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Discover Pitcairn

A hidden bounty of opportunity, a haven for lost travellers

In 1790 a small band of Europeans and Polynesians watched as their connection to the outside world went up in flames. HMAV Bounty was burning, set alight by mutineer Mathew Quintal. The twenty-eight settlers on lonely Pitcairn Island had to make the most of their new home, in spite of friction and isolation. Ultimately, the survival of this rare culture relied upon the islanders’ resourcefulness, kind moral code and sense of community responsibility. In 1856 the entire Pitcairn Island population relocated to Norfolk Island, though small groups of homesick islanders returned to Pitcairn in 1858 and 1864. Under their care the island once again flourished with productivity, and the Pitcairners continued to share their amazing legacy with the wider world. Those travellers onboard passing ships have glanced briefly at life on Pitcairn - with a handcrafted souvenir to prove it – though the true Pitcairn experience has been the privilege of few. As the island opens itself up to share with visitors, it presents an opportunity of a lifetime: travel which is authentic, unique, historic and inspiring. The multi-skilled owners of the homestays are exceptional tour guides, cooks and historians, and with gardening, bee keeping, carving, cooking, tapa cloth making, fishing, domestic chores, family life and much more, no two days are the same on this industrious little island. With quad bikes and 4 wheel drive vehicles as the main means of transportation and electricity available only between 7.00am – 10.00pm, Pitcairn Island is a true escape from a busy world, a fulfilling respite for any world-weary traveller. 

Pitcairn Island Trademarks

  • The original home of the Bounty Mutineers and their Polynesian consorts
  • Smallest permanently inhabited British Overseas Territory 
  • Bounty Day on January 23rd – the annual burning of a commemorative HMAV Bounty replica
  • Pitcairn Island Pure Honey, possibly the purest in the world
  • Handcrafted wooden carvings – traditional and contemporary designs of turtles, whales, sharks, Bounty replicas and more
  • The small population of resourceful locals, working to serve the community as a whole
  • Pitcairn’s resident Galapagos Turtle, ‘Miss T’
  • The wonderfully unique Pitcairn Island language
  • The quirky reminders of Pitcairn’s isolation, such as the nightly switching off of electricity
  • One of the world’s most intact marine ecosystems
  • In environmental circles, Pitcairn Island is known for having escaped over-fishing and pollution. National Geographic’s Pristine Seas expedition highlighted the numerous endemic marine species of the Pitcairn Group
  • Pitcairn’s ‘shark-dominated’ ecosystem, regarded as essential to the survival of several shark species
  • A spectacular ocean playground - 75m visibility with over 80 endemic species of fish, coral and algae. Nowhere else in the world do coral reefs thrive at such depths

Pitcairn Island Activities: 

  • Snorkel above or dive around the HMAV Bounty wreck site
  • Explore the sea floor for giant sea clams
  • Great dive sights for experienced divers (no accredited dive company on the island)
  • Visit the Pitcairn Island Museum with its ancient Polynesian artefacts, HMAV Bounty memorabilia and items gifted from passing ships
  • Guided 4 wheel drive vehicle and quad bike tours by knowledgeable locals
  • A walking tour of the island’s unique flora and fauna along the Eco trail behind Adamstown
  • Admire the professional and beautiful Pitcairn stamps and postcards, one of the world’s most isolated philatelic locations
  • Enjoy the selection of hand-made crafts: wood carvings, hand painted leaves, Bounty models, stamp covers, hand-made soaps, traditional and contemporary woven baskets, jewellery, printed tapa cloth, books, honey products, Pitcairn Island t-shirts and caps
  • Take the challenging trek to Christian’s cave for fantastic views of Adamstown
  • Swim in natural rock pools on the northern side of the island
  • Eat in Fletcher’s café or Christian’s café for delicious home-cooked meals
  • Fishing! Book a fishing trip with a local business or luck-in and time your visit with a community fishing trip in one of Pitcairn’s famous longboats
  • Have a hit of tennis on Pitcairn’s very own tennis court
  • Hear about the tapa cloth revival in Meralda Warren’s Culture Class and admire her selection of hand beaten tapa cloth with hand painted designs. 
  • Occasionally the Claymore does a charter to UNESCO Heritage site Henderson Island - a must-see if the opportunity arises
  • Celebrate Bounty Day on January 23, and be part of the festive Bounty Burning activities
  • Delight in being part of the islanders’ ordinary yet extraordinary day-to-day lives

