What it's like to live on a tiny British island in the middle of the Pacific

The least populated territory in the world is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - more than 3,000 miles from any continent.

As of July 2014, only 48 people call the Pitcairn Islands and their stunning rocky cliffs home.

Back in 1789, British sailors in the Pacific mutinied on the HMS Bounty and settled on Tahiti and Pitcairn Island. While the mutineers on Tahiti were later arrested by the British, those on Pitcairn were able to start a community with Tahitian companions. In 1838, the Pitcairn Islands officially became a British territory, and today all of its residents are descendants of those original mutineers.Advertisement

Sailor and photographer Tony Probst has visited Pitcairn four times since 2011, and natives have dubbed him the island's ambassador. With his permission, we are publishing some of his favorite pictures of Pitcairn.

The British Pitcairn Islands include four small volcanic islands in the South Pacific.

The British Pitcairn Islands include four small volcanic islands in the South Pacific.

Only Pitcairn is inhabited, with 48 residents. The island is not much larger than Manhattan's Central Park. Here's an aerial view of Pitcairn.

Only Pitcairn is inhabited, with 48 residents. The island is not much larger than Manhattan's Central Park. Here's an aerial view of Pitcairn.
Advertisement

Much of Pitcairn's terrain is rocky.

Much of Pitcairn's terrain is rocky.

But that doesn't keep islanders like Brenda from exploring.

But that doesn't keep islanders like Brenda from exploring.
Advertisement

Islanders depend on tourism as an economic stimulant. Since the island is so difficult to get to, there have been very few visitors.

Islanders depend on tourism as an economic stimulant. Since the island is so difficult to get to, there have been very few visitors.

Prior to the arrival of the mutineers, Polynesians were the first settlers on Pitcairn. Here is a picture of ancient petroglyphs found on the southeast side of the island.

Prior to the arrival of the mutineers, Polynesians were the first settlers on Pitcairn. Here is a picture of ancient petroglyphs found on the southeast side of the island.
Advertisement

There is only one sandy beach, located right next to the petroglyphs.

There is only one sandy beach, located right next to the petroglyphs.

Here's another view of the beach.

Here's another view of the beach.
Advertisement

This is what the swimming pool looks like for islanders. The boat dock on Pitcairn Island is also a popular place to fish.

This is what the swimming pool looks like for islanders. The boat dock on Pitcairn Island is also a popular place to fish.

Jacqui Christian, 7th generation descendant of the Bounty, takes a moment to pause on a narrow path called Down Rope.

Jacqui Christian, 7th generation descendant of the Bounty, takes a moment to pause on a narrow path called Down Rope.
Advertisement

Here's the view from Down Rope.

Here's the view from Down Rope.

"I love Pitcairn and I think we have the most amazing piece of the world to live in," Christian said.

"I love Pitcairn and I think we have the most amazing piece of the world to live in," Christian said.
Advertisement

The landscape is green.

The landscape is green.

It has rugged cliffs.

It has rugged cliffs.
Advertisement

Christian added that the island is surrounded by "the clearest royal blue ocean you’ll ever see."

Christian added that the island is surrounded by "the clearest royal blue ocean you’ll ever see."

Here is one of the few dirt paths on Pitcairn Island. Residents use these paths when riding on their motor bikes.

Here is one of the few dirt paths on Pitcairn Island. Residents use these paths when riding on their motor bikes.
Advertisement

There are very few children on the island. Some teens have left to attend high school in New Zealand.

There are very few children on the island. Some teens have left to attend high school in New Zealand.

Sue O'Keefe and native Pirate Pawl say life on the island is far from idyllic. "Things can be a struggle financially with high costs for services such as Internet and electricity. Monthly cost for 2 GB of Internet is $100 and power bills are $400," O'Keefe said.

Sue O'Keefe and native Pirate Pawl say life on the island is far from idyllic. "Things can be a struggle financially with high costs for services such as Internet and electricity. Monthly cost for 2 GB of Internet is $100 and power bills are $400," O'Keefe said.
Advertisement

Having said that, we can stand at our doorway and watch migrant humpback whales play in the water below us.

Having said that, we can stand at our doorway and watch migrant humpback whales play in the water below us.

"And at night we can lie back on our deck and admire the stars above without pollution blocking our view," O'Keefe said.

