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Christmas Island

Christmas Island (Chinese: ?????; Malay: Wilayah Pulau Krismas) is one of the islands of the Indian Ocean in Southeast Asia. It is south of Indonesia and some 1,550 km northwest of Australia, of which it is a territory. It was home to about 1,800 people in 2016, a mix of Straits Chinese, Malay, Australian and other ethnic groups.

Together with the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island is a part of the Australian Indian Ocean Territories.


Named in 1643 for the day of its discovery, the island was annexed and settlement was begun by the UK in 1888. Phosphate mining began in the 1890s. The island was first administered as part of the Straits Settlements, and then as part of the colony of Singapore. Sovereignty was transferred to Australia in October 1958 and since then, almost two-thirds of the island has been protected as a national park (and one that's managed by the federal government).

The Australian Government in 2001 agreed to support the creation of a commercial space-launching site on the island, which now looks unlikely to proceed after funding was withdrawn.


Christmas Island rises to a central plateau of stands of rainforest. Its 80-km coastline is an almost continuous sea cliff up to 20 m (66 ft) high, with a few shallow bays of small sand and coral shingle beaches. The largest of these forms the island's only port, Flying Fish Cove, which is also called "The Settlement". Other settled areas, all in the northeast, are Poon Saan, Silver City, Drumsite and Kampong.


The island has a tropical climate in which heat and humidity are moderated by trade winds. Temperatures vary little throughout the year. The highest temperature is usually around 29 °C (84 °F) in March and April, while the lowest temperature is 23 °C (73 °F) and occurs in August. There is a dry season from July to October with only occasional showers. The wet season is between November and June, and includes monsoons, with downpours of rain at random times of the day. Tropical cyclones also occur in the wet season, bringing very strong winds, rain and enormous seas.


Steep cliffs along the coast rise abruptly to the central plateau. Rain forest covers most of the island, with small areas of the island under rehabilitation from mining. There are sandy to rocky beaches scattered along the coastline of the island, separated by steep limestone cliffs.


As the island is a territory of Australia, English is the most common language spoken, but not the only one. Many older residents speak Malay as a first language. However, unlike the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, all signs are in English.

Get in

As Christmas Island is a territory of Australia, make sure you meet the entry requirements for Australia.

By plane

By boat

There is no passenger chartered boat services to Christmas Island; however, Flying Fish Cove is frequented by yachts and cruise ships as a stop off.

Get around

Walk, ride, or hire a car (you may want a 4WD or SUV). You can hitch-hike around the settled areas of island, as most locals are happy to give a ride to visitors.


