The Number One Most Difficult Place to Get to in the World.
Normally, booking a holiday – simply means going online and buying a flight. But if you want to visit this island paradise, it’s going to be a lot more complicated than that!
Tristan da Cunha is the most remote archipelago in the world, while the main island (also known as Tristan da Cunha) is the most remote inhabited island in the world. The nearest speck of land not part of the archipelago, St. Helena, is a whopping 2430 km (1509 mi) away, and it’s over 2816 km (1750 mi) to the nearest continent, Africa.
Tristan da Cunha is a territory of the United Kingdom, officially administered by the government of St Helena, which lies thousands of miles to the north, but fully autonomous in practice
The entire population of some 300 inhabitants is concentrated on the only flat bit of this volcanic landmass, the hamlet of Edinburgh of the Seven Season the main island. There are a few other islands in the archipelago, all uninhabited: Inaccessible Island, Nightingale Island, Middle Island and Stoltenhoff Island. Gough Island, some 300 km away, hosts a weather and scientific research outpost.
Despite (or perhaps because of) its remoteness, this tiny island (it’s only 7 miles (11 km) long!) is brimming with rocky shores, pristine waters and truly incredible flora and fauna. There is only one town on the island: Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. It is known by locals – simply as ‘The Settlement.’
Wait a second, there is still an island out there that humans haven’t ruined?! What’s the catch?
Well, the issue here is that this place is practically impossible to get to.
Traveling to Tristan da Cunha
No visas are required, however, visitors intending to stay ashore on Tristan da Cunha must receive permission from the Administrator/Island Council and have a landing stamp to that effect inserted in their passport. Write an email to The Admin Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org and specify when you plan to go, where you intend to stay and the purpose of your visit!
Landing stamps may also be issued to passengers and crew of vessels not intending to go ashore, but who wish their travel document to be endorsed as a souvenir of the visit.
By plane: There is no airstrip on Tristan da Cunha.
By boat: Travelling to Tristan da Cunha requires careful planning. It takes five to six days to travel the 2810 kilometres from Cape Town. The South African polar research ship SA Agulhas and the fishing vessels Edinburgh and Baltic Trader do the voyage between Cape Town and Tristan da Cunha several times every year. A return ticket on Agulhas is about USD1300, a return ticket on one of the fishing vessels is USD800. Schedules and further information is available on the official Tristan da Cunha website.
Several cruise ships visit between December and April.
Basically, if you want to check out the world’s remotest island, your planning needs to be immaculate! But remember – even if you’ve timed your travels absolutely perfectly, and are not delayed in any way, you will still be travelling for at least five days straight.
What awaits you on the other side, however, is a virtually untouched, natural wonderland. As the old saying goes: good things come to those who wait.
By foot: Due to rugged, steep terrain, going all the way around the island is difficult, but if just staying in the Settlement on Tristan, the flat, grassy ground is easy to manage.
By transport: There is a paved road (the M1) from Edinburgh (aka The Settlement) to the Potato Patches, which are about 3 miles away. Local transport is available to the Potato Patches. This local transport could be an islander’s car, tractor, and during the mornings a bus service also operates. Note that the bus is targeted at pensioners, who can ride on the bus for free. The charge is £5 return. Note that you cannot rent any vehicles on the island.
Money: The currency of the islands is the Pound sterling (£). Credit cards and personal cheques are not accepted. Travellers cheques, euros, US dollars, and South African rand may be exchanged at the treasury in the Administration Building.
There is no mobile phone network on the island (nor will you have had signal for the last week after you lost sight of Cape Town!)
The Internet Cafe houses a number of PCs and spaces to use your own laptop, and costs £10 for visitors for the duration of their stay. Internet access for the island is via a satellite link, so the 3 Mbps connection is shared between everyone—don’t expect it to be fast at 9AM on a Monday morning!
A payphone is available in the Internet Cafe—you’ll need to ask for it to be unlocked if you wish to use it.
Post can be sent from the Post Office, or the post box just outside, but will likely travel back with you on the same ship as you are on. Expect it to take a couple of weeks to arrive at its destination. Last posting dates for each ship are advertised at the Post Office when known.
What to see and do
Tristan da Cunha has a range of activities and excursions that can be planned for individuals and groups featuring a personal and bespoke service using experienced Islanders as guides.
The Island organises fishing excursions, walks, climbs and even golf for visitors.
Take a trip to Inaccessible Island from the main Tristan Da Cunha Island. Despite the name, it is possible to visit the island. Only visitors escorted by guides from Tristan da Cunha are permitted to visit the island, and most visitors come as part of a cruise ship itinerary. Along with (relatively) nearby Gough Island, Inaccessible Island was made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.