Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you about the destination. This statement is more apt if you are visiting Palmerston Island. Just as this journey will be a memorable one full of adventure, the sight of the destination will leave you all the more awestruck. This tiny Pacific island of Palmerston is at the end of the earth and is also one of the most isolated islands in the world!
A supply ship visits this island twice a year with all the supplies, sufficient for the inhabitants to survive. The hazardous and frightening journey to this island further deters most of the travellers from undertaking the voyage. It can be accessed only by sea and has no airstrip. Over the years, there have been many incidents when tons of boats have struck the coral formation and can still be tracked below the surface.
More about Palmerston
It is a coral atoll in the Cook Islands around 3200 km from New Zealand, and is one of the more isolated parts of the Pacific Ocean. Palmerston Island is made up of several sandy islets on an incessant ring of coral reef encircling a lagoon. Six of the islands are of considerable size, which includes Palmerston, Lee to Us, Primrose, North Island, Toms and Cooks. The area of the island is 56 sq km that is 11 km across and 15 km from north to south.
Palmerston Island, where everyone shares surname Photo by: Laurent Nevers, Creative Commons Attribution Licence
The population of this island between 1950 and 1970 was as high as 300, but now it is just 62, and are all related to each other.
Captain Cook was the first person to set foot on the Palmerston Island in 1777. For almost a century, the island remained almost uninhabited until William Marsters, a barrel maker and carpenter, chanced upon the island in his ship as he used to frequent the Bay of Islands in 1860. William was so hooked by the beauty of this island that he returned to the island after three years. He brought along with him two Polynesian wives from neighbouring Penrhyn Island, and later got a third wife from the same island. He then went on to have an notable colony of 23 children and 134 grandchildren.
Palmerston Island, where everyone shares surname Photo by: Krzysztof Golik, Creative Commons Attribution Licence
William, before dying in 1899, divided the island and distributed equally among his three wives and descendants. Till date, the inhabitants still govern their respective part of land, which is based on hypothetical lines drawn in sand, and group their families on their respective space of land. Marriage is, however, prohibited with a family branch.
How to get there?
Most visitors visit this island via private yatch, and the island witnesses around a dozen of boats a year. You can also coordinate with the supply boats, which travel to this atoll around twice a year and go along with them. However, bear in mind that you will be stuck there until the next supply boat reaches the island. So plan accordingly.
The best time to go there would be day time. This will help the islanders see you while you are approaching; you will also see the islanders engaged in a tussle to be the first one to meet you offshore. Islander’s help will be required to reach the lagoon as the passage through it is treacherous and narrow.
As there are no resorts and hotels in the Palmerston Island, it is the custom of island that the family that greets you first will be the one hosting you in their house.
Source: Times of India