Christmas and Cocos Island Tour
- The phenomenal Red Crab migration
- A boat trip along the coast, great for spotting birds and marine life
- Enjoy a relaxing cool off at ‘The Grotto’
- White sands of Greta and Dolly beaches
- Spectacular views from Margaret knoll lookout
- Take a revitalising shower under a waterfall
- Blowholes on the southern coast
- Unique wildlife including Robber Crabs and endemic birdlife
- Motorised outrigger canoe trip touring the Southern Islands
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 off the island from the ocean floor. This surrounds a flatter central plateau. Its 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 the 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.
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Extended Trip Details
|Day 1||Perth – Christmas Island||Meet group at Perth International Airport at 11.00am am for your afternoon flight to Christmas Island. We arrive on Christmas Island in the late afternoon where we will transfer to the lodge and settle in. This evening we will have a welcome to Christmas Island BBQ. Accommodation: Lodge D|
|Day 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. Accommodation: Lodge B|
|Day 3||Christmas Island||A full days outing will take us to Greta and Dolly beaches via shaded forest walk trails. Enjoy lunch and a swim on palm fringed Dolly beach. The impressive Robber Crabs can 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. Accommodation: Lodge B|
|Day 4||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 have 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 visit to a small wetland that has a population of White-breasted water hens, a recent colonist from Indonesia. Accommodation: Lodge B|
|Day 5||Christmas Island||This morning’s highlights will commence with 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. Accommodation: Lodge B|
|Day 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 provides 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. Accommodation: Lodge B|
|Day 7||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 Emerald Dove. Accommodation: Lodge B|
|Day 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: Motel B|
|Day 9||Cocos Island||Today we will explore the historic West Island including the Big Barge Art Centre, a Clam Farm, birding around a small swampy lagoon and a visit to the far side of the airport runway, also a great spot for birding. Mid Afternoon we will take the ferry to Home island and spend time exploring the community and wildlife. We return to West Island on the 6.00pm ferry. Accommodation: Motel B|
|Day 10||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. Mid afternoon we will undertake 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: Motel BD|
|Day 11||Cocos Islands – Christmas 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.|
8th December 2020
- Return Airfare from Perth
- Twin share accommodation
- Meals as per itinerary (B = breakfast, D = dinner)
- Welcome to Christmas Island BBQ dinner on day one
- Farewell BBQ dinner on Cocos Islands on last evening
- All national park entrance fees
- Christmas Island Coastal boat trip
- Cocos motorised canoe trip
“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.”