Pitcairn Island is one of the most isolated and mysterious places on the planet. The dreams of many of actually visiting are foiled because of the high costs and extremely arduous journeys it can require to get to Pitcairn itself. Most people have no idea how to get to Pitcairn Island.
Located some 300 or so nautical miles from the farthest eastern port in the Gambier Islands of Mangareva; Pitcairn is a difficult little piece of Earth to get to. There are five different ways to get there and all of them involve significant time on a boat; and generally money spent. Here is how to get to Pitcairn Island.
First, the way I got there is via the SV Xplore; which is a 20-meter yacht run by a really nice and experienced Australian skipper and chartered by Pitcairn Travel itself to the island. It has a capacity of 8 passengers on the boat. The speed will be about 6-9 knots depending on the winds and weather. It will be bumpy but will also be relaxing assuming decent weather and no seasickness. The cost including the expensive 4-hour flights to and from Mangareva from Pape’ete, a hotel and transfers on each; plus room and board on Pitcairn is about $4500 for a one-week trip (3 days on the island) and shockingly only $5000 for 2 weeks. 2 weeks includes 10 days on Pitcairn. Book this through Jacqui Christian at Pitcairn Travel.
Second, you can take the MV Claymore II from Mangareva as well. This is a motor vessel that acts as a supply ship to Pitcairn Island and runs about four times a year at a cost of NZ$5000. The speed is faster than the Xplore and theoretically smoother but I did hear bad stories about its captain on Pitcairn.
Third, a handful of trans-Pacific cruise ships will try to anchor off the coast of Pitcairn with the hopes of spending a few hours on the island. This usually isn’t successful as the ship has too many passengers on board. Although often the Pitcairners will go out to the cruise ship to sell them souvenirs. The cost and time involved with these cruises can be astronomical depending on the time on board, number of stops and of course class of service.
Fourth, you can ride with an independent yacht owner or service. The price may seem enticing and advertised at about half the others potentially. I do not recommend this as I tried something like this to another remote island called Tokelau and had a terrible experience. The ship captain or even worse, the person who owns or markets the boat can be unscrupulous.
Many people have had problems with services like these. Especially a service called Pacific-Expeditions with a boat now called Discovery, previously known as Bounty Bay. DO NOT use them. The list is long for people who were unhappy with this outfit. See my article and the ensuing comments on my trip to Tokelau for more information on this and why you shouldn’t go with them.
There is no recourse for these operations. It is nearly impossible to get your money back if something goes awry or they don’t deliver on what they said they would do as is what happened to me. Especially because they generally will not accept credit cards; only bank wires. So once the money is sent, it’s gone for good. Other independent operators can be trustworthy but that was my experience and I don’t know of any others at this time that call at Pitcairn.
Fifth and finally, if you have your own yacht, congratulations! Or if you are working on a crew on a yacht heading across the Pacific. You can arrange a landing on Pitcairn although plenty of advance planning and documents are required to land. A British overseas territory, Pitcairn has its own brand of bureaucracy to deal with so just plan accordingly and plan ahead.
That’s pretty much it besides swimming so pick your poison, save your pennies and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
How to Get to Pitcairn Island
April 19, 2012 by 22 Comments