Australia’s most remote outpost lies in the azure waters of the Indian Ocean offering spectacular snorkelling, world-class diving, excellent fishing and the adrenalin-rush of kitesurfing. Situated 2,750 kilometres northwest of Perth, Western Australia, and 900 kilometres from Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are a group of 27 coral islands that form two atolls. Only West Island, where the airport and the dive shop is located and where most tourists stay, and Home Island are inhabited. A small indigenous population of about 450 Cocos Malay people live on Home Island, originally brought to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands as slaves and members of the harem of Alexander Hare, an early 19th century English explorer.
The palm-fringed, creamy white sands of Cossies Beach was crowned Best beach in Australia in 2017. Take a 30-minute ferry from West Island to Direction Island (Thursdays and Saturdays only) to discover why Australia’s last paradise is just waiting for you to explore!
Cocos Island enjoys a balmy tropical climate throughout the year. Temperatures rarely exceed 32˚C or fall below 24˚C. Showery rain falls most often during the night.
The south east trade wind season runs from May/June to September/October, and the calmer doldrum season from November through to May. Tropical cyclones can form during the doldrums (more frequent from December to March). Higher rainfall typically occurs between March and July, whilst the least rain falls between September and November.
With uncrowded dive sites, awesome and diverse marine life and spectacular pristine gardens of hard and soft corals, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands offer guests some amazing diving and snorkelling. The surrounding ocean of the coral atoll enjoys an average visibility of 25 metres and is abundant with pelagics; sharks are sighted regularly. Schools of giant barracuda, big-eye trevally (Jacks), dog-tooth tuna and rainbow runners are just a few of the fantastic varieties of fish to be seen. Whilst diving or snorkelling you may also be paid a visit by dolphins, turtles or majestic manta rays, or even the resident, lone Dugong, affectionately known as Kat.
Not to be forgotten are the smaller, more colourful marine life: butterfly fish, damselfish, parrotfish, wrasse including the majestic Napoleon fish and angelfish, nudibranchs, moray eels and octopus; the diversity of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is endless. The terrain of the atoll allows divers of all experience levels to enjoy these sites.
July to October average 26˚C
December to May average 29˚C
3mm wetsuit or rashie recommended
Year round, however the dive shop closes for around 6 weeks during October – November.
Enter the world of beautiful green and gold cabbage shaped coral. Thousands of tiny anthias and chromis hover just above the coral. The pristine dive site is considered by many guests as a must do dive!
Garden of Eden
Be prepared for big pelagics. Sharks, tuna, rainbow runners and barracuda, as they usually congregate along the wall. Big Eye trevally usually come in for a closer look, surrounding the divers so as you are in Fish Soup. The site also has unbelievable forests of gorgonian fans.
This is the site of an illegal Sri Lankan boat that was sunk as a dive site. It has enticed a school of bat fish that call it home, along with other smaller fish. “Kat” the dugong is often seen here along with mantas and sharks. Over the drop off are two small caves where sleeping white tips are often found.
Cascading down the wall to about 50 metres is this rosy coloured hard coral. Smaller fish love it - a sanctuary for them to dart into as you drift past. Coming back up the scenery changes to a mixture of plates and leather corals. Schools of Surgeonfish and Parrotfish often graze, rising in a wave of colour to sink back down into the corals to feed.
Pulu Keeling National Park
Located some 14km north of the southern atoll and can be visited during the calmer summer months. Dive where few have been before - an experience of a lifetime, excellent drop-offs, fantastic fish life and pristine corals. Pulu Keeling is also the resting place of the infamous German Raider, SMS Emden. Trips to Pulu Keeling are totally weather dependent and subject to permit conditions, supervised by Parks Australia North.
The most famous of snorkelling site is 'Rip' located at the southern tip of Direction Island. A current runs from the outer reef towards the lagoon and it is this flowing body of water that takes the adventure snorkeller on an exciting ride. At the southern end of West Island, enjoy a short reef walk across to Pulu Maraya on low tide. The shallow and protected conditions offer great snorkelling for all experience levels.
Kitesurfing and windsurfing
During the tradewind season from July throughout October Cocos offers consistent 15 – 20 knots of cross on-shore winds. The waist deep, warm, flat crystal clear-blue waters offer the perfect conditions for beginners to learn in a safe environment. Experienced riders love the flat and spacious conditions to practice new tricks and explore the lagoon during long down winders. Make sure to look down when kiting across the lagoon and you’ll spot schools of fish, turtles, and black-tip reef sharks.
The Cocos Islands offer two surf spots, catering for different skill levels.
The Spot – More of a beginner wave, kid friendly (in the shallows) and less consistent swell. Features left and right hander breaks, and can still be fun for the more experienced surfers when some size comes through – also a favourite for the mini mals.
The Shack – More suitable for intermediate/experienced surfers. This break features a clean left hander and is best surfed on a mid-tide. Too low and surfers will be face to face with a number of ‘bommies’ (shallow rocks). Too high and it will feel like paddling against a seemingly everlasting current.
Few places in the world offer bonefish fly-fishing of the quality you will find on Cocos. October to February is the best time to go bonefishing on the lagoon’s crystal clear and calm waters. Cocos also offers great jetty and beach fishing. Pelagics such as wahoo, mahi-mahi, and sailfish will keep you busy for hours. Or take the whole family fishing for sweetlip, silveries, cod and mullet.
The Islands offer the avid birdwatcher the chance to combine sightings of 39 breeding or resident bird species as well as numerous migratory birds with an iconic and remote tropical island experience. Unforgettable!
Culture & History
Visit the Home Island Visitor Centre & Museum and delve into the fascinating history of Cocos. Read about the local culture and tradition, the abundant flora and fauna, Australian naval history, and the early owners of the Cocos Keeling Islands – The Clunies-Ross family.
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