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Five Things First Time Travellers To Christmas Island Should Know
- The official currency used on Christmas Island is the Australian Dollar. It's easy to find ATMs in the larger towns and most places will accept either credit or debit cards.
- English is a common language spoken on the island. Due to Christmas Island being a territory of Australia, all of the signs will be in English. However, the older residents speak Malay or Chinese as their first language.
- Drink plenty of water. The weather on the island is hot and humid so you'll need to drink more water than you're used to if you want to avoid dehydration.
- Book your flights a few months in advance if you're travelling during the holiday season. The island is a popular destination for Australians, and the flights fill up around school holidays and the festive season.
- Don't drink the tap water. If you want to avoid getting sick on your holiday, stick to bottled water. Make sure to check the seal is not broken and that the ice in your drinks isn't made from tap water.
Best Time To Visit The Christmas Island
The best time to visit Christmas Island is from April to November. It's the island's dry season, and temperatures are cooler, making outdoor activities more bearable. There are also a few local festivals that take place during this period. The most popular is the Hari Raya Puasa cultural celebration which marks the end of Ramadan. Other notable festivities include Maulud Nabi and Vesak Day.
But the dry season is also the busiest time of year to visit the island. With Australian schools on a mid-term break, families make their way to the island and flights often sell out. If you're planning a trip during this period, expect higher prices for flights and hotels.
The end of November marks the beginning of the island's wet season and the famous red crab migration. Each year, hundreds of adult crabs make their way from the forests to the coast to breed and lay their eggs in the sea. It's an incredible sight to watch, and the spawning takes place over the next three months depending on the weather conditions.
From February to March, the island experiences a lull in tourism, and it's the best time for travellers on a budget. You'll have better luck finding deals from hotels, and you won't need to book your flights too far in advance.
Christmas Islands Cities
Flying Fish Cove
Flying Fish Cove is the capital city of Christmas Island. It's home to a third of the island's total population and was established as a settlement in 1888.
Due to the island only being 52 square miles, staying in the capital is a great place to base yourself. Flying Fish Cove makes it easy for travellers to explore the surrounding natural beauty and visit all of the island's top attractions.
Poon Saan is the second largest town on Christmas Island, although it only consists of a few streets. Most of the locals that stay here are ethnic Chinese, and their culture is reflected in the architecture. It's common to find Singapore style homes here rather than the European buildings of the island's capital city.
Major International Airports in Christmas Island
- Christmas Island Airport
Top Attractions in Christmas Island
Christmas Island Marine Park
Christmas Island Marine Park covers 63% of the island's total surface area. The island's isolation and its proximity to the equator have created unique conditions for a range of fauna and flora to flourish. Most of the species found in the park are either endemic to the island or are endangered in other parts of the world.
It's home to the only nesting place for Abbott's booby, the frigatebird and the Christmas Island shrew.
In the park's protected waters, visitors will find 88 types of coral, more than 600 different species of fish as well as whale sharks and manta rays.
Christmas Island boasts some of the best dive spots in Australia. It's home to the longest drop-offs in the world and is located on the edge of the Java Trench, the deepest point in the Indian Ocean.
Underneath the water, divers will find unspoiled corals like the Acropora and plate corals. This important ecosystem attracts a variety of tropical fish including butterfly fish, anemones, eels and the surgeonfish.
If you're lucky, you might even get the chance to dive with one of the ocean's biggest inhabitants, the whale shark. These creatures frequent the island's coastline during the wet season with their newborn pups.
Annual Crab Migration
The Christmas Island's annual crab migration is its biggest natural attraction. Each year more than 100 million crabs make their way from the forest to the ocean to lay their keys.
The migration happens at the beginning of the wet season when the rains provide enough moisture for the crabs to survive their journey.
Once at the beach, the breeding sequence links up to the moon. The female crabs remain and only release their eggs precisely at the turn of high tide.
The eggs hatch on contact with the seawater and the young larvae get washed out into the sea. Once the baby crabs are about 5 millimetres cross, they return to the shore and begin their march into the forest.
Dolly Beach is considered to be the most beautiful beach on the island. The secluded beach is in pristine condition, and it's a popular camping spot amongst the locals.
The beach is a 30-minute drive from the capital. Once you've parked your car, you'll have to walk for 45 minutes through the jungle before you reach its sandy shores.
Another popular draw card to Dolly Beach is that its shores are a breeding area for endangered sea turtles. If you come at the right time of year, you'll see tracks of the nesting adults and the emerging hatchlings making their way into the ocean.
Christmas Island is a mecca for bird watchers. Due to the ecology of the island, it's home to hundreds of different species of birds. Seven of the 13 land birds are endemic including the Christmas Island Thrush.
Another plus is that the animals are more curious than fearful of humans. You'll be able to witness some extraordinary sightings and if you're lucky, catch glimpses of some of the rarest birds in the world.
Keep a lookout for the elusive Christmas Island Hawk Owl, the Abbott's Booby and the Christmas Island Frigatebird.