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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.