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> The Cocos (Keeling) Islands
post Aug 22 2009, 11:12 PM
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Rolling Stone

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Posts: 5348
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From: Sydney, Australia
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The Cocos (Keeling) Islands


The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2750km north-west of Perth, and 900km west south-west of Christmas Island, its closest neighbour. Cocos lies approximately 12 south and 96.5 east, locating the islands in the humid tropical zone.


Cocos experiences two main seasons which tend to overlap: the trade wind season from April / May to September / October and the calmer doldrum season from November through to April. Expect higher rainfall during March through to July. January through to August, may also generate the occasional low pressure system (usually between February and April). However these systems do not normally interfere with holiday plans. Rainfall usually visits this sandy atoll in the evenings, bringing glorious sunny days! The average annual rainfall is 2000mm! Temperatures are fairly consistent no matter what the season, remaining around a comfortable 29C with a minimum evening temperature rarely dropping below 20C.

Unlike most holiday island destinations the Cocos (Keeling) Islands do not have huge resorts, shopping centres, restaurants, gift shops or many organised activities. If these are high on your list of priorities, then perhaps Cocos may not be the holiday destination for you. Tourism on the Islands is uncomplicated and simplistic which enhances its beauty and the islands' uniqueness. For residents and visitors, Cocos is a sanctuary and a safe haven for all to enjoy. Tourists are greeted by the locals and immediately feel as if they are a part of this close-knit community. SMILE and be made welcome!

West Island is ideal to explore by push bike or, for the less energetic, hire a vehicle. Travel along palm fringed roads and tracks and take in the natural beauty of the Island. Stop along the way to enjoy the peace and tranquility of this unspoilt tropical paradise. Explore Bobs Folly with its majestic stand of Calophyllum trees and native hibiscus and natural vegetation. Swim at Trannies Beach, one of the two most popular swimming beaches on West Island, or when the tide is low, treat yourself to a reef walk from Scout Park to Pulu Maraya, a small uninhabited island located at the southern end of the atoll.

Enjoy a pleasant ferry ride across the lagoon to Home Island where the majority of the residents (pop. ~550) are Cocos Malays. Sample the wonderful, spicy Malay cuisine at the local restaurant or take a picnic lunch and sit under the canopy of one of the huge Calophyllum trees that grace the foreshore. The Cocos Malays are devout Muslims, so for those who wish to visit Home Island, please dress conservatively to avoid offending. While on Home Island visit the Museum and familiarise yourself with the chequered history of Cocos (Keeling) Islands and all the details relating to Australia's first Naval victory: the sinking of SMS Emden, a notorious German raider. Another "must see" is Oceania House, the former residence of the Clunies-Ross family, that is now privately owned.

Surrounded by the unbelievably clean, clear Indian Ocean, Cocos (Keeling) is a haven for water-based activities. A day trip to Direction Island should definitely be on your holiday agenda. This beautiful island offers exquisite white sandy beaches and a unique shelter filled with calling card paraphernalia from visiting yachties. While on Direction Island snorkel the world famous "Rip", renowned for its diverse marine life of beautiful fish, corals, reef sharks, huge wrasse and parrotfish.


Accessing funds on Cocos can be complicated if you are unprepared. Quite simply, credit cards (except Diners & Amex) are your best means of payment. Most businesses on West Island accept credit cards and several now have EFTPOS facilities. There is a Commonwealth Bank agency that offers CBA Keycard customers on-line withdrawal facilities. Where possible use your credit card, however most of the small businesses, particularly the Cocos Club, appreciate small notes or change.


Cocos is not your usual island holiday destination, wall-to-wall with shops beckoning you to spend your
hard-earned cash. There is a small variety of shops offering an excellent range of t-shirts and souvenirs, snorkelling gear and fishing tackle and duty free items. Just to add to the challenge of shopping, opening hours differ with each business.

To take away some of the those challenges, we suggest your first port of call be the TOURISM INFORMATION CENTRE located in the administration building adjacent to the airport on West Island. Available at the Centre are many information guides that will assist in making your holiday more interesting. Our Tourism Officer will also assist with restaurant bookings, cultural tours to Home Island and general information about the islands.


A local bus service from West Island Settlement to the jetty operates approximately 20 minutes prior to the departure of the ferry to Home Island. On Saturday the ferry diverts to Direction Island to allow tourists and locals access to this remote paradise. The ferry returns in the afternoon to return you to West Island. Timetables are available from the Tourism office or the Duty Free Shop.


Tourism on Cocos is still in its infancy and to date, the selection of restaurants is limited. As Cocos grows and becomes more popular, so will the choice of dining out. Currently there are two restaurants available. The Tropika is located on West Island and Bunga Melati on Home Island.

Malay cuisine is a selection of rice, noodles, curry and chilli, featuring chicken, beef, lamb and seafood dishes. Food is prepared to be flavoursome and not particularly hot, unless requested.

Dory's of Cocos is the Island's only dedicated coffee shop. Located in the old Admiralty House building opposite the West Island Health Clinic. Dory's of Cocos offer freshly brewed coffee and milkshakes, home baked muffins, cakes and sausage rolls are the speciality along with healthy sandwiches packed with yummy fillings. Evening meals may be arranged on request subject to numbers.

Located on West Island in the Cocos Beach Motel complex is the "Tropika", serving three meals a day. A chalk board has been placed at the front door for those wishing an evening meal. Please leave their name and number of people by 16.30, so as to give the chef an idea as to how many to cater. Avoid disappointment - bookings are essential for dinner.

On Home Island the "Bunga Melati" offers authentic Malay cuisine. "Bunga Melati" is open Wednesday evenings to coincide with the return ferry service to West Island. It is also opened for lunch on requests. Bookings are essential.
Don't want to eat at a restaurant? Usually, ever third Friday, the different social clubs of Cocos prepare a "food night" at the Cocos Club. Excellently priced meals are offered along with raffles and good natured fun. Come along, share a meal. The Cocos Club also offers visitors a great venue to get to know the locals and join in with any activity that is happening.

There are also several picnic / bbq areas on West Island for visitors to use. The supermarket carries a small variety of frozen meat, chicken and fish and fresh salad vegetables. Or for the fisherman, sizzle a freshly caught trevally or sweetlip on the bbq.


Packing for a holiday can be interesting, especially when you get there and find you really don't have the right attire. Pretty simple on Cocos! Shorts, t-shirts, sarongs and swimming costumes and beach towel have it covered. For the feet, we usually suggest comfortable sandals or joggers and footwear for reef walking. Unless you are visiting when there is a special function, evening wear is definitely not required. Apart from covering shoulders and knees on Home Island, casual and comfortable is the dress code. We suggest you ask your travel agent or contact us regarding likely up and coming "formal" events.

information sourced from Cocos Tourism

you can also visit Cocos

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