Known most commonly from the infamous story of Mutiny on the Bounty, The Pitcairn Islands are located in literally the middle of nowhere. Just over 2000km from Tahiti and 6600km from Panama, it is as close to London as it is to the South Pole and is one of the most remote locations of human habitation on the planet.
The Pitcairn Islands are made up of four islands – Pitcairn Island (which is an uplifted volcanic island), Henderson Island (an uplifted coral island which is also UNESCO Heritage listed for its untouched ecology and endemic bird life and flora), Oeno and Ducie which are both coral atolls – this almost inaccessible reach of the pacific is creeping up more and more on curious travellers radars.
So, why go? And how?
With tourism first introduced to Pitcairn Island in 2009, this extinct volcanic island poses as one of the most remote (and youngest) tourist locations in the world. Home to the world’s third largest marine reserve, it is Britain’s last remaining South Pacific colony.
Home to less than 50 locals who mainly come for 4 families which are direct decedents from the Mutiny of the Bounty crew, the government is enticing expats who can handle remote living the opportunity to live on this secluded island with the reward of free land in a bid to increase the population to around 100 people to make continued habitation on the island sustainable.
Whilst many cruise ships offering the experience to ‘cruise past’ Pitcairn Island, only the smaller expedition vessels can get travellers onshore. The island can only handle a maximum of 300 tourists at a time.
Not into cruising? Neither are we – so how else do you get there? A handful of times a year, the freighter ship known as the Silver Supporter, departs on a Tuesday from Mangareva, Tahiti. It is a 32 hr sail through a fairly consistent swell of sea with poor wifi connection and very little for travellers to do on board except for hunker down with a good book. If you venture to the island between April and October, you have the possibility of seeing whales on your journey. The Silver Supporter can only take a maximum of 12 travellers, meaning it is very possible you may be the only tourist on the island!
As the island looms into view, you will be met with sheer towering volcanic cliffs, lush green valleys and a rough and rugged coastline.
The main mode of transport here is quad bike – although there are now 4 cars on Pitcairn. Homestays are the only type of accommodation which vary from living in-house with a local family through to having your own independent dwelling on their land. The homestays vary from a true ramshackle Pitcairn experience to a more modern uncluttered stay.
Pitcairn Island has been declared as the 8th Dark Sky Sanctuary so is really starting to peak the interest of those interested in Astro Tourism. It is the only territory in the world where the entire country is part of the sanctuary and the night skies are simply incredible.
Whilst staying on the island, one of the most rewarding experiences to take part in, is to hit the water with the locals on a community fishing trip. There is no cost to do this – you head out in a longboat, fish alongside the locals and on your return, the fish are split up with the entire community on the island. (Barter is still a practiced method of trading on the island and pretty much any hard currency will also be accepted.)
Quite often during your time on Pitcairn, you will have the opportunity to join a community dinner. This is the only place in the world where you can dine with the entire country!
Thinking of sending your family and friends a postcard? It may take a while! Post is only sent off the island once a quarter.
The island is etched with walking trails and picnic spots sporting multi-million dollar ocean views. Natural pools such as St Pauls provide a refreshing swim in nature and those keen to swim in Bounty Bay (the only place for small boats to dock) on a calm day, will find themselves bobbing with sea turtles.
For bird watchers, Pitcairn Island is a bird watchers paradise being home to the Pitcairn Warbler, the islands only endemic land bird and Henderson Island home to five endemic species not found anywhere else in the world.
Pitcairn Island is also home to the world’s purest honey due to the pristine nature of the islands environment. The island has three apairy’s (or honey farms) of which you can do a tour through. Bee hives are scattered across the island.
Pitcairn Island has an evocative mystere surrounding it whilst brimming with folklore and a dramatic history. Due to the islands remoteness, the island has remained unspoilt. The community actively work to protect the islands natural resources including its pristine oceans. The seas surrounding The Pitcairn Islands are some of the planets least polluted and best protected ecosystems globally. In 2016, the UK government announced the designation of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Protected Area which extends to 370km around all four islands covering an area three times larger than the UK.
The sustainability plan for Pitcairn is tourism and we want to take you there.
Are you keen to take a true adventure and explore the Pitcairn Islands? Crooked Compass offers a charted expedition to Pitcairn Island, Henderson Island, Oeno and Ducie. For further information click here.
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.