Christmas Island is a tiny island in the vast Indian Ocean; it is located 2300km north west of Perth, Western Australia.
Shallow waters with fringing reef surround the island, before plunging dramatically into the depths of the Java Trench. Caves honeycomb the limestone cliffs at sea level.
These marine environments provide a visual feast for snorkellers and divers alike. Over 63% of Christmas Island is national parkland. Walking and driving tracks lead to many lookouts, beaches and freshwater waterfalls. It is a nature lover's delight.
Christmas Island supports a wide range of unique and unusual species and habitats, and although it has been mined for Phosphates for much of the past century, most of the eco system remains intact.
Throughout the late 1800's a selection of workers from China, Singapore, Malaysia and Cocos Keeling islands were imported to work the phosphate mines & Industrial industries of Christmas Island.
This cultural mix remained on the Island throughout the British, Singaporeans, and Japanese administrations. In 1958 Australia took over the administration of the Island. Today all islanders are permanent Australian Residents. The cultural diversity of the Island has resulted in an amazing adaptation of religions & ideas.
Since the first exploration of Christmas Island there has always been interest in its unique environment. The Islands flora has developed largely due to the warm temperatures, high rainfall and Isolation. There are approximately 450 plant species of which 18 are endemic, and 126 are found now where else in the world. The Island is a focal point for sea birds of various species.
Eight species of sea birds nest on the Island; these include the rarest booby & frigate birds in the world.
The island is home to 120 million red crabs, at the beginning of the wet season (October / November) most of the adult red crabs begin a spectacular migration from the forest to the coast, to breed and release eggs into the sea. Each year an estimated 43 million red crabs begin a spectacular migration from the forest to the coast to breed and release their eggs into the sea, with baby crabs returning approximately 1 month later.
The migration has been described by ecologists as one of the wonders of the natural world and is Christmas's claim to fame amongst naturalists. The main migration commences on the plateau and can last up to 18 days.
The annual spectacle of the red crab migration attracts national and international visitors
Language: English is the official language. Malaysian, mandarin and other Chinese languages are widely spoken.
Electricity: Christmas Island operates on 240 Volt
Currency: Australian Dollars are used throughout Christmas Island
Car Rental: Cars & 4WD's are available for hire.
Passport / Visa requirements: Christmas Island is considered and International destination for Australian customs and quarantine. All Australian citizens should bring their passports. (Photographic ID is accepted and is an alternative form of ID) No Visa is required for Australian citizens.
Eating & Drinking: A range of Chinese, Australian & Malaysian restaurants and taverns are available on the Island. The Islands shops sell dry goods and fresh food is air freighted weekly.
Christmas Island experiences a tropical equatorial climate with wet & dry seasons. 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 east trade winds bring slightly lower temperatures and humidity with much less rain. The average daily temperature is 25 C and the average humidity is 80%.
Christmas Island is the tip of an ancient volcanic mountain rising 3000m from the depths of the ocean floor. The island is surrounded by a narrow tropical reef which plunges into a bottomless abyss. Close to the shore lies a coral reef, this extends to the edge of the spectacular drop off into the Java Trench. With Visibility often reaching 50m, divers can clearly see into the depths and admire the magnificent drop offs and the amazing forest of fan corals.
As the Island is surrounded by deep water, it attracts a large array of pelagics including tuna, trevally, white tip reef sharks, Maori wrasse and occasionally the hammerhead shark. With endless kilometres of spectacular wall diving, pristine corals, a myriad of tropical fish, dolphins, crystal clear warm waters and sea caves. What more could you ask for. The island boasts some of the best diving in the world
For those wanting a little adventure, why not discover the Sea Caves of Christmas, where the wave action has eroded the limestone cliffs, numerous caves have formed, provided exhilarating diving. Inside thunder cliff cave, divers can surface into a huge air filled dome, which is adorned with beautiful stalagmite and stalactite formations.
From November through to April the world's biggest fish, the whale shark visits the island often in large numbers. Underwater their massive bulk is a breathtaking sight. If you remain stationary these gentle giants of the deep often circle several times and can get so close you may need to move aside as they pass by. Being plankton feeders their arrival coincides with the spawning of the red crab population.
The larval stage of the crab provides a ready food source for the whale sharks. Their arrival and departure times can vary from year to year. This is an experience not to me missed. As you can imagine there are only a few locations in the world that can offer this magnificent experience.
With over 40 dive sites available, no two are the same. The variety of diving available is unusual on such a small island. Each site is unique. Some of the spectacular dive sites are described below.
West White Beach is one of the largest beaches on the island. It is home to the islands best hard coral reef. There are acres of pristine coral including tabletops up to 3 metres in diameter, masses of Porite heads, Staghorn and many other varieties. They provide a home for the myriad of colourful tropical fish.
A photographer's delight, this shallow reef with its scattered white sand patches creates a well lit spot for taking the perfect photo.
Despite being the most distant dive site, Pig Rock is well worth the 45 minute boat ride which takes in the picturesque northern and western coastlines. The rock itself protrudes from the cliff and closely resembles a pig's head.
Starting on a protruding coral platform in 10 metres the wall plummets to approximately 80 metres. The sheer wall is covered with invertebrate growth and giant gorgonian fan corals, which recede into the depths. Further along the wall towards Egeria Point the current becomes stronger and the wall ends abruptly. This is an ideal location to watch the world go by.
When the current is running barracuda, tuna, sharks and schools of colourful fusiliers can all be seen cruising past the point. With visibility often exceeding 40—50 metres, it is a dive you will never forget.
Thundercliff Cave is a dive site not be missed. Where wave action has eroded the limestone cliffs many caves have formed. The cave itself is extremely large.
Inside you could easily fit three double-decker buses. On entering the cave the blue light from the entrance creates awesome silhouettes. Further back, live thousands of schooling bullseye fish, which dart back and forth. It's definitely a photographers dream.
For most of the dive you can ascend into a huge air filled dome which is adorned with beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations and limestone flows. Just to add to excitement, you can remove your dive gear and start exploring the cave on foot. The formations are nothing but spectacular.
This dive is a must and is suitable for experienced and novice divers.
Egeria Point is a very exposed dive site located on the South westerly corner of the Island. Here the fringing reef slopes and extends far out to where the dive starts at around 20m. Slightly off a little ledge a richly overgrown pinnacle ascends from the deep up to 25m. Frequent encounters with grey reef sharks, resting white tip sharks, barracuda, Wahoo and large schools of reef fish can be expected.