A lush utopia just waiting to be explored, this small island is home to breathtaking swimming spots, stunning seascapes, and a wealth of colourful marine life. Even its name, Christmas Island, invokes visions of glorious beach getaways.
Around 60 million years ago, Mother Nature placed a tiny diamond at the peak of an underwater volcanic rock in the Indian Ocean. Rising some 360 metres skywards, its turquoise-tinged facets now sparkle from afar, a lush utopia waiting to be explored. Christmas Island swimming spots are next level, even its name invokes a vision of glorious getaways.
Explore Christmas Island’s colourful coral and fish. (Image: Mathieu Meur)
Pack your bathers, boardies and a big book in your beach bag, add a pair of hiking boots to jaunt through the jungle, and you’re set to jump on the three-and-a-half-hour flight from Perth’s International Airport.
Boasting some of the world’s best dive arenas, deserted beaches and unique swimming spots, Christmas Island is the gift that keeps on giving. Read on to unwrap the perfect present.
1. Flying Fish Cove
You’ve arrived on an island measuring a mere 135sq kilometres, of which three-quarters is covered by lush rainforest. What’s next? Grab a snorkel, reef shoes and fins and head to Flying Fish Cove, the island’s central hub.
The curved sandy cove is one of two beaches you can snorkel from; float out with the current then forget about life above as you follow fish around the densely populated fringing reef. The protected coral garden is home to myriad marine life, including turtles, octopus, butterflyfish and “Dory” (blue tang), all within metres of the beach.
Grab a snorkel and head to Flying Fish Cove.
2. Diving from the cove
If diving is on your radar, hook up with a local operator – there’s Christmas Island Extra Divers, Wet and Dry Adventures and Freedive Christmas Island – and head out from Flying Fish Cove to arenas with depths of 20 metres plus visibility.
With over 64 dive sites, where cavernous caves, deep dramatic drop-offs and Second World War wrecks top the billing, there’s a tantalising tardis of easily accessible world-class scuba experiences available.
Want to explore further? Join a sea scooter with Freedive Christmas Island and drift with the current as time slips away in the island’s unparalleled underwater world.
Hire your own sea scooter to explore further.
3. Dolly Beach
Lace-up your trekking boots and become a castaway for a day on Dolly Beach. Local expert Lisa Preston from Indian Ocean Experiences offers tours, along with other immersive island packages.
The tour is a 45-minute ramble along raised boardwalks through tropical rainforest to a secluded stretch of sand edged by overhanging coconut palms.
Shallow rock pools create a natural spa as gentle waves topple over a reef shelf. Visit early in the morning as sunrays filter through the rainforest and watch huge robber crabs, the size of basketballs, fight over coconut husks. It’s the perfect remedy for ‘unplugging’ to reconnect with nature.
Tour the secluded Dolly Beach.
4. Greta Beach
Greta Beach is on the same 4WD track as Dolly Beach, and the views are spectacular, reaching across the island’s rugged coastline. Climb down the steep staircase to an isolated beach where turtles nest and red crabs spawn during the annual migration.
Make a difference by collecting flotsam and jetsam washed ashore by strong currents, then turn the trash into treasure for an arty holiday keepsake. On a calm day, take a dip in azure waters to cool off.
Take a relaxing dip at Greta Beach.
5. The Grotto
There’s nothing grotty about The Grotto, a cave-encrusted, arctic-blue-tinged pool five minutes from town. Filled with a cooling mix of ocean and freshwater, this tiny watering hole is often deserted, your only company is the island’s famous red crabs clambering through the undergrowth.
Switch off, float on your back, and marvel at the ceiling of ancient stalactites as ocean waves woosh against limestone walls in a meditative soundtrack.
Rested and restored, hire a mountain bike from The Bike Kiosk and ride around the coast to explore secluded hideaways.
Relax in the natural float tank of The grotto.
6. Lily Beach
Laze the day away on Lily Beach, a beautiful inlet with a shallow pool fed by battering waves, and float in the calm, clear waters at low tide as surf crashes beyond the reef. The wave momentum is magnificent – like a hypnotic pendulum, it’s difficult to stop watching.
Once you’ve dried off, there’s a picnic area and a lookout from where you can observe brown boobies nesting in the rocks.
Observe brown boobies after a swim at Lily Beach (Image: Christmas Island Tourism Association)
7. Ethel Beach
Snorkel in hand, stroll along a boardwalk connecting Lily and Ethel Beaches to explore underwater gardens, where an abundance of vibrant tropical fish play in coral metres from the shore (just beware of strong currents, and always snorkel with a buddy).
Not a diver? Jump on board and see some of the island’s 73-kilometre coastline of craggy cliff faces from a different viewpoint. With a year-round water temperature between 26 to 30°C, join a freediving course to make the most of the magnificent depths, or cruise over more ground on an sea scooter tour with Freedive Christmas Island.
Explore under and above water on Ethel Beach. (Image: Justin Gilligan)
8. West White Beach
Seeking intrepid island adventures? Head to West White Beach, one of the island’s stunning yet harder-to-reach stretches of coral coastland. To get there, follow the 1.4-kilometre trail that runs downhill through the jungle; towards the end, there’s a steep cliff with a rope to help you down. Take your time to spot the island’s endemic critters and brilliant birdlife along the way.
9. Swell Lodge
After some intense adventuring, you’ll long for somewhere idyllic to laze the days away. Luxurious Swell Lodge has two exclusive glass-fronted eco-chalets nestled deep within the jungle, overlooking far-reaching ocean vistas.
The Indian Ocean’s mesmerising spell is all you need to switch off. You’ll want for nothing as everything is included: gourmet meals using locally sourced produce are prepared by a private chef, with drinks, transport and various guided activities all part of your stay.
Spend idyllic, relaxing days at Swell Lodge.
Get more information and plan your trip at christmas.net.au.