  • 1 The Dales. Comprised of numerous freshwater streams running roughly parallel to each other. The streams originate from underground caves and eventually flow into the ocean. The streams have worn out gullies between the cliff walls of the coast, and have created unusually step-like formations (terraces). There is a waterfall above the terrace formations, which many visitors are fond of taking showers under.
    The Dales are in a lush tropical rainforest known for its unique fauna, including the blue crab and blind snake, and flora including giant buttrest root trees. The Dales area has signage and raised walkways/steps installed by the national parks department for visitors. (updated Jan 2022)
  • Lily Beach: Named after a girl who was swept off the rocks at the beach never to be found. The beach comprises a sandy area running down to a bathing pool, which is separated from the open ocean by rocky basalt/limestone outcrops. The pool is constantly fed sea water from the gullies leading to the ocean and the whitewash generated from the waves hitting the cliffs and outcrop.
    Caution is advised when venturing past the bathing pool on to the rocky outcrops, as large freak waves have known to swamp the rocky outcrops. Beware, lest you meet the same fate as Lily!
    Located in the 'snout of the dog' eastern part of the island, this beach can be accessed by normal 2 wheel drive vehicles when road conditions are dry and only with a 4WD when roads are wet. Wooden pergola and BBQ facilities are available.
  • 2 Dolly Beach, Dolly Beach walking trail. An isolated beach, 1-hour drive by 4WD over rocky step tracks and then another 45-minute trek on foot downhill. A white sandy beach sheltered and ringed by black basalt outcrops 5 metres from the shoreline. The rear of the beach is lined with overhanging coconut trees, and there is a clear stream flowing through the middle of the beach from the cliffs above. Although it may be somewhat difficult to access, it is well worth the trip.
    The beach is also a fairly scenic beach and favourite camping site for locals and visitors alike, due to the availability of drinkable freshwater from the stream and "exotic secluded beach paradise" ambiance.
    Dolly Beach is also a favourite nesting location for endangered sea turtles. Most nights one or more turtles make their way up onto the beach from the sea, and lay their eggs into holes dug by the turtles themselves. After laying the eggs, the turtle refills the hole with sand and makes her way back to the sea. Witnessing this event is magically and memorable. If a turtle if startled prior to laying her eggs, she will return to the sea. Therefore, do not shine any torch light in their eyes or make loud noise. Disturbing the turtles or poaching the eggs is illegal. (updated Jan 2022)
  • 3 The Blowholes. A geological feature located along the steep limestone cliffs along the southern coastline of the park, the Blowholes are holes in the ground where air and seawater are blown out due to waves crashing into caves formed along the bottom of the cliffs. Depending on wave conditions, the water and trapped air in the caves are forced out from the holes formed at the top of the cliff caves, leading to spectacular plumes of water thrown up into the air. The distinctive sound of gushing air can heard from the holes when the waves crash onto the cliffs. (updated Mar 2022)
  • 4 Winifred Beach. (updated Mar 2022)
  • 5 West White Beach. (updated Mar 2022)
  • 6 Margaret Knoll, Margaret Knoll Rd. (updated Jul 2022)
  • Nursery Lookout
  • South Point
  • Greta Beach
  • Freshwater Caves
  • Grotto
  • West White Beaches
  • Ethel Beach
  • Waterfall/Casino

Cultural and historical attractions

  • Administrators House known locally as "Buck House"
  • Historical World War II Artillery Bunker past the Buck House
  • 7 Ma Chor Nui Nui Temple, Golf Course Rd. A religious Taoist temple built by the ethic Chinese in Christmas Island. It may not look very big, but it's architecture with direct views of the nearby blowhole makes it one of the most interesting temples. (updated Jan 2022)
  • 8 Tai Jin House (Administrator's House), 21 Jln Pantaimas Island. This historic house may not seem like much, but this building was the possession of Queen Victoria, back during 1888 and when Christmas Island was a part of the Colony of Singapore. (updated Mar 2022)

Red crabs

A trip to Christmas Island is never complete without seeing the iconic red crabs which can be found within the park's forests. Each year they migrate to the coast to breed; the beginning of the wet season (usually in October or November) allows the crabs to increase their activity and stimulates their annual migration.


  • View the spectacular world-famous Christmas Island Red Crab Migration during the months of December–February.
  • Diving or snorkeling off the 'Drop Off' at Flying Fish Cove
  • Whale shark watching
  • Game Fishing on chartered boat
  • Rock Fishing
  • Caving (warning: seek local advice before setting out to any caves)
  • 4-wheel driving, known locally as "bush bashing".
  • Mountain biking
  • Relax by the beach or on the patio with a cold beer
  • Duty-Free cheap drinks at numerous bars and taverns on the island
  • Historical trail self tours
  • Hiking


Being an external territory of Australia, the official currency of Christmas island is the Australian dollar.

The island has "duty free" status, and shop prices for perfume and alcohol are very low compared to the Australian mainland (see shopping in Australia).

