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Pitcairn Islands

The Pitcairn Islands are a loosely grouped handful of tiny islands in the remote South Pacific, farther from any continent than any other inhabited island. The islands are the last British colony in the South Pacific and most isolated British dependency. The rugged main island was settled by the infamous mutineers of the HMS Bounty and their Polynesian companions, and most of Pitcairn's mere four dozen current inhabitants are their descendants. They are one of the least-populated entities given an ISO country code (PN).


  • Pitcairn Island - the only inhabited island of the group
  • Henderson Island - the largest island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with several endangered bird species
  • Oeno Island, Sandy Island - a close pair of islands, the locals' "holiday" spot
  • Ducie Island - distant from the others, with lots of exotic bird life


  • Adamstown, the capital and sole settlement containing the entire population of the Pitcairn Islands - a scattered village of households on the main eponymous isle, up the Hill of Difficulty from Bounty Bay.



Pitcairn and Henderson were inhabited by Polynesian peoples from current day French Polynesia in earlier centuries, and was visited briefly by Portuguese and British explorers (one of whom gave it his name), but it was deserted when in 1790 the infamous mutineers of H.M.A.V. Bounty and their Tahitian companions settled there under the leadership of Fletcher Christian. They burned and sank the ship in what is now called Bounty Bay (there was nowhere else to hide it), and founded a village on Pitcairn. At first a rather lawless community of violent drunks, it was "tamed" when John Adams, the last mutineer to avoid accident or murder, converted the women and children to Christianity. They lived there for 24 years before being rediscovered by the British, who allowed the community to continue. Pitcairn was the first Pacific island to become a British colony, in 1838, and today remains the last vestige of that empire in the South Pacific.

Emigration – first to Norfolk Island and mostly to New Zealand in the last century – and a nearly-prohibitive approach to immigration have thinned the population from a peak of 233 in 1937 to less than 50 today. The island was rocked in 2004 by accusations of chronic and ubiquitous sexual abuse of the community's young female members, including pre-adolescent girls. After an investigation of much of the adult male population, including several who were no longer living there, six men were sentenced to terms in prison. It's unclear whether the Pitcairn society – already hovering at the lower fringes of self-sufficiency – will survive.


The climate is humid and tropical (the Tropic of Capricorn lies a short distance to the north), with average temperatures ranging from 16°C (60°F) on winter nights to 30°C (85°F) on summer days. Rainfall is moderate with no strong seasonal pattern, just a bit wetter in the winter. The island is subject to infrequent typhoons during the season from November to March.


The islands are each unique, with differing origins. Pitcairn is distinctly volcanic, jutting steeply out of the ocean with a peak of 337 meters, seemingly a stone's throw from the shoreline (in any direction). As such it has very little of what would be called a "beach" – however the word "cliff" gets used a lot – and harbours are hard to come by. Bounty Bay hardly deserves the name, consisting of a small indentation in the shoreline with water deep enough only for small boats without keels and a small sea-level landing area... connected via the Hill of Difficulty to Adamstown. It is the only island of the group with fresh water sources. Henderson is the largest island, a flat coral formation, but raised 50-100 feet above sea level by volcanic activity. It has caves along its shoreline which served as either tombs or ill-fated residences to an ancient people. It might be suitable for building an airstrip if it weren't for all the endangered seabirds that find it an ideal spot to land. Oeno is a small, flat island (accompanied by another sandy island known as "Sandy Island") surrounded by a circular reef, a typical South-Pacific paradise with palm trees, lovely beaches, and a sheltered lagoon. Ducie is distant from the others (over 100 miles from Henderson and well over 200 from Pitcairn), a circular reef and island, popular with seabirds.

Get in

The remoteness and ruggedness of Pitcairn's geography, the insularity of its bureaucracy, and the scarcity of its resources conspire to make it a very difficult place to visit. But with enough time, money and flexibility, the Claymore II vessel (see below) makes it rather easy to visit Pitcairn.

