Christmas & Cocos Island Tour
Perth – Perth
- Cocos Island motorised canoe trip
- Home Island Tour
- Christmas Island Coates Cruise
The naturalists paradise of Christmas Island is located 360 km south of Java. It is the tip of an Everest-sized undersea mountain; a limestone capped extinct volcano that first emerged from the sea about 60 million years ago. The perimeter of the island is rocky and steep and formed in a series of steps and terraces created by sequential uplifts of the island from the ocean floor. This surrounds a flatter central plateau. It’s rugged shoreline and mountainous character combined to prevent colonisation by humans until the late 1800s.
The discovery of commercially viable quantities of phosphate led to exploitation of this resource which continues to this day. However, 63% of the island is designated as National Park and this is dominated by rainforest which itself is substantially modified by the presence of millions of land crabs. The most prolific of these is the endemic Red Crab (Geocarcoidea Natalis). It is estimated that 100 million Red Crabs inhabit the island and these still require the ocean as an integral part of their breeding cycle. The crabs migrate from the central plateau to the shoreline and pay no heed to any obstacle, be it natural or man made.
The tour has been scheduled to coincide with this unique natural phenomenon. David Attenborough, the renowned Naturalist, is recorded as saying ‘the migration was the most amazing sight I have seen”. The island is also home to much more endemic flora and fauna; nine species of birds including the Christmas Island Frigate bird and the rare Abbott’s Booby; reptiles and bats and many species of plants including palms, ferns, vines and pandanus.
We conclude this Indian Ocean experience by spending time on some of the various islands that make up Cocos group. These islands offer a great mixture of birding, marine life and the absorbing history that makes up the colourful past of the islands.
1 Perth – Christmas Island
Meet group at Perth International Airport at 8.00 am for your morning flight to Christmas Island. We arrive on the Christmas Island late afternoon where we will transfer to lodge and settle in. This evening we will have a welcome to BBQ around the pool. D
2 Christmas Island
Today is an introduction to the wildlife, history and culture of Christmas Island. A morning visit to the settlement will include Flying Fish Cove, Smith Point and the cliff tops where Red-tailed Tropic Birds and Brown Boobies breed. The Red Crab migration should be underway so there will be crabs everywhere. An afternoon walk at the National Park Headquarters along a rainforest trail will reveal such species as true endemic Arenga Palm, Strangler Fig, epiphytic ferns and Tahitian Chestnut. The endemic Golden Bosun Bird, a highlight of the Christmas Island avifauna, can be seen from the lookout here. B
3 Christmas Island
The morning will be spent visiting several beach areas and their distinctive vegetation- coastal pandanus, coconut palms, Hibiscus, Scaevola and the Helicopter Tree, Gyrocarpus. Frigate birds, including the endemic Christmas Island Frigate bird and Red-footed Boobies are ever present. An afternoon visit to the blowholes on the southern coast will allow us to witness the extent of the Red Crab migration from the central plateau to the coastal terraces and shoreline and perhaps see some Spinner Dolphins. Bird highlights will include the endemic Goshawk, Christmas Island Thrush and Green Winged Pigeon. B
4 Christmas Island
A full days outing will take us to Greta and Dolly beaches via shaded forest walk trails. Lunch and a swim on palm fringed Dolly beach will be followed by a walk to a rare, world heritage listed, freshwater mangrove isolated on a cliff top terrace. The impressive Robber Crabs are to be seen here as well as Blue crabs, Nippers and the ubiquitous Red crab. Returning via Margaret knoll lookout will give us superb views of the rainforest on the coastal terraces as well as some of the old phosphate mines. B
5 Christmas Island
This morning’s highlights will commence with a visit to a cave that supports a nesting colony of glossy swiftlets followed by a swim at Flying Fish cove or a look around the settlement. After lunch we will visit the southern part of the island where much of the islands phosphate mining did, and still does take place. This is followed by a walk on a forest trail on the central plateau where large emergent trees such as Syzigum, Pisonia and Planchonella occur. Their associated epiphytes and vines include an endemic Hoya. Another endemic, Pandanus pelatus with stilt like roots, also grows here. B
6 Christmas Island
Another full day out takes us to the western side of the island, firstly to Murray Hill, the highest point at 361m and then on to the Dales. Here the Non-porous volcanic basalt meets the porous limestone on the surface and streams flow all year round. This proves good habitat for the blue and robber crabs and also offers the rare opportunity on Christmas Island for a shower under a waterfall. We return to the settlement via a breeding area of the rare and endemic Abbots Booby which nests in the canopy of the emergent forest. B
7 Christmas Island
Weather permitting, we will undertake a boat trip leaving from Flying Fish Cove and traveling along the coast. During the trip we should see a diverse array of birdlife and there will be time to look for marine life and having a swim off the back of the boat. In the afternoon, a visit to ‘The Grotto’ a natural limestone feature connected to the ocean is good for a swim followed by a small wetland that has a population of White-breasted water hens, a recent colonist from Indonesia. B
8 Christmas Island – Cocos Island
Free time this morning before we check in for our afternoon flight to Cocos. After checking in we will visit one of the local restaurants for dinner.