"And at night we can lie back on our deck and admire the stars above without pollution blocking our view," O'Keefe said.
Advertisement

Here is a picture of the home O'Keefe shares with Pirate Pawl on Pitcairn. In general, most homes on Pitcairn have large openings instead of actual doors. This is an indication of how safe the island is.

Here is a picture of the home O'Keefe shares with Pirate Pawl on Pitcairn. In general, most homes on Pitcairn have large openings instead of actual doors. This is an indication of how safe the island is.

Pitcairn does have a somewhat dark stain on its history — In 2004, seven of the island's male residents were found guilty of various sexual offenses. The scandal involves most of the Pitcairn's residents, including then mayor Steve Christian. When asked about safety on the island, O'Keefe said, "Anywhere on the island, day or night, I know I am perfectly safe from assault."

Pitcairn does have a somewhat dark stain on its history — In 2004, seven of the island's male residents were found guilty of various sexual offenses. The scandal involves most of the Pitcairn's residents, including then mayor Steve Christian. When asked about safety on the island, O'Keefe said, "Anywhere on the island, day or night, I know I am perfectly safe from assault."

Source: NPR

Advertisement

Pitcairn residents get all of their electricity powered through the generator pictured here. The generator stays on for only a couple of hours a day and is shut off at 10:00 sharp.

Pitcairn residents get all of their electricity powered through the generator pictured here. The generator stays on for only a couple of hours a day and is shut off at 10:00 sharp.

Most islanders make use of all the fresh fish surrounding their home, but there are some islanders who don't eat seafood for religious reasons.

Most islanders make use of all the fresh fish surrounding their home, but there are some islanders who don't eat seafood for religious reasons.
Advertisement

The most common cause of death on the island is old age. Probst has taken photos of headstones and calculated that most people on Pitcairn live to about 90 years.

The most common cause of death on the island is old age. Probst has taken photos of headstones and calculated that most people on Pitcairn live to about 90 years.

Where else in the world can you say that you can have the whole population turn up for your birthday party?" O'Keefe said. "Everybody here does know everyone else not only by name but by their ancestry as well.

Where else in the world can you say that you can have the whole population turn up for your birthday party?" O'Keefe said. "Everybody here does know everyone else not only by name but by their ancestry as well.
Advertisement

"Life here at the moment is anticipating the arrival of our quarterly supply ship," Christian wrote via email. Islanders rely on these shipments because everything from candy to clothing must be shipped in from New Zealand. E-readers and iPad's are the most requested items.

"Life here at the moment is anticipating the arrival of our quarterly supply ship," Christian wrote via email. Islanders rely on these shipments because everything from candy to clothing must be shipped in from New Zealand. E-readers and iPad's are the most requested items.

Honey is Pitcairn's only export. In this picture, islanders pack boxes of their bottled honey.

Honey is Pitcairn's only export. In this picture, islanders pack boxes of their bottled honey.
Advertisement

"No one on the island has full-time employment and most work a number of different jobs," Sue wrote via email.

"No one on the island has full-time employment and most work a number of different jobs," Sue wrote via email.

The average annual income is about 6,000 New Zealand dollars, or about $4,000.

The average annual income is about 6,000 New Zealand dollars, or about $4,000.

Source: Pitcairn Island government

Advertisement

As the island is extremely isolated and with no hospital, residents must travel to New Zealand for major medical treatment and can't return for another 3 months.

As the island is extremely isolated and with no hospital, residents must travel to New Zealand for major medical treatment and can't return for another 3 months.

"If you're lucky you can get treated for more minor conditions such as dental problems or minor operations in Tahiti and return within 10-14 days," Sue wrote.

"If you're lucky you can get treated for more minor conditions such as dental problems or minor operations in Tahiti and return within 10-14 days," Sue wrote.
Advertisement

Islanders told me their favorite thing about living on Pitcairn was being able to view the stunning sunsets and sunrises from any point on the island.

Islanders told me their favorite thing about living on Pitcairn was being able to view the stunning sunsets and sunrises from any point on the island.

Around 20 miles away, Probst took this picture of Pitcairn outlined in the moonlight and Venus.

Around 20 miles away, Probst took this picture of Pitcairn outlined in the moonlight and Venus.
Advertisement