Palmerston has a unique history amongst the Cook Islands relating to the origins of its inhabitants
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The island of Palmerston lies around 500 kms north-west of Rarotonga, and is the most northern, and only true atoll, in the Southern Group. Palmerston was first discovered by the English sea captain, James Cook, on June 16th 1744 on his second voyage through the Pacific, and was named after the 1st Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Palmerston. Cook himself did not set foot on Palmerston until some years later, in 1777, on his third and final Pacific voyage.

Palmerston has a particularly unique history amongst the Cook Islands relating to the origins of its inhabitants. In 1863, an English ships carpenter named William Marsters arrived from Manuae and settled on this tiny uninhabited island with 3 wives, raising 17 children and 54 grand-children. Today, his descendants are scattered far and wide, and the Marsters name is synonymous with the island of Palmerston. Some of those descendants who remain on the island export fish for an income, and have a strong tradition of welcoming visiting seafarers to their island. It is said that they are all fluent English speakers, with a distinct Gloucestershire accent passed down from their founding forbearer.

The total land mass of Palmerston amounts to just one square mile (2.6 sq km) consisting of six sandy motu, or islets spread around a large lagoon about seven miles (11km) across at its widest point. The highest point on Palmerston is a sandhill only 20 feet (6 metres) tall that the locals nicknamed “the mountain.”

The island has no airport of air services and there is no safe entry for larger vessels to access, but cruising yachts will find good anchorage in many parts of the lagoon along the western side with depths between 30-50 feet, though it is not an official port of entry so clearance should first be arranged before arrival.

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