Nicknamed the "Galapagos of the Indian Ocean", the island is famous for its red crabs, sea birds, whale sharks and spectacular coral reefs. Closer to Asia than mainland Australia, it's home to a captivating mix of cultures and some of the world's most spectacular natural wonders.
Christmas Island has a rich mix of cultures. A population of some 2000 people includes many Chinese and Malay Australians as well as people from mainland Australia. National park staff reflect this cultural mix. English is the official language but many people also speak Bahasa Malay or one or more Chinese dialects.
The territory of Christmas Island is 870 miles northwest of Australia. Seventy-three percent of the population is Chinese; however, English is the primary language taught in school. The rest of the population is Malaysian, European, or Australian.
135 km²Christmas Island / Area
Christmas Island covers 135 square kilometres, of which approximately 60 per cent has been declared as National Parks.
Island life: While Christmas Island is a pleasant place to live most of the time, residents say it has its challenges. For example, flights to the island from mainland Australia are expensive.
Guided tours are also available. Spectacular fish, corals, rock formations and caves provide exciting snorkelling and diving opportunities on Christmas Island, from both the shore and by charter boat. The famous migration of large numbers of red crabs occurs between October and January each year.
Christmas Island is non-self-governing and is included as part of the territory of the Australian Commonwealth.
English is the official language on Christmas Island. However, more than half of our residents speak a language other than English at home. While on the island, you might hear people conversing in Mandarin, Malay, Cantonese, Min Nan, Tagalog and a variety of other languages.
Christmas Island is located in the Indian Ocean, 1500 km west of the Australian mainland and 2600 km from Perth. Although it is an Australian territory, Christmas Island's nearest neighbour is Indonesia, which lies about 350 km to the north. The island is around 500 km from Jakarta.
Is Christmas Island a wealthy country The main economic activities on Christmas Island are the mining of low grade phosphate, limited tourism, the provision of government services and, since 2005, the construction and operation of the Immigration Detention Center.
Mr McDonald says the cost of living is now estimated at about 180 per cent above that on the mainland. An iceberg lettuce at the local store can cost as much as $12. A housing shortage, exacerbated by the influx of Immigration Department workers, means some locals are paying as much as $1,000 rent a week.
Use common sense when swimming or wading at any beach – they can be subject to large waves and swell, strong rips and undertows. None of the beaches on the island are patrolled by lifesavers. Swimming at beaches is only recommended at Flying Fish Cove under calm sea conditions.
Travelling Christmas Island is (relatively) safe. We didn't detected any travel advisories from any source at this moment.
Tours & packages for Christmas Island
Indian Ocean Experiences offers an inclusive tour, flight and 4WD package to see the red crab spawning, and smaller tours that take in natural big-hitters like Hugh's Waterfall and the blowholes, and bird-watching trips to see the rare abbotts booby birds.
Santa Haraboji, also known as Grandfather Santa, resembles the Western Santa Claus, but he wears a traditional Korean hat (gat) and a blue suit rather than a red one.
It's a tropical jungle paradise
With a tropical climate that enjoys balmy temperatures in the mid-20s year-round and a landscape characterised by lush jungle and an emerald-green coastline, Christmas Island is a true island paradise.
Hiring a car is the best way to get around the island, letting you explore the many walks and sights at your leisure. We recommend pre-booking as vehicles are limited. Contact Christmas Island Tourism Association for more details on hiring a car.
"Christmas Island has always been very safe and everyone knows each other. But fly-in fly-out people, basically they don't have a stake in the community," says Chong. "You now have people, strangers, who bring with them the big-city risk. You just don't feel as safe as you used to."
From Asia. Garuda Indonesia operates a weekly charter flight from Jakarta to Christmas Island. The journey takes about an hour and a half. You can reserve your seat by contacting the Christmas Island Tourism Association.
In Japan Santa is known as サンタさん、サンタクロース / Santa-san (Mr Santa) or サンタクロース / Santa-Kurosu (Santa Claus). (Another Japanese gift bringer is Hoteiosho, a Japanese god of good fortune from Buddhism.
Santa is known as 'Sheng dan Lao ren' in Mandarin, which translates as 'Christmas Old Man', and he is seen as a non-religious figure who lives in a fairytale Arctic Christmas Village in China's North Pole.
Internet and other services such as photocopying and printing are available at the Christmas Island Visitors Information Centre.
In China, Santa is called Dun Che Lao Ren, which means “Christmas old man.” Not everyone in the country celebrates Christmas, or Sheng Dan Jieh. However, those who do celebrate by hanging up stockings for Dun Che Lao Ren to fill with treats.
Korea has its own version of Santa Claus. Santa Haraboji, also known as Grandfather Santa, resembles the Western Santa Claus, but he wears a traditional Korean hat (gat) and a blue suit rather than a red one.
Icelandic children get to enjoy the favors of not one but 13 Father Christmases. Called the Yule Lads, these merry but mischievous fellows take turns visiting kids on the 13 nights leading up to Christmas. On each of those nights, children place one of their shoes on the windowsill.