island with No Indigenous Population

Unlike many other islands, Ascension Island does not have an indigenous population. It is primarily used as a military base and a scientific research station. The majority of the residents are either military personnel or scientists.

Home to Green Turtles and Sea Birds

Ascension Island is a haven for wildlife, particularly green turtles and various species of seabirds. The island’s beaches serve as nesting grounds for green turtles, making it an important site for their conservation.

A Paradise for Divers and Snorkelers

The crystal clear waters surrounding Ascension Island offer exceptional diving and snorkeling opportunities. The underwater world is teeming with vibrant coral reefs, tropical fish, and even shipwrecks waiting to be explored.

The Green Mountain

Ascension Island is home to a unique landmark called the Green Mountain. Despite its name, the mountain is not actually green. It gets its name from the lush vegetation that covers its slopes, providing a stark contrast to the arid surroundings.

Presence of NASA Tracking Station

Ascension Island hosts a NASA tracking station that plays a crucial role in monitoring and controlling space missions. The strategic location of the island allows for efficient tracking and communication with satellites and spacecraft.

An Important Site for Bird Watching

Bird enthusiasts will be delighted to visit Ascension Island as it is a hotspot for bird watching. The island is home to various seabird colonies, including frigatebirds, masked boobies, and red-billed tropicbirds.

Volcanic Origin and Unique Geology

Ascension Island is of volcanic origin, with its highest peak, Green Mountain, reaching an elevation of 859 meters (2,818 feet). The island’s intriguing geology attracts scientists from around the world to study its formation and geological processes.

A Popular Destination for Stargazing

Due to its remote location and minimal light pollution, Ascension Island offers breathtaking views of the night sky. Stargazers can experience the beauty of the Milky Way and observe celestial phenomena that are rarely visible in more populated areas.

Important Role in Military History

Ascension Island has played a significant role in military history, especially during World War II. The island served as a strategic base for the Allied forces, facilitating the transportation of troops and supplies across the Atlantic.

The Unique “Sooty Tern” Phenomenon

Ascension Island is known for its extraordinary natural spectacle called the “Sooty Tern” phenomenon. Every year, millions of sooty terns arrive on the island to breed, creating a mesmerizing sight and sound of these birds covering the skies.

Home to Rare and Endemic Plant Species

Despite its harsh environmental conditions, Ascension Island is home to several rare and endemic plant species, some of which are found nowhere else on Earth. These unique plants have adapted to the island’s volcanic soil and arid climate.

Ascension Island’s Mysterious “Devils Ashpit”

One of the island’s intriguing features is the “Devils Ashpit,” a natural sinkhole created by volcanic activity. It is believed to be one of the largest collapse features of its kind and is a must-see for visitors to Ascension Island.

Historical Importance in Charles Darwin’s Voyage

Ascension Island played a vital role in Charles Darwin’s scientific exploration. During his voyage on the HMS Beagle, Darwin visited the island and gathered valuable evidence that influenced his theory of evolution.

Protection of Marine Biodiversity

Ascension Island has established marine protected areas to safeguard its diverse and fragile marine ecosystem. These protected areas contribute to the conservation of marine biodiversity and promote sustainable practices in the surrounding waters.


In conclusion, Ascension Island is a truly remarkable and unique destination. From its remote location in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to its diverse wildlife and geological phenomena, it offers an unparalleled experience for adventurous travelers. Whether you are interested in exploring the volcanic landscape, observing rare seabirds, or delving into the island’s fascinating history, Ascension Island has something for everyone. So, plan your trip to this extraordinary island and prepare to be astonished by its beauty, wonders, and natural treasures.


1. How do I get to Ascension Island?

To reach Ascension Island, you can either take a flight from Brize Norton, UK, or charter a military flight from the US. The island does not have commercial flights, so planning and booking in advance is essential.

2. What is the best time to visit Ascension Island?

The best time to visit Ascension Island is during the dry season, which typically runs from May to October. This period offers pleasant weather, prime bird-watching opportunities, and optimal conditions for outdoor activities.

3. Are there accommodations available on Ascension Island?

Yes, there are accommodations available on the island, including guesthouses and rental homes. It is advisable to book your accommodations well in advance, as availability may be limited.

4. Are there any special permits required to visit certain areas of Ascension Island?

Yes, to access certain areas of Ascension Island, such as Green Mountain and the protected seabird colonies, you will need special permits. These permits can be obtained in advance from the Ascension Island Government.

5. What wildlife can I expect to see on Ascension Island?

Ascension Island is known for its diverse wildlife. You can expect to see endemic species such as the Ascension frigatebird, green turtles, and the unique land crabs. The island also attracts various migratory birds.

6. Is Ascension Island suitable for outdoor activities?

Yes, Ascension Island offers a range of outdoor activities including hiking, diving, fishing, and bird-watching. It is essential to follow local regulations and guidelines to ensure the preservation of the island’s unique ecosystem.

7. Can I explore the volcanic landscape of Ascension Island?

Absolutely! Ascension Island is renowned for its volcanic landscape. Visitors can explore various volcanic formations, lava fields, and even visit the extinct cinder cone of Green Mountain.

8. Is Ascension Island safe for tourists?

Ascension Island is considered safe for tourists. However, it is essential to follow local guidelines, respect the environment, and take necessary precautions while engaging in adventurous activities.

Ascension Island's wonders never cease to amaze, but if you're curious about other fascinating places, consider exploring Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory with its own unique charm. For those drawn to remote islands, St. Helena offers a captivating glimpse into life far from the mainland. Volcanic islands also hold their own allure, with stunning landscapes and intriguing geological features that are sure to leave you in awe. No matter which destination piques your interest, each promises an unforgettable journey of discovery.

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