The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a group of islands belonging to Australia and located in the Indian Ocean about 900km west southwest of Christmas Island. There are 27 coral island and 2 atolls in the group, with only 2 of the islands being inhabited, those being West Island and Home Island . The remote location means unspoilt beauty, pristine reefs and they are practically free of tourists.
Flights are available from Perth to West Island twice a week, with usually a stopover in Christmas Island or Exmouth on the way there or back. There is no boat access as the island has no harbour but once you’re there, you’ll find a regular ferry service to Home Island and once a week on Saturday the ferry will make a stop in Direction Island and that’s really worth a visit. You can hire a car from the airport, use the local bus or taxi service to get around.
There are a few motels and bungalows around West and Home Island but you’re looking at between $100 and $200 a night for a room so it’s not really for the budget traveller. You may be able to find cheaper home stays while you’re there or you can head to Direction Island on Saturday (or organise a private charter on another day) and camp for a few days in absolute paradise. You will need to be totally self sufficient as there are no facilities and also tell the local council that you’re staying there. You have a maximum of seven days stay.
Most activities on the islands are water based. Try fishing, kite surfing or surfing, take a glass bottom boat trip, canoe or kayak the surrounding waters or go reef walking at low tide and see what cool critters you can find. Hiring a bike or scooter is a great way to explore the island and a day on Direction Island is a great trip. See how many of the 39 species of birds you can spot on a bird watching tour.
Diving and snorkelling is another popular activity and the water here is superb. There are almost 30 sites in the area and many cool things to see. A macro lover’s paradise, you can discover many different types of nudibranchs and other small critters, big stuff like dolphins, mantas, sharks, eels and the resident Dugong ‘Kat’. You’ll find a great variety of reef fish and coral and keep an eye out for the endemic Cocos Pygmy Angelfish.
Explore the coral gardens at the site Cabbage Patch and maybe see a reef shark sleeping soundly. There is wreck diving, wall diving, caves and caverns and pristine reefs to discover. Other great sites to do are Fern Wall, the Garden of Eden, Two Caves and the Rose Wall just to name a few.
So come and chill out for a few days on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and see Australia ’s tropical environment at its best. The white sand and blue waters await you.
(By Kelly Luckman)