View from the edge of Christmas Island at Sunset.
The most beautiful and rewarding locations lie at the end of difficult journeys.
Visiting Christmas Island, the journey endures as a definite part of the adventure. The trip out resembles a box of chocolates. You’re never sure what you’re going to get.
Bad weather and misfortune flaunts not every trip to Christmas Island. Luggage does not always go missing and planes rarely encounter birds. However, they are all possibilities and some regularly occur. Most trips proceed as straightforward as can be.
Everyone who has visited has a story. And those who have lived on the island understand the struggle and the relief of travel that runs without hiccups.
Patiently, Christmas Island waits for you to add your chapter of adventure to its story.
Read on, I’m here to help – Resist being daunted.
Travelling to Australia’s Indian Ocean Territories is exciting and daunting all in one breath. The two island paradises of Christmas Island and The Cocos Keeling Islands are on the extreme fringe of still being Australia.
Yet once you arrive, it’s like you’re stepping into another country entirely.
Like two pimples on a pumpkin, these islands are mere specks in a mirage of blue. They are not always as straightforward to get to as booking a ticket, boarding a plane and flying there. Many things can go wrong and often do.
Regional Map showing Christmas Island. The Cocos Keeling Islands are further to the southwest of CI by 1000km.
When you decide to travel to Christmas Island, there are a few things you have to understand before booking a ticket and be aware of as you progress through the process of travelling.
There are only two flights a week out to the islands and the only point of departure is through Perth. You have zero choices and once you are on the islands; you are there until the next flight out. Which is not the same day or even two days later.
There is only one airline, Virgin, that will get you out to the islands. Both the Tuesday and Friday departures are morning flights. It is possible to get connecting flights from other locations in Western Australia or from the Eastern states without the need to overnight in Perth.
However, I strongly recommend arriving in Perth a day prior and overnight in a hotel. It often only takes one delayed flight or worse, a cancelled flight to ruin all connecting flights.
Therefore, if you miss your Tuesday flight to Christmas Island, this will render you stranded in Perth until the next flight on Friday. As a result, if that is full, you’re there until the following Tuesday, making a week in Perth.
Furthermore, you have probably abandoned your trip and gone home at this stage. “Most Importantly, Don’t miss your flight”
Book your entire trip with Virgin, and keep your entire booking with one airline. By doing this, if there is a delay or cancellation, they will find you another flight, and you’ll arrive eventually.
Trying to synchronize delayed flights with cancelled flights with missed connections across multiple airlines will flip your lid.
Technically, you are travelling within Australia, however, you will depart the mainland through the international terminal of the Perth Airport. Negotiating immigration and customs like you would if going overseas.
Ensure you have your passport with you. You may get let through without it, just presenting a driver’s licence, however, you will get questioned. The preferred form of identification is a valid passport. Having one will make things easier.
Flight time to Christmas Island is four hours, and it’s four and a half to Cocos Island, both out of Perth. Lots of ocean separates Perth and the islands. These islands are remote. Once the flight begins, there is nowhere else to divert to or stopover at.
Subsequently, weight is a major concern. The heavier the plane, the more fuel it uses, and the airline can only refuel on the islands. Naturally, it has to be sure it can make it.
Bearing this in mind, it is common for people’s luggage to arrive late, if at all due to weight considerations. Weights are calculated against the weather of the day and estimated fuel consumption to make the trip.
All this is of little consequence to the traveller stranded on the island with little to no luggage. However, if considered before leaving, much inconvenience and stress can be avoided
This is what we travel with. Four people, each with one carry-on size backpack.
Pack light, this is essential. The heavier your bag, the more likely it is to be left behind. Hand luggage is a better option still, pack a comprehensive hand luggage bag.
Two sets of clothes, medications, and travel documents, and if you’re visiting the island for an event like the marathon, bring what you need for it in your hand luggage. Carry as much of what you need in your carry-on and the rest of what you want, check-in.
Christmas Island Airport
The airport on Christmas Island sits at an elevation of 280m or 916 feet above sea level. It’s a sight-only runway, meaning if the pilot can’t see the runway at 400m, the plane does not land.
This is not usually a problem in June, July, August, September and October. However, low clouds, mist, fog and rain can cause havoc during the remaining times of the year.
Just because it’s fine in Perth is no guarantee it will be the same 3000km away out on the islands.
Landing issues affect Christmas Island and should they occur, they will divert flights to Cocos Island or Jakarta for refuelling before returning to Perth. This scenario is incredibly frustrating.
It’s an eventuality you have to keep in the back of your mind as being a possibility.
A trip out to the islands is an exciting opportunity, an adventure. Travellers, however, need to understand unforeseen events could throw a spanner into the best-laid plans. A little planning, knowledge and understanding all go a long way.
The experiences awaiting you on both Christmas Island and Cocos Island are mind-blowing. Unquestionably, they will stay with you long after any problems you may have encountered fade from memory.
Visiting the Indian Ocean Islands should be on every bucket list. Without a doubt, think inspired, rather than daunted.
The settlement of Kampong is nestled happily by Flying Fish Cove.
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