What is there to do on Mystery Island?
What is such a mystery that the island is called a “Mystery”?
Yep, you will be reading a lot of the word “mystery” in this article. However, we aren’t here to only talk about the island’s name and name origin. Have you ever been to an island so small that with just a 20 to 40-minute tour, you have already covered its entire island’s surface? Yeah, neither have I. Welcome to Mystery Island!
Mystery Island fits that very “blink and you’ll miss it” description! And since it is so small, it has no inhabitants. Just a small dot on the face of the earth that caters to tourists who dream of a getaway from humanity and its influences. This article will convince you enough to visit this tourist hotspot and will then happily guide you through your stay on Mystery Island.
I. All About Mystery Island
Mystery Island is a small island that is part of big Anetyum island of the Tafea Province in Vanuatu. It is so small that it is only 20 miles in width and 1 kilometer in length. Since it is so small, it is used as a tourist getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city and, basically, the people.
Its white, sandy land, healthy palm trees and coral reefs, and clear blue water is proof that this place is indeed untouched by the capitalist mindset of human nature. It is simply a place to block out the world and destress. It might not be great to be stranded here for the rest of your life but a short stay at Mystery Island is all you need to stop thinking about the work you need to finish at the office, that essay you need to submit on Monday, or the bills that stack up on the counter.
Here at this tiny island, you will feel as though you can start again and live simply because they have no electricity, running water, roads or telephones. Well, at least for a while. Remember that it may be a place to destress and get away from everything related to the city but teenage kids aren’t going to see it that way.
History and Name Origin
Mystery Island’s true, indigenous name is “Inyeug” which means “small island.” So where’d the name, “Mystery Island” come from? It was said to have all started with a reporter trying to create a good headline for the newspaper. He was writing about the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to that small island.
Upon finding out that the island’s name was “Inyeug,” he decided against it and wrote, “Her Majesty visits Mystery Island” to catch the reader’s attention more. Since then, tourists have visited Inyeug more than ever. So the name “Mystery Island” stuck.
However, the Sydney Morning Herald claimed otherwise. Their article on Mystery Island states that, “THE BIGGEST mystery about Mystery Island is that nobody lives there.” Even though the island has no roads or cars, that’s what attracts people even more — the lack of pollution. But despite its capability to attract tourists, does anyone live on Mystery Island? I guess it is a good enough tourist hotspot but not great for residents because no one wants to live it in! Mystery Island is completely deserted. It officially has a population of zero.
According to an online article, the neighboring island folk do not want to settle in Inyeug Island because they believe it is haunted. But yet again, the Sydney Morning Herald contradicts, and they have proof. Lili, an interviewee from the nearby Tanna island, said that because of the tourists and cruise ships that come into the inhabited island, they can just come on over and make a sufficient living for themselves and their families.
Now, it may seem that the amount of mysteries are enough, but it does not end there. The Sydney Morning Herald also claimed that it used to be a grass airstrip for the US air force at the South Pacific in World War II. Today, this runway called Anatom or Aneityum Airport is used for light plane arrivals to drop off guests and supplies for the residents of Aneityum. So, it’s an airport for Aneityum but it is on Mystery Island. I don’t know about you but that sounds yet like another mystery to me!
So, may it be because of a reporter looking to get the reader’s attention, that the island has no inhabitants, or that it used to be a historic runway, I think that the biggest mystery is why it has so many mysteries!
II. Why Visit Mystery Island
Due to the people’s sudden interest towards Mystery island, the Cruise industry saw and wanted to conquer their next pot of gold. The locals of Aneityum also saw this opportunity and they decided to sell trinkets, lobsters, homemade organic coconut oil, local food, cold soft drinks, kava, local coffees, local coconuts, sell postcards, sarongs, traditional trinkets and other souvenirs items for their business to grow.
As for the experience offered at the island, there are hand painted boards tout snorkeling trips, boat rides, cave snorkeling, swimming, turtle touching, fish feeding, shipwrecks, hair braiding, massage, markets, and picture opportunities. The locals of all ages also dance and sing to get donations. So, aside from wandering around Mystery Island to either relax or find out what’s so mysterious about it, you can also enjoy the local delicacies, have fun with the very-touristy activities, and help the locals out by purchasing their authentic products and goods.
III. All the Fun Things To Do in Mystery Island
Snorkeling For a Coral and Fish Safari
You can go snorkeling anywhere around the island and be guaranteed to see fish.
With a depth of 1 – 4 meters, you can snorkel all around this small getaway and see a taramount of corals and fish.
Going on a (very short) Boat Tour
If you prefer to see the fish and corals from the clear water, the jetty offers boat tours around the island, which I highly doubt would take more than an hour to cover the perimeter of the place.
Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
You can go SUPing around the island! You don’t know how to do that? No problem as they will teach and give you beginners lessons.
