Isolated and idyllic, saturated by the Pacific Ocean and bordered by coral reefs, the Pitcairn Island proposes cinematic landscapes and history. Pitcairn is the only inhabited island in a group of four remote, volcanic islands that outlie the Tuamotu Group in French Polynesia. On the 3rd of July 1767 Pitcairn Island was discovered by crew aboard the HMS Swallow. While it was named after a fifteen-year-old midshipman Robert Pitcairn, who was the first to sight the island, Pitcairn is famous as the final home of the mutinous crew of the HMS Bounty in 1790. It was here that Fletcher Christian and eight of the mutineers, along with several Tahitian companions came in search of a new life, landed on the uninhabited island, and set fire to the ship, which remains submerged in the offshore waters. Parts of the legendary HMS Bounty shipwreck are still visible in the waters of Bounty Bay.
The volcanic Pitcairn Island is characterized by steep basaltic cliffs several hundreds of meters high that rise unexpectedly from the sea. There are no streams on the island although there is fertile soil and oranges and bananas are grown here. Adamstown, the capital city of Pitcairn, is the only village on the island as is located on the northern coast near Bounty Bay. The islanders are reliant upon longboats to ferry people and goods between ship and shore through Bounty Bay. Passage to the island can be sought upon freighters out of New Zealand and is a seven day trip. Weather-permitting, the island is beautiful for passengers from a cruise ship to come ashore for a day. The populations of Pitcairn today are all descendants of the original group of about 50 people, making it the least populated jurisdiction in the world.
Pitcairn Island is undoubtedly stunning from a natural perspective. There is around 10 kilometers of clay roads on Pitcairn Island which is best explored on foot via a maze of dirt paths that criss-cross the island. Trails leading to the top sites are signposted and tourist maps are available. Another popular way to explore the island is also on two passengers’ quad bikes – the only form of motorized transportation on Pitcairn. One cannot really fathom the feeling of visiting Pitcairn Island and appreciate the beauty that lies in its isolation from the rest of the world. Secluded tropical paradise is the best way to describe the island where swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, birdwatching, or relaxing and soaking up the sun can be expected. The local cuisine relies heavily on freshly caught seafood including nanwi (local favorite), red snapper, tuna, whitefish, and many others. Visitors who plan on staying are rare but are warmly welcomed to explore the tiny community and discover the life of this extended family isolated from the outside world for centuries. Because there are no hotels on Pitcairn, visitors will reside with members of the four families that remain as the descendants of the HMS Bounty Mutineers.
Pitcairn Island is also known as the home to one of the world’s largest fully protected marine reserves. On March 18th, 2015, The British Government decided to establish the Largest Marine Reserve in the World around the islands. At 324,000 square miles (834,000 square kilometers) The Pitcairn Marine reserve will offer protection to some of the most pristine waters and coral reefs on earth. Almost 3.5 times the size of the United Kingdom, Pitcairn’s Marine Reserve serves as a habitat to at least 1,249 species of marine mammals, seabirds, and fish.
As probably the toughest inhabited island to reach in the entire South Pacific Island as it is one of the most remote inhabited islands in the world, the tiny, remote island of Pitcairn is thousands of kilometers from the nearest continent and so isolated that it is only accessible by sea. Located in the dazzling blue Pacific Ocean, about 2,000 km west of Easter Island and 2,300 km east of Tahiti, Pitcairn nearest inhabited neighbor is Mangareva in the Gambier Islands group of French Polynesia, some 540 km to the northwest. Measuring a mere 4.5 km2 with population less than 50 people, Pitcairn’s closest neighbors within the group are Henderson Island and the atolls of Ducie and Oeno. In the mid-to-late 1900s, about the only way one could get to Pitcairn Island, save by private boat or yacht, was to find a commercial ship from either Wellington or Auckland in New Zealand whose captain was willing to drop his passenger off at Pitcairn Island. Not long after the 21st century began, a ship of the Stoney Creek Shipping Company (New Zealand) began ferrying people on an irregular basis from the airstrip at Mangareva to Pitcairn. Before the end of the first decade of the new century at least one other vessel was making irregular passenger voyages to the Island. Today, there is a regularly scheduled shipping service to Pitcairn from the airstrip at Mangareva. Currently, Pitcairn is serviced by the MV Silver Supporter and visitors can book a spot on the ship for a visit to Pitcairn ranging from 4-18 days and even longer. There also more cruise ships sailing across the South Pacific call at Pitcairn. Since they must maintain a schedule, cruise ships only spend a few hours in Pitcairn and if landing conditions are not optimal, passengers actually do not disembark. Pitcairn has no airfield and there are no plans of building one at the moment. Additionally, since the island has no proper harbor, both passengers and freight are delivered to the island by small rafts. This means that if sea conditions are not right, passengers will not be able to land on the island. In this case, the local community will attempt to board the cruise ship using their longboats, giving passengers the opportunity to meet them with handicrafts to sell and stories to share.
Pitcairn Island lies just below the Tropic of Capricorn, so the weather is warm throughout the year though with some fluctuation. It is said that the best time to visit is between December to March when the weather is warmest. On January 23rd Pitcairn Island celebrate the Bounty Day – an annual public holiday to commemorate the arrival of the Bounty mutineers to the island. Celebrations include the burning of a model of the Bounty and a giant communal feast.