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Henderson Island

Photo © Utrecht

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Pitcairn Islands Henderson Island

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Introduction

Henderson Island is probably one of the most extraordinary sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of four islands and atolls that together form the Pitcairn Islands and few people visit this place as it is extremely remote. As UNESCO puts it, it is one of the few atolls in the world whose ecology has almost been untouched by human influence. The island is less than 40 square kilometers big, but there are no less than 10 endemic plant species and 4 land birds which are endemic as well. It was also made a UNESCO site in 1988 because of its large untouched phosphate reserves.

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Geography

Henderson Island is bounded by perpendicular cliffs of 15 meter high dead coral. They rise to a flat surface about 30 meters above sea level. The island itself is covered with trees, dense undergrowth and sharp coral rock, making the island almost impenetrable.
Although it is called an atoll, actually Henderson is quite remarkable, because the inner part around the original lagoon has been lifted again due to volcanic and geological activities. Therefore, it is not the traditional atoll, with a marine lagoon, surrounded by corals and sand. The central part is coral as well and this type of island is actually called 'Makatea', after the island first described.
Only on the northside are several beaches, which are accessible by boat.

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Sights and Activities

Visiting Henderson Island is a delight in itself, but one of the major features probably is spotting the 4 endemic land birds. These include the Henderson Crake, the Henderson Lorikeet, the Henderson Fruit Dove and the Henderson Reed-warbler.

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Weather

Henderson Island has a moderate subtropical climate with rarely any real cold nights or hot days. Mostly, temperatures hover between 15 degrees Celcius and 30 degrees Celcius, rarely dropping below or rising above. On average, August is the coldest month (19 °C) while February is the warmest (24 °C). The slightly cooler months of June to September are also the driest. From November to March, there can be heavy downpours. Occasionally, hurricanes can strike the island in this period, but mostly they are not more than heavy tropical storms, rarely causing severe damage.

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Getting There

Visiting the island requires special permission from the Pitcairn Island Council.

By Boat

The only way to reach Henderson Island is by boat, but no cruiseships or cargoships go here. You either need to be lucky to join the people from Pitcairn Island on one of the annual journeys (in which case you probably spend weeks if not months on the island of Pitcairn as well) or join one of the rare tours that visit Henderson and several other of the Pitcairn Islands.

Ocean Voyages and Soren Larsen have occasional charter trips, but are more expensive sailing trips.

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Getting Around

By Foot

There is no other way to get around (parts of) the island than walking. Given its extraordinary significance and special environment, this is also the most friendly one.

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Sleep

There are no facilities on Henderson Island itself, so you will probably stay on board or you might be lucky to pitch a tent for the night and experience true solitary!

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This is version 5. Last edited at 6:57 on Apr 11, 13 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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