Cocos (Keeling) Islands
The Cocos or Keeling Islands is a group of small coral islands in the Indian Ocean. The islands are Australian external territory. The inhabited islands are Home and West Island. The capital city is West Island city.
The climate on the islands is wet tropical. The tourists usually do not come here from October to April as this is the period of tropical cyclones.
The official language is English. The majority of the population are the Muslims.
The Cocos Islands are the main destination for people who prefer to spend their time on tropical beaches. The tourists can also take a boat trip to small uninhabited islands.
The tourists who like active holidays will also be satisfied as they can take canoe tours, boat tours and scuba dive both in groups and individually. There is everything you need for snorkelling as well.
The travellers can go fishing and the fish they catch will be prepared right away.
The Cocos Islands are very popular among the surfers. The most popular place for surfing and kitesurfing is the North Lagoon.
There are no direct flights from CIS and the European Union to the Cocos Islands. To get to the Islands, the tourists have to take a flight to Australian city Perth and then fly to the destination through the Christmas Island with Virgin Australia.
Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Malaysia, Emirates, Aeroflot, Royal Jordanian, and Transaero also offer transit flights to Perth.
Every 4-6 weeks, the ships of the Zentner Shipping Pty Limited depart from the port in Fremantle and arrive at the Cocos Islands.
CIS and EU tourists must obtain a visa to travel to the Cocos Islands. The residents of the EU are entitled to obtain a visa by filling in the online form. The citizens of CIS have to submit the documents to the Embassy of Australia.
Usually, it takes 15 working days to process the documents.
The visa is valid for a year and it allows staying on the islands for 90 days.
The Australian Customs legislation is applicable on the Cocos Islands. There are no restrictions concerning the import and export of national or foreign currency.
The tourists can bring in the following things duty-free:
- some alcohol and tobacco;
- clothes, shoes, and accessories strictly for personal use;
- 125 ml of perfume;
- gifts and other goods the total cost of which does not exceed 400 Australian dollars (AUD).
It is strictly prohibited to import:
- certain drugs;
- plants and products of plant origin;
- meat products;
- pets (without a special permit and a vet certificate).
To avoid a lengthy procedure of quarantine, we recommend you against bringing in fresh fruits and vegetables.
The tourists are not allowed to export:
- corals and sea shells;
- rare and endangered species of flora and fauna;
- coconuts “coco-de-mer”;
- decorative objects from the shell of turtles.
The Cocos Islands are mainly populated by the Malays, so the local cuisine is a mix of Australian and Malay cooking traditions. Islam, being the dominant religion, also had a great influence on the local cuisine. The staple food on the Islands is rice and seafood.
People on the Islands do not eat pork because of the religious restrictions. The tourists will be offered chicken Ayam Begana with lemongrass, curry and coconut water, meat with spices Renlang, chicken or beef saute and meat with beans.
The tourists will have a great choice of seafood dishes. You can try crawfish, prawns, lobsters and various types of fish.
For the first course serve the Malay noodle soup Laksa Jahor. Rice and its numerous variations is a common side dish. We recommend Naso Goreng Berkat with fried rice.
At the end of the meal, treat yourself to Ais Kacang with ice-cream, basil seeds, and peanuts; try sweet creamy Dadhid, halva, coconut Ladoo, fruits and fruits desserts.
The most popular drinks on the Cocos Islands are tea, coffee, bottled water and juices.
The locals almost never drink alcohol and alcoholic drinks are not served in restaurants. However, the tourists can buy alcohol in some shops.
The official currency on the Cocos Islands is the Australian Dollar (AUD) which is divided into 100 cents. The Reserve Bank of Australia issues the banknotes from 5 to 100 dollars, 1 and 2 dollar coins and coins from 10 to 50 cents.
The tourists can exchange the currency at the airport and in some hotels. Make sure you have enough cash as cashless payments are not accepted here.
The cards Dinners Club and Amex are accepted only in some places in the capital city.
There are no ATMs on the Cocos Islands.
You can cash traveller’s checks in some hotels in West Island. You will not be able to use the checks outside the city.
Details of interest
Sightseeing on the Cocos Islands
On the Cocos Islands, there are nor UNESCO sites or candidate sites.
The major sight of the Islands is a small Pulu Keeling National Park on the North Keeling Atoll, its lagoon and the surrounding water territory. If you like nature, take an excursion to the national park situated to the south-east from West Island. In the park, you will see amazing coconut plantations. The tourists will learn everything about coconut growing and the cooking recipes. The park is a habitat for many sea birds.
The divers can take a boat trip to the sunken ship.
For active tourists, there are boat tours to an uninhabited island Prison island. On the island, anyone can see the sea turtles, birds, and bats and walk along the isolated beach. The coral reef is ideal for diving and snorkelling.
The tourists should visit the Home Island Museum and learn more about the culture and the development of the islands, about early owners of the land and naval military history of Australia.
The Oceania house is also worth attention. The house was the residence of the owners of the south--western part of the island.
Souvenirs on the Coconut Islands
The tourists buy the following things to remember their travel to the Islands:
- T-shirts, scarves, and bags with the local symbols;
- postcards, photos and magnets depicting the Islands’ landscapes;
- coconut lamps;