A Perfect Beach Day on Mystery Island

Day 64, Grand Asia 2018

Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, Mystery Island, Vanuatu:

After feeling a bit of guilt over doing not much of anything yesterday at Easo, Lifou, I didn’t feel a bit of guilt today about my lack of ambition.

Perhaps the most strenuous thing people did today was to try and solve the mystery of why this is called Mystery Island. It is just off the larger island Tanna, Vanuatu, which is perhaps best known as the location of one season of the reality TV show Survivor. You can walk around Mystery Island in 30 minutes or so.

The island is deserted, so just about the only things to do are to sit in the sun or shade, swim and maybe snorkel. I heard you had to swim out pretty far to reach reefs with fish and coral. So I passed an hour or so just floating in the water off the sandy beaches while chatting with other passengers.

When I arrived on the island by tender, the tide was low so it was a good time for beachcombing. I saw a number of little shell critters (illustrating here my obvious lack of knowledge about such things).

Of course I took my sketchpad. I’m still trying to capture that perfect South Pacific beach scene, complete with palm trees, sand and gently cresting waves. I put less detail in the second sketch and left it to the watercolors to carry the scene.

Calling Mystery Island deserted is a bit of a misnomer. No one lives there, but locals from the nearby island staff a few dozen beach huts and offer coffee, meals, massages, water equipment rental and tours, by foot or by boat. Even for “non snorkelers and old people.”

The island even has a grass runway, but we didn’t see any planes landing today.

Back on the ship, I went to happy hour in the Crow’s Nest as usual for our sail away. The cruise director Jorge sat with Barbara, Richard and me (all Texans) to chat about his experiences. It’s a bit different to direct all the activities on a long grand cruise than on a ship that repeats the same itinerary week after week.

I forgot to ask him why the Christmas decorations haven’t come out yet. Last year on this cruise, the crew started serious decorating on the Monday after Thanksgiving. It was day 57, a sea day between Australia and New Zealand. Because we don’t get home early enough for most of us to decorate (Dec. 21 this year), having decorations up for the month of December contributes to our holiday spirit.

(I heard later that the decorations are being shipped to Honolulu, so we won’t see them before the last week of the cruise, around day 75. I’ll miss the extra time to enjoy them.)