Tristan Da Cunha by iPhone

Landing on earth’s remotest inhabited island stands out as a travel highlight. Spending just one day there was pure torture.

But such is life and travel–we dream, we go, we arrive, we leave, we remember. Each and every one of us travels differently. We search for the experience that’s best for us. Some of us will sit on a rock for hours, waiting for a certain bird to pass. Others will shop the day away or play golf or dine out. Some of us just like to wander.

For years, I have documented my travels by phone. It’s what most of the world does today, either through pictures, or by simply calling home to report where they are and what that place is like.

As you can imagine, there is no cellular 3G network on the remotest island in the world. The close-knit population of 267 does not demand it; short-wave radio does the trick. Phone-wise, that means no texting, no tweeting, no status updating or web-surfing. For me, it meant traveling for one day completely unplugged.

But I carried my phone with me anyway, shooting pictures of the things that I saw and did. The people of Tristan were extremely warm and open to me as an outsider. They live such an isolated existence, cut off from the rest of the world by geography. And yet nowadays, the internet has allowed them to be very connected at the same time they are so disconnected–which is why the young people on Tristan Da Cunha were so curious to actually see my phone. They knew all about the make, model and various functions–but they had never actually seen or touched one in real life. Likewise, I had spent a lifetime reading up on their very special island, but I had never actually set foot on it, until now.

Phone photography has its own perks–it’s raw, candid, and quick, not to mention easy to transmit. This gallery was pulled from what I shot on my iPhone as I wandered around Tristan Da Cunha. (Click on the main image to flip through the gallery).


  1. kayal
    Chennai, India
    April 4, 2011, 10:02 am

    Wow! Just love the pictures here… It’s a scintillating experience to just see these pictures… Would just love to sit in one of those front yards and watch the view till the horizon, listening to my favorite melody song…

  2. akajill
    Sacramento, CA
    April 4, 2011, 10:19 am

    Lovely photos! Gotta admit, I am very curious about the sign for Inaccessible Island.

  3. Ben Keene
    Bangkok, TH
    April 4, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Curious to know what’s on tap at the local pub!

  4. […] (photo from here) […]

  5. Return to Tristan – Digital Nomad
    March 23, 2012, 6:11 am

    […] and was amazed by its remoteness. I made this video to show the outside world and published this gallery of iPhone pics but then departed with the sad belief that I would never see this wondrous island again. And yet, […]

  6. […] (photo from here) […]

  7. Charlotte W.
    South Africa
    January 14, 2014, 7:50 pm

    Thank you, Andrew! What a thrill to find these photos on NatGeo! I am dying to visit this interesting place.

  8. […] cell phones. In fact, until a few years ago, some Tristanians had read about smartphones but had never before seen one in real […]