The only way to travel to Tristan is by ship from Cape Town, but only a limited number of berths are available. Permission is required to land, and visits should be planned and booked well in advance.

Tristan Images

Left: An early morning view of the Settlement in March from James Shea

Right: A classic view from Nightingale from Robin Repetto

An early warning -
You can't just turn up in Cape Town and jump on a ship to Tristan da Cunha.
All visitors need the prior approval of the Administrator / Island Council,
and should be prepared upon request to obtain a local Police Certificate in advance, to show on arrival see details in Second Step below.
So spending some time checking details on this site and by contacting The Administrator's Secretary direct by email will save a lot of time later on.

First Step : Fact Finding

Spend some time searching the pages of to learn about Tristan's unique history, the way of life of the Islanders and the landscape of the islands. Check the news pages for family and community news. You will then realise that a journey to Tristan da Cunha will be quite unlike any other holiday.

Next think about how much time you have available and what you want to achieve during your trip. Most visitors arrive on cruise ships and will spend their time in the Settlement. Some visitors stay for six months or more, become part of the community and will make excursions to Nightingale Island, climb the mountain, and enter into village life. Be aware of the importance of the seasons in regard to wildlife : you will see no Rockhopper Penguins ashore in July or Atlantic Yellow-Nosed Albatross chicks until January. You will find relevant wildlife information in the Wildlife and Conservation section.

Have a look at the shipping schedule and prices to plan a possible trip - you may need to plan more than a year in advance and 'pencil in' an approximate ship, assuming similar schedules in the future.

Investigate flights to Cape Town to connect with your ship to Tristan. You should aim to arrive in Cape Town at least two days before the ship sails, and you may also need to wait in Cape Town for your flight home. Embarkation and disembarkation dates at Cape Town cannot be guaranteed, and occasionally passages have to be cancelled at short notice (see Passenger Priorities). It is therefore advisable to check prices for a open-dated return refundable air tickets and for flexible hotel accommodation in Cape Town.

Next, look at the island's accommodation options and set targets for trips and excursions that may need a guide, and will certainly be weather-dependent.

A glossary of useful local information for visitors can be found on the Information for Visitors Page and more detailed procedures for visiting yachts and cruise ships on the Visiting Ships Page.

When you have done this, contact the Administration Office to outline your proposed trip and seek initial permission to travel - see below.

Second Step : Permission

Your first task before planning a visit is to Email the Secretary to the Administrator to outline the full purpose of your visit, proposed dates, your nationality and age, preferred shipping , and accommodation sought. The Tristan Government controls passages on the SA Agulhas and fishing boats and all enquiries for travel must be made via the Tristan link above

Potential visitors to Tristan should be aware that visits must be authorised in advance by the Island Council.  The Council will need to know full details including names of visitors, purpose of visit and length of stay.  Depending on the answers to these questions further information may be requested. 

The Council may also ask visitors to supply copies of a Police Certificate, which will contain information about the applicant's criminal record (or lack of), including details of current or spent convictions.  In the UK this can be obtained by following the advice at Please be aware it can take up to 40 days to obtain this document.  Although rarely applied, Council may refuse a visit by anyone if they judge it not to be in the public interest.

For those coming to work on Tristan, and whose profession will bring them into contact with children, the Council will ask for an Enhanced Certificate.  In most cases this will be provided as part of the recruitment procedures for such personnel (e.g. doctors, teachers, priests). But those planning to visit Tristan not under such auspices may have to undertake this procedure at their own cost.
Also check out local by-laws and conditions
which help keep Tristan da Cunha far from the madding crowd

Special Projects

There is continuing international interest in visits to Tristan by journalists, authors and film makers. Visitors intending to publish should declare their intention when seeking permission. A charge of £5000 is made to make a film, and permission for filming for publication is very limited and will need the support of the Island Council.


All visitors staying on Tristan must have a confirmed and fully paid return passage, health insurance to include cover in case of medical evacuation to Cape Town and sufficient funds to cover their entire stay.
Full details of local terms and conditions can be found on the Visits Information Page or on the Ships Visits Page for the attention of the crews of visiting ships.


Tristan is a tiny community of under 300 islanders. Visitors are most welcome, indeed the hospitality of Tristan people is famous. Occasionally trust can be abused and islanders may well be shy and resentful to visitors who approach with a camera raised and whose purpose may appear to be to report to the outside world with very limited knowledge.