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No port, no pier - only every other cruise makes it to Pitcairn

They are among the most isolated spots on earth, in the middle of the South Pacific, 5,700 kilometers from South America and 5,000 kilometers from New Zealand: the Pitcairn Islands.

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No port, no pier - only every other cruise makes it to Pitcairn

They are among the most isolated spots on earth, in the middle of the South Pacific, 5,700 kilometers from South America and 5,000 kilometers from New Zealand: the Pitcairn Islands. Only the main island of Pitcairn, three kilometers long, is inhabited. Nearest neighbor is Polynesian Mangareva, two sea days away. From there, visitors could book a round trip with the freighter "Silver Supporter" to Pitcairn (3200 euros) and stay with families (from 70 euros per day). But hardly anyone comes.

The few residents, currently 46, are descendants of the Bounty mutineers and their Polynesian wives. After the ship was hijacked in 1789, they settled here. That didn't go well for long. Eleven years later, only one of the mutineers remained, the sailor John Adams, along with ten wives and 23 children, the other fathers having killed each other.

In 1838 the descendants asked to be admitted as a British colony. But the British have long wanted to get rid of their overseas territory, especially since Brexit: the EU had previously contributed to the costs for decades.

The islanders make a better living from the stamp trade and souvenirs, and the young emigrate. Because there is another dark chapter. Cases of child abuse became known in 2004, six people were sentenced to long prison terms, including the descendant of the leader of the mutiny on the "Bounty".

Crusaders are a welcome respite on cliff-lined islands like St. Paul's Point. A good 15 cruise ships head for Pitcairn every year, for example the "MSC Magnifica" and the "Hanseatic Nature" have announced their arrival this spring.

But there is no port, no pier. Therefore, the landing remains an adventure because of the rough surf: Tender boats are used to bring the passengers to Bounty Bay. This only succeeds in 50 percent of the cases.

If it doesn't work out, the storm-tested residents take the longboat to the ship. They sell souvenirs such as wood carvings and honey on board – and they stamp passports with the coveted “Pitcairn Entry” for twelve euros.

She is Pitcairn's mascot and adorns many stamps and souvenir T-shirts: "Mrs T.", an approximately 70 to 85 year old Galapagos giant tortoise. She is the only survivor of her kind of five specimens that were brought from Galapagos by a US captain and released on Pitcairn between 1937 and 1951.

"Mrs T." has been crawling through the banana plantations and gardens in the village of Tedsite ever since. She is extremely trusting. Tourists are allowed to pass their food. Her favorite foods are bananas, papayas and cucumbers. The lonely giant tortoise can be petted and sometimes nibbles on sandals. Whether that is species-appropriate remains to be seen.

There are otherwise no native turtle species on Pitcairn. Green sea turtles bury their nests on the beaches of the neighboring uninhabited coral atoll Henderson Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. This island may only be entered by scientists.

Pitcairn doesn't do that with a beach holiday. There is only a stone beach, difficult to access below a 90 meter high cliff. You can only climb there with a guide. The locals get by by sailing to the Pitcairn islands of Oeno and Sandy Island for a beach holiday: a South Pacific dream. However, 140 kilometers away.

The islanders roar only with quads over the clay paths. But people are also thinking about sustainable e-mobility on this isolated island: the first e-quads are here, solar panels are installed. Previously, a diesel generator provided electricity.

The shaky internet connection will also soon be history: the Starlink communication system from Elon Musk's company SpaceX is already being set up. Then the Pitcairner can stream for the first time.

“The furthest is a 15 minute walk”

The British author Dea Birkett lived on Pitcairn for several months and wrote the bestseller "Serpent in Paradise" about it. She experienced her stay in the South Seas as a nightmare. She described everyday life in a sobering way: almost like monitored solitary confinement on a tiny island on the edge of a closed society with its own rules. No privacy, no escape. “Everyone knew every minute what the others were doing. They could read the footprints, who had walked which path before and with whom.”

Bizarre, record-breaking, typical: You can find more parts of our regional geography series here.

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