We arrived off Mystery Island and anchored. The island is uninhabited but local people from another island arrived by boat to set up vendor stalls.
The local name for the island is Inyeug Island and is a few hundred meters wide and about a kilometer in length.
For me it had the feel of pirates and treasure and brought back memories of daring do of a twelve-year-old reader.
Looking back to our cruise ship and the larger island behind the ship is called Aneityum Island.
Locals who live on Aneityum Island believe that Mystery Island is haunted at night, so they make sure they pack up and leave Mystery Island before dark.
We arrived on a Sunday and most of the native stalls were not manned.
Many of the Pacific Island countries do not trade on Sunday. In Tonga it is illegal to do business on Sunday.
There is always an exception to every rule – the stalls were closed, but on the left of the picture you might be able to make out a large pot in which passengers could stand and have their photograph taken as if the locals were cooking him.
Cannibal Soup anyone?
It took Maureen and I about fifty minutes to walk around the island – it would have taken a lot longer if the stalls had been manned . . .
Many of the passengers took advantage to swim in the local waters. I believe that the reef protected the beaches from sharks, but not from coral that can cause distress to a swimmer.
You will find a Conway boy in the strangest of places.
On the island is a small runway and I assumed that it was just in case one of the islanders had an accident and he/she could be flown out.
I was wrong the strip had been built by the Americans during WW2 even though the island was uninhabited. The airstrip cannot be seen from the sea so the American bombers where able to take off to attack the Japanese and the Japanese could not find out where the bombers were coming from, so they used a code name ‘Mystery Island’ when reporting being attacked.
There is another story linked to the naming of the island – in 1974 Queen Elizabeth II was sailing from Vanuatu to Australia and stopped at Inyeug Island for a picnic. The island being uninhabited was an ideal location for a picnic and was referred to as Mystery Island.
In my opinion the use of the island to attack the Japanese rings true, even if the Queen did stop for a picnic.
Ship’s lifeboats acting as tender boats from ship to shore & return – the reef can be seen behind the boats.
The pier and the chemical toilets were the only ‘solid’ construction on the island. This picture was taken from our balcony.