IT IS hard to believe a place so often mentioned in news headlines could still be a hidden travel gem.
But that's exactly what Christmas Island is: a natural wonderland that is sadly best known for its place at the centre of the country's asylum seeker crisis rather than its pristine environment.
Known as the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island has the comforts of travelling within Australia while at the same time feeling exotic with its rich Chinese and Indonesian cultural history and animals found nowhere else on the planet, let alone in Australia.
For those of us living on the east coast, it's not as close or as cheap as other Pacific Island holidays, but those willing to make the journey via Perth to Christmas Island will be rewarded.
With its lush forests and sharp volcanic peaks, Christmas Island could have been a stand-in for Hawaii in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.
But who needs imaginary dinosaurs when you can get up close and personal with some real life behemoths?
Christmas Island's land crabs are the leviathans of their world, dominating nearly every inch of the island, two-thirds of which (85sq km) is national park.
Within an hour of landing at the airport, you are guaranteed to see the island's most numerous residents, the red land crabs.
It is estimated as many as 120 million red crabs live on the island and each year they migrate from the forests to the shore in a world-famous mass spawning.
I have been lucky enough to travel to Christmas Island twice, once during the 2010 spawning and more recently this year.
The spawning is a spectacle that I highly recommend planning a trip around, but I must say I did enjoy exploring the island outside of the spawning season.
Many of the island's roads are closed during the spawning and it's hard to get around to places like the Blowholes and Hugh's Waterfall in The Dales.
While its hiking trails, lookouts and natural wonders are well-signed, there is nothing overly touristy about Christmas Island, which I see as one of its greatest assets.
Visitor numbers are limited by the availability of accommodation and outside of the red land crab migration you are not likely to have to share many of the beaches or hiking trails with anyone.
The island is home to just 1500 residents, not counting the detention-centre staff, and if you're after a bit of seclusion it's easy to find.
You can hike to secluded beaches tucked away in little coves between sheer black cliffs, or head out on a boat for a spot of fishing, diving or snorkeling.
No visit to the island would be complete without some form of water sport. With more than 50-metre visibility all year, the warm blue water is perfect for diving.
Coral reefs fringe the entire island and the drop-offs are some of the best wall dives I've done anywhere in the world.
Several easily accessible sea caves also dot the north-west side of the island.
The author was a guest of Christmas Island Tourism.
Whether you're looking to secure a neat and comfortable family home with plenty of yard space for the outdoor coastal lifestyle, or you want to capitalise on a...
Owners have now relocated and we are instructed to sell. Sensational parcel of level land in a quiet location on 4000m2. Light filled open plan living, with raked...
Nestled in Black Mountain and only 5 minutes from the quaint Hinterland Town of Cooroy lies this fully useable 20 plus acre lifestyle property. Fully fenced and...
Owned by one of Noosa's historic families for nearly 60 years, this magnificent block with panoramic views over Lake Doonella is reluctantly being relinquished. ...
Located in the iconic Skippers Cove beachfront resort at Noosaville This gorgeous plantation style townhouse overlooks the sparkling resort pools A very generous...
- Recently renovated and extended to capture pretty Noosa River views - Private Balcony overlooking the Noosa River - This stylish townhouse offers lifestyle and...
- Wake up with the water at your front door, this won't last long - Invest with confidence with future growth assure from this location - Stunning ocean views...
Located right in the heart of Greenwood Grove estate and walking distance to town this fabulous property has a lot to offer. Great open plan living with plenty of...
This is one location where a car is definitely not necessary!! If you are a lover of nature and revel in the beauty of our fabulous Lake Doonella or simply...
Are you looking for a solid investment that you can either develop now and reap the immediate benefits or enjoy the charm and ambiance that this charismatic...
Join the Community.
Get your local news, your way.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.