Christmas Island, also known as Australia’s ‘Galapagos’, is a remote Island territory in the Indian Ocean. Boasting several endemic species of birdlife & host to the annual red crab migration – an event that does not occur anywhere else in the world, it’s an Eco-paradise just waiting to be explored. Add in the beautiful landscapes, amazing coral & marine life, impressive rain-forest & the friendliest locals that just want you to enjoy and love the island as much as they do – and you’ve got the ingredients for an unforgettable adventure. We’ve got everything you need to know to Travel to Christmas Island including recommendations for where to eat, where to stay and the incredible things to do on Christmas Island plus essential visitor information such a flight routes, what things costs, how to get around and recommended tour operators and resources to make your stay the best it can be.
Flying Fish Cove is the official capital city of Australia’s Christmas Island, and is the central point to life on the Island for many locals. On any given afternoon you’ll find families relaxing under the cabanas along the foreshore, people swimming and snorkeling in the cove, children jumping off the jetty and the port going about it’s daily business. On days where the swell is up it is also possible to surf in the cove – although with no surf experience myself, I’ll leave it up to your own abilities/competence to decide whether it’s a good idea or not (it looked very shallow to me!).
The Cove is also a great sunset spot so be sure to include an evening here on your Christmas Island Itinerary. Grab a cold one (or two, or three) and pull up a seat as mother nature turns the sky different shades of pink and purple in front of your eyes – and keep a lookout for spinner dolphins on the horizon!
If someone says “Christmas Island” to you, your first thought may be the Christmas Island red crabs who’s spectacular migration is one of the most impressive on the planet (more below) but the Island is so much more than a habitat for red crabs. There are in fact over 20 different crab species that have been found on the Island. From the endemic blue crabs that inhabit the wetlands, to the extraordinary Robber Crabs who are the world’s largest land crustaceans and wander across the Island’s roads as if they own the place (and you will be required to Slow down. Drive Around when navigating the Island). They also have a habit of stealing any shiny and foreign objects that they find in their path, to the point that locals will hang bags from trees rather than leave them on the ground when camping or hiking (Just be sure to remember where you put it!). There are also various species of hermit crab, ghost crabs, nipper crabs and cave crabs on the Island (to name a few) and if you are really interested in getting to know them I recommend reading Crabs of Christmas Island by Max Orchard. – or if you want to see it all in action, take a look at my Christmas Island Photo Essay post for some wanderlust worthy pictures!
And now, a little bit about the main event.
The Christmas Island Red Crab Migration is one of the highlights of the tourism year, and a truly incredible event to witness. It is too much to go into serious details about the crabs migratory behavior and spawning in this post (but you can read all about it here – coming soon!) but suffice to say when Sir Richard Attenborough described it as one of the “most astonishing and wonderful sights” he was absolutely on point.
The Island is home to 50 million red crabs (scientific name Gecarcoidea natalis –which are only found on Christmas Island) and each year the adults migrate from the jungle to the coast to breed and spawn. The event takes place between October and January, although it’s commencement is dictated by the wet season and levels of moisture in the air. The synchronized and island wide migration is truly a one of the worlds natural wonders – the carpet of crabs a sight that needs to be seen to be believed. Click through to my full post about the Christmas Island Red Crabs where I (hopefully) have given them the attention they deserve.
DIVING & SNORKELING
Offering some of the best snorkeling and diving in the world, the narrow fringe of reef that surrounds Christmas Island is home to 88 different species of coral and 600 species of fish. (This is one place that you don’t want to forget your GoPro when you jump in the water!)
On any given day there are turtles, manta rays, giant trevally, lion fish, spinner dolphins, various small shark species and between October and January, the chance to see Whale Sharks on their migration.
The tiered structure of the Island – which is much like a wedding cake – also continues into the water, with the ocean floor dramatically dropping away into the abyss less than 50m from the coastline. This provides divers and snorkelers with beautiful views of the coral and fish in the shallows and a shelf and wall which drops down to the depths where the fish become larger, and the chances of spotting a (small) shark increase.
WALK THE BOULDER TRACK
Christmas Island National Park covers twothirds of the island and the Boulder Track is a fantastic walk to get you into the heart of it. Where the track to the Blowholes start, the Boulder track heads off in the opposite direction and winds through the rain-forest and along the coast to the Boulder at South Point (an area of the island which has been ravaged by the Phosphate mine). There is usually lots of red crab and robber crab activity along the track, and visitors are encourage to stick to the path, as the crab holes that cover the ground at either side make the ground less stable (and can result in a shoe full of National Park when your foot disappears down one of them! And yes I am speaking from experience) – although keep your eyes peeled for coloured tags along the trail that will take you out to the coast at various viewing points, the most impressive of these being the Natural Arch. Also, keep in mind that some of the viewpoints may not be accessible at all times of the year due to weather fronts that hit the island, the results of which can occasionally block paths.
CHECK OUT THE VIEWS FROM THE LOOKOUTS:
Providing dramatic panoramic views across the coastline, Margaret Knoll is an easy to reach, but isolated spot, located on the East of the Island. A favorite with bird watchers due to the number of seabirds in the area. Head to lookout to watch the Frigatebirds, Golden Bosun, Christmas Island flying foxes and the Red-footed and Brown Boobies as they fly and nest in and around the coast.
Drive along the Murray Road over the north coast towards Settlement for a panoramic view across the island from the on-site gazebo. Surrounded by recent planting’s in the Rainforest Rehabilitation Program, Abbot’s Bobbys may be sighted flying to and from nearby nest sites. Sighting opportunities are increased in the early evening when the birds are returning to their nests and more birds can be spotted beyond the lookout along the section of the road where the crab grids are.
TERRITORY DAY LOOKOUT
The spot to take that iconic shot above the expanse of Flying Fish Cove, and come face to face with some of the island’s seabirds. There are picnic, BBQ and playground facilities and it is also the start of the Territory Day Walking track that leads to Tai Jin House.
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