No visa is needed if you intend to stay 14 days or less on Pitcairn and arrive and depart on the same vessel. Visitors staying on the island for longer require permission from the governor, because the irregularity of transport means they're effectively residents of the island for the next several weeks or even months. To get permission requires an application in advance, meeting various conditions and a NZ$150 fee; ? +64 9 366-0186

By plane

There is no airstrip in the islands, and it's out of range of land-launched helicopters, so flying is not an option: the largest flat area on Pitcairn would offer a very short runway, and level Henderson Island is both a UNESCO-listed bird sanctuary and inconveniently located. The nearest airport is on Mangareva in the Gambier Islands, 330 miles away. You can catch a charter vessel from Mangareva.

By boat

Pitcairn Island is accessible to tourists via the island’s dedicated passenger/shipping vessel, the Claymore II, which provides passage from Mangareva (in the Gambier Islands) to Pitcairn every 3 months (fare NZD5,000).

You will first need to go to Mangareva. Air Tahiti is the only airline carrier offering flights to Mangareva (two flights a week from Tahiti, on Tuesdays and Saturdays). You then catch the airport taxi ferry to Rikitea village on Mangareva (XPF500 one way). The crew of the Claymore will meet you at the wharf in Rikitea and transfer you to the ship. 32 hours later you’ll be at Pitcairn. Your stay in Pitcairn will align with the arrival and departure of the ship, and you can check their schedules online

A small number of commercial cruise ships and private ocean-traversing yachts also visit the island. Sailing from French Polynesia is relatively practical; from almost anywhere else (eg: New Zealand, Chile) it requires crossing thousands of miles of the Pacific Ocean.

  • Pitcairn Island Office in Auckland, ? +64 9 366-0186, e-mail: admin@pitcairn.gov.pn. For travel enquiries or bookings you can go to Pitcairn's government Tourism website or contact the Pitcairn Island Office in Auckland.
  • Pitcairn Travel, ? +64 9 984-0163, e-mail: info@pitcairntravel.pn. Pitcairn Travel, a privately owned Pitcairn tour operator also handles enquiries and bookings to Pitcairn Islands on their charter yacht Xplore and other available services.
  • Pacific Expeditions, e-mail: info@pacific-expeditions.com. Voyages operate between January and March each year.. Pacific Expeditions can also arrange visits to Pitcairn Island aboard their vessel the SV Discovery previously known as Bounty Bay.

Get around

There is now one short paved road on Pitcairn (up the Hill of Difficulty from the landing at Bounty Bay to Adamstown), but most routes around Pitcairn Island are dirt trails, generally very rugged. Walking and personal all-terrain vehicles are the main ways to get from one place to another, and a bike is usually available for rent.


English is the official language and spoken by everyone. Pitkern, a mixture of 18th century English and Tahitian with a bit of sailing jargon thrown in, e.g., "all hands" means "everyone", is spoken by the residents amongst themselves.


  • The remains of the Bounty are in Bounty Bay. The ship was deliberately burned and sunk by the mutineers, and it's been well picked over by divers in the meantime, but there's still an allure to seeing (what little is left of) the vessel of the true tale that made "Captain Bligh" and "the Bounty" household names.
  • The Bounty's anchor is on display in front of the Public Hall in the town square, where the library/post office building, and the Adventist church can also be found.
  • The new museum in Adamstown contains artifacts from the Bounty (including Fletcher Christian's Bible), stamps, issues of National Geographic featuring the islands, and other items of local interest. One of the ship's four cannons is planned to be displayed here.
  • The island's school lies up in the western "suburbs" of Adamstown.
  • The grave of John Adams, the last surviving mutineer who first Christianised the community, the only one with a preserved grave.
  • Fletcher Christian's cave, past the school and further up, is where the lead mutineer is said to have watched for approaching ships and/or hid from his ruthless fellow settlers when necessary.
  • A Galapagos tortoise named Mrs Turpin was left on the island in the early 20th century, and now lives in Tedside on the northwest shore of the island.
  • Taro Ground in the south of Pitcairn is the largest flat area on the island and site of the island's traditional link to the outside world: its ham radio station.
  • Flatland is a smaller plateau at the upper extent of Adamstown, with a tennis court, volleyball, and picnic facilities.
  • Garnet's Ridge, at 300 m one of the highest parts of a tall island, offers great views to both the west and east.
  • Highest Point is the... highest point on the island, at 337 m.
  • Down Rope, a cliff on the southeast edge of the island, has ancient Polynesian petroglyphs in its face and an isolated sandy beach at its base.
  • Gudgeon is a sea-level cave on the southwest side of the island, which hides a sandy beach in a large, wide space carved by the waves.


