Travel

Christmas Island is the Galapagos in our own backyard

DIVE IN: A scuba diver explores Thundercliff Cave at Christmas Island.
DIVE IN: A scuba diver explores Thundercliff Cave at Christmas Island.

IT IS hard to believe a place so often mentioned in news headlines could still be a hidden travel gem.

But that's exactly what Christmas Island is: a natural wonderland that is sadly best known for its place at the centre of the country's asylum seeker crisis rather than its pristine environment.

Known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island has the comforts of travelling within Australia while at the same time feeling exotic with its rich Chinese and Indonesian cultural history and animals found nowhere else on the planet, let alone in Australia.

For those of us living on the east coast, it's not as close or as cheap as other Pacific Island holidays, but those willing to make the journey via Perth to Christmas Island will be rewarded.

With its lush forests and sharp volcanic peaks, Christmas Island could have been a stand-in for Hawaii in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.

But who needs imaginary dinosaurs when you can get up close and personal with some real life behemoths?

Christmas Island's land crabs are the leviathans of their world, dominating nearly every inch of the island, two-thirds of which (85sq km) is national park.

Within an hour of landing at the airport, you are guaranteed to see the island's most numerous residents, the red land crabs.

It is estimated as many as 120 million red crabs live on the island and each year they migrate from the forests to the shore in a world-famous mass spawning.

I have been lucky enough to travel to Christmas Island twice, once during the 2010 spawning and more recently this year.

The spawning is a spectacle that I highly recommend planning a trip around, but I must say I did enjoy exploring the island outside of the spawning season.

Many of the island's roads are closed during the spawning and it's hard to get around to places like the Blowholes and Hugh's Waterfall in The Dales.

While its hiking trails, lookouts and natural wonders are well-signed, there is nothing overly touristy about Christmas Island, which I see as one of its greatest assets.

Visitor numbers are limited by the availability of accommodation and outside of the red land crab migration you are not likely to have to share many of the beaches or hiking trails with anyone.

The island is home to just 1500 residents, not counting the detention-centre staff, and if you're after a bit of seclusion it's easy to find.

SPECTACULAR: Colourful seafans and gorgonians line the coral reef drop-offs.
SPECTACULAR: Colourful seafans and gorgonians line the coral reef drop-offs. Seanna Cronin

 

You can hike to secluded beaches tucked away in little coves between sheer black cliffs, or head out on a boat for a spot of fishing, diving or snorkeling.

No visit to the island would be complete without some form of water sport. With more than 50-metre visibility all year, the warm blue water is perfect for diving.

Coral reefs fringe the entire island and the drop-offs are some of the best wall dives I've done anywhere in the world.

Several easily accessible sea caves also dot the north-west side of the island.

The author was a guest of Christmas Island Tourism.

Topics:  christmas island, tourism, travel



Hunt is on for meteorite that could be worth millions

Owen Benedick.

Collector rocking up to look for meteorite

'Biggest meteor in years' crashes near Gladstone

FIREBALL: The Orionid meteor shower will provide a light show later this month. Photo: contributed

“This sounds like a big one, first in several years."

Outrage over photos of baby with drugs

Disturbing photos posted to Bundaberg Facebook page

Local Partners

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber split

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber have split after 11 years together.

Why Chris Hemsworth was spotted wearing nail polish

RED CARPET: Do you think Chris Hemsworth is the typical unpolished but well-natured Aussie bloke?

He's now officially the best bloke in Australia

Testament's new album is a concept album

ROME, ITALY- JULY 27, 2016: Testament photographed at The Roman Collisseium in Rome, Italy on July 27,2016. Gene Ambo

Testament to release new album

'Baby' recreates famous Nirvana cover shot 25 years later

The baby from Nevermind album has recreated the iconic cover shot.

PREVIEW: Luke Cage origin story is a strong addition to MCU

Mike Colter in a scene from the TV series Marvel's Luke Cage.

MIKE Colter stars as latest Marvel superhero to get his own series.

Kate goes down fighting in heated Survivor elimination

Australian Survivor contestant Kate Campbell.

YOGA teacher's 'good guys' alliance fails to get off the ground.

$40million hotel, shops development project for Mackay

Mt Pleasant hotel and retirement accommodation, proposed at 194-202 Malcomson St.

$40m development to take Mackay to 'the next level'

Developers boost confidence in Bundaberg property market

Slow and steady growth has always been Bundaberg’s way

Property 200m from ocean selling for just over $100K

BEACHCOMBER PARK: Work has started on a new $19.2 million development at Toogoom.

The estate's developer is offering huge discounts for early buyers.

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

First stages of $25 million housing development underway

New development on Madsen Rd - The Springs.

The blocks of land are much bigger than usual

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.