All you need to know about Christmas Island Diving & Snorkelling

Snorkelling and Diving on Christmas Island is an unforgettable experience. The tip of an extinct volcanic system on the edge of the 3000m deep Java trench, the drop offs and reefs have spectacular coral, caves and a huge variety of colourful tropical fish. Christmas Island diving trips can also have you swimming with whale sharks, manta rays and dolphins.

In 2022 the Christmas Island Marine Park (along with the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Marine Park) was added to the list of Australian Marine Parks in recognition of their amazing marine biodiversity.

The best thing is, once you get to Christmas Island, diving, snorkelling and free diving locations are just metres from shore, the water is warm and visibility can be better than 50m. It’s a divers and snorkellers paradise!

Disclosure: Please Note That Some Links In This Post May Be Affiliate Links, And At No Additional Cost To You, We Earn A Small Commission If You Make A Purchase. Commissions Go Toward Maintaining The Curious Campers Website.

Flying Fish Cove
Flying Fish Cove

Where is Christmas Island?

Christmas Island is 2600km northwest of Perth in the Indian Ocean. Even though it is It is closer to Indonesia than Australia, it is an Australian territory, so you don’t need a passport to go there. The nearest Australian city is Exmouth, nearly 1600km away.

Read More: Things to do on Christmas Island

Getting to Christmas Island

There are two flights a week to Christmas Island that depart from Perth on Tuesdays and Fridays with Virgin Australia.

The Tuesday flight goes directly to Christmas Island then onto Cocos Islands and back to Perth. The Friday flight goes via Exmouth (Learmonth), then the Cocos Islands and finally Christmas Island.

Christmas Island Diving

Best time to go Diving on Christmas Island

Christmas Island is in the tropics and has a wet season and a dry season. The average air temperature is 28°C year-round, with slightly cooler conditions in July and August. Humidity remains constant year round at 80-90% but April to October the muggy conditions are tempered by the trade winds.

Wet Season from November to April. The ocean conditions can be a little rougher and it can be rainy but visibility stays around 20m. While conditions at this time vary, it is whale shark season. Average water temperature is 29°C.

Dry Season from May to October. The ocean conditions can be quite calm on the north and west side of the Island. Good visibility. Same amazing diversity with less divers. Water temperatures range from 25 to 27°C. 

Christmas Island Diving

Christmas Island Diving

With more than 60 dive sites to choose from, Christmas Island is one of Australia’s best scuba diving destinations. Most of the dive sites are on a narrow fringing reef surrounding the island. This reef starts as close as 20 meters from shore and drop hundreds of meters to the sea floor.

Many of the dive sites are concentrated just east or west of Flying Fish Cove, which is where boat dives depart from. West of Flying Fish Cove, you might find yourself at Daniel Roux Cave, Smith Point, Million Dollar Bommie, Barracuda Bay or Thundercliff Cave. To the east you might end up at Isabel Beach, Rocky Point, The Morgue or Coconut Point. Where you go will depend on the conditions and your experience.

Christmas Island Boat Diving

Booking Christmas Island Boat Dives

If you are planning a trip to Christmas Island or ‘neighboring’ Cocos Islands, it is worth getting in touch with the dive operators to check they are in town.

We booked our holiday to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Islands without first checking if the dive operators where running tours when we were there. As a result, we struck out on Cocos Island where the one dive operator was on leave – but there was plenty of great snorkelling around the reefs and bays.

Thankfully Christmas Island’s two dive operators, Wet n’ Dry Adventures & Extra Divers were both open for business during our stay. We booked our dives with Wet’n’Dry Adventures and had a great day out with Hama and Lynney. Most of the dive sites are drift dives so you can relax knowing the boat is waiting for you when you surface.

Christmas Island Scuba
Christmas Island Diving © Colin Murphy

Our Christmas Island Dives

We left from Flying Fish Cove and headed West to find a couple of dive sites along the rocky coastline. The limestone cliffs have many caves, some of which can be explored from a boat dive. We checked out one cave from the boat but opted to dive the colourful reef, Middle Beach and Lynnie’s Bommie around 20m away from the cliffs.  

