Diving: Christmas Island Indian Ocean Australia

Whale Shark at Rhoda Wall diving Christmas Island

Introduction

Christmas Island is the tip of an extinct volcano. It emerges from the edge of the Java trench some three thousand metres deep. A narrow fringing reef surrounds the island, beyond that the water plunges to unimaginable depths.
The corals in the shallower waters depend on sunlight, and the deep water upwellings that supply rich nutrients. This environment provides a home to millions of reef dwelling fish, and in the deeper water, large pelagics and trevally can be found very close to the shore. This is what makes diving Christmas Island so special – the corals and ‘reef society’ are always there – but you never know what else you might encounter.

This very special marine environment is a magnet for divers and snorkelers alike; and there are also coastal caves to be explored.
If you really want to know what diving Christmas Island is like, start with this video.

Location

The small rocky outcrop in the northern Indian Ocean that is Christmas Island, is about 2,500 Kms north west of Perth, and less than 500 Kms south of Jakarta.

Christmas Island location diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

Operators

There is currently only one dive operator on Christmas Island: Wet n Dry Adventures – a small and friendly family business that has been operating on Christmas Island since 1994. Big on smiles and service and like to have a lot of fun but not at the expense of safety.

Meyers Butterflyfish with Indian Ocean Triggers diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

Dive Centres

Dive Sites

Though the sub-aquatic terrain might appear to be the same all the way around the island i.e., a sharp drop-off from 5m to very-very-deep covered in coral for a deep as you’re likely to go, in fact, each site is different.  There are bommies, caves, walls, reefs, in different inclinations and covered with subtly different corals, flora and fauna.

View Dive Sites

Where to Stay

Accommodation on Christmas Island ranges from boutique hotel rooms to luxury self-contained and lodge style properties – there’s something to suit everyone. Many offer ocean views, and all provide the personal service that you’d expect from smaller operations. Visit the Christmas Island Tourism Association website for more information and how to book. They even have videos of the accommodation and you can book on-line.

Indian Ocean Triggers keeping the reefs clean diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

Where to Eat

As we were on Christmas Island over Christmas we didn’t get chance to try many places, but can definitely recommend these:

  • Barracks Café on Gaze Road in Settlement has healthy options during the day, and is open later on a couple of evenings. Free WiFi for diners.
  • Golden Bosun Tavern and Restaurant has an Aussie country town feel: good selection of cold beers and chilled wine, good ol’ fashion Aussie tucker (‘Modern Western cuisine’). Use the excuse that’s it’s a great place to catch the incredible great sunsets to be there before dusk!
  • Seaview Fish & Chips behind the Poon Saan Shops – takeaway and eat on the beach in Flying Fish Cove (NB: Cash only!)
  • Dive operator can provide lunch – so that’s one fewer to have to think about.
  • Rumah Tinggi Restaurant has been recently refurbished and will probably be the highlight of your culinary experience on Christmas Island.

There are also a number of Chinese and Malay Restaurants – both eat-in and takeaway that we did not get to try due to it being their holiday season. All I can suggest is to get out and explore – there are many inexpensive options.

Hughs Dale Waterfall diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

How to Get Around

Hire a car: as well as schlepping dive gear around, you’ll probably want to explore the interior and go to the supermarket. Last time I was there, there were two reliable operators. You can pick up the car at the airport on arrival and drop it off when you depart.
Kait’s Car Hire: 08 9164 8665
Soong Car Rental: 08 9164 8191

Helmet Coral diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

Other Activities

 

A Red Crab looks out to sea diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

There is plenty to keep any non-divers busy for a few days.  Here are a few ideas which you can research according to where your interests lie:

  • Water activities: kayaks, fishing, snorkelling
  • Bird watching: the island’s endemic birds are world famous. Twitchers visit from all over to see the Christmas Island frigates, Abbott’s boobies and the beautiful Golden Bosun.
  • Caves: The Grotto is a beautiful place for a cool dip and the stalagmites and stalactites of Daniel Roux cave are worth the climb.
  • Nature Walks: Go for walk in the rainforest to the Dales or maybe to Greta or Dolly Beach and check out the many land crabs along the way.
  • Remote Beaches: Hike down to Dolly Beach or the more easily accessible Greta, Ethel and Lily Beaches.
  • Movies under the Stars: Every Saturday night for a nominal fee there’s a movie showing at the outdoor cinema in Poon San.
  • Take a guided nature tour with Indian Ocean Experiences.
  • Visit the island’s blowholes – a whole coastline of them!

Local Information

Best time to go here

The roughest time of year can be around September and October at the start of the North-west monsoon, though it gets rough at other times too. Being an island, with more than one boat ramp, there’s always a lee shore no matter which way the wind is blowing. Of course, if you’re shooting for a whale shark encounter, they appear most frequently just after the annual red crab migration which occurs on the last quarter of the moon in either October, November or December – as long as there’s been enough rain. Check out Parks Australia.

Red Crab Migration waiting for the right time diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

The Christmas Island Website has lots of really useful information so make that your next stop if you haven’t been there already.
Likewise, when you’re there, the Visitors’ information Centre on Gaze Road will have the latest information about what’s on, and what, if anything, is not.

One of the island’s more endearing points of interest is the blackboard by the roundabout (There is only one roundabout).

Whats on at Blackboards by the roundabout diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

Here you’ll find news on everything happening on the island – what movie’s showing at the open air cinema, what specials are available at the cafes, sporting events, cars for sale and the odd birthday message.

As well as the website they also have a Facebook page that’s updated daily.

The Islander – local paper $2. Grab the current and a back-copy to see what’s happened and what’s happening.

Fantastic sunsets guaranteed diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

The sunsets over North West Point as seen from Settlement are invariably spectacular. Show commences daily at dusk!

Getting There

The only carrier currently flying from Perth is Virgin. They fly Perth, Christmas Island, Cocos Keeling Island, back to Christmas and then back to Perth. You’d be crazy not to fly to Cocos too as they have the other ‘best dive experience in the Indian Ocean’ ! I’d plan to split an equal number of days on each.
The problem is Virgin don’t fly every day; and they fly at different times on different days. If you’re a glutton for on-line punishment, go here to try to work it out; otherwise phone your friendly travel agent. Also beware: the CI & CKI flights count as International, so they leave from Perth’s International Terminal. Allow plenty of connection time if you’re arriving at a different terminal.

Blowholes diving Christmas Island in Australias Indian Ocean by Diveplanit

There’s also a weekly flight from Jakarta with chartered Christmas Island Air. More information here.

Click on the banner below to see some pricing options for getting to Christmas Island