Week of November 9-16, 1995
Pitcairn, the Pacific's most remote island
Q: I have read some articles on this isolated dot in the Pacific, and I was wondering if it is possible for an average person to visit this island. I'm looking for travel information on how to get there and for some general info on the island and its people.
Victoria, B.C., Canada
A: You're right about it being off the beaten path. Tiny, 2.7-square-mile Pitcairn sits alone in the Pacific, more than 1,200 miles southeast of Tahiti; its nearest inhabited neighbor is Managareva, a small island about 300 miles to the northwest. Pitcairn is bounded on all sides by sheer cliffs and rocks and has no protected bays, which explains why there is no harbor for incoming ships--they just anchor out in the lee of the island. All of this explains, then, why Pitcairn is home to only 66 year-round residents, most of whom are direct descendants of the legendary Bounty mutineers who founded this British colony back in 1790. For the average person, getting to Pitcairn can be pretty tricky--not to mention mind-bogglingly expensive--but the sheer adventure of visiting the most remote populated place in the Pacific will probably make it worth your while.
First off, just as there's no harbor in Pitcairn, there's also no airport. This means that unless you own your own yacht and can moor on one the island's two open anchorages, you'll need to sign on with a group yacht tour or organize a bunch of friends (wealthy friends) and charter your own boat from Tahiti. If you can scrape together the cash, try Ocean Voyages' 19-day cruise out of Santiago, Chile; you'll make a stopover at Easter Island before heading over to Pitcairn for three days. Since there are no hotels or guesthouses on the island, you'll sleep on the boat and make daily runs over to Pitcairn. From there, the ship will take you south through French Polynesia and then back to Chile. Be forewarned, though; this is the Rolls Royce of South Pacific trips. You'll have to fork over anywhere from $5,200 to $10,950, excluding roundtrip airfare to Chile. For more information about the island and its history and people, visit the Pitcairn Island Web site, or send away for a copy of the British Consulate-General's $10 booklet titled A Guide to Pitcairn (Private Mail Bag 92014, Auckland, New Zealand), or contact Ocean Voyages at 415-332-4681.