Our Journey to Mystery Island in Vanuatu

Vanuatu lies almost halfway between the island nations of New Caledonia and Fiji. This makes Vanuatu an obvious destination for cruises in this area of the South Pacific. Our port of call for the day was Mystery Island.

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“Mystery Island” is located near “Anelghowhat” in our cruise map above. This village is on the neighboring island of “Aneityum”.

No one lives on Mystery Island. There is no electricity and no running water. And, it is the southern most island of the 80-island nation of Vanuatu. There is a real sense of feeling like Robinson Crusoe when visiting here.

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Across the island is a small forest of palm, coconut, and banyan trees, which provides shade from the hot South Pacific sun
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One of my favorite pictures EVER! I had placed my sunglasses on a tree branch while I went snorkeling. When I returned, I saw the reflection of the water behind me in them.

With its name, one would think there is some ominous explanation behind it. True, the natives of the island once believed it was haunted by spirits at nighttime. But, the real origin of the name comes from the 1980s. An Australian yacht captain gave the island its name to attract visitors via his cruises.

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Incredible blue water which changes hues based on the sun and cloud movements above

No one lives on Mystery Island. Islanders from the nearby island of Aneityum arrive well before the cruise ships. They setup their vendor stalls. Here, they offer local crafts, food & drinks, snorkeling equipment rentals, and boat tours around the island.

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The locals who visit the island to sell their crafts brought their children along
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No running water… but, at least there is some privacy
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A selection of services and tours offered by the locals
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The colors of the fabrics are bright and beautiful

Our cruise ship anchored within the reef surrounding Mystery Island. When we were ready to leave our ship, we boarded the tender boat to go ashore. We arrived at 8am and departed at 5pm. So, we had a full day of sun and fun on the beach.

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Typical boat for hire to sail the lagoon between the shore and the reef (where the waves are crashing in the distance)
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We rented snorkel equipment for the day… no matter how many times I do this, I seem to play the theme from “Jaws” in my head 🙂
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Best investment for underwater pictures: a GoPro camera

As mentioned, a coral reef encircles this islet. The South Pacific Ocean waves break along the reef. This allows for calm waters, perfect for snorkeling. Between working on our tans (or for me, different shades of pink and red), we enjoyed our time in the water.

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A Blue Starfish – native to the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans

The bright sun overhead made the blue water sparkle against the white sandy beaches. Palm and coconut trees swayed in the South Pacific breeze. The ship’s passengers enjoyed themselves on the island.

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The waters are bluer than blue

Speaking of the locals, theirs is an interesting history. Before the Europeans arrival in the 18th & 19th Centuries, the population practiced cannibalism. Yeah, like from  the old “Gilligand’s Island” television show. Albeit this was for spiritual reasons.

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For $5 AUD, you can have your picture taken inside the pot with two locals dressed as cannibals.

Today, tourism is one of the driving economic forces for Vanuatu. About 65 of the islands are inhabited. And, each island has its own culture.

For instance, one island in the north is home to “Land Diving”. This is bungee jumping, but with only vines from banyan trees. While our ship did not visit this part of Vanuatu, the below video offers a look into this mystic ritual.

Vanuatu, like all the South Pacific Islands we have visited, is an absolutely stunning place. The scenery and its people are wonderful. While we were only here for one day, it is definitely a place requiring more time to visit.

 

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Our sunset for the evening from the cruise ship as we left Vanuatu, headed to Fiji

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