During our Carnival Christmas Cruise on the Pacific, after visiting New Caledonia, the second country we visited was Vanuatu. We anchored near Mystery Island, a small tropical Island that does not have any residents. What sounded very idyllic in the description, I was a bit skeptic to visit this island while on a cruise. Why?
Can you imagine a small tropical paradise that gets invaded by 2.000 people at once? No wonder the comedian on the ship left out the ‘t’ and called it Mysery Island.
The local people believe that Mystery Island is inhabited after dark by ghosts, so no one wants to stay there after the sun goes down. The indigenous name of the island is Inyeug, but the cruise lines renamed it Mystery Island because tourists sure prefer mystery over haunted islands.
Along with 146 others we were in the third tender boat to get to the island. Everyone was packed with beach gear, but there was one couple that was standing out from the rest of the crowd. They were wearing a casual white outfit that was just too nice for a beach.
Well, luckily a lot of people take it slow in the morning and do not arrive until 10 or 11, so if you get ready early, hurry past all the souvenir stands (the locals from the neighboring island come here by boat to do some business) and do a bit more walking to get to the other side of the island you do get to enjoy the beauty of it in relative piece. And beautiful it is!
On my walk around the island the first mystery got solved. Remember the couple that was standing out from the rest? I saw the barefoot ‘dressed in casual white’ couple standing on the beach under a bow exchanging vows. I even got to cross off another of our 38 things to do in Australia bucket list. Ok, technically we are not in Australia, but it was an Australian couple getting married and there were only Australians on the Island.
Another mystery is no mystery on Mystery Island. Everyone has to do what we all have to do, so they built long-drop toilets in these little huts everywhere on the island.
Almost back to where I started I stumbled upon an airstrip. This tiny island even has it’s own landing strip. It is starting at one end of the island and ends at the other end, leaving just enough space to hide it between palm trees.
While on the ship you can pre-book excursions ranging from snorkeling, glass bottom boat/canoe and local village visits to the neighboring Islands. But with prices varying between $65 and $90 for a 1 to 2 hour excursion and not much discount for children we found that a bit steep. Once on the island the prices that the locals ask are considerably lower.
The glass bottom canoe looked really appealing, but there was a very strong current, so getting somewhere seemed pretty much impossible. So instead we snorkeled from the beach. Not only the beaches were stunning, the underwater world was very impressive as well. Colorful fish and amazing coral. All easily accessible from the beach.
Around lunch time it started to rain, so we took that as a sign to return to the ship for lunch. On our way to the dock we saw that there were a lot of people sitting down getting their hair braided for AUD $12 or $15. Australian dollars are not the local currency here, but notes are happily accepted on these cruise islands. So Luka and I decided to get back after lunch. You have to try everything once and I think it is also a great way to support the local community.
We sat down next to each other and it took about 45 minutes until we were all done. After learning to pronounce “tangkyu”. This means thank you in Bislama, the local language. I later learned that there 113 local languages and many more dialects, but after the Europeans came a new language, Bislama got used. It began as a simplified form of phonetic English, with Spanish, French and street language added for good measure.
We were ready to head back to the ship to show Oliver and Kai our new and improved selves!
Then we left Mystery island behind us. When I took another look back I do believe that the local people might be right after all, this beautiful place by day sure looks haunted at night….
More Pacific Cruise posts?