Why we were coming to Mystery Island was a mystery to us. We could find the independent nation of Vanuatu on a map, but Mystery Island was nowhere to be seen. Even now that we have been there, we aren’t sure exactly where we were. Then the daily ship info sheet mentioned that no people live there, which made us feel even more confused. When we googled the place we could see a small landing strip, built here in World War II with your parents' (or grandparents') taxes. That did not solve the mystery. But when a blue sky day dawned, we could see a steady stream of boats motoring from the large island next to us to the Mystery Island dock. We tendered in to join them and could see that while there were no homes there, there was plenty going on.
Mystery Island functions like Labadee, Haiti does for RCL in the Caribbean. It is the idyllic beach stop for your fantasies of what a beach stop should be. Local entrepreneurs sell glass bottom boat tours, see-through canoe tours, snorkeling tours, etc. For retail therapy there were many shops selling tropical goods, some actually looking like they might have been made here rather than in China. You can get a massage or get your hair braided. Food was being cooked; drinks were being cooled. You could rent a snorkel, kayak or a floating mat. Little boys were renting out their green lizards to hold for a bit of cash. A large family group sang harmoniously for hours under a palm tree leaf shelter. You could even pose for photos in a large cauldron labeled “cannibal soup.” What more could one need for a day in paradise?
We walked all the way around the island in half an hour and could see a perfect snorkeling set-up on one side. A distant reef blocked the crashing waves and created an island long swimming pool, calm and placid and dotted with coral formations. We took a boat out to the reef and followed a guide back in snorkeling all the way. The water was crystal clear because the reef blocked the waves and current. When our guide threw out some bread chunks, we were suddenly surrounded by masses of fish who had heard the underwater dinner bell. The temperature was perfect; I could have stayed in the water enjoying the views all day. Certainly seeing the sunshine after two days of sprinkly weather was a treat and made everything look as it should.