Christmas Island is one of Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories and one of nature’s most impressive feats – an island full of natural wonders: from the unique annual red crab migration to rare and unusual birds and glorious deserted beaches where the only footprints in the sand are those made by nesting turtles.
Christmas Island is a dot in the Indian Ocean, located 2600 km (1615 miles) north-west of Perth. Even though it is an Australian Territory, its closest neighbour is Java, 360km (224miles away).
Virgin Australia operate flights from Perth International Airport to Christmas Island Airport (XCH). The flight time is approximately 4.5 hours. A weekly charter service also operates from Jakarta in South East Asia.
A visit to Christmas Island is easily combined with a visit to the nearby Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Virgin Australia operates a ‘triangular’ service to the Indian Ocean Territories, meaning some flights to Christmas Island will travel via Cocos (Keeling) Islands and vice versa.
Christmas Island is a dot in the Indian Ocean, located 2600 km (1615 miles) north-west of Perth. Even though it is an Australian Territory, its closest neighbour is Java, 360km (224miles away). Virgin Australia operate flights from Perth International Airport to Christmas Island Airport (XCH). The flight time is approximately 4.5 hours. A weekly charter service also operates from Jakarta in South East Asia. A visit to Christmas Island is easily combined with a visit to the nearby Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Virgin Australia operates a ‘triangular’ service to the Indian Ocean Territories, meaning some flights to Christmas Island will travel via Cocos (Keeling) Islands and vice versa.
Christmas Island experiences a tropical equatorial climate with wet and dry seasons. It’s warm all year round, so pack light. The wet season is from December to April when the island comes under the influence of the north-west monsoons. During the rest of the year, the south-easterly trade winds bring slightly lower temperatures and humidity with much less rain. Tropical cyclones occasionally pass close to the island during the monsoon season, bringing strong winds, rain and rough seas. The mean annual rainfall is 1,930 millimetres. Most of this rain falls between November and May. February and March are usually the wettest months.
Humidity usually ranges between 80 - 90% throughout the year. Temperatures on the island vary little from month to month. The average daily maximum temperature reaches a high of 28° celsius in April and the average daily minimum temperature falls to 22° celsius in August.
Where to Stay & Getting Around
Christmas Island Accommodation offers a choice of accommodation providers ranging from boutique hotels, luxury self-contained villas, self-catering, and lodge style accommodation. Many have ocean views and service is personalised. Most tourism accommodation providers are located in the Settlement area, close to shops, restaurants and supermarkets.
Hiring a vehicle (4WD recommended) is also easy and the best way to see the Island. Scooters can be hired and guided tours are also available. Booking transport and tours prior to arrival on the Island is recommended, to avoid disappointment.
- Nature and Wildlife
- Snorkelling and Scuba Diving
- Nature Walks
- Island Life
Red Crab Migration
Christmas Island is home to an amazing diversity of land crabs, not matched anywhere else in the world. More than 20 terrestrial and semi-terrestrial crab species call the Island home. These include tens of millions of endemic red crabs, the Island’s keystone species, as they play a vital role in shaping the structure of the rainforest. Each year, at the beginning of the wet season (usually October to November), adult red crabs begin a remarkable migration to the coast to breed. The timing of the migration is synchronised with the lunar cycle. Likely spawning dates are published each year on the Christmas Island Tourism website. Rated by David Attenborough as one of his top 10 animal migrations.
Christmas Island is one of the world’s truly spectacular tropical seabird rookeries. It’s not just the number and variety of seabirds or their magnificent splendour that makes the island so remarkable, but also their sheer visibility. Around 80,000 seabirds nest on the Island annually, with 23 breeding or resident species. Birds can be seen and heard everywhere on the island, at just about any time of the day. With little effort bird watchers can easily tick off a full list of residents in a busy week or a more relaxed fortnight – although the elusive Christmas Island Hawk Owl keeps many coming back for more.
Snorkelling & Diving
Christmas Island’s narrow fringing reef supports bountiful marine life, including 88 coral species and more than 600 species of fish. An underwater wonderland for divers, with clear warm waters, and spectacular wall dives. Soft corals, feather stars and gorgonian corals grow along vast walls which plunge into a seemingly bottomless abyss. The fish community is distinctive as the island is a meeting place for Indian and Pacific ocean species – one of the few places in the world to see them swimming side by side. Some of these species interbreed and Christmas Island has greater fish hybridisation than anywhere in the world. Add to this whale sharks which regularly visit during the wet season and spectacular cave diving for an unforgettable scuba experience.
All across Christmas island, and especially in the National Park, discover scenic drives plus maintained and marked walking trails and boardwalks. They are designed to suit all levels of fitness and activity and offer enjoyable ways to get up close to nature. Walking tracks range from short well developed tracks, such as Hugh’s Dales, to some longer, less developed and more rugged tracks, such as to Winifred Beach and West White Beach. All of these tracks are marked with international standard reflective directional arrows.
Much of Christmas Island’s appeal lies in its rich mix of cultures. Depending on timing, a visit may coincide with one of the many cultural celebrations that occur throughout the year. The population on Christmas Island includes many Chinese and Malay Australians as well as people from mainland Australia. With its diverse eclectic cultural mix, there always seems to be a celebration of some description occurring on the Island. The whole community joins in many events and the celebrations are vibrant and colourful affairs. Visitors are always welcome to join in the public festivities.
- In 1643, Captain William Mynors, on the East Indian Company vessel ‘The Royal Mary’, sees and names the Island on Christmas Day.
- In 1888 Great Britain annexes Christmas Island after phosphate deposits were discovered.
- In 1958, Christmas Island became a territory, after a payment of 2.8 million pounds.
- Approximately 1,500 people live on the island and the population is a diverse mix of Chinese, Malays, Sikhs and Europeans creating today’s thriving and culturally rich community.
- Although English is the official language, there are over 10 languages spoken on the Island, including several Chinese dialects, Malay and Bahasa Malay.
- Almost two thirds of Christmas Island is National Park.
- The National Park contains the last remaining nesting habitat of the critically endangered Abbott’s Booby and also supports the most diverse land crab community in the world.
- The Island rises dramatically from the edge of the Java Trench, the Indian Ocean’s deepest point.