  • If the ocean is calm enough, go swimming in St. Paul's Pool, a picturesque tidal pool nestled among the seaside rocks in eastern part of Pitcairn. (Swimming in the ocean itself generally isn't safe due to the rocky shoreline.)
  • Sail yourself or perhaps travel with the locals to another of the islands. Oeno has sandy beaches suitable for swimming, Henderson offers rare opportunities for birdwatching and exploration of ancient caves and both are good for snorkelling or scuba diving among coral reefs and a few shipwrecks. Ducie is over 300 miles away, out of range of the islanders' boats, and therefore rarely visited, but is also good for seeing rare birds.
  • Every year on January 23, "Bounty Day" is celebrated with a huge community dinner and the burning of a model of the Bounty.



The currency used in the Pitcairn Islands is the New Zealand dollar, denoted by the symbol "$" or "NZ$" (ISO code: NZD). It is divided into 100 cents. In this guide, the "$" symbol denotes New Zealand dollars unless otherwise indicated.


The internal economy is based primarily on barter, with residents producing much of their own food and sharing supplies from passing freighters or large fish catches communally. When money is used, the New Zealand dollar is the standard currency, but easily-exchanged currencies such as Australian dollars, UK pounds or US dollars will be accepted.

The main locally-produced items for sale are handicrafts (especially woven baskets, models of the Bounty, and carvings of local wildlife out of miro wood harvested from Henderson Island) and honey and the island's postage stamps (also available by mail overseas) are of interest to philatelists. Anything else has to be imported, and is priced accordingly.


There is a small co-operative general store which stocks imported foodstuffs from New Zealand and French Polynesia, mostly ordered by customers in advance. It's open 3 mornings a week for an hour. The local cooking relies heavily on seafood. Deep-fried nanwi (bluefish) is a local favourite, with red snapper, tuna, whitefish, grouper, wahoo and others also being common. Pilhi is made from puréed fruit (such as banana, sweet potato, or breadfruit) with sugar and milk, then baked to custard consistency. Food staples grown on the island include arrowroot, sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, cabbages, pineapples, melons, citrus fruits, bananas and breadfruit. Some families keep poultry and goats.

Other places on island:

  • Christian's Cafe. Owned by Steve & Olive Christian. It is open every Friday from 18:30 until late. A bar is also provided for customers.
  • Browns Bakery. In the square every second Thursday at 17:00, selling freshly baked goods.
  • Bounty Delectable. Takeaway meals is open on Wednesdays. They make the largest burgers on the island.
  • Betty's Bakery. Freshly baked goods made to order.
  • Fletcher Cafe. Fletcher Cafe is available for coffees, snacks and lunches to order. Dinner can also be provided on request.


Alcohol was prohibited on Pitcairn prior to 1991. It was then legalised and a licence was then introduced to purchase and consume alcohol, but in 2009, the alcohol licence was abolished. The Islanders and visitors are no longer required to purchase a licence for consumption. The Government now offers a Commercial Licence for bars, clubs, restaurants & cafes to sell alcohol. There is one cafe and bar, Christian's Cafe open on Fridays from 18:30 until late.

The Government Store on the island sells alcohol and tobacco at duty free prices.


There are 2 types of accommodation on Pitcairn.

  • "Home-stay" style. This is arranged prior to your arrival on the island. Accommodation rates start at USD70 per person per night. This includes all meals and laundry. Check with your host about rates for telephone and Internet access which may shock you.
  • Private self contained bungalows.

For all travel, bookings and accommodation enquiries go to Pitcairn's official travel site at 'visitpitcairn.pn' or contact the Pitcairn Island's Tourism Coordinator (tourism@pitcairn.pn).

If you are staying longer than 14 days, visa requirements dictate that you have your accommodation organised before arrival.

  • Jacq's Place offers accommodation and professional Polynesian massage and acupuncture treatments.


There are no jobs available to non-residents, only a few professional services (e.g. teacher, nurse, social worker) hired by the government in New Zealand, and a pastor assigned by the international Adventist church. On the other hand, anyone taking up temporary residence on the island is expected to be self-supporting, and to help with community needs such as crewing the longboats to reach supply vessels.

