Cruise Port – Mystery Island

What to Do and See – Mystery Island (Vanuatu)

Mystery Island is a tiny, uninhabited island  – a secret little gem at the far southern end of the Vanuatu group of island.

Mystery Island (or ‘Inyeug’) is one of the more unusual South Pacific cruise destinations. Once a landing strip used by the allied forces in World War II, today its only visitors are cruise ship passengers and Ni-Vanuatu who travel to and from neighbouring islands to sell handicrafts and tours.

As Mystery Island is only reachable by cruise ship and because of its remoteness the island remains relatively untouched, with no electricity, roads or telephones. At just 1 kilometre long and approx. 200 metres wide, Mystery Island is too small to dock large vessels. Cruise ships anchor offshore and send small boats to tender passengers to the jetty.

Even with only one day to spend here, there is plenty to do.  Swaying palms, white sand beaches and warm, turquoise waters. Its surrounding coral reefs are home to reams of exotic fish.

General Information

  • Population – Zero. No one lives on the island as it is considered taboo to do so. The locals come across from nearby Aneityum on the days when our ships call into the island. The population of Aneityum is approximately 1,200
  • Currency – the local currency on Mystery Island is the Vanuatu Vatu (VUV). Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 vatu denominations. Notes are not in circulation.  Australian dollars are accepted.  Credit and Debit cards are not accepted anywhere on the island.
  • Weather – the climate of Mystery Island is subtropical – humid and sunny with occasional rain showers. Average temperatures range from 26° Celsius in January to 21° Celsius in July and August. The dry season is May to October.

Mel’s Highlights

1.  Local Attractions

Market stalls hosted by locals from neighbouring islands are set up on and around the beaches.  Wander through the beach village markets and meet the friendly happy locals their wares. Handicrafts, sarongs, woven hats, floral shirts and other locally made items are available for purchase from the stalls onshore. There is even a hair-braiding service.

BEWARE – Any souvenirs that are made of plant material or animal products must be declared to quarantine authorities on arrival in Australia or New Zealand. Plant material such as certain seeds and animal products including feathers may be restricted or need to be treated at the owners’ expense on arrival in Australia or New Zealand.

Bargaining is not customary in Vanuatu.

If you get a little peckish – You have to try the freshly broiled lobster!!

The gorgeous Vanuatu children regularly perform songs for visitors.

 

There are also a number of local tours available including turtle, reef shark and ray snorkelling. You will see this hut as you head to the village where there is plenty to choose from.

 

 

2. Snorkelling – Underwater Wonderland

Definitely do not come here without a snorkel and goggles as the island is as gorgeous under the water as it is on land.  Mystery Island is surrounded by coral reef and with a spectacular array of fish species including barracudas, clown fish and parrot fish and is an awesome spot for snorkelling. It’s warm, shallow waters are stunningly clear and offer plenty of opportunities to watch exotic marine life. The best snorkelling can be found at the end of the old airstrip, while the western side of the island is ideal for swimming.

If you aren’t game to venture out on your own – head to the tour office and book yourself a Snorkel Safari – this is a must do for anyone visiting this special island in the South Pacific. You’ll get to uncover and enjoy the underwater mysteries with your own guide. The crystal clear waters and spectacular coral formations make this a perfect way to enjoy the island

   

 

3. Walk or Paddle around the Island

Mystery Island is only 1 kilometre long and approx. 200 metres wide so you can walk or paddle around the whole island.

There are photo opportunities everywhere and only takes approx 30- 40 minutes to walk the entire island. There are some lovely walking tracks through the bush and around the airstrip which takes up the centre of the island. Alternatively, embrace the shipwrecked feel of the isle and make your way around the perimeter which consists of almost-continuous beach. This should take no longer than 45 minutes to an hour at most, and is a great way to get a feel for the place

  

If you are feeling a little bit more energetic then hire one of the paddle board and paddle around the island.  Its great to see the island from another perspective and enjoy the tropical surrounds.  Its approx $15 per hour.

  

4. Island Fun – Photo Opportunities

From little kids to big kids – once you have finished swimming and snorkeling, get you photo taken with the ‘island warriors’ in the “cannibal pot”.  It will cost you $5 to get your photo taken but they will have lots of fun getting you to pose in different positions.

Or relax with a beach massage.

and of course if you are totally having to go to toilet – no need to make your way back to ship – check out these cute restrooms.

Cruise Port – Isle of Pines.

What to Do and See – Isle of Pines

Isles of Pines does not have a port. Instead,  cruise ships anchor just offshore in Kuto Bay from where passengers are tendered to the pier on small boats. The bay is located on the southwest side of the island and often referred to as the “Jewel of the Pacific”

This tropical paradise made up of white sandy bays and aquamarine waters was named by Captain Cook in 1774 for its native columnar pines, which are prevalent around the coast and beaches.

