Travel guide to Christmas and Cocos islands

By Erin Doyle May 1, 2012
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We reveal the inside tips to getting the most out of a trip to two of Australia’s most underrated travel destinations.

CHRISTMAS ISLAND AND NEARBY  Cocos Islands are some of the more remote Australian territories, but well worth the effort of getting there. With its spectacular red crab migration and more than 80,000 seabirds making the islands home, there’s plenty to see.

We reveal the inside tips to getting the most out of a holiday to two of Australia’s most underrated travel destinations: Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands.

When to go

More pleasant conditions during the south-east wind season makes April to November the ideal time to visit Christmas Island. This also coincides with iconic Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands’ events such as the annual red crab migration (around October/November) and the Hari Raya Puasa  cultural celebration (in August).

Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands highlights

* Christmas Island Territory Week Festival – Late September/Early October

* Christmas Island Bird ‘n’ Nature week – September 1 – 8

* Red Crab Migration – October/November

* Tour Kebudayaan Kokos –  Run on Wednesdays by Home Island school students

* Christmas Island Orientation Tour – Tuesdays and Fridays; Saturdays by request

* Dolly Beach Jungle Tour – Wednesdays

* Champagne Sunset Tour – by request

* Hari Raya Puasa  cultural festival – August

* Annual Cocos Keeling Island Lagoon Swim – November

How to get there

Christmas Island
Flights to Christmas Island are direct from Perth or via Cocos islands. They are available every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and allow for same-day connections from most major Australian cities. Virgin Australia flight prices start from $464 for a one way fare from.

Cocos (Keeling) islands
Flights depart from Perth International Airport on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and allow for connections from most major Australian cities. Virgin Australia flight prices start from around $500 for a one way fare from Perth.

Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) islands facts

* Despite being an Australian territory, Christmas Island is actually closer to Indonesia. It is approximately 500km south of Jakarta as opposed to the closest major Australian city (Perth), which is 2600km away.

* Christmas Island was aptly named after it was first discovered by the British on 25 December 1643 – Christmas day!

* About 70 per cent of Christmas Island’s population is Chinese; 20 per cent have European ancestry and 10 per cent are Malay.

* 27 coral islands make the Cocos (Keeling) group.

* In 1984, the Cocos (Keeling) Island inhabitants voted to become part of Australia.

* Captain William Keeling first discovered the Cocos atoll in 1609 on a voyage from Java to England. Two centuries later in 1805, British hydrographer James Horsburgh charted the islands, calling them the Cocos Keeling islands. He also named an island after himself.

* Famous for his ideas about evolution, Charles Darwin visited Cocos (Keeling) Islands in 1836, where he developed his theory on atoll formation.

* Cocos (Keeling) Islands is the only place in the world where you can walk the entire atoll on foot.