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Cocos Islands

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Cocos Island
Cocos (Keeling) Islands in its region.svg
Flag of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.svg
Quick Facts
Capital West Island
Government territory of Australia
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Area 14 sq km
Population 574 (July 2006 est.)
Language Malay (Cocos dialect), English
Religion Sunni Muslim 80%, other 20%
Country code +61
Internet TLD .cc
Time Zone UTC +6:30

The Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands (or simply Cocos Islands or Keeling Islands) is in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2750km north-west of Perth, and 900km west south-west of Christmas Island.

For information on Cocos Island a nationally protected jungle-covered island and national park, 300m off the coast of Costa Rica. please see Cocos Island National Park.


There are two inhabited islands in the group West Island and Home Island.

Passenger ferries run to Direction Island every Thursday and Saturday.

There are several uninhabited islands.

  • Horsburgh Island
  • North Keeling Island - A national park, with access only with permission from Parks Australia.
  • South Island


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.

There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William Keeling discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. Annexed by the UK in 1857, they were transferred to the Australian Government in 1955. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island and the ethnic Malays on Home Island.

Grown throughout the islands, coconuts are the sole cash crop. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia. There is a small tourist industry.


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. Rain usually falls 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 29°C with a minimum evening temperature rarely dropping below 20°C.


Flat, low-lying coral atolls, thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation.

Tourist Information[edit]

  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association Inc., PO Box 1030 Cocos (Keeling) Islands Indian Ocean WA 6799, +61 8 9162 6790 (, fax: +61 8 9162 6696), [1]. Monday: 0800 to 1700 Tuesday - Thursday: 0800 - 1430 Friday: 0800 - 1600 Saturday (early flight): 1300 - 1600 Saturday (late flight): 1400 - 1700 Sunday & Public Holidays: Closed.  edit

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • There is one airport on West Island that receives two Virgin Australia flights a week from Perth, stopping over at Christmas Island on the way on one flight and the way back on the other. One way flights are at least $500.
  • The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are one and a half hours behind Western Standard Time (WST) and three and a half hours behind Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • Australian citizens do not need a passport, but must carry some form of photographic identification.

By boat[edit]

The Cocos Islands are a popular stopover for sailing vessels en route to Mauritius. There is a sheltered anchorage at Direction Island where sailing vessel came anchor for $50 per week. Travel between the direction Island anchorage and Home Island is possible via tender, or scheduled ferry service which operates between Direction Island and Home Island on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Get around[edit]

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 Thursday and 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.

  • A Car Rental, +61 8 9162 7646. Contact Geof Christie for availability and rates.  edit
  • Cocos Autos, U12 Sydney Highway, Cocos Islands, +61 8 9162 7661, [2]. Cocos Autos offers visitors to Cocos (Keeling) Islands an extensive and diverse range of vehicles. Choose from single and dual cab utilities or 4WD dual cab utilities. Baby seats and booster seats are also available.  edit
  • AW & KJ James Car Hire, +61 8 9162 7717. Quality vehicles available for hire. Contact Ash or Kylie for availability and rates..  edit
  • Cocos Surf Shop, In the Airport Complex, +61 8 9162 6768.  edit

See[edit][add listing]

Take cultural tours with some of the local tour operators or guide yourself around the islands to explore why they call the Cocos Islands a "nature and water lover's paradise".

During the year, as well as the traditional events such as Easter, New Year, Christmas etc, Cocos hosts a number of unique events. These include the annual Lagoon swim, where competitors swim from Home Island across the lagoon to West Island. Individuals or teams may enter and whether you are a serious contender or wish to join in with the Hash House Harriers (who always seem to get themselves disqualified for one thing or another), everyone has a load of fun. It finishes in the evening with dinner and presentations to the winners and boat drivers.

Other unique events are the mid-year Cocos Ball, quiz nights, Music & Wine festival, Ardmona Cup and Cocos Olympics. All visitors are encouraged to join in with these festivities and activities. Exact dates vary from year to year. Please check with the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association before booking for particular events.

Don't forget visitors to the Island are also welcome to participate in the School Fete, Sports Carnival and concert events.

  • Cocos Diving, Cocos Dive, PO Box 1015, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Indian Ocean WA 6799,Australia, +61 8 9162 6515 (), [3]. AUD $200-2320.  edit
  • 2nd Wind Sailboards, [4]. July through to September only. Watersport holidays. Windsurfing, SUP'ing, kiting.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Cocos Islands Golf Club. Thursdays. Play the most westerly golf course in Australia that also includes an international runway! Locals and visitors meet every Thursday afternoon for a friendly game of "Scroungers" (Ambrose). Be at the Donga (next to the West Island Supermarket) at 3.30pm. All adults are more than welcome, club hire is available and a full bar. You won't play this kind of golf anywhere else in the world, not to be missed!  edit
  • Hash House Harriers. Contact Mike "Wacuda" Keogh (Honorary Piss Poor), West Island,☎ 0406329306. Mixed hash which runs every Monday at 1630 Adults only event as there are Down Downs involved. Run or walk through coconut trees, along white sandy beaches and through the inner lagoon taking in the length and breadth of West Island visiting places not normally seen by visitors and locals alike. Notice is written on the Cocos Club board with the location of the event every Monday after lunch. All participants to bring six beers or UDL’S, ciders, wines, champers whether you drink or not. Also bring a few dollars for the raffle and dress in Hash attire. Don’t be shy in asking what a “tubing” is when in the circle. 6 beers.  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Supermarket, Clunies-Ross Avenue, +61 8 9162 6676 (fax: +61 8 9162 7605).  edit
  • Community Resource Centre, (Administration building), +61 8 9162 7707. Monday to Friday 8.00am - 3.00pm. The Cocos Islands Community Resource Centre provides internet access and printing facilities. Mobile phones are available for hire and wireless vouchers for your laptops. Come in for a coffee and check your emails, get some information, grab a tide chart or take home a classic Cocos Calendar. Open Mon - Fri (8am - 3pm) Email: ([email protected])  edit
  • Australia Post, +61 8 9162 6645 (fax: +61 8 9162 7500).  edit
  • Cocos Club, +61 8 9162 6688. Open 7 days a week.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are two restaurants and a couple of cafes on Cocos. The Tropika Restaurant is on West Island, whilst Bunga Melati is 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. The Tropika has a mix of Malay and western style meals with a selection of meats, vegetables and salads available from the bistro.

  • Tropika, (Located on West Island in the Cocos Beach Motel), +61 8 9162 6672. buffet dinner $33.  edit
  • Dory's Cafe, (Located on West Island just south of the medical centre), +61 8 9162 7646. M-F breakfast and lunch, Sunday breakfast. a range of light meals from $15 up.  edit
  • Bunga Melati, (Located on Home Island in the small business centre), +61 8 9162 7633. The restaurant will open for lunch or dinner on request.  edit

Don't want to eat at a restaurant? Usually, every 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.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

This 28 room motel is centrally located right in the middle of town, right on the beach and only across the road from the Cocos Club, airport and a short walk to the supermarket. Many of the rooms have direct views to the Indian Ocean. Ideally suited to couples, singles or twin. Private ensuite and air conditioned. Three family rooms are available. On site restaurant: The Tropika.

Architecturally designed cottages, purpose built tourist accommodation, overlooking the golf course and the lagoon. They offer spacious bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, large undercover deck areas and on site BBQ area. Located within easy walking distance of the supermarket, Cocos Club, tennis courts, golf club, restaurants and other facilities.

Stay safe[edit]

Cyclone season is October to April.

Stay healthy[edit]

Fresh water resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs.


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