Places you can only get to on a cruise ship?

You can’t drive to these places, you can’t even fly. The only way to get there is by cruise ship. Islands, especially in the South Pacific, are remote in the extreme.

They are little dots of land, usually formed by volcanic eruptions, which seem to mysteriously pop up out of the water. Arriving by ship to small remote islands means that you will need to go ashore by tender. For those that don’t know, tenders are the small boats that transport you to-and-from the ship to the shore. They can vary in size, but generally speaking, a tender craft will fit about 100 people at a time. With more than 2,500 passengers, it can take a while to get every passenger off the ship and onto shore.

There are some simple ways to get yourself to the  head of the queue though. The first, and the easiest, is to book one of the Carnival Cruise Line shore excursions. People on shore excursions always get off first after the ship has dropped its anchor and has been cleared by local authorities. Don’t despair though if you are not doing a ship-organised shore excursion, grab a number early (people are let off the ship in batches in an orderly fashion) and have a leisurely breakfast, and just wait until your number is called.

Then it’s time to explore.

Here are two islands that you can only get to by ship:

1. Mystery Island, Vanuatu

This slice of idyllic paradise is home to no one. It is virtually deserted until a cruise ship visits and that’s why it is such a paradise to visit. There is no tourism to speak of, no hotels, shops or cars and the only way to get to this tropical haven is by ship. The crystal blue sea is teeming with tropical fish and the sand is almost the colour of snow. It crunches under your toes as you make the day’s first footprints.

The island is quite small and only takes about 45 minutes to walk around.

Its most high profile visitor was said to be Queen Elizabeth who stopped for a picnic here in 1975.

When cruise ships hit the island so do the locals from nearby islands selling drinks, sarongs and handmade trinkets.

Its year round climate wavers between 22-26 degrees Celsius; how perfect is that?

03 Mystery Island

Finding a shady spot to relax!

Mystery Island fishing, Vanuatu

Uncover Mystery Island from underwater on the Snorkel Safari.


2. Lifou Isle, New Caledonia

This little gem in the Pacific rose out of the ocean more than two million years ago as part of a submerged volcano. It is now the largest island in the collection of Loyalty Islands which makes up part of the archipelago of New Caledonia.

The snorkelling here is said to be one of the best spots in the Pacific so make sure you bring the necessary gear, or hire it onboard. The further you go out, the deeper the water gets, and if you make it to the reef drop off point, you will be amazed by the quality and colour of fish you’ll see. You will find some of the best snorkel spots by heading to Jinek Bay which is a short walk from Easo Beach where you will land by tender from your cruise ship.

Stepping onto this island you will be surprised to find out there are around 10,000 Kanaks, (the indigenous people of New Caledonia) that call it home. They are incredibly friendly so make sure you take the time to stop and have a chat. Like most of the islands throughout the Pacific, on cruise day, the locals set up stands selling arts, crafts, refreshments and trinkets.

There are also great tropical walks and interesting caves to explore on this island and if you are looking for outstanding views, head past Jinek Bay and up the hill, past the church, for some of the best views in the Pacific.

There is also an amazing chapel (Chapelle Notre Dame de Lourdes) sitting on a cliff overlooking the water.

cliffs of jokin

The Cliffs of Jokin located on the north coast offer spectacular views of the tropical reefs and seascapes beyond.

lifou fishing

Throwing out the fishing nets on Lifou Isle.