group is a British Overseas Territory. It comprises the islands of Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno. Pitcairn, the only inhabited island, is a small volcanic outcrop situated in the South Pacific at latitude 25.04 south and longitude 130.06 west. The Islands’ administrative headquarters are situated in Auckland New Zealand, 5310km (3300 miles) away.


Anyone who sails and has heard the story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, may dream of one day visiting Pitcairn Island (pronounced Pitkern). It is entirely possible and well worth the effort for those traveling through the South Pacific with a well found yacht and by those who are capable of being independent.

Those making the effort to find the island, which is only two miles long and one mile wide, are assured of one of the warmest and most genuine welcomes that you are ever likely to receive. Currently an average of only twenty-five yachts visit in any one year. If you are blessed by good weather nearly everyone wants to stay longer than planned. Most people approach Pitcairn Island, westbound from the Galapagos, Easter Island or South America.

Pitcairn Island lies just outside the normal Southern boundaries of the SE trade winds and Tropical Storm Zone and is therefore an ideal place to visit before the season for French Polynesia. Reasonably easy and quick passages can be expected by those using the trade winds. It is also quite possible from the Gambier Islands (French Polynesia), 290 nautical miles to the North West.

Pitcairn Protocols

Approaching the Island

Pitcairn Island is approximately 1100 feet high and can be seen from about 25-30 miles away on a yacht – visibility and swell allowing. Approaching from the East, Pitcairn Island Island appears to have a saddle in the middle of it. This is where you should initially aim for. As you near the island, toward Bounty Bay there appears to be a distinctive pinnacle, high above the bay – again head toward this pinnacle.

The pinnacle (Ships Landing Point) is situated on the Southern edge of Bounty Bay, above the landing area. Suggested waypoint (WGS84) is 25o 03.987S 130o 05.702W. This will put you on a line between the tree on Adams Rock and Isaacs Rocks. You will be approximately 350m from the landing and will be able to see the sloping boat sheds. If coming from the North or South staying one mile off the coast will keep you well clear of any hazards, until you are able to lay a course directly into Bounty Bay from the East.

Making Contact

It is possible to contact Pitcairn prior to arriving by email, but otherwise, calling on VHF Channel 16 (call sign Pitcairn) from about 12 miles out will normally elicit a response, during daylight. It is worth asking advice as to where to anchor. In addition to Bounty Bay, there are 3 other potential anchorages; Tedside, Ginger Valley and Down Rope. Their suitability depends on wind and swell conditions. Bounty Bay is useable in conditions up to and including Force 4, but if the swell is from the South it can be extremely roily. Your best advice is to listen to the information on where to anchor from the locals. They are able to scout the anchorages from the land if needed.


In Bounty Bay the sand can be clearly seen and you should aim to anchor between the eleven and fourteen meter contours. If using chain, at least five times the depth is recommended for peace of mind and your yachts security. The swell could drag out anything less. Aim to lie so that your anchoring circle is outside a line between 25o 03.853 S 130o 05.937 W and 25o 04.14 S 130o 05.544 W.

It is possible to enter Bounty Bay safely at night if there is enough ambient light. Before 2200 local time (UTC -8), shore side yellow street lights may be visible by the landing. There are other yellow street lights. Again call on the radio and seek local advice.

Water Taxi Service

If called on the VHF Islanders will make arrangements to come and pick you up from your yacht – weather permitting. Put fenders down on the lee side and let the locals do the rest. For the first time this is highly recommended as a large amount of skill and experience is needed to negotiate the swell on the approach to the landing area at Bounty Bay, unless it is absolutely flat. This is extremely rare. Clothing should be comfortable, loose and something you don’t mind getting wet, muddy and, in the summer months, very dusty.

Landing Procedures

You will be met if they didn’t pick you up, by the combined Police & Immigration, Quarantine and Tourism Officials. Remember to carry with you your passports and ships registration document. Remember also to bring some drinking water with you – after a long voyage the very hot weather and steep climbs will soon dehydrate you. Nothing else is required. Please do not attempt to land rubbish or any plants, fruits, vegetables, or Honey and Honey products. The paperwork you will be relieved to hear is minimal and those used to Panama, South America and the Galapagos will be delighted by its ease.

Landing Fees

All Yacht passengers landing on any of the 4 islands in the Pitcairn Islands group are required to pay a landing fee per person / per island.

  • Adults 18 years and older: $100 NZD

  • Under the age of 18 years to 5 years: $50 NZD

  • 5 years and under: no charge.

Ship to Shore transfers

If you require a water taxi service to pick you up and bring you ashore, the following rates apply:

  • Pick-up / Return Bounty Bay: $70 NZD per trip.

  • Pick-up / Return Tedside (Western Harbour): $100 NZD per trip.

  • Pick-up / Return Ginger Valley $150 NZD per trip.

You are also welcome to use your own tender at no additional cost, but it needs to be small and light enough to take out of the water by hand up the slip way. In most conditions it is not safe to leave your tender in the water tied to the Jetty in Bounty Bay.

You’ll be warmly welcomed by the Tourism Coordinator, given a quick familiarization visit, some tourist information and you’re likely to be invited for tea, coffee and fruit somewhere.









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