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Christmas Island returns Part 1

Christmas Island Part 1

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A couple of years back the Perth Scuba travel visionaries (well Joey really) worked out that the Aussie dollar was finally going to drop in value against the US and that would most definitely affect both overseas trip pricing and reduce the viability of some dive destinations which we have previously embarked on. An example on that scale… Antarctica which was a $12,000 trip is now a $16,000 trip. The 40% difference in the value of our dollar was going to make trips far more expensive and out of reach for most of us. So that said, we decided to take on more local diving. Tasmania, which turned out to be one of the most awesome diving trips, Ningaloo which is always a favourite, our upcoming trip to the Great Barrier Reef and of course our most recent trip to Christmas / Cocos Islands. Supporting local is always a great way to go… And to date we have been able to prove that.
Having been to Christmas Island a couple of times before, (and Cocos once), I knew that the diving was definitely worth the trip. But until you get to go on a trip with a bunch of different people you don’t realise how much the people can also make the trip. This trip was a nice easy one for Joey and I as tour leaders to manage with just 9 of us heading off to get away from the cold spell which had just hit Perth on the day we left (perfect timing). After a 2 hour delay on the tarmac due to a “technical difficulty” with the air bridge which needed an electrician to press the reset button – but it was 6am and he didn’t start until 8am (gotta love Perth), but once we were on our way… There was no looking back!
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We arrived for our stopover in Cocos Islands after a 4 hour flight and were welcomed by Dieter from Cocos Keeling Islands Dive and One of our great (and very lucky to live there customers and friend Rik and his awesome family as a welcoming party. It was great to catch up with them albeit for 20 minutes while we were in transit.
back on the plane and it was onwards to Christmas Island.
We arrived, collected our bags and jumped into our hire cars after catching up with our dive guide Hamma. Hamma is a Japanese national and a very nice guy with a LOT of knowledge of the waters and caves of Christmas Island. i guess 20 years will give you that and he certainly enjoys what he does.
We headed off in convoy and it was only minutes before we were driving all over the road avoiding the famous Christmas Island Red Crabs. You would swear we had all been drinking too much airline alcohol watching from behind but we managed to get there without any fatalities… Human or Crab.
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We arrived at our accommodation “The Sunset” hotel which has the best ocean views. (and is 30 metres from a pub). We settled in for the afternoon and had a few drinks by the pool. The air temperature in Christmas Island was 30 degrees… The same temperature as the water! Woohoo! T shirt and shorts diving.
I’m not going to go into details about every dive we did because that would be just rubbing the salt in the wounds for those of you who couldn’t go… But I am going to share some of the highlight dives with you just to tell you how much Christmas Island MUST be put on your bucket list of diving destinations. It is fantastic!
The scenery and coastline of CI is fairly rugged. For those of you who remember the tragic events a few years back when a refugee boat lost power as they arrived in stormy weather and rough seas and were battered against the volcanic formed cliff face which spans most of the island. You will recall how sheer the rocks were and how inhospitable the coastline can be. We however found the weather to be nothing less than magnificent and the water was flat with virtually zero swell.
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The view from the Sunset was great. We could see the Australian Navy patrolling back and forth all day (and night). Looking after us and making sure we weren’t overrun by rickety old fishing boats.
Our first 2 dives were an introduction to what we could expect over the next 10 days. We weren’t going to be disappointed. The corals were huge and plentiful. The sheer walls of CI continue underwater with depths dropping away to 1000m just 100 metres off the coast. Wall dives here are amazing and there is plenty of fish swarming around the coral gardens. It became evident very quickly that Christmas Island is one of Australia’s best diving secrets. Next week Part 2
written by Lee Johnson – Perth Scuba Tour Leader


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