Have you ever heard of Christmas Island in Australia? No, you won’t find Santa’s workshop or Rudolph here. But nature and wildlife lovers will surely be in holiday heaven in this one-of-a-kind paradise. From the phenomenal crab migration to underwater exploration, this destination has something for every kind of adventurer. Meanwhile, I’ve rounded up the perfect activities to add to your Christmas Island wish list!
Where is Christmas Island?
No, it’s not anywhere within mainland Australia. The tropical island is, in fact, closer to Asia, right in the middle of the Indian Ocean and about 2600km northwest of Perth! From Perth, it takes a 4-hour flight time to get to this Australian territory. But as soon as you arrive, you’ll be welcomed by stunning beaches and coves.
Before you start your adventure here, though, you might be wondering, why is it called Christmas Island in the first place? Well, that’s because the island happens to be a yuletide discovery. It was back in 1643 when English seafarer Captain William Mynors found this land on Christmas Day. For travellers, the name couldn’t be more apt as December is the best time to come here, in time for the red crab migration.
Things to Do in Christmas Island
Christmas Island in Australia may be small, but its wetlands, rainforests, sea cliffs and rare wildlife are sure to keep your itinerary full. If it’s your first time visiting the island, here are some recreational activities you shouldn’t miss.
1. See the red crabs
If there’s one thing that makes the island popular, it would have to be the annual red crab migration. After the first rainfall of the island’s wet season, sometime in October or November, millions of male red crabs leave their homes. Towards the ocean, they meet up with the female crabs to mate and spawn. Visitors will see crabs painting the town red (literally!) during this event. For a spectacular view, the Drumsite, Flying Fish Cove, Ethel Beach and Greta Beach are the best spots. Just make sure to follow the signs and protocols so as not to disturb these incredible creatures during their journey.
2. Go birdwatching
Christmas Island in Australia is close to South East Asia, about 500km from Jakarta. Two-thirds of the island is a national park, and it is home to vast rainforests. And so, it is no surprise that thousands of nesting birds flock the island. Birdwatchers are sure in for a treat with Christmas Island’s wide range of bird species! Some must-see birds here are the brown booby, endemic golden bosun and the critically endangered Christmas Island frigatebirds. You can visit Parks Australia or download the Christmas Island Birds app to learn more about them. Also, make sure to visit the island in September for its weeklong birdwatching activities.
3. Swim with marine animals
This eco-tourism destination happens to be at the edge of the Java trench, the deepest point of the Indian Ocean. Coral reefs surround Christmas island, too. Visitors won’t have to sail or swim far to go snorkelling or scuba diving. The only problem divers will have here would be choosing among the island’s more than 60 diving sites! If you love scuba diving, Australia’s East Coast is also worth checking out.
Aside from being a venue for over 88 coral and 650 tropical fish species, Christmas Island waters also boast exceptional visibility. The pristine ocean makes it easy to spot diverse marine life, including butterflyfish, groupers, surgeonfish and wrasse. Between November and April, the ocean’s gentle giants, the majestic whale sharks, also come to visit.
4. Hike through forests and beaches
Aside from your wetsuit, make sure to pack your hiking gear, too, when visiting Christmas Island in Australia. This place has so many forests and beaches that you have to reach on foot. One of its hidden gems is Dolly Beach, the 7th best beach in the country. Other well-known trails in the Island include the Hugh Dale track for its jungle waterfall and the Martin Point walk for its scenic sunset views. Make sure to bring your camera!
5. Watch nesting turtles
Endangered green and hawksbill turtles are also Christmas Island’s top celebrities. Year-round they will come to the beach to lay their eggs. They are highly protected, so always follow the rules and keep a safe distance when watching these nesting turtles. If you want to see hatchlings waddle their way to the sea, Dolly Beach and Greta Beach offer front-row seats.
6. Take stunning snapshots
You cannot take Christmas Island’s wildlife or lush greenery home with you, but you can take as many photos as souvenirs. With its lighting, contrasting colours and stunning landscapes, you have everything set for one stunning image after another. For Instagram-worthy shots, visit the Blowholes. Tourists come here to see seawater sprays and waves crashing against the cliffs.