  • 1 Acker Trading, 58 Gaze Rd, ? +61 8 9164-7575, acker@pulau.cx. M-F 9AM-11AM. Gas refills. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 2 Christmas Island Post Office, 412 Canberra Pl, ? +61 8 9164-8495, cipost@cipost.cx. M Tu Th F 8AM–3:30PM, W 9AM–5PM, Sa 9AM–1PM (closed Su). Australian Postal Services, Commonwealth Bank agency, stationery, philatelic, passport photos, souvenirs. Contact Michelle or Carolyn. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 3 Christmas Island Supermarket, Gaze Road, Settlement, ? +61 8 9164-8370, +61 439-215-370 (mobile), et_cismk@pulau.cx. M–F 9AM–6PM, Sa 9AM–1PM. Groceries, fresh bread, fruit and vegetables, wine, beer and spirits. (updated Nov 2022)
  • Christmas Island Visitor Information Centre - Gift Shop, ? +61 8 9164-8382. Run by the Christmas Island Tourism Association located at the Visitor Information Centre, Gaze Road, Settlement. They sell a range of souvenirs from Australia and Christmas Island, including local craft, T-shirts, Christmas Island Books, posters, maps and videos, jewellery, pottery, and postcards. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 4 Gaseng, Gaze Road, ? +61 8 9164-8313, tmackie@gaseng.com.au. Australian standard diesel automotive fuel and unleaded petrol, 2-stroke mix for outboard motors, 20L jerricans for loan to refuel yachts, free transport to and from the jetty and able to fuel larger yachts on application. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 5 Island Pharmacy and News, Unit 9/26 Gaze Road, ? +61 8 9164-8337, cipharm@pulau.cx. M–F 9AM–5PM, Sa 9AM–noon.. Dispersing of prescriptions and supply of vitamins, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, make-up, first aid items, suncare and sunglasses. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 6 Lucky Luke's, 6 Gaze Road, The Settlement, ? +61 8 9164 8297, brigitte.luckylukes@gmail.com. M–F 9AM–5PM, Sa 9AM–1PM. Range of clothing and unique giftware from around the world. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 7 The Red Crab Surf'n'sound, The Barracks, Gaze Road, ? +61 8 9164 7176, redcrabsurf@yahoo.com. ShopSurf wear and accessories, sunglasses, shoes range of music CDs. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 8 Westpac Bank, 5 Canberra Pl, ? +61 8 9164-8221. M–F 9AM–3PM. Banking or money changing. (updated Nov 2022)
  • 9 Wild Papaya (in the Temple Court), ? +61 8 9164-8882, wildpapaya@xiv.cx. Tu–F 11AM–5PM; Sa 9AM–noon. Gallery, gifts and homewares. Handcrafted Australian jewellery, Christmas Island photography and art. (updated Nov 2022)


There are several restaurants on Christmas Island serving Western and Asian cuisine.

  • 1 Lucky Ho Restaurant, Lot 236 Poon Saan Rd, ? +61 8 9164-8813. Excellent value. 
  • Waterfall Restaurant (at the Christmas Island Resort), ? +61 8 9164-8888. Daily for breakfast and dinner with Sunday Roasts. Western food and Asian food - Modern International - steaks, pasta, pizza. Located at the Christmas Island Resort. 
  • Emayson's Cafe (at the Christmas Island Recreation Centre), ? +61 8 9164-8106. Daily. Western and Asian Food - Coffee, milkshakes and cool drinks. 
  • Golden Bosun Tavern (ocky Point Complex, Gaze Road Settlement), ? +61 9164 7967. Dinner Tu–Su, Su closed, restaurant 5:30PM–8:30PM, bar 4PM till late. Modern International fare, with a dessert selection and coffee. Uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean from the restaurant verandah. 
  • Longs Bakery. M–F. Fresh bread daily including white, wholemeal, wholegrain and 6 cut rolls Red bean paste; Kaya paste; Coconut and Sambal Prawn buns Chicken and Beef Sausage Rolls. In Sundays fresh bread and french sticks are available from Boong Trading, Meng Chong Trading, and Metro Enterprises. 
  • Rockfall Cafe, ? +61 8 9164-7688. M–Sa 7:30AM–1:30PM. Huge range of burgers, rolls, sandwiches, delicious meals and fresh salads, fresh coffee and cakes. BYO - Eat in or Take away. (updated Jan 2018)
  • Rumah Tinggi Tavern and Restaurant (Gaze Road Settlement), ? +61 8 9164-7667 (Mark or Kaz). M Th–Su: bar 5PM till late, dinner to 9PM; Tu W closed. The Rumah Tinggi offers modern Australian fare, fine wine and cocktails. With uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean and a spacious open air verandah – view to the sunset or the moon rise over the Indian Ocean. 
  • Season's Palace (Poon Saan area, upstairs from the Poon Saan Shops), ? +61 8 9164-7688. Authentic Chinese dishes. Air conditioned. 


