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How to Travel to Christmas Island, Australia's Indian Ocean Oasis

April 2, 2014 at 12:59 PM | by | ()

A tiny stamp of land in the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island is a haven for crabs, birds, and, as a territory of Australia, even for asylum-seekers. Why would anyone pay the expensive airfare and trek so far to visit Christmas Island? This is the question we'll be answering all week.

Even though Christmas Island is a legal bit of Australia, it's actually a 4-hour flight out and nearer to Indonesia. The population is a mix of Aussies, Chinese, Malaysians and more, all peacefully coexisting amongst nature on this hunk of extinct volcano, 63% of which is protected national park land. Most widely known for its annual red crab migration (November or December), the island does offer a variety of natural wonders and endemic species to warrant such a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

How to get there

Option 1: Fly non-stop from Perth, Australia
Average price: $1200 AUD round-trip from Perth
Virgin Australia is the only airline with regularly scheduled service to the island, and only from Perth, so naturally the monopoly on the route jacks up the prices for the 4-hour flight into the Indian Ocean. Flights depart on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, so you'll need to plan accordingly. Most days are serviced with an Embraer 190 jet, but the Thursday flights score a slightly more comfy Boeing 737-800.

[Note: these flights can be easily booked online at Virgin Australia's website, but we also booked through a travel agent—Down Under Answers—for greater trip protection and itinerary assistance]

Option 2: Charter flight from Jakarta
Average price: $1100
Charter flights are available from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to the small island, operated by Christmas Island Air. Since it's just under 60 minutes flying time from the city, it's a nice getaway for nature-loving Indonesians who can afford the airfare. Coincidentally, during the 1980s-90s, the only resort on the island was built to attract high-rolling Indonesians to the sole casino on the island. These flights are organized through Travel Exchange.

Although the island is quite difficult to reach, the result of the journey is a tropical hideaway complete with palm trees, exotic flora, unique fauna, and a distinct feeling of being removed from the regular pulse of the world. This also means that the island is not over-run with tourists seeking Starbucks or a frozen daiquiri (note: neither of these exist on Christmas Island). So, if you have your heart set on checking out giant land crabs or swimming in a secret cave pool, we say go for it (as we did ourselves last week!).

Banish all thought of visiting by ship, as Christmas Island lacks a large natural harbor. Instead, Flying Fish Cove's ship visits are mostly limited to cargo and military.

[Photos: Rayme Gorniak & Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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