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What is the most remote inhabited island in the world?

The island of Pitcairn is reputed to be one of the most virgin places on earth, but also one of the most isolated. How this place became inhabited is an equally extraordinary story.

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a whopping 5,300 kilometers from the nearest mainland, lies Pitcairn, a completely remote but inhabited island.

At less than five square kilometers, the main island of the archipelago of the same name is by no means large. Dazzling nature, a population of well under one hundred and a bizarre history make Pitcairn one of the most pristine places on earth.

The island of Pitcairn

The mutineers of the HMS Bounty

It was not until 1767 that the archipelago first came on the radar of the Western world. Although traces of earlier habitation were found - in all likelihood from Polynesians - sailor Robert Pitcairn finds the island uninhabited: the name is quickly chosen. Less than thirty years later, the HMS Bounty docks, carrying nine mutineers of British descent and a handful of Tahitian women.

The plan? Hiding from the English regime - after all, mutiny was severely punished - and building a new existence. This succeeded, until a group of whalers accidentally rediscovered the secluded community in 1808 and the island was officially incorporated into the British Empire. From then on, Pitcairn, albeit with its challenges and setbacks, would always be inhabited.

This plaque commemorates the mutiny of the Bounty This plaque commemorates the mutiny of the Bounty

Self-sufficient and doctor-less

Indeed, the fifty or so inhabitants are all direct descendants of the eighteenth-century Bounty crew. And even though the Internet now makes contact with the outside world much easier, the islanders are still largely on their own. Fruit and vegetables are grown by themselves. Fish is caught daily around the island. There is one supermarket in the capital, Adamstown, which is open only a few days a week.

About three times a year, a ship stops on its way from to New Zealand to the Panama Canal to deliver goods ordered six months before. The Pitcairn Miscellany provides the latest local news monthly. Health issues? That can get tricky. After all, a doctor is by no means always available. The language of communication is Pitcairnese - a creole mix of English and Tahitian - and governance is in the hands of the so-called Island Council.

Pitcairn island

Destination of a lifetime

In recent decades, Pitcairn has been tentatively opening its doors to tourists. Note that it lacks an airport or a port. Visits are only possible by ship, only a few times a year and only in favorable weather conditions. In bad weather, mooring is too risky and you will return home without success. However, if you have saved a lot of money, your stomach can take the forty-hour boat trip and the weather gods are kind to you, then prepare for the adventure of a lifetime.

With open arms - and with all their handmade merchandise at the ready - the islanders will welcome you ashore, or even meet you by sloop already. Don't expect a hotel, but rather a cozy guest room in the homes of the locals. Giving the locals a hand with their daily chores gives you a glimpse into the daily life of one of the most remote communities in the world.

Adventure must-dos like fishing, hiking and diving take on a completely new dimension in this unparalleled pristine environment. Fancy heading home? Then it's hoping for good weather. Although, of course, it is absolutely no punishment to stay a few days longer on this gem...

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