Pitcairn Islands


Pitcairn is a small 4.5 km² island group in the South Pacific. A small colony lives here, whose ancestors, in addition to Polynesians, were partly mutineers of the famous Bounty. Pitcairn is now a British Overseas Territory.

Map of Pitcairn Islands 2.png
The widely scattered Pitcairn Islands include the following islands:

Main island Pitcairn (only inhabited island)
Oeno Island with Sandy Island
Henderson Island: The island is approximately 10km long and 5km wide. There are 10 endemic plant species and 4 endemic bird species on the uninhabited island. It has been a UNESCO natural heritage site since 1988.
Atoll Ducie



On December 23, 1787, the British Admiralty ship HMS Bounty put to sea with orders to bring cuttings of the breadfruit tree from Tahiti to the West Indies in the Caribbean. After a five-month stay, the ship made its way back, making a stopover along the way. After a major argument between the lieutenant and the crew, there was a mutiny near Tonga, the lieutenant was abandoned along with other crew members on a launch and the crew set off alone with the Bounty.

While the lieutenant and his barge reached the Dutch port of Kupang on the island of Timor, 5800 kilometers away, after 41 days to warn the Admiralty, the mutineers landed with the Bounty on the small atoll of Tubuai with the aim of building a fortress there. After this failed due to fighting with the indigenous population, the mutineers returned to Tahiti. Fearing that they would soon be apprehended and arrested by the Admiralty, the core of the group, along with some Polynesians from Tahiti, decided to go and search for an island where they could hide, while other members of the crew decided to stay in Tahiti (where they were actually arrested).

The mutineers sailed single-mindedly to the island of Pitcairn. Although this had been sighted by a British ship 20 years earlier, it had never been entered; it was in the middle of the Pacific far from any trade route and due to the inaccuracy of the maps of the time it seemed unlikely that the mutineers would be found there. On January 15, 1790, they actually reached the island of Pitcairn, ran the ship aground, unloaded all the cargo, and then burned the ship to prevent escape from the island.

The mutineers found traces such as tools and statues on the island, which already indicated an earlier Polynesian culture on the island, but at the time of settlement the island was uninhabited and the Polynesian culture had already died out. The existing flora (including coconut palms and breadfruit trees) seemed to make life on the island economically viable. However, life on the island was anything but easy and, above all, the cultural differences between the British mutineers and the Polynesians regularly led to skirmishes. When two British warships docked off Pitcairn on December 17, 1814, only one of the mutineers was alive; all others had either been violently killed or had become addicted to alcohol. The crew refrained from trying him before a British sea court, especially since he was now deeply rooted in the church as a Bible-believing Christian.

Pitcairn was evacuated twice: once to Tahiti in 1831 and once to Norfolk Island in 1856. While the stay in Tahiti was short-lived, two-thirds of the population chose to remain on Norfolk Island permanently, with only a third returning to Pitcairn two years later. In 1887 Pitcairn officially became a British colony. In 1890, the island of Pitcairn was converted by a Seventh-day Adventist proselytizing ship. All islanders were baptized and to this day the entire population belongs to this free church.

Pitcairn has always remained a secluded island, only between the world wars the island was visited more frequently due to the shipping traffic through the Panama Canal. After the Second World War, the ships gradually disappeared again. In recent times, the island has suffered from a high rate of emigration; many young people hope for a better future in Australia, New Zealand or Great Britain.

Pitcairn is now the last British overseas territory in the Pacific and at the same time, with just under 50 inhabitants, the most sparsely populated self-governing territory in the world. Although cruise ships regularly dock at Pitcairn, visits to the island are fairly infrequent. This is due to the small number of islanders who would be overwhelmed by such visits.


Getting there

Since Pitcairn does not have an airport, the area can only be reached by boat. Walk or quad bike to the island's capital, Adamstown, from the 1st dock.

The government of the Pitcairn Islands has its own ship that connects Pitcairn with the island of Mangareva (French Polynesia) on a weekly basis every three months. Departure times (usually Tuesdays) are coordinated with Air Tahiti's weekly flight from Tahiti to Mangareva. However, if you are traveling from further away, especially from German-speaking countries, you may have to spend several nights in Tahiti before you can continue your journey.

The price of 5000 New Zealand dollars for the mere crossing is almost exorbitant when compared to the prices charged for trips to similarly remote islands. If you have the opportunity to rent a ship in French Polynesia, it will usually be significantly cheaper. The journey from Mangareva to Pitcairn takes two days.

A visa is not required for a stay of up to 14 days, but you must provide proof of international health insurance that covers the costs of any return transport that may be necessary. If you plan to stay longer, you must apply for a visa online in advance.

Quads have established themselves as a means of transport on the island, not least because of the unpaved roads and the sometimes long distances. Of course you can also explore the island on foot, but sturdy shoes are absolutely necessary.


The island mainly sells souvenirs to tourists, including models of the Bounty. Recently, the island has also been trying, more or less successfully, as a honey producer.

Pitcairn produces its own commemorative coins at irregular intervals, which are mainly collectors' value and hardly suitable as a means of payment. The island's stamps are of philatelic interest.

Self-sufficiency prevails, the local gastronomy is limited to a few cafés, which only open once a week. The cuisine on Pitcairn consists mainly of fish products, everything else has to be imported from New Zealand and French Polynesia and is accordingly expensive.

It is best to book accommodation before you arrive via the official tourism website. You have the choice of either staying with a host family and eating and living together, or renting a self-catering cottage. Prices are usually billed per day and not per night.

There is no work on Pitcairn. Special staff needed on the island (such as doctors or technicians) are provided by New Zealand.

The island of Pitcairn has recently been rocked by an abuse scandal that made national media coverage. For this reason, underage children are now banned from entering the island, and the British Home Office has also instructed its staff not to bring any minors onto the island.

Apart from that, the island is perfectly safe.

New Zealand sends a doctor to Pitcairn, there is also a small hospital for dental treatment and radiology. However, the island is unprepared for specific medical emergencies and it can take weeks to get to a well-equipped hospital, so be in good physical condition.

Practical hints
Electricity is rationed on Pitcairn and only available a few hours a day.

There are no radio or television stations on Pitcairn and no cell phone service. Sometimes even amateur radio is widespread. Internet does exist, but there is only one 1 Mbit line for the entire island, so it is unsuitable for HD streaming.

A probably not entirely serious joke: the entire island is covered by Google Street View. If the cost of the crossing is too high, you can at least travel the island virtually.