There are limited places to eat out on the island. As a working island the several places that do serve food tend to be open outside of normal working hours, with the exception of certain weekday lunchtimes. However there are multiple public BBQ areas on the island which offer stunning locations to eat outdoors.
The pace of life slow, relaxed and friendly. The water is clear and warm and the temperature stays between 25ºC and 34ºC degrees all year round, although it can get very hot in summer, with a relatively consistent south-easterly breeze.
The landscape is barren with volcanic lava flows and fumaroles. There are beautiful sandy beaches between the craggy volcanic rocks. The sea can be flat calm or with large swells (typically coming out of the north-west) which can create dangerous rollers on the beaches and rocks. It rarely rains but when it does it is short and heavy. Green Mountain, by contrast, is much cooler and greener. The temperature on the mountain can be as low as 20ºC. Here individuals can relax in the relative cool and walk under the canopy of abundant banana trees.
Given its location and population size Ascension Island is very quiet with little to no traffic noise. The island, being small and somewhat isolated, has been heavily influenced by humans. There are old forts, mountain paths and remains of technical installations including the former NASA Apollo site to be explored.
By comparison utilities, services and most food items are more expensive than the UK. Individuals can expect to pay approximately 30% more on food items than UK prices. However some items, including alcohol, are the same price or cheaper.
As contracts of employment provide individuals with accommodation and additional allowances, and because there are limited opportunities to spend, many people will probably find they have more money left at the end of the month than they would do in the UK.
There are currently approximately 800 people living on the island. It feels like a small part of the UK on a volcanic tropical island in the south Atlantic. The Island is linked to the UK, St Helena, Florida and the Falkland Islands via sea and air.
There is no right of abode on Ascension Island. As such, if an individual over 18 years of age does not have a contract of employment, and is not the partner of someone who does, they are unable to remain on the island. Given the lack of right of abode everyone on working on the island must be provided a fixed term contract.
It may be possible for individuals to be offered new contracts at the completion of their current contract, so some individuals may have been on the island for a number of years. However if they are unable to secure a contract of employment they will also be required to leave the island and return to their place of initial recruitment.
There are no indigenous people on Ascension. Instead, the population is mainly made up of people from St Helena (known as “Saints”), the UK and the USA. There are also a range of nationalities from other countries, although they tend to be in smaller numbers. Ascension Island is a working island, which means that everyone on island is here to work or to accompany someone who works.
Popular leisure activities include fishing (from boat or shore), snorkelling, SCUBA diving, swimming, walking and hiking and team sports such as cricket and football. There is a cinema which shows current films, a gym, three swimming pools open to the public and there are several allotments available for rent on Green Mountain. People grow salad and vegetables in pots and small beds in their gardens, porches, or terraces. There are maps with guided walks over a variety of stunning volcanic terrains. There are also two dive clubs providing a range of facilities.
For most leisure activities you will need to bring sturdy footwear. The ground is a mixture of volcanic rock, known as clinker, and sand. Most people wear strong hiking boots for walks around the island. It is also advisable to bring sunglasses, hats, suncream and any leisure equipment you might require such as gardening equipment, seeds, fishing tackle, snorkel and mask, wetsuit (for diving), sunblock, insect repellant, etc. There is little or no sports or gardening equipment available for purchase on the island.
For rock fishing, most people use heavy-duty spinning rods with heavy duty spinning reels loaded with 75lb+ braid. Traces are made with heavy-duty wire or or 100lb+ monofilament. End tackle includes large poppers, diving lures, or metal lures. For bait fishing, heavy-duty size 2/0 to 10/0 hooks are used.
All employees and visitors to the island require comprehensive medical insurance. For those working on the island this will usually be organised by your employer but tourists will have to make their own arrangements.
Income tax is paid on income earned on Ascension by non-military staff at a rate of 27%.
Many overseas mobile network SIMs will not be able to access the island mobile phone network. Therefore it is advisable to check with your carrier prior to arrival on the island.
Mobile phone packages and pay-as-you-go options are available from Sure South Atlantic, the local network provider. Please refer to their website for more information.https://www.sure.co.ac/
Internet on Ascension Island is limited and comparatively expensive when measured against what individuals may be used in other places in the world.
Please refer to Sure South Atlantic's website for their list of available packages.https://www.sure.co.ac/
The Bank of St Helena has a branch in Georgetown but offers limited online services. Individuals can open a Bank of St Helena account on St Helena or Ascension Island. Please note that it can take up to three weeks for the account to be set up from Ascension.