Pitcairn Island Information:

  • Location: 7730km from Brisbane
  • Travel time from Brisbane: In general, the journey to Pitcairn from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne takes three days. Two flights and a boat journey
  • Flight frequency: The regular passenger service offers visitors a stay of either four or eleven days on Pitcairn. All voyages are timed to connect with Air Tahiti’s Tuesday flights between Tahiti and Mangareva. A direct journey departs Australia early on a Tuesday morning, a night is spent in Papeete (Tahiti), then departs early on a Tuesday (due to crossing the International Dateline) for Mangareva. Two nights are then spent at sea on board the MV Claymore II, and arrival at Pitcairn is Thursday around sunrise
  • Number of Islands: Four – Pitcairn, Oeno, Henderson and Ducie. Only Pitcairn Island is inhabited. Read more about the islands here
  • Political Status: Great Britain’s only overseas territory in the Pacific
  • Language: English and Pitkern (Mixture of 18th Century English and Tahitian)
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar and US dollar
  • Capital: Adamstown
  • Population: 52 (2013)
  • Weather: Sub-tropical climate with an absolute yearly range of 10°C to 34°C with an average annual humidity of 81.7%. Hurricanes are extremely rare 
  • Original Settlers: It’s believed that Pitcairn Island was once used by Polynesians as a tool quarry, with visiting settlements from Mangareva and Easter Island. When the mutineers arrived there was no sign of a recent settlement, though many remnants of Polynesian culture were left behind

The Pitcairn Group

There are four islands which make up the Pitcairn Island Group: Pitcairn, Ducie, Oeno and Henderson. All but Pitcairn are uninhabited, though they each have human stories. Havens for wildlife both above and below the ocean, the Pitcairn Islands are among the world’s most pristine natural environments. Travel opportunities to the outer islands of Oeno, Ducie and Henderson are rare, though they do occur.

Henderson Island

Lying 169 kilometres north east of Pitcairn, Henderson Island was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Unattractive to human settlers for its largely inhospitable landscape, it is a chosen nesting site for an array of birds from Boobies, Gannets and Petrels, to the endangered Henderson Rail and colourful Fruit Dove. Land crabs have colonised Henderson, as have the Polynesian rat. After the Pitcairners first visited Henderson in 1851, the island became a yearly source of Miro wood and saplings for their carvings - until the Miro established itself on Pitcairn. Early Polynesians and shipwrecked mariners are among those that once spent time on Henderson Island, though the true owners of today are the flying wildlife.

Oeno Island

Oeno lies 120 kilometres north-west of Pitcairn. A low lying atoll inside a turquoise lagoon, Oeno is a Pacific beauty, home to a wide variety of birds and also a special ‘island retreat’ for the people of Pitcairn. The gorgeous white sand beaches of Oeno are not found on rocky Pitcairn, so holiday trips were organised in the heat of summer. Oeno is rarely visited these days, though accidental visitors have left their remains on the island’s reef and shifting sandbar; anchors and piles of chain testify to the hidden dangers of this untouched paradise.

Ducie Island

Ducie Island was first sighted by Captain Edwards of HMS Pandora on his mission to find the Bounty Mutineers in 1791. Luckily for the mutineers on Pitcairn, just 470 km away, Captain Edwards passed through the Pitcairn Island group without any suspicion. Only six metres above sea level, the atoll has few trees, no undergrowth and no fresh water. Birds and lizards call the island home, which now thrive in a rat-free environment due to an eradication program in 1997. Several ships have wrecked on the low-lying atoll, perhaps the most well known being the British ship Arcadia whose crew made it to Pitcairn, some even marrying and settling on the island.

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