Accommodation: Bungalows B
9 Cocos Island
This morning we tour the historic West Island including visits to the Big Barge Art Centre, a Clam Farm, Birding around a small swampy area and a visit to the far side of the airport run way, also a great spot for birding. Mid afternoon we will take the ferry ride to Home Island where we a highlight will be a tour the original home of the Clunies-Ross family and then visiting Rasa Di Sayang restaurant for dinner. Around 8.00 pm we will return to West Island.
Accommodation: Bungalows BD
10 Cocos Island
This morning we will catch the ferry to Direction Island where we will have time to explore the pristine beach (voted best West Australian beach in December 2016) as well as undertake swimming, snorkelling and wildlife watching. Mid Afternoon we head back to West Island. The rest of the afternoon is free time to either have a couple of hours rest, birdwatch or just soak up the islands atmosphere.
Accommodation: Bungalows BL
11 Cocos Island
An early start this morning with a 6.00 am transfer to Canoe Beach where we will jump onto motorised outrigger canoes and take a tour of the Southern Islands. we will have breakfast on an isolated island.The rest of the morning will be spent exploring the wildlife, historic sites and swimming. Late morning we return to West Island for lunch and a rest before we spend the afternoon birding and botanising the remote parts of West Island. weather permitting this evening we will return to Canoe Beach and have a farewell beach BBQ.
Accommodation: Bungalows BD
12 Cocos Island – Perth
An early start this morning as we check in for our flight to Perth at 7.30am for our 10.00am flight. After check in there will be time to have breakfast at the Early Morning Bakery. Our flight should be back in Perth around 5.25pm. B
NB: The above itinerary may be varied according to conditions and advice.
21st November – 2nd December 2017
- Return Airfare from Perth ;
- Twin share accommodation with private facilities;
- Meals as per itinerary (B = breakfast, D = dinner);
- All national park entrance fees.
- Coastal boat trip
- Cocos motorised canoe trip
- Home Island tour
“Just a short note to say how much I enjoyed the trip to Cocos and Christmas Islands. The accommodation and food were great and Rick’s knowledge of the birds, crabs, etc. was incredible.”
“Just a note to say thank you once again for your part in making my recent visit to Christmas Island so enjoyable. Your assistance, with that of both Rick and Red made all the difference for me, and other ‘not so active’ members of the group. Despite the heat and high humidity, we all achieved our goals in exploring so many aspects of the island, from seeing the endemic birds (though a couple were very shy), to visiting a Chinese Joss House, and everything in between.
I was amazed at the destruction caused by the extraction of the phosphate over all those years, and most pleased when the Ranger explained how they are working on rehabilitation.
From the thousands of red crabs, the robber crabs, blue crabs, butterflies, blowholes, the various native palms, rainforest trees, heath shrubs and even feral plants and trees, I felt quite satisfied that I had seen all aspects of the natural island. I could go on recalling my impressions and memories, captured on film as well as in my mind’s eye. Smells and sounds are also well remembered.
Once again may I say what a wonderful trip you arranged, and what an excellent leader you have in Rick.”