Our dives ranged from around 15m to 25 m in depth ensuring we stayed in the zone for the best light and colour. As we swam along looking down, it was incredible to think that it plunged several kilometres into the depths.

We swam over coral bommies teaming with tropical fish, swam through swim-throughs and marvelled at the huge coral fans and colours.

YouTube video

What will you see Diving on Christmas Island

The Christmas Island Marine Park has an amazing diversity of marine life, nearly 100 types of coral and 650 species of fish. Visibility is consistently excellent, reaching anywhere from 20 to 50 metres.

Being so remote, the fan and plate corals are untouched and spectacular. The reef is teaming with surgeonfish, wrasse, butterflyfish, angelfish, groupers, parrotfish, and eels to name just a few.

Look a little closer and you will see nudibranchs, shrimp and other cute critters poking their heads out from the coral. Depending on your dive you might find dolphins, manta rays, turtles, reef sharks and during the wet season hammerhead sharks and whale sharks visit the area.

Spinner Dolphins
Spinner Dolphins
Giant Trevally
Giant Trevally

Fun Encounters between Dives

In-between our two dives we were able to jump in the water twice. First with around 8-10 Spinner Dolphins. Hama put us in the water and took the boat around to attract the dolphins back to us a couple of times. The dolphins swam between us and even did a couple of jumps out of the water.

We also came across a school of around 20 Giant Trevally. This was an exciting snorkel, the GT were huge, fast and lots of fun. A splash would get them excited and swimming towards you very fast!

If you are a snorkeller accompanying a diver, there is great snorkelling while you wait for the divers to surface. While we were underwater, snorkellers drifted over the Eidsvold Wreck and got to swim right up to the mouth of one of the caves. The water is so clear, there is still lots to see.

Flying Fish Cove Snorkel
Flying Fish Cove Snorkel
Flying Fish Cove Snorkel

Flying Fish Cove Dive & Snorkel

One of the best diving and snorkelling spots On Christmas Island is at Flying Fish Cove, the main bay in The Settlement. At high tide there is plenty of water over the inner reef which is a stunning snorkelling spot. And for divers, you only need to go out 30-50m metres further to be in 5-25m of water.

Flying Fish Cove Jetty

Getting in the Water

Flying Fish Cove is a protected area on the northeast side of the Island. Access is a dream, simply walk along the jetty to the water-level platform, it makes it super easy for divers and snorkellers. At high tide you can swim onto and off the platform or walk up a couple of steps on the ladder.

It is one of the simplest and best shore dives we have done; you just get in the water and are surrounded by reef and fish. If you enter from the beach, it’s a good idea to wear reef shoes as the coral can be sharp and there are stone fish around.

If you are diving, from the jetty head out another 10-20 m and find the drop-off or if snorkelling you can head either side of the jetty for a mind-blowing snorkelling experience.

YouTube video

What will you see in Flying Fish Cove?

In as little as one meter of water you will find parrotfish, surgeonfish and unicorn fish working their way along the corals. You might also come across a moray eel, lionfish and hawksbill turtles. We watched parrot fish feed on the reef while the smaller fish swarmed to pick up the scrap. We watched hundreds of yellow and black Convict Tang move in unison as they fed on the reef.

Basically, every direction we looked was like a tropical aquarium. The amount and diversity of life on the reef was amazing. Even on our final day on Christmas Island, we couldn’t resist one last snorkel before we packed for the flight home.

Insiders tip – dive or snorkel at Flying Fish Cove early for the best conditions then head to the Flying Fish Café for a beautiful brunch on the foreshore – the perfect morning!

The Sanctuary Adult Retreat

Hibiscus House

Christmas Island Accommodation

  • The Sunset Hotel – Flying Fish Cove, Hotel Rooms, Outdoor Swimming Pool, Water Views
  • VQ3 Lodge – Flying Fish Cove, Hotel Rooms, BBQ, Swimming Pool, Air-Conditioning
  • Hibiscus House – Flying Fish Cove, 2br Chalet, Kitchenette, patio, BBQ

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Christmas Island Diving
Christmas Island Diving
Christmas Island Diving
Christmas Island Diving
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