Oeno Island

Oeno Coast

Oeno Island or Holiday Island is a coral atoll in the South Pacific Ocean, part of the Pitcairn Islands overseas territory. Named after whaling ship Oeno, Oeno Island is a small (0.5 square kilometer) islet part of the coral atoll by the same name and the westernmost of the Pitcairn Islands. This beautiful island is low-lying and rarely visited, with the exception of nearby Pitcairners formerly arriving on their annual holidays. The little island is surrounded by white sandy beaches inside a stunning blue lagoon studded with vegetation. A sand bar, which is constantly undergoing change, is currently unattached to the island.

Located 143 kilometres (89 mi) northwest of Pitcairn Island, at 23°55′26″S 130°44′03″W. Oeno Atoll measures about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) in diameter, including the central lagoon, with a total area exceeding 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi). There are two larger and three smaller islets on or within the rim of the atoll. Their aggregate land area is only 0.69 square kilometres (170 acres). Oeno Island serves as a private holiday site for the few residents of Pitcairn Island, who travel there and stay for two weeks in January.

Oeno Atoll

The main island (Oeno), about 50 hectares (120 acres) in area, has forest and scrub with pandanus and palm trees. It is located in the southwest part of the atoll’s lagoon. There is a water tap installed on the island. The maximum elevation is less than 5 metres (16 ft). Sandy Island (or Islands) is to the northeast and may be an ephemeral island. Three smaller islets are to the south and west of the main island.

Important Bird Area

The island has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA) principally for its colony of Murphy’s petrels, which, at some 12,500 pairs, is estimated to be the second-largest colony of these birds in the world.
Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies. The island is as storied as it is tiny, with a history of at least four separate shipwrecks and the eradication of Polynesian rats some twenty years ago (the eradication of the rats allowed for the birds to have a higher chance of survival). Access to the island is quite limited, as the currents close to the channel leading to the island can be quite strong and one has to carefully navigate around the many coral heads.


Oeno Palms

June 1819: Captain James Henderson of the British East India Company ship Hercules sights Oeno Island
26 January 1824: Captain George Worth aboard the American whaler Oeno names the atoll after his ship
5 March 1858: The Wild Wave, a 1500-ton clipper ship sailing from San Francisco, is wrecked on Oeno’s reef
1875: The Khandeish is wrecked on Oeno
23 August 1883: The Oregon is wrecked on Oeno
April 1893: The Bowdon is wrecked on Oeno
10 July 1902: Oeno annexed by the United Kingdom
1938: Incorporated into the Pitcairn Islands colony
1997: Polynesian rats exterminated
2 July 2019: Oeno Island experienced a total solar eclipse

Share Button