Clipperton Island

Updated March 30, 2017 | Infoplease Staff

Blue Lagoon and Pirate's Lair

Source: World Factbook 1998
Source: The World Factbook 1998

Where Is It?

A French island located in the Pacific about 700 miles southwest of Acapulco.

What to Expect

Clipperton is a circular coral atoll of 2 square miles, completely enclosing its lagoon. Temperatures are tropical and the vegetation includes scrub, wild tobacco, and some coconut groves. The only known structures on the island are the ruins of a 19th century lighthouse and a tuna fishing station. 115 species of fish have been identified in the vicinity of the island.


Other than the 700-mile boat voyage and the lack of a harbor, be sure to avoid crashing into the surrounding coral reefs.


The island is named after the English mutineer and pirate John Clipperton, who made it his hideout in 1705. The French claimed Clipperton in 1855, but Mexican forces invaded in 1897 and stationed troops there until 1917. In 1930, the island again came under French rule.


Since then it's been nothing but quiet. Swim in the lagoon, scale the coconut trees, look for buried treasure left behind by old Captain Clipperton. Explore the tuna fishing station, search for signs of the garrisoned Mexican troops, check out the lighthouse, snorkel around the reefs, and take in a little fishing.

Can an island get more romantic than this? In addition to the tropical breezes and the corsair connection, its alternative name is "Ile de la Passion."

Whatever you do, don't worry about running into any teeming masses. Clipperton is so isolated that it has eluded even John Clouse, considered the "No. 1 World traveler" by the Guinness Book of World Records . . . Clipperton is one of only three spots in the world this septuagenarian divorce lawyer from Evansville, Indiana, hasn't visited.

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