The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, also referred to as Cocos Islands and Keeling Islands, is a territory of Australia. It lies in the middle of the Indian Ocean, some 2750 kilometres northwest of Perth, and 900 kilometres west-southwest of Christmas Island, approximately midway between Australia and Sri Lanka. It is comprised of two atolls and 27 coral islands, two of which, West Island and Home Island, are inhabited with a total population of nearly 600 people, 80% of which are Sunni Muslims, the remaining 20%, of different religions. It has a total area of 14 square kilometres. Its residents speak Malay (Cocos dialect) and English. Cocos (Keeling) Islands experience two main seasons (which have the tendency to overlap): the trade wind season from April / May to September / October and the doldrum season from November through to April. Higher rainfall is to be expected during March through to July.
What to see & do
The country’s tourist industry is still relatively developing, with focus on water-based or nature activities. Cocos (Keeling) Islands is even referred to as a “nature and water lover's paradise”. You can also sign up and take cultural tours with some of the local tour operators or even tour by yourself around the island. Cocos (Keeling) Islands celebrates a number of events, including traditional ones like Easter, New Year, and Christmas. It also hosts other events such as the annual Lagoon Swim (competitors swim from Home Island across the lagoon to West Island), mid-year Cocos Ball, quiz nights, Music & Wine festival, Ardmona Cup, and Cocos Olympics. Play golf at Cocos Islands Golf Club (every Thursday), which includes an international runway or relax at the Hash House Harriers, which is mixed hash that runs every Monday. This takes place in West Island, where you can enjoy running or strolling through coconut trees, along white sandy beaches, and through the inner lagoon. Visit Cocos Club, where you can choose from two restaurants and a number of cafes to dine from. There’s Tropika Restaurant on West Island and Bunga Melati on Home Island. They serve Malay cuisine, which is a tasty selection of rice, noodles, curry, and chilli, featuring chicken, beef, lamb, and seafood dishes.
How to get around within Cocos (Keeling) Islands
There is a local bus service from West Island Settlement to the jetty that operates approximately 20 minutes before the departure of the ferry to Home Island. It diverts to Direction Island on Saturdays to allow tourists and locals access to this remote paradise. You can also opt to rent a car from a number of rental car companies in the islands, including A Car Rental, Cocos Autos, AW & KJ James Car Hire, and Cocos Surf Shop. There’s also an interisland ferry, called the Cahaya Baru, which connects West, Home, and Direction Islands. Aside from the lagoon anchorage between Horsburgh and Direction islands (for larger vessels), and a dedicated anchorage area for yachts in the southern lee of Direction Island, there are no major seaports in Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
How to get there
The only airport in the islands is Cocos (Keeling) Islands Airport, located on West Island. It is served by Virgin Australia, which operates scheduled jet services from Perth Airport via Christmas Island.