Tristan da Cunha Travel Guide
Want to really get away from it all? If you are serious about putting as much distance as possible between you and the rest of the civilized world, head out on a voyage aboard a cargo ship from Cape Town, South Africa. seven days later, you will arrive at the foreboding shores of Tristan da Cunha, the world’s most remote populated island.
Located 2,700 kilometres away from the nearest populated land mass, you will get to experience the hospitality of a people who treasure the silence and serenity their speck of civilization offers.
Visitors are only permitted a three-day visit under most circumstances, but given its charming attributes, you may be tempted to beg the local authorities to allow you to leave the madness of the world behind by the end of your time on Tristan da Cunha.
Currency: Saint Helena pounds, British pounds
What To Do
You’ll begin your visit to Tristan da Cunha by docking in Calshot Harbour. Due to the geographic challenges that this remote island presents those trying to visit, large container and cruise ships cannot get close to shore without damaging their hull.
This necessitates the use of Zodiacs and other shallow hulled approach craft for those looking to come ashore; as such, it will be these boats that will take you into the sheltered confines of Calshot Harbour.
A modern breakwater that protects the Tristanian fishing fleet from the worst storms that batter the island, the port takes its name from the village in England that housed them as refugees when Queen Mary’s Peak had a major volcanic eruption in 1962.
As you make your way up the road from the wharf, note the large gray building on your right – that is the fishing plant that has comprised a large portion of this island’s GDP since residents started to export its seafood to the outside world in the 1960s.
While buildings in Edinburgh of the Seven Seas (known locally as The Settlement or The Village) have been modernized over the past generation or two, it wasn’t that long ago that hardy Tristanians lived in some rather humble looking abodes.
The Thatched House Museum preserves the memory of the pioneer days when the initial settlers of Tristan da Cunha lived in homes consisting of grass roofs (hence the name of the museum) and soft stone quarried from nearby sea cliffs.
Set a distance away from town, it is surrounded by pasture land alongside a stream, giving it an idyllic aura that will make your visit here extra special.
Into collecting rare stamps? If so, be sure to drop by the local Post Office. The world’s most remote mail facility has been selling stamps depicting life on the world’s most isolated isle since 1952.
Pictures of its history, wildlife, and sailing ships are just a few choices that will face you when the time comes to buy, so don’t be surprised if you end up spending more than you planned on these specimens.
Those into sports will not want to miss the chance to play a round at Tristan da Cunha Golf Club. Even if you are a scratch golfer, playing the nine hole course will give you bragging rights among your better friends they will likely never be able to match.
The holes may be rough around the edges, but in a way, there are close to how the Scottish played the game when they invented it ages ago, making a round here a way to go back to its original roots.
Finally, make time to hike up Queen Mary’s Peak if you have the fitness and desire to do so. Occupying the lion’s share of the island, this volcanic peak is the apex of the hotspot that burst through the South Atlantic sea floor at least 41 million years ago, and it almost destroyed The Settlement back in 1961.
A jaunt up this mountain is no picnic, as it is often shrouded in cloud. Additionally, those who wish to challenge it need to register with the government and hire a local guide. Should all go according to plan, you will be privy to views that will make this trek one of the top travel memories in your life.
What to Eat
Meals on Tristan da Cunha revolve largely around what is available locally, as imports are expensive and supply can run out between irregular cargo shipments. The local soil is only suitable for growing potatoes due to the near constant dampness and lack of regular sunshine.
On the other side of the island, though, Sandy Point sits in the rain shadow of Queen Mary’s Peak, making it possible to grow a small orchard of fruit trees. Yields have been suffering due to disease, however, though there are efforts to restore the humble farm to its former glory.
Abundant grass also means that ranching is also possible. Farmers keep herds of cattle, sheep, ducks, and geese, meaning there is meat to supplement the crayfish and lobsters caught by the fisherman.
While locals will invite you to dine with them, those looking to eat out during their time on Tristan da Cunha will have a few options available to them. Cafe da Cunha, which is currently run by a French expat, is a great spot to enjoy sandwiches, pastries, tea, or coffee, while The Burger Joint delivers exactly what it promises, making the universally loved fast food with local chuck.
Want to raise a pint with the locals? Do it at the Albatross Bar, which is officially recognized by the Guinness World Book of Records as the world’s most remote pub. If you are looking for the perfect dish to go with your Castle Lager (a South African beer), try a baked lobster pie – sounds tasty to us!