Tristan da Cunha

By Eric Wagner
This item appears on page 98 of the May 2008 issue.
Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic is about 2,400 kilometers from Cape Town, South Africa. A small volcanic island with an area of about 100 square kilometers, it is dominated by a central peak and is mostly surrounded by sheer rock cliffs. Only a sloping plateau on the northwest side of the island is inhabitable. Weather, which was beautiful on Valentine’s Day 2006 when I visited during a world cruise on Holland America’s Prinsendam, is subject to sudden change and can be accompanied by fierce winds. It is rare to visit this place, as the weather almost always makes it difficult or impossible to land, and very few ships, other than fishing vessels, call here.

Virtually no one on our ship, crew nor passengers, had been able to go ashore here in the past, though a few people had been here nearly a dozen times trying to visit. We docked about a mile offshore and it was announced that some islanders had volunteered to take people ashore on their two rubber Zodiacs. I managed to get into the sixth group, and we landed at the small concrete dock (pictured above), walking the short distance up the steep cobblestone road that led to the little town of Edinburgh. I was greeted by a sign that read “Welcome to the Remotest Island.”


Gainesville, FL