Made up of 27 coral islands, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, are a little known Australian destination. The horseshoe shaped atolls are found in the Indian Ocean, a long ways out from Perth, around 1700 miles (2750 kilometers). The islands’ closest neighbors are the Christmas Islands, which are 560 miles (900 kilometers) to the north east. An easy way to remember the destination is that they are about halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka.
Only around 600 people live on the islands and atolls, making for a serene and private locale. The approximately 100 European settlers primarily live on the West Island, while the 500 native Malays live mostly on Home Island.
For centuries, the islands have been an excellent transitional stopping ground for sailors on the go. Today, most of the economic income on the island comes from scuba diving and watersports loving tourists. While the islands sustain themselves mostly by fishing and farming, most everything is imported from Australia, and beyond.
After a long day of diving, there’s no need to leave the water. Surfing and windsurfing have caught hold, and paddleboarding is gaining publicity. Out of the crystal blue, go to the Pulu Keeling National Park, where crabs meander through the jungle, dripping with verdant greenery.
Fly from Perth twice a week, on a route that goes in a circle from the mainland to the Cocos Islands to Christmas Island.