As Christmas Island is duty-free, alcohol is usually lower priced than the Australian mainland. Some of the bars and taverns are:

  • Tracks at Drumsite
  • Golden Bosun
  • Pool Hall at Poon Saan
  • Rumah Tinngi at Gaze Road Settlement


Most possibilities for accommodation are in the main settlement, one is located next to the island's waterfall whilst the other is further out in an area called Poon Saan.

List of accommodation available:

  • The Cabin
  • Captain's Last Resort
  • Christmas Island Lodge
  • Hibiscus House
  • Mango Tree Lodge
  • The Retreat
  • Rumah Biru Cottage
  • The Sanctuary
  • Sea Gazin
  • Sunset
  • VQ3 Lodge

For further details, bookings or enquiries visit the Christmas Island Tourism Association website.

  • 1 Swell Lodge, Martin Point, ? 1300 790 207 (domestic), contact@swelllodge.com. Check-in: 11AM. The only accommodation in Christmas Island National Park, this eco-lodge provides meals, drinks, transport. Unfortunately, the location of it is a bit isolated and you will need to do a drive to get here. The lodge is also closed during the wet season which also happens to be during the crab migration season. (updated Jan 2022)


It is difficult for non-locals to find employment on Christmas Island. The largest employers on the island are the small scale phosphate mining and federal or local government. The most common way of obtaining employment on Christmas Island for non-locals is to check government positions advertised at Apsjobs. There are occasionally postings for teachers on several years contract from Australia.

Stay safe

The island is safe all times of the day in the populated areas, locals usually leave their houses and car unlocked. There are no poisonous or dangerous animals (even insects) on the island.

The most likely danger is large waves on cliffs and coastal waters during the monsoon season (October–February).

There are occasional sightings of reef and hammerhead sharks off the coast near the 'drop offs' (underwater coastal shelf which drops off into the ocean depths, usually 5–30 m offshore); however, no shark attacks have ever been reported on Christmas Island.

Some 4-wheel drive tracks are steep and slippery during the wet season; caution is advised when driving in national parks areas. Many tracks are 4-wheel drive only, in particular Dolly Beach track and Dales and Blow Holes National Park areas. 4-wheel driving experience is required when venturing into these areas.

It is recommended that you bring a local or get local advice before heading off to any unpopulated national park areas.

Stay healthy

Wear loose fitting clothing suitable for humid tropical climates. A hat and sunscreen is recommended if you're intending to be under the sun at the beach or fishing.

Bring water with you, as in humid environments you will tend to perspire more than normal.

Mosquito repellent should be brought on trips to rain forest areas. There is no malaria on the island.

There are rare occurrences of Hepatitis A & B. However there is no particular vaccination required when visiting the island.


Nudity is not permitted at beaches; normal beachwear applies.

It's good manners to wave back if waved at by locals when driving.

Respect Ramadan. Restaurants and other facilities remain open for non-Muslims, but the eating area may be behind curtains.


  • Christmas Island Tourism Association, PO Box 63, Christmas Island, Western Australia 6798, ? +61 8 9164-8382, cita@christmas.net.au. 

Go next

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands northwest of Christmas Island has weekly connecting flights that take about 1 hour.

One can also take a charter flight to Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur.

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