Mystery Island, Vanuatu was a wonderful example of how regulated tourism can be so beneficial, not only at a local community level, but rippling through to the entire surrounding areas. Stunning Fauna coats the sand island, with proper structures and systems in place to ensure a clean, well maintained, sustainable environment for today and tomorrow. We travelled there with Royal Caribbean on Voyager of the Seas. Mystery Island sure has some secret gems, but is well willing to share them with all who visit.
The Beauty Of Mystery Island, Vanuatu
Pristine Environments Of Mystery Island
I found Mystery Island, Vanuatu even more breath taking when comparing it to some of the islands I've previously visited in the likes of Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. Where everything is done for today, and each man for himself, clearly the South Pacific takes a refreshing, well-thought approach to tourism and exploiting the lands riches. Throughout our cruise, my mind was constantly wonderfully surprised at how clean and clear all the environments were, especially Mystery Island. Though there's plenty of traffic and human activity, the pristine waters are seemingly untouched. The variety of sea life was incredible! After swimming around the reefs of Thailand, The Phillipines, even some parts of The Great Barrier Reef, absolutely nowhere compared to swimming among the astonishing rainbow shores of this island.
Relaxed Atmosphere of Vanuatu
No one was there to exploit you. Coming from extensive travels in South East Asia, this was a wonderful change! There was absolutely no harassment. They know, if you want a drink, dress, necklace... you will go to them. There's no point them wasting energy in the hot sun, pestering tourists.... hopefully one day South East Asia will catch on….
Amenities On Mystery Island
Mystery Island, Vanuatu has a complete 'western' toilet block (flushing toilets and sinks with soap).
There is a small market where you can buy all the touristy knick knacks you could ever desire. And of course, it wouldn't be the South Pacific without a Hair Braiding stall.
There were 2 small shacks selling cans of soft drink, water, packaged chips, tea and coffee. It was around $5 for one small bag of crisps, so best advice is to fill up on the ship before getting on the island.
Things To Do On Mystery Island
This island is yours to enjoy as you wish. You can go snorkelling, kayaking, hop on glass bottom boat or scuba diving tour. You can spend as little or as much time on the island as you like. Shore excursions can be pre-purchased on board your cruise ship, or you can organise a tour from a vendor on the island itself, such as Walking Sun Tours Mystery Island or just wing it and go exploring on your own.
The island is very small. You can easily walk around it within 20-30 minutes, at a relaxed pace. The only reason I can see anyone benefiting from going with an organised tour is if you're unable (for any reason) to simply walk and swim by yourself. Apart from that, you literally walk into the water and by hip height your surrounded by all sea life imaginable. I saw Nemo and his family in a stunning light pink Anemone just a few metres off shore! Tours are great for the added value of knowledgable staff and cultural immersion. If you don't have the budget for a tour, you certainly are not going to miss out on anything. Save your money and time and enjoy the sand, salt and fresh air from the island itself.
Life of Mystery Island
In the water you can expect to see an immense variety of fish! Coral reef lines the rim of the island creating an incredible habitat for sea life. You may also see sharks, stingrays, octopus, turtles and sea snakes.
If swimming or being in the water is not your thing, don't worry! On the dry land you'll find plenty of creatures too. There were a few cats around the market stalls. Plenty of Marine birds resting and hunting around the reef. Then there were hundreds of tiny Hermit crabs and Sand crabs! We had a wonderful afternoon, relaxing under a palm tree, filming these little natives. Some as tiny as a grain of rice and some as big as my fist!
Best Way To Enjoy Mystery Island From Your Cruise
Strictly regulated, you cannot take any food, drink, animal or plant products onto the island. Here's 3 ways you can spend a day docked at Mystery Island.
1) Spend all day there. Though unless you're keen to spend around $50 on food and water, I wouldn't.
2) Leave the ship early and spend morning-lunch on the island and come back on board for lunch. About 90% of our cruise took this option. For many obvious reasons, this is the best options for families. This way you can fill up at breakfast, enjoy a full morning on the island and get back for the free buffet lunch. But with about 2000 other people going with that plan.... be prepared to line up and waste a lot of precious holiday time. The ferries started taking people off the boat around 7:30am. You could get a ticket for a ferry and that way were guaranteed to get on and made departure a bit smoother. After 10am there was no need for a ticket and ferries were coming and going constantly. Again, this is the best option for families because the timing works perfectly, you save money, you all get fed on time without much moaning and groaning and you avoid majority of the peak midday sun. Yet still enjoy around 5 hours on a perfect tropical island. Which leads us to option 3...
3) Chill on the ship in the morning, have lunch on board, then spend the afternoon on the island. We went with this option and it was so much more relaxing. No lines, no pushing, no waiting in the sun and no rush to get back for food and drink. The boat was an absolute ghost town in the morning so we had a bit of a wander and enjoyed the serenity. We chose this time to go on the Flowerider. I would highly recommend doing this as there was only about 5 other people there. So again, no lines, no waiting, just chilled out relaxing, holiday mode switched on. Then whenever you feel like you're ready, casually make your way down to the ferries and there's guaranteed to be one waiting for you.
Relax On Mystery Island
Simply enjoy the wonders and natural beauty that Mystery Island has to offer. Take time to appreciate your family, the holiday you're on and the serenity the day has blessed you. There's no need to rush, as you have everything you need. Get a sun tan, rub your toes through the sand and let the salt play with your hair. Enjoy life.