Stay healthy

At present there is a New Zealand GP on the island. Previous medical practitioners have come from Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The island has a small health clinic with dental and X-ray equipment and emergency medications, but is not equipped to deal with major problems, which may require waiting days or weeks for a nearby passing ship to provide evacuation to a medical facility. The island is out of range of all evacuation helicopters. Needless to say, this is no place to have a heart attack, stroke, or other serious condition. A full medical check-up a couple weeks before arrival is strongly recommended. Additional ultrasound and basic EKG screening (not generally covered by insurance or universal health care) is a good idea for those over 40, or anyone at extra risk.


The population are mostly members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, following mission work in the late 19th century. Although religious observance has declined, church doctrine strongly influences both public practice and civil law. For example, alcohol was legally prohibited until recently; dancing, public displays of affection and cigarette smoking are frowned upon; and the Sabbath (Saturday) is consistently considered a day of rest (if not worship). Reasonably modest, climate-appropriate western clothing is worn.

The recent trials of several Pitcairn men, including the former mayor and much of the island's workforce, on sexual abuse charges have been very difficult for the close-knit island community, with everyone being a friend or family of at least one of the victims, the suspects, or the convicted. The incident has also brought to the surface tensions over Pitcairn's sovereignty, such as unfamiliar UK laws being adjudicated by New Zealand courts. Strong feelings should be expected, and statements expressing any opinions beyond an acknowledgement of how difficult this has been for the islanders stand a high probability of upsetting someone in your audience.

Don't bring bees or bee keeping equipment. The island's bee population has been certified as disease-free and Pitcairn honey is becoming an important economic activity.


Each household now has their own private telephone and most also have internet. The country code is +64, the same as New Zealand. Using the old code of +870 may significantly increase the cost of the call.


Electricity (240 V/50 Hz) is available only for 5 hours in the morning and 5 hours in the evening.

Although there is no broadcast radio or television in the region, most homes are equipped with televisions and VHS/DVD players. If you bring any recordings with you, be sure they are PAL format and DVD region 4 (or bring your own DVD player), as the locals' equipment supports those standards, not NTSC or other DVD regions. Some PAL DVD players will play region-free NTSC, though it's better not to take a chance on anything important.

Go next

If you'll be sailing your own ship, the nearest islands are in French Polynesia, roughly to the WNW: the isolated Gambier Islands are 330 miles away, the Acteon Group of the Tuamotu Islands are 450 miles away, and Tahiti and the rest of the Society Islands are a mere 1,300 miles off. Easter Island is about the same distance in the opposite direction.

Passing freighters will likely be bound for either New Zealand or Panama.

Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Not Visited and Never Will

Judith Schalansky

A lovely small-trim edition of the award-winning Atlas of Remote IslandsThe Atlas of Remote Islands, Judith Schalansky’s beautiful and deeply personal account of the islands that have held a place in her heart throughout her lifelong love of cartography, has captured the imaginations of readers everywhere. Using historic events and scientific reports as a springboard, she creates a story around each island: fantastical, inscrutable stories, mixtures of fact and imagination that produce worlds for the reader to explore.Gorgeously illustrated and with new, vibrant colors for the Pocket edition, the atlas shows all fifty islands on the same scale, in order of the oceans they are found. Schalansky lures us to fifty remote destinations—from Tristan da Cunha to Clipperton Atoll, from Christmas Island to Easter Island—and proves that the most adventurous journeys still take place in the mind, with one finger pointing at a map.

Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will

Judith Schalansky

A rare and beautifully illustrated journey to fifty faraway worlds. There are still places on earth that are unknown. Visually stunning and uniquely designed, this wondrous book captures fifty islands that are far away in every sense-from the mainland, from people, from airports, and from holiday brochures. Author Judith Schalansky used historic events and scientific reports as a springboard for each island, providing information on its distance from the mainland, whether its inhabited, its features, and the stories that have shaped its lore. With stunning full-color maps and an air of mysterious adventure, Atlas of Remote Island is perfect for the traveler or romantic in all of us.

