Chillaxin’ on Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The reason I love the TCC list of countries is that it includes a lot of remote places that I would have never otherwise thought of traveling to. Cocos (Keeling) Islands are some of the most remote islands in the world. Cocos (Keeling) Islands are in the middle of the Indian Ocean, 2,750km NW of Perth and 900 km West of Christmas Island.  Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of 27 coral islands but the two inhabited islands are West Island and Home Island.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

West Island is where the airport is located and thus where I spent my day. Home Island can be reached by ferry and is generally inhabited by ethnic Malaysians but unfortunately due to the flight scheduling and cost of staying in Cocos (Keeling) Islands, I did not have enough time to visit.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

My favourite part of my visit to Cocos (Keeling) Islands was probably the views from the air. The islands are incredibly beautiful from above and I believe the pilots intentionally tilt the plane to ensure everyone gets a good view. This is definitely a flight to book a window seat on!

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Prior to arriving I had booked the cheapest room I could find through the tourism association for $155/night at the Cocos Beach Motel.  The best part of West Island is that it is so small almost everywhere is accessible from the airport by walking or bicycle. The Cocos Beach Motel was right across the street from the airport but a representative was still there to greet us and check us in. Since Virgin only operates 3 flights per week and it is how a lot of supplies are brought in to Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the arrival of a flight seems to be quite the community affair. Loads of locals were sitting at the airport, most with beers in their hands, chatting and greeting the new arrivals. Along with all of the passengers, lots of food and other suppliers were being brought it. Most people had checked the maximum amount of luggage allowed so I felt quite silly with my small carry-on backpack.

Everything is close to the airport!

Everything is close to the airport!

The Cocos Beach Motel was exactly what I would expect for a budget motel. Everything was clean and there was a kettle and fridge in the room which helped me avoid the exorbitant food costs on the island. As soon as I arrived I went to the visitor information but discovered that with my limited schedule there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for activities. Most of the good snorkeling is accessible by ferry so I decide to just take advantage of the beautiful scenery and relax. They also told me I should run to the supermarket because it closed early and that if I wanted to eat dinner Tropika (next to the Cocos Beach Motel) served a nice dinner buffet. I enjoyed the fact that to dine at Tropika I had to sign up in advance on a blackboard posted outside the restaurant, which I assume is done so they can avoid wasting any food which is very expensive to transport to the remote islands.  The supermarket was also generally quite expensive so I decided to just get by on Ramen noodles and crackers. If you’re visiting Cocos (Keeling) Islands for a few days, I would highly recommend bringing your own food in (along with a receipt showing it was purchased in Australia). Based on the costs,  I expect most visitors to Cocos (Keeling) Islands are wealthy Australians looking for a relaxing holiday because it’s certainly not a destination for a budget backpacker like myself!!!

My first afternoon on West Island consisted of relaxing and enjoying the magnificent views from behind my motel. It was also the perfect place to watch the sunset.

Views Behind Cocos Beach Motel

Views Behind Cocos Beach Motel

Beautiful Sunset over the Indian Ocean

Beautiful Sunset over the Indian Ocean

Dinner at Tropika was $33 but the food was excellent and considering the other eating options I would consider it good value. I also met a nice Australian family who offered me a G&T and I enjoyed hearing about the week’s worth of activities they had planned (snorkeling, beaching, golfing, visiting Direction Island, and generally relaxing).

The next day, before my flight, I went for a long walk hoping to find a coffee shop or cafe open. Unfortunately, because it was a Saturday, it seemed like everything was closed. When the Tourist Information opened I hired a bicycle for the day ($15) and went exploring. Despite West Island’s small side, it features a unique golf course which shares space with the airstrip. One needs to obtain permission from the Airport Manager before teeing off because the holes actually play across the runway. If I had more time, I definitely would have enjoyed playing a round!

Cocos (Keeling) Islands Airport Golf Course

Cocos (Keeling) Islands Airport Golf Course

I then rode the bicycle across the entire island from end to end, stopping at the beaches and other view points to check out the views. One thing Cocos (Keeling) Islands definite have are gorgeous beaches!

Overall, Cocos (Keeling) Islands seem like a very friendly place if you are in search of a unique destination for rest and relaxation or time with family. There are definitely cheaper destinations with more activities to do, but I am still very happy I was able to visit Cocos at least once in my lifetime.

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