As many as 2000 tourists visit Mystery Island when a large cruise ship arrives. Few, if any visit the village on the mainland.

The local primary school decided to organize cultural tours for small groups of cruise ship tourists.


It begins with a tour of classrooms to meet the children, view their work, and check out the buildings which were in need of some repair. The head master, Jonathan explained that this is the main reason the school must raise money. Mother Nature can be brutal in Vanuatu, often leaving structures in shambles when her fury subsides. This school was built with funds from the EU in 2007, but primary schools are underfunded and cannot always cover the cost of maintenance and repairs.

Natu continued the tour outside on a grassy patch where children and adults were dressed in ancestral outfits made from banana and pandanus leaves. Boys' consist of 3 parts and they wear feathers on their heads for special ceremonies. Girls wear just a grass skirt and ladies add a top of the same material.


Two types of ritual dances are performed, one sitting and one standing. Elders sing songs telling stories of their culture and their past. This oral history is passed from generation to generation. The sitting dance is accompanied by rhythmic drumming on a long bamboo pole while the standing dance includes singing, circling, jumping and stomping.





Girls gathered in a shady spot under a tree to weave baskets, mats, headbands, bows and toys such as balls, grasshoppers and pinwheels. They do not learn these skills in school, rather they join their mothers and other women in groups weaving necessary items while enjoying the social camaraderie.




If you are visiting by cruise ship, check the booths at the entrance to Mystery Island and ask about the school tour. It could be the cultural highlight of your cruise.

If you are staying in the bay on your own yacht, don't miss the opportunity to see this fascinating and informative tour.