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From Caves to Waves: What to Do on Christmas Island

April 7, 2014 at 1:59 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.

Now that you've reached the island and braved the native crabs, what else should be on your itinerary while spending some time surrounded by ocean? Naturally you'll want some beach time, but there's also snorkeling or scuba diving, nature walks and animal-spotting.

· Pool time
With only a few actual man-made pools on the island, we recommend skipping the chlorine for time in The Grotto. This cave, formed in the forest near the island's coastline, is known to locals as the "Dragon's Lair." It sits just out of the small town of Settlement, on the way to the golf course, and is marked by nothing more than a small sign by the side of the road and a dirt path into the woods.

The azure water is the product of both a natural spring and nearby waves from the ocean, the latter causing the threatening puffs of air and growls that resemble the environment of a dragon's cave. Getting to the cool water is an easy climb down some rocks with the help of a rope and only the interference of a few red crabs. Despite the beauty, you'll likely have this all to yourself since Christmas Island is hardly a popular tourist destination, and The Grotto is a "by word of mouth" attraction.

· Beaches
If basking in the sun is a bit more your style, hit some of the beaches. Besides soaking up the rays, you'll be surrounded by cliffs, rock pools, and pristine coral-floored beaches. Bring your swim shoes, as entering the water can be rough on the rocks. Lily and Ethel Beaches are the easiest to access, on the Northeast side of the island, and were as impressed with the limited amount of visitors as we were with the natural beauty of the shore.

· Snorkeling & Diving
Plonked as you are on an island in the middle of an ocean, you can imagine there are plenty of opportunities to see what's happening below the surface of the water. Both shore dives and boat day trips are available from Hama, at Wet n Dry Adventures. We took the plunge off of Flying Fish Cove to spy some colorful coral, tropical fish endemic to the island, and a sunken Japanese cargo ship from the 1940s. A shore dive begins from $50 AUD.

· Hiking & Nature Walks
Most of the spectacular natural wonders on the island are just a short hike away from the end of a 4x4 trail. The Dales (a series of trickling waterfalls), the Blowholes, the rusting remnants of the South Point Railway, and most of the beaches are accessible through rainforests, bush-land or a forest of endemic pandanus trees. Sharing the tracks with you are native and rare birds, like frigatebirds, golden bosuns, and Abbott's Boobies.

All in all, every activity you accomplish on Christmas Island makes for massive bragging rights.

[Photos: Rayme Gorniak & Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

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