Palmerston Island

Travel Guide Oceania Polynesia Cook Islands Palmerston Island

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Introduction

Palmerston Island is actually a coral atoll which includes five small island groups. It is one of the Southern Cook Islands. It has no airstrip; access is by sea only. It is famed for its hospitality to traveling yachts and is sometimes compared to Pitcairn Island, as they are both remote islands supporting small English-speaking populations.

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Geography

A true atoll, Palmerston Island consists of a number of sandy islets on a continuous ring of coral reef enclosing a lagoon. The largest of the islets include Palmerston, North Island, Lee To Us, Leicester, Primrose, Toms, and Cooks. The total land area of the islets is approximately 2.6 km2. The coral reef covers about 15 km2. The lagoon is some 11 km across, covering an area of 56 square kilometres. There are several small passages through the reef for boats, though there is no safe entry for large ships. At a latitude of 18 degrees south, Palmerston enjoys a tropical climate but is exposed to severe tropical cyclones. A particularly destructive series of storms occurred during the 1920s and 1930s.

All the islets are wooded with coconut palms, pandanus, and native trees. There is some natural ground water on Palmerston but water captured from rainfall is preferred for drinking. Shellfish inhabit the reef, and fish are abundant although there are concerns about overfishing. There are only 62 people living in Palmerston,[3] all but three[3] descended from an Englishman named William Marsters.

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Sights and Activities

There is plentiful fishing in the lagoon and amongst the islands. There are also many islands in the various groups that are beautiful and well worth exploring.

No visit is complete without a game of round-robin volleyball with the islanders.

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Weather

The Cook Islands have a tropical climate, meaning warm and humid weather year round but with constant sea breezes bringing some relief on the hotter summer days. November to April are summer months when it is around 28 °C during the day on Rarotonga and a bit warmer on Aitutaki which is more to the north. Temperatures at night are usually just 5 °C cooler or so. These months also have the most rain, with some tropical downpours during the afternoon, followed by sunshine again. Sometimes, several rainy days are possible. This is also the time that hurricanes are a possibility, although these don't strike every year of course. Wintermonths are cooler, especially on the most southern islands (around 25 °C during the day) but also drier and sunnier. Aitutaki has smaller differences between summer and winter regarding temperatures and the northern islands even less so.

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Getting There

Most visitors arrive by private yacht, and the island sees about a dozen visiting boats a year. There are supply boats that arrive two or three times a year. You could probably arrange to travel on one of these but bear in mind you would be stuck until the next one arrives.

It is generally best to arrive during the daytime. The islanders can then see you approach and will invariably scramble to be the first one to meet you offshore in one of their boats. You will need the assistance of the islanders if you intend to anchor inside the lagoon as the passage is narrow and quite treacherous.

There is a telephone service to Palmerston and it would probably be a good idea to call before arriving. Often the islanders will want specific goods or people brought over and they will be very grateful to you if you can oblige, particularly if you are able to pick up their mail from the Rarotonga post office.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

By custom, the family that first greets you will offer you a homestay at their house. If you are looking for a resort hotel, you are decidedly in the wrong place.

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Palmerston Island Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Palmerston Island

This is version 1. Last edited at 8:49 on Aug 22, 18 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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