There is currently no cash machine on the island. Cash may be withdrawn from the Ascension branch of the Bank of St Helena. Alternatively individuals can use UK bank cards to withdraw cash from one or two retail outlets in the form of cashback whilst making a purchase.
Many of the small independent retailers only accept cash payments. Some retailers accept account transfers from a Bank of St Helena account.http://www.sainthelenabank.com/
Although there are several smaller service support organisations operating on Ascension the main employers on the island are:
AIG (Ascension Island Government)
Wolf Creek Federal Services Inc.
Encompass Digital Media
IDL (Interserve Defence Limited)
Sure South Atlantic Ltd.
Please refer to their respective websites for employment opportunities.
There are a limited number of childminders on the island to care for children during working hours and school holidays.
Please contact the Ascension Island Government social worker by email on social.Worker@ascension.gov.ac for more information.
There is very limited public transport on the island. There is no routine public transport during the working week although most employers provide transport to and from work for their staff.
There is a bus service at weekends between the main settlements and the bars to enable people to get home safely without the need to drive.
It is possible to ship a car or motorcycle to Ascension Island. It is advisable to bring vehicles with a diesel engine as diesel is more readily available.
A standard car will suffice but individuals may want to consider bringing a car capable of going off-road .
It is possible to purchase second-hand vehicles on the island but this is a very small ad-hoc market.
If individuals decide to ship a vehicle, it is advisable to also bring common spare parts and spare tyres. Whilst there is are motor mechanics on the island none of these keep spare vehicle parts for sale to the public.
Many people also choose to bring both road bikes and off-road bikes to the island.
The importation of certain animals is permitted including pet dogs, cats and certain freshwater fish species. All animal imports must be done so under licence.
Animal imports to Ascension are limited to those arriving from the UK, St Helena and South Africa. There is a prescriptive list of prerequisites in terms of DEFRA export requirements, pet passport and import licence to Ascension Island.
For animals travelling on the Falkland Islands Resupply Ship (FIRS) from Southampton owners should be aware that the schedule is approximately every six weeks but is subject to change with kennels in high demand. The voyage usually takes 10 days but may take longer due to sea conditions.
If individuals wish to bring a pet then your requirements should be made known to your employer as soon as possible. Please note that allocated accommodation may not be suitable and that the climate on the island, especially in Georgetown, can be very hot and dry.
There is one school on Ascension which is located in Two Boats village. The school provides free education to all children living on island between the ages of three and 16 years old.
You can find more information about Two Boats School on their website.https://tbschool.edu.ac
Although medical resources on Ascension are limited individuals will receive full medical care whilst they are a contracted employee, or are accompanying a contracted employee, of one of the employing organisations here. There are two doctors, a midwife and several nursing staff at the hospital in Georgetown.
There is a well equipped dental clinic which provides all routine treatment. All medical and dental care is provided free of charge.
There is a clinic on the USAF base which may be a first port of call for staff living on the base. The clinic is also used island-wide to conduct certain medical tests.
Individuals over the age of 18 are not permitted to live on the island without being in full-time employment, or having been determined to be accompanying someone who is in full-time employment. This includes dependants and family members.
Every contract with an employer has a status attached to it; single, household or accompanied. Only accompanied status contracts permit the contract holder to be accompanied by immediate family. If an individual employed on a single status contract wishes to have family or friends visit they may apply to visit on a tourist entry permit.
Whilst Two Boats School only provides education up to the age of 16 years old, there are limited opportunities with employers through youth training programs for those aged 16-18 years old.
All appointments to Government potions are subject to satisfactory employment references and contract offers from any island employing organisation is subject to medical clearance from the Ascension Island Government Senior Medical Officer (SMO). When a job offer has been made by your employer, you will receive detailed guidance about how to get medical clearance.
Depending on the type of role offered your employing organisation may carry out additional checks beyond those noted.
All roles that bring you into contact with children and young people will require a criminal records check (Enhanced Disclosure). You may also be required to undergo a police check for the Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha.
If required your employer will send you the necessary information to obtain the relevant checks prior to appointment.
Ascension is a small island with a small capital on the west coast named Georgetown. Two Boats village is further inland and being at a higher altitude is marginally cooler. In addition to Georgetown and Two Boats village there is a UK RAF Base at Travellers Hill and a US Air Force Base.
Most AIG employees work in Georgetown where the Government offices are based or in Two Boats Village. Depending on your employing organisation your accommodation may be located in Georgetown, Two Boats, the USAF Base or at Travellers Hill.
The school is located in Two Boats village and many families with young children live here.