This research reports on empirical findings of remote Pitcairn Island, the last remaining British Overseas Territory in the Pacific. It uses a qualitative methodology to discuss the island's potential for tourism development while recognising the issues and challenges faced by many small island developing states. However, as a sub-national island jurisdiction Pitcairn presents a number of issues unique to its temporal socio-political development and its centre periphery relationship with the metropole. The concept ‘decolonising without disengaging’ is posited to argue sub-national island jurisdictions are places/spaces of innovative, creative and differentiated development processes that offer interesting departures from the conventional realms of sustainable discourse and island development. This concept is posited as a strategy of empowerment whereby autonomy without sovereignty does not necessarily hinder the development of tourism industries.