Sunday, June 23, 2024

Island Resorts

French Polynesia: Plan Your Dream Island Wedding…on Pitcairn?

Many love-struck couples picture themselves tying the knot on a remote, beautiful island – but perhaps they imagine the beach resorts of Polynesia, rather than lonely, mountainous Pitcairn! However, this isolated isle is offering unique wedding packages that will delight the intrepid.

(Image Courtesy of Pitcairn Island Tourism)

The World’s Most Remote Inhabited Island

Getting there is half the battle with many holidays; an obstacle course of delayed flights and missed connections, car rentals and choppy ferry rides. After travelling to the British Overseas Territory of Pitcairn, however, a night spent sleeping on a Heathrow bench after a flight cancellation will seem like a walk in the park. The journey to Pitcairn from most locations takes approximately four to five days – each way!

Officially considered the most isolated island on earth that supports human habitation, Pitcairn lies in the Pacific Ocean at the absolute southernmost point of the French Polynesian archipelago, enjoying a pleasant subtropical climate. The closest large city is found to the east; Santiago, Chile, at more than 5770km away.  Commercial flights are out of the question, however; due to wind currents and a lack of infrastructure, the main way to access the island is via boat, docking only at the harbour in the capital of Adamstown.

(Image Courtesy of Pitcairn Island Tourism)

Reaching Paradise Takes Time

The first stop from an international location will likely be Papeete, the capital city of the French Polynesian island of Tahiti. From New York, the flight works out to around 12.5 hours; from London, at least 21 hours. From Papeete, it’s a mere 3.5 hour puddle jump to Mangereva, the Polynesian island closest to Pitcairn. Travellers must be cautioned, however; flights between the islands are rare, often only 3 times per week. And precision timing is essential for the next leg of the journey!

Departing from Mangereva only once a week – in time for the Tuesday flight from Papeete – the island’s dedicated passenger and cargo vessel, the MV Claymore, is the only ticket to the island. And it doesn’t come cheap – a round-trip ticket will cost NZ $5000. Visitors can choose to stay for 3 or 10 days, or for an extended honeymoon, visas are available for a 3-month sojourn. The trip takes approximately 32 hours across virtually empty waters.

Of Mutinous Sailors and Christian Missionaries

With a mere 50 inhabitants, the community on Pitcairn is closely-knit, and surprisingly welcoming to outside guests, given the island’s turbulent past. Once colonized, then abandoned, by seafaring Polynesians, the island’s first modern residents were a handful of the notorious mutineers of the HMS Bounty in 1790, together with their Polynesian brides. A period rife with feuds, bloodshed and alcoholism ensued, until strict Christian rules were imposed by the island’s leaders. These moral prohibitions on alcohol, tobacco, violence, and even dancing and “immodesty”, would persist well into the 20th century.

Fortunately for those who aspire to Pitcairn wedding, things have relaxed a little – the happy couple are free to partake of a bottle of champagne or wine, and a romantic post-nuptial dance won’t result in a wedding night spent in the island’s tiny jail. Cigarettes and alcohol are available on the island, but guests are strongly advised to bring their own, in case Pitcairn’s stores are running low.

(Image Courtesy of Pitcairn Island Tourism)

A Shared Adventure, Remembered Forever

All couples aspire to have an unforgettable wedding, many opting for extravagant themes or opulent locales – but very few can say that they’ve joined in matrimony where few outsiders have even visited. Weddings on Pitcairn are a social affair for the entire island, and most residents are happy to come out for the party and meet the couple. According to Pitcairn tourism spokesperson Heather Menzies, who was interviewed in an article in New Zealand’s Dominion Post, the Pitcairn wedding package – which costs a total of NZ $1000, plus travel expenses – is a challenge, but would appeal to adventurous, nature-loving couples.

Geoff Medland and Noelene Shraga of New Zealand were also interviewed, as the first couple to take advantage of Pitcairn’s offer. According to the newlyweds, it quickly became a community celebration – residents arranged for stunning flower arrangements, hair and make-up styling, a beautiful cake, and a ride to the chapel on a quad bike (there are no cars on the island). This daring couple, who spent 6 months on the island, felt the journey was well worth the experience. Perhaps as the warm hospitality of this forgotten isle becomes better known, Pitcairn may give the Seychelles and Bora Bora stiff competition as a romantic wedding destination!

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