Vanuatu

MYSTERY ISLAND, VANUATU

Mystery Island from Golden Princess

This tiny, uninhabited inlet, originally named Inyeug, is located at the southernmost end of the Vanuatu archipelago approximately half a mile from the mainland, Aneityum Island. Used during World War II as an airstrip for the allied forces, it was dubbed “Mystery Island” because its location prevented the Japanese from seeing it from the water, making the appearance of allied planes a “mystery”.

Mystery Island

Surrounded by clear blue waters and sheltered by coral reefs, it’s the perfect spot for swimming and snorkelling. It only takes about 20 minutes to walk around the sandy shore.

Mystery Island Airport

We took one of the early tenders ashore after having breakfast with Philip & Cathie.  We walked a short distance across the island to beaches with shade and a breeze.  We swam and circled for awhile, then headed to the top of the island (on the right of our pictures from onboard) across the airport runway and back to the dock area where we wandered the markets for a brief time before taking the tender back to Golden Princess for a relaxed afternoon.

Swimming at Mystery Island

Philip & Cathie hosted drinks before joining us at the Crown Grill for dinner.  The dinner was the best we have experienced at any similar Specialty restaurant on Princess.

VILA, VANUATU

With the suggestion from our Rotary friends, Mark & Lorelle we took a bus/taxi for the day and headed first for Hideaway Island for two hours of snorkelling.

Hideaway Island

Joy wrote a postcard to Lachie & Charlie

The postcards from Hideaway Island

to post in the underwater Post Office

Hideaway Island underwater post office – the post box is the smaller one in the top right corner

Les engaged another swimmer to dive down and post the cards

Postcards posted – Hideaway Island

From there Nemo had to do his work and get the cards to Pyrmont!

Freddy, our driver then took us to a coffee roaster, and then we headed for Eton Beach.

Eton Beach
Eton Beach

After awhile in the water, we headed back to Eden on the River for a snack, back through the city and then onboard.  On the way we passed the Blue Lagoon but did not stop.

Eden on the River

Vila is the capital of Vanuatu, an archipelago of some 83 islands in the Coral Sea.  Vanuatu is a new republic, having achieved independence from France and Britain in 1988.  Before then the archipelago was better known as the New Hebrides, the name given the islands by Captain Cook.

Our drive showed lots of dense vegetation laced with coconut trees, cattle and sheep.

Had a pre-dinner drink in Vines with Philip & Cathie at 1900.

CHAMPAGNE BAY, VANUATU 

What a wonderful place for a birthday!  We tendered ashore after breakfast for a day at the beach.

Champagne Bay
Champagne Bay
Champagne Bay

The name ‘Champagne Bay’ acknowledges a fresh water spring at the top end of the bay which is more visible at low tide.  We swam and snorkelled – but probably needed to go further out to see anything other than a sparkling white sand bottom.

A picturesque setting.

Philip & Cathie caught up with us later, and they took a canoe out but did not report any special sightings except some coral and some small fishes.

Philip & Cathie canoeing at Champagne Bay

Back on board, we had cocktails with Sushi in Skywalkers at 1730 and then champagne in Philip & Cathie’s ‘mini-suite’ where we toasted the birthday boy (to their surprise!).  Had a great dinner with them and celebrated again with a birthday cake and the crew’s serenade.

LUGANVILLE, VANUATU

Our last port was the second largest town in Vanuatu – the former New Hebrides – Luganville is a child of World War II.

When America forces arrived on Espirito Santo in 1942, there were no facilities to unload ships, house troops or land American bombers.  Engineers went to work erecting both the town and the BP Wharf.  The island was soon home to the largest Pacific military base outside of Hawaii.

Today, Luganville remains an important copra shipping port – but more and more seasoned travellers are drawn to Espirito Santo’s promise of unspoiled beauty and relaxed island ways

Divers consider the wreck of the President Coolidge one of the world’s top dive sites.

Les took the Riri River Canoe excursion to a Blue Hole.

The Blue Hole on the Riri River
The Blue Hole on the Riri River

Joy joined Philip & Cathie for a trip into town (markets) and a ferry to Aore – an island resort opposite Golden Princess’ berth.  Good snorkelling/coral.

Aore Resort
Aore Resort
Aore Resort

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