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




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

3 easy dinner recipes your kids will love, and so will you

No Caption

THERE is a middle ground! Dinners fit for kids and adults.

How to reduce your child's risk of food allergies

ABOUT 90% of food allergies are caused by just seven foods.

5 good mental health habits for kids (and parents)

CRYING OUT FOR HELP: The demand for counselling support for children and young people is increasing.

FORMING good habits early is critical for your child's mental health.

Smack or no smack - where do you stand?

THE debate is reignited - is smacking acceptable?

Susie O'Neill: Why I stopped smacking my children

Swimming legend Susie O'Neill says she has stopped smacking her kids.

“I (smacked) because that’s what I knew growing up."

Introducing a step-parent into the family

Introducing a step-parent into the family can be stressful for the children, as well as the new parent.

THERE is no easy way to introduce a step parent into the family.

FACES OF BUNDY: Caitlyn cultivates dream career

CANE TRENDS: Bundaberg Canegrowers' Caitlyn Killick at AgroTrend.

Something different every day in role

Cold shock as temps dive below 6 in Bundaberg

CHILLY: Steam rising off the Burnett River at Cedars Crossing, South Kolan, on Sunday morning.

June six degrees colder than average

Is this state’s cheapest house?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward

Latest deals and offers

WIDE BAY LEAGUE: Cameron Hanrahan talks about United Warriors' win

WIDE BAY LEAGUE: Cameron Hanrahan talks about United Warriors' 4-3 win over Sunbury...

Darren Pratt Local Farmer

LOCALLY GROWN: Darren Pratt with his box of fresh local produce.Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail

LOCALLY GROWN: Darren Pratt with his box of fresh local produce.

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum

Justice Lucy McCallum says she reduced Oliver Curtis's sentence due to comments...

Is this state’s cheapest house?

BARGAIN BUY: Is this North Bundaberg property the cheapest home in Queensland?

Becoming a real estate mogul is all about risk and reward

CHEAP AS CHIPS: 6 Bundy houses under $199,000

Cheap houses being sold in the region