Pitcairn Island and the Bounty Saga - Institutions and Monuments: A Worldwide List of Related Archives, Churches, Gardens, Houses, Libraries, Monuments, Museums and Ships

Ted Cookson

PITCAIRN ISLAND AND THE BOUNTY SAGA – INSTITUTIONS AND MONUMENTS: A Worldwide List of Related Archives, Churches, Gardens, Houses, Libraries, Monuments, Museums and Ships was compiled by Ted Cookson between 2004 and 2012.The idea for a Pitcairn/Bounty institution and monument list compilation arose in 2003 when it dawned on Cookson that, as a frequent international leisure traveler with a strong interest in Pitcairn and the Bounty saga, he had been frustrated on more than one occasion to have discovered only after the fact that there had been relevant artifacts in or near a distant city that he had visited. It was then that he realized that he ought to create a list of relevant institutions and monuments which could not only guide him in his own future travels but could also benefit other travelers with a similar interest.Online research for this project was begun in mid-2004, and Cookson visited the Pitcairn Islands Study Center in Angwin, California for additional, very fruitful research in June 2005. The publishing of Cookson's "preview edition" of his compilation coincided with the year of the Bounty-Pitcairn Conference 2012 (www.2012BPC.com).As of 2012 Cookson had traveled to 316 of the 321 destinations on the official list of the Travelers Century Club (www.travelerscenturyclub.org) and had been a U. S. expatriate for nearly 35 years, living in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and England. He served for four years as vice-president of the Pitcairn Islands Study Group beginning in 2007 and was elected president in 2011. During his tenure he helped to organize the Bounty-Pitcairn Conference 2012, which was held in Angwin, California in August 2012. This is definitely not a coffee table-type book with many photos. However, well over 200 links are provided, and a good number of these are images. Readers need only to click to view those and much other information. All websites listed were accessed between July 28, 2012 and August 9, 2012. This monograph does not make mention of artifacts which are in private hands. Generally items are only included here if they are held by institutions which are open to the public. Having said that, in many cases access may be restricted to researchers and/or to those who have made arrangements in advance.

The Mutineers of the Bounty and Their Descendants in Pitcairn and Norfolk Islands

Diana Jolliffe Belcher

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

Pitcairn Islands: A ""Spy"" Guide (World ""Spy"" Guide Library)

Ibp Usa

Pitcairn Islands: A ""Spy"" Guide (World ""Spy"" Guide Library)

Pitcairn Islands Travel and Tourism: Locations, Tour, History, People

Joe Lewis

Pitcairn Islands Travel and Tourism Islands with great value for tourism, you can’t tell enough of what these islands can offer. The Pitcairn Islands the last British Overseas Territory in the Pacific comprises four remote islands: the namesake Pitcairn Island itself, plus the uninhabited Oeno, Henderson and Ducie. What’s rarely mentioned about Pitcairn, between the infamous Bounty story and the 2004 sex trials scandal, is that it’s a place of incredible natural beauty. The island’s 5 sq km surface is almost entirely sloped and has a varied landscape from desolate rock cliffs that look over an infinite expanse of sea to lush hillsides bursting with tropical plenty

To Pitcairn Island, (and back again).

Jerry Gordon

Adventure was one thing, going to far-flung places for arts sake another, drawing on Fletcher Christian another. Art was the under-tow and main driver for the trip to Pitcairn Island, one of the remotest Islands on earth. This resulted in the creation of the ground-breaking image of Fletcher Christian – in 1994 a world first. Once there, I knew beyond doubt that I would create a drawing of the infamous 18th Century mutineer, Fletcher Christian. An accompanying sister book,‘ To Pitcairn Island, (and Back Again)’, is available and focuses on the trip to Fletcher Christian’s 18th century hideaway island, Pitcairn, whereas this book is about drawing on a human figure and specifically the romantic anti-hero, Fletcher Christian.. Travelling to Pitcairn was part of the scope to complete a totally unique, authentic, world exclusive project, to sail in the footsteps of the 18th century mutineer, through the South Seas to his ultimate remote destination, to learn his ways and guess at his thoughts – his looks. I was grateful to the distant Island community who became friends, who showed me a great welcome, hospitality, and generosity of spirit. I hope you glean something here and that may inspire your art, travels, and endeavours and that you enjoy this book, Jerry Gordon

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