Passengers are often greeted by local dance performers as they arrive at the mainland.  There is limited public transport on the island aside from a handful of taxis and locally run mini vans.

General Information

  • Currency – the local currency in Isles of Pines is the Central Pacific Franc (CFP). Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 francs. Notes come in denominations of 500, 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 francs.
    Australian Dollars are widely accepted, though smaller notes are preferred.
  • Weather – Isles of Pines has a temperate tropical climate. January is the hottest month with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. July is the coldest with an average temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Highest average rainfall is between February and April.

Highlights

1.  Kuto Bay (PLAGE DE KUTO)

As you take the short walk down the road from where you get off the tender boat, this beach is to your left.

This is a truly picturesque location with all the trappings of the South Pacific- translucent shallow waters, fine soft white sand and towering lush palms. There is a beach bar, a restaurant and food stalls selling local delights.

If you are looking to snorkel here – the bottom is just sand so snorkelers looking for coral and colorful fish will be disappointed – better to go around the corner to Kanumera Bay or Oro Bay.

There is not much in the way of shops, a few market stores.   The RESTAURANT KU BUGNEY – behind the sand has awesome views but food and drinks are expensive for the average person.  Approx. ($12 AUD) for a beer .  Heaps of local seafood being BBQ’d if you are game.  You can get a whole lobster fro around $20 – $30 depending on size.  Try fresh coconut water straight from the coconut – I love it – only approx. $3

Lots of trees at the back of the sand for shade and a great place to take an awesome panoramic photo looking back towards your ship.

2.  Kanumera Bay –  (ROCHER DE KAA NUE MERA)

Kanumera Bay – a stone’s throw away or to be more exact, just cross the road behind the palm trees of Kuto you will come across one of the island’s most popular beaches. Its white sands offer plenty of spots for relaxing, while its crystal clear waters are ideal for snorkelling.

Jutting out into the sparkly blue and green waters is a large limestone rock, La Rocher, which is deemed sacred by the local people. It is a beautiful spot to swim and snorkel and take in the natural wonders.

The coral around the rock is a little damaged due to ignorant people breaking it by standing on it with their flippers etc.  If you are a confident swimmer, head around the left side of the rock, and over a little to the right, a little further than majority you will discover some beautiful fish and the odd colourful coral.

Confident swimmers, go right around the rock, and see how coral changes on each side.

3. The Natural Aquarium – (PISCINE NATURELLE)

Oro Bay:  The ‘natural swimming pool’ in Oro Bay is would be close to one of my favourite places in the South Pacific.  If you are mobile and can walk through at least knee deep water then I highly recommend. Surrounded by 40-metre native pine trees, and crystal turquoise waters full of colorful tropical fish, this place will take your breath away.

You need to get a driver to come and take you here.  it will cost around $20AUS per person return for the drive which is 25 minutes away. Where the driver drops you off it is another $15 or 1000 pf entrance fee each to enter.  We had a little local boy showing us where to walk, but easy to find without.  Its about a 15 minute walk through the tidal river (yes it goes up and down) and part of the ‘jungle’ (bush land) to reach the snorkeling area.

   

You just follow the blue markers.

Take reef shoes as you will get wet and walking across the river as there is a little bit of coral in it and its painful when you stand on it.

   

 

Arrange a time for your driver to pick you up.  (Don’t pay until you return).  Take an underwater camera as there are heaps of fish everywhere in the crystal clear water .  Thousand of fish… huge  clams of various colours, puffa fish, angel fish,  hermit crabs, coral fish of all colours and size….and they just swim right up to you.  Highly, highly recommend!!!

 

4. Queen Hortense’s Cave – (GROTTE DE IS REINE HORTENSE)

Grotte de ls Reine Hortense – one of New Caledonia’s most impressive and popular sites, this HUGE cave is reached through a tropical garden. Inside, the cave has the most fascinating and beautiful natural formations, magnificent stalactites cling to the ceiling. Legend has it the cave was used by the wife of a local chief who took refuge here during a time of intertribal conflict in 1855.

There is a small fee of $4 per person at a little kiosk at the entrance to the pathway leading to the cave. The short walk into the caves is through a beautiful rain forest but has not no designated boardwalk, so you need to take care if you are unsteady on your feet as the earth floor of the Grotte can be quiet slippery.

There is no lighting in the Grotte, so the mobile phone inbuilt torch becomes a necessity.  Better still bring a small torch in case your drop your phone…

5.  Island Site Seeing Tour

For something a little more cultural – If you want a quick tour around the island – grab a driver.  For around 2 hours you can have about 7 stops where you will visit all the local sites.  For around about $25 or 2000 pf  you can vites all the sites including church, caves, memorial totems, prison etc…

You will visit the small town of Vao, with the pretty Mission Church at its centre and the Statue de St Maurice commemorating the arrival of the first missionaries. Make sure your driver stops for you to take some photos also of the houses decorated with floats and ships hawsers, found on the beaches.