Christmas Island Holidays & Travel Guide Christmas Island Holidays & Travel Guide

The Ultimate Travel Guide toChristmas Island

The tiny, reef fringed, Australian territory of Christmas Island captured the imagination of wildlife lovers everywhere when Sir David Attenborough, one of the world’s most respected naturalists, showed the world the extraordinary footage of millions of red crabs migrating to the ocean describing it as ‘one of the top 10 most memorable TV moments from his life’s work’.

Yet there’s so much more to experience here than this brief, albeit spectacular event. Thousands of kilometres from the mainland in the remote confines of the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island is teeming with experiences for adventure lovers, with an eclectic mix of flora and fauna above and below the surface; breathtaking nature, with almost two thirds of the island national park; as well as a fusion of Malay, Singaporean, Australian and Chinese food and culture.

By day, you can take a dip in deserted grotto pools or shower under luxuriant rainforest waterfalls, dive into deep-blue ocean drop-offs, thousands of metres deep, and snorkel alongside peaceful whale shark giants.

You’ll find some of the world’s rarest birds here. Going on tours to their nesting grounds, you can creep closer to red-footed and brown boobies, camera in hand. Just remember to bring those spare memory cards. In a natural paradise like Christmas Island, you’re going to need it.

Getting to Christmas Island

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Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean, 2,600 kilometres northwest of Perth and 350 kilometres south of Indonesia.

You can reach this remote Australian island by taking a flight from Perth with Virgin Australia to Christmas Island, which takes three hours and 50 minutes. All major towns in Australia fly to Perth.

Upon arrival, you can hire a car from the Christmas Island Visitor Centre, with 4WD recommended.

Best time to visit Christmas Island

Christmas Island’s temperature ranges between 22°C and 28°C. It has both wet and dry seasons, with humidity dropping between May and October.

The migration and spawning of the red crabs is the island’s most famous seasonal event, taking place around October to November.

Top things to do on Christmas Island

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Indian Ocean Fest

Be one of only 30 people to experience the first Indian Ocean Fest, Australia’s most remote island festival for adventure-loving oceanophiles, in June 2022. The inaugural festival will celebrate the soon to be proclaimed marine park status of an area larger than France and one of the most fascinating and unique ecosystems on Earth.

The exclusive seven-day festival offers guests the chance to immerse themselves in a dizzying array of nature experiences, including encounters with the island’s diverse and prolific wildlife. The carefully-curated program blends adventure-based experiences and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences paying homage to local cultural diversity and Asian heritage. It will also showcase some of the latest innovations in eco-friendly practices, marine science and ocean conservation designed to inspire and provide practical solutions of how you too can help protect the world’s oceans.

The full seven-day program of inspiration, entertainment and adventure with film, art, music, food, talks, treks, trails, hands-on workshops will be released in January 2022.

Nature & beaches

Start with a lazy morning at Flying Fish Cove, the island’s most popular beach and main hub. From there, hire a 4WD to discover remote beaches and swimming holes like the Grotto.

Two-thirds of the island is a national park, meaning plenty of opportunities for coastal and rainforest walks. Walk up to Margaret Knoll Lookout for spectacular clifftop views. Here, you might spot the Christmas Island flying fox and seabirds.

Diving & snorkelling

Being near the Java Trench means the opportunity to dive incredible drop-offs, as well as in caves and on coral reefs. Between November and May, visitors can even swim with whale sharks. But you don’t need to go far offshore to see marine life. Grab a snorkel at one of the island’s many beaches and wade in to spot turtles and tropical fish. Consult our comprehensive guide to the best snorkelling and diving sites on Christmas Island for a closer look at what’s on offer.

Fishing & wildlife

The island’s most celebrated event is the annual crab migration, which starts as the wet season begins. These fascinating creatures aren’t the only crustaceans of interest here. The robber crab – the world’s largest land crab – can also be seen.

Anglers can take advantage of the island’s steep drop-offs that are close to shore to try their hand at catching big fish like the Giant Trevally.

Christmas Island is also celebrated for its rare birdlife, with tens of thousands of migrating seabirds nesting here every year.

Christmas Island accommodation

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Find the right Christmas Island accommodation to suit your holiday; from a luxury stay with unforgettable views to more modest options with all the conveniences of home.

Luxury accommodation

The Swell Lodge resort is the national park’s only accommodation, and probably the island’s most famous. Not only is it highly luxurious and exclusive, but it’s also a fully-inclusive stay in one of two glass-fronted eco-chalets.

Hotels & lodges

Captain’s Last Resort offers a quiet, self-contained stay for two on a sea cliffs edge, close to the centre of town. Cocos Padang Lodge has four self-contained apartments in a heritage building. Close to the Settlement, this is a great pick for families.

The Divers Villa is a refurbished English colonial house​​ surrounded by tropical gardens, where guests can either book individual rooms or the entire house. It has a shared kitchen and dining facilities.

For a three-star hotel stay with ocean views, The Sunset is also in the district, with its own swimming pool right on the waterfront.


You can camp on Christmas Island, but you will need to bring tents and other equipment, as there are no ‘for purpose’ campsites built on the island. To apply for a camping permit, contact the Christmas Island National Park office here.

Best restaurants & food on Christmas Island

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For your Christmas Island stay, you may wish to opt for self-catered meals a lot of the time. Food on the island tends to be more expensive, due to the cost of transporting it from the mainland and Indonesia. Plenty of accommodation comes with kitchenettes, and there are barbecue sites all over the island for open-air feasts of food bought at the local supermarket.

The whole island operates as a duty-free destination, meaning alcohol is reasonably affordable – hello mixing up our own Mai Tais to enjoy on the deck! Shops also have reduced duty-free items.

That doesn’t mean you should skip eating out entirely. A rich blend of cuisines as varied as Chinese, Malay, Indonesian and Australian fare at the limited number of restaurants make for a scrummy fusion of flavours, albeit at a slightly higher cost.

For breakfast, you can head over to Idah Kitchen at the Malay Club for traditional Malaysian breakfast or Smash Espresso Bar for eggs and coffee. Grab a sundowner drink and a pub dinner with locals and other tourists down at the friendly Golden Bosun Tavern. The CLA (Chinese Literary Association) dishes out plates like Hainanese steamed chicken rice.

Note that during Ramadan or Chinese New Year, opening hours may vary, so check ahead of time. 

Tours & packages for Christmas Island

Indian Ocean Experiences offers an inclusive tour, flight and 4WD package to see the red crab spawning, and smaller tours that take in natural big-hitters like Hugh’s Waterfall and the blowholes, and bird-watching trips to see the rare abbotts booby birds.

Head out on a fishing charter with companies like Shorefire, who have full-day trips with lunch and drinks. Common catches include giant trevally, dogtooth tuna and sailfish.

This stunning and eco-diverse island is one of the best places to sharpen your photography skills. Depart from Perth for multi-day trips with Chris Bray Photography, or head out with Faulkner Photography for a personalised day trip.

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