Enjoying the Local Cuisine
Try out their traditional Vanuatuan food consisting of freshly caught grilled lobster, island banana pie, and many more fresh and local goods.
Buying Souvenirs the Market Stalls
The locals of neighboring islands come to set up their shops on the island whenever cruise ships visit. They sell a variety of souvenirs and local goods. So, the market is your place to get a little reminder of this sweet, tucked away haven when you get back to the polluted, busy and human infested city.
You can get your hair braided Melanesian-style by the local girls. So, calling all you girls, and boys, with long hair, this is your time to get pampered at one of the most relaxing spots on earth.
Walking Around the Island
Mystery Island isn’t that big so you could easily stroll around the island in less than an hour, if you’re quick. However, for the casual walkers, it shouldn’t take any more than 90 minutes. Take in the scenery and breathe in the fresh air. There’s a subtle track that will take you around the island.
IV. Reviews on Mystery Island
To get an expert opinion — I’m referring to all the tourists that went there and enjoyed their stay at the island and departure from the dull city and its residents — we shall find out whether the Mystery Island lives up to its expectations. The expectation of it being a relaxing sanctuary and not of it being a mystery or it being haunted.
“Most who come to Mystery Island will do it by Cruise ship – make sure you get off and visit this little oasis in the South Pacific, even for just a short time” (TripAdvisor, 2018).
It was the most enjoyable and relaxing day off all the islands visited” (TripAdvisor, 2020).
“Omg this island is amazing it’s so beautiful The locals are so kind and sweet Highly recommended for families” (TripAdvisor, 2020).
And it goes on for another 103 pages of reviews that most are similar to these.
V. Visiting Mystery Island
I have finally convinced you, haven’t I? Great! You can now see the advantages, benefits, instructions, guidelines, and precautionary measuring when traveling in Mystery Island. The cruise companies that make a stop at Mystery Island are the Royal Caribbean, Princes Cruises and P&O Cruises.
VI. How To Get To Mystery Island
Mystery Island can only be accessed by any vehicle that does not go on land. You can reach this hideaway by riding cruise ships, local boats and by planes from Port Vila and Tanna landing and onto the Aneityum Airport.
VII. Best Time of the Year to Visit Mystery Island
To enjoy your experience at this hideaway, the best time of year to visit Mystery Island ultimately depends on your personal preferences and what you aim to experience itself.
What you have to consider is the peak and off peak seasons where everything is more expensive in the former and in the latter you will be saving your wallet some money. All year round, the general temperature is 22°C to 28°C because it is a tropical island. The best temperatures come in April to October at 18°C to 28°C. It gets colder from November to March because that is when there are light showers.
However, both water and island activities won’t be affected by the climate and weather no matter what time and day. It now solely depends on whether you like the crowd and to spend big bucks or you like the island to be a bit quieter and save money.
VIII. Tips to Remember When Exploring
You can wear anything that is comfortable to you as long as it is comfortable to the locals. That means no revealing clothing is allowed. It is required that you are properly covered up, decent and modest, which means you are not allowed to wear revealing or provocative swimwear anywhere other than in the waters or at the pool. You can wear shorts, skirts and tank tops as the sun and heat prevents you from wearing any heavy clothes, but you have to remember to be modest and dress appropriately as a guest going into another’s land.
Preserving the Environment
The surrounding areas from Mystery Island have been secured as a Marine Protected Area. Hence, in an effort to preserve its natural beauty and habitat of the local fish and sea creatures, you are not allowed to touch or damage the corals around the area. Speaking of sea creatures, you are also not allowed to catch or harm any species around the island. You are only allowed to enjoy their presence and beauty. Also, do not litter on the island or into the water because that also harms the ecosystem of and around Mystery Island. The mystery island is a getaway clean of any human impurities, so better not break that feature.
Make sure you have all the snorkeling gear you need, which are the mask, a snorkel, and fins. First, make sure all the equipment fits you and is comfortable. You would not want to hassle yourself with loose or tight snorkeling gear and come up for air to adjust it every time you were enjoying the crystal clear water view of swarming tropical fish and colorful corals. As for the snorkel, make sure that it fits your mouth size and even your preferences.
All snorkels have come with different valves and are made of different materials. So be sure to buy one that suits your needs and wants to enjoy a perfect day under the sun and in the water. For those who don’t want to be hassled with finding the right mask and snorkel to go with each other, you can also buy a full face snorkel mask. If you buy this, you might just be so overly prepared to meet the beautiful underwater ecosystem of the waters surrounding Mystery Island. And finally for the fins, it depends on your foot size and the level of skill you have at snorkeling and swimming. You can get them in full foot or open heel options and wear them with or without boots.
If you do want to do snorkeling extensively, you might also want to consider buying water-resistant sunscreen for protection, a rash guard to avoid getting a tan, a snorkel vest to keep you afloat, and a snorkeling dive flag to be utilized as an indicator to boats passing by that you’re there snorkeling.
You also have to be mindful of your exact location and point of reference at all times while exploring the waters because you might encounter the area and timings of strong tides. So, make sure to purchase or bring snorkeling gear that properly fits, and when you do start snorkeling, make sure to know where you are for your safety.
Finding Shade From the Sun
Under the hot sun with no buildings to utilize for taking cover, the Mystery Island has a few huts for locals to book. However, you might want to be early or make haste because there is a limited amount of huts and an uncapped amount of tourists every day.
Picture Taking Rule
With all our smartphones, digital cameras and polaroids, we want to capture the places we go and moments we lived. However, when in Mystery Island, remember to first ask permission before you take photographs of Ni- Vanuatu (indigenous people). You can take pictures of any and all inanimate objects. But when it comes to people, you have to show them a little bit of respect before you snap a shot.
Bring Cash Only
Remember that this is an island with no high-rise buildings, no big factories, and no settlers. So, this place does not have the luxury to take any credit cards nor have any ATM machines. Remember to have cash on you and also exchange that cash into Vanautu Vatu.
Beware of the Spiders
I know we are all afraid of spiders, — and those who aren’t, I salute you for it — so watch out for spiders in the trees because they are up there. Quite a good spot as there are not many humans screaming away from them there. But you don’t want to just happenly walk or stand under a palm tree when a spider happenly goes down, do you?
IX. Main Takeaways (Summary)
Now that you know more about Mystery Island but know less about the mystery of the island, why don’t you head on down there yourself and find out while enjoying this hideaway and its touristy activities. But before you do, here is all that we learned about Mystery Island:
All About Mystery Island
- It is a small island of Anetyum island of the Tafea Province in Vanuatu.
- It is only 20 miles in width and 1 kilometer in length.
History and Name Origin
- Mystery Island’s true, indigenous name is “Inyeug” which means “small island.”
- Mystery Island is called “Mystery Island” may be because of a reporter looking to get the reader’s attention, that the island has no inhabitants, or that it used to be a historic runway for the U.S. air force in World War II.
Why Visit Mystery Island
- Locals of Aneityum sell trinkets, lobsters, homemade organic coconut oil, local food, cold soft drinks, kava, local coffees, local coconuts, sell postcards, sarongs, traditional trinkets and other souvenirs items for their business to grow.
- Experience hand painted boards tout snorkeling trips, boat rides, cave snorkeling, swimming, turtle touching, fish feeding, shipwrecks, hair braiding, massage, markets, and picture opportunities.
- Locals of all ages dance and sing to get donations.
- Wander around Mystery Island to either relax or find out what’s so mysterious about it,
- Enjoy the local delicacies and the very-touristy activities.
All the Fun Things To Do in Mystery Island
- Snorkeling For a Coral and Fish Safari
- Going on a (very short) Boat Tour
- Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
- Enjoying the Local Cuisine
- Buying Souvenirs the Market Stalls
- Hair Braiding
- Walking Around the Island
Visiting Mystery Island and its advantages, benefits, instructions, guidelines, and precautionary measuring when traveling in Mystery Island.
How To Get To Mystery Island
- Riding cruise ships,
- Riding local boats, and
- Riding planes from Port Vila and Tanna landing and onto the Aneityum Airport.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Mystery Island
It depends on your personal preferences and what you aim to experience itself.
- Consider the peak seasons (where there is a large crowd and you have to spend big bucks) and off peak seasons (where there are only a few tourists visiting and the goods and services are cheaper).
- All year round, the general temperature is 22°C to 28°C.
- The best temperatures come in April to October at 18°C to 28°C.
- It is colder from November to March because of the light showers.
Tips to Remember When Exploring
- Wear modest clothes
- Do not harm, damage, exploit or liter in the environment
- Bring or purchase fit and appropriate snorkeling gear
- Book a hut on the island asap
- Do not take picture of the locals without their consent
- Bring cash only
- Beware of the spiders on the trees
TripAdvisor (2018). Mysterious or not – you will love it..! Retrieved August 26, 2020 from https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g7794192-d593945-r553728729-Mystery_Island-Aneityum_Island.html.
TripAdvisor (2020). Most relaxing island. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g7794192-d593945-r747398370-Mystery_Island-Aneityum_Island.html.
TripAdvisor (2020). Ovation of the sea cruise. Retrieved August 26, 2020 from https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g7794192-d593945-r746382070-Mystery_Island-Aneityum_Island.html.
Used for information on snorkeling gear: Piehl, G. & Atkins, N. (2020). Snorkeling Equipment Buying Guide & Fitting Tips. Retrieved from https://www.tropicalsnorkeling.com/snorkel-equipment.html.