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Cocos (Keeling) Islands

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Capital West Island
Currency Australian dollar (AUD)
Population 596 (2014)
Country code +61891
Time zone UTC+06:30
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For the island in Costa Rica, see Cocos Island National Park.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands (or simply Cocos Islands or Keeling Islands) is in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2,750km north-west of Perth, and 900km west south-west of Christmas Island.


The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are located in the middle of the Indian Ocean some 2,750km north-west of Perth, and 900 km west south-west of Christmas Island, its closest neighbour. Cocos lies approximately 12° south and 96.5° east, locating the islands in the humid tropical zone.

There are 27 coral islands in the group. Captain William Keeling discovered the islands in 1609, but they remained uninhabited until the 19th century. Annexed by the UK in 1857, they were transferred to the Australian Government in 1955. The population on the two inhabited islands generally is split between the ethnic Europeans on West Island and the ethnic Malays on Home Island.

Grown throughout the islands, coconuts are the sole cash crop. Small local gardens and fishing contribute to the food supply, but additional food and most other necessities must be imported from Australia. There is a small tourist industry.


Map of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

There are two inhabited islands in the group, West Island and Home Island. West Island is the capital of the territory with about 100 inhabitants. It is mostly an English speaking area with the most tourist facilities, a clinic and an airstrip. The largest village is Bantam on Home Island with a population of around 400, most of whom speak the Cocos dialect of the Malay language.

The other islands in the archipelago are uninhabited. Horsburgh Island and South Island are among the larger uninhabited islands. Direction Island, a true island paradise, is connected by ferry every Saturday. It includes a beach that's been identified as the best beach in Australia. Finally, there's North Keeling Island, a national park approximately 50km north of the other islands. Access to this island is only allowed with permission from Parks Australia.


Cocos experiences two main seasons which tend to overlap: the trade wind season from April / May to September / October and the calmer doldrum season from November through to April. Expect higher rainfall during March through to July. January through to August may also generate the occasional low pressure system (usually between February and April). However these systems do not normally interfere with holiday plans. Rain usually falls in the evenings, bringing glorious sunny days! The average annual rainfall is 2,000mm! Temperatures are fairly consistent no matter what the season, remaining around a comfortable 29°C with a minimum evening temperature rarely dropping below 20°C.


Flat, low-lying coral atolls, thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation.

Tourist information[edit]

  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association Inc., PO Box 1030, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Indian Ocean WA 6799, +61 8 9162-6790, fax: +61 8 9162-6696, e-mail: . M 08:00-17:00, Tu- Th 08:00-14:30, F 08:00-16:00, Sa (early flight) 13:00-16:00, Sa (late flight) 14:00-17:00, closed Su & Public Holidays.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • There is one airport on West Island that receives two National Jet flights a week from Perth, usually stopping over at Christmas Island and Exmouth either on the way or the way back. One way/return is $840/$1680, with advance purchase returns available for $1098.
  • Every second Saturday, an additional flight from National Jet departs to the Islands operating every two weeks.
  • Virgin Australia commenced services in 2010 with twice weekly flights to Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island and an additional third weekly flight to Christmas Island only underwritten by the Federal Government.
  • The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are one and a half hours behind Western Standard Time (WST) and three and a half hours behind Eastern Standard Time (EST).
  • Australian citizens do not need a passport, but must carry some form of photographic identification.

By boat[edit]

There are no harbours.

Get around[edit]

A local bus service from West Island Settlement to the jetty operates approximately 20 minutes prior to the departure of the ferry to Home Island. On Saturday the ferry diverts to Direction Island to allow tourists and locals access to this remote paradise. The ferry returns in the afternoon to return you to West Island. Timetables are available from the Tourism office or the Duty Free Shop.

  • A Car Rental, +61 8 9162-7646. Contact Geof Christie for availability and rates.
  • Cocos Autos, +61 8 9162-7661. Cocos Autos offers visitors to Cocos (Keeling) Islands an extensive and diverse range of vehicles. Choose from Dual and Single Cab Utes, Dual Cab 4WD’s or a 17 seater bus. Baby seats and booster seats are also available.
  • AW & KJ James Car Hire, +61 8 9162-7717. Quality vehicles available for hire. Contact Ash or Kylie for availability and rates..


Take cultural tours with some of the local tour operators or guide yourself around the islands to explore why they call the Cocos Islands a "nature and water lover's paradise".

During the year, as well as the traditional events such as Easter, New Year, Christmas etc., Cocos hosts a number of unique events. These include the annual Lagoon swim, where competitors swim from Home Island across the lagoon to West Island. Individuals or teams may enter and whether you are a serious contender or wish to join in with the Hash House Harriers (who always seem to get themselves disqualified for one thing or another), everyone has a load of fun. It finishes in the evening with dinner and presentations to the winners and boat drivers.

Other unique events are the mid-year Cocos Ball, quiz nights, Music & Wine festival, Ardmona Cup and Cocos Olympics. All visitors are encouraged to join in with these festivities and activities. Exact dates vary from year to year. Please check with the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Tourism Association before booking for particular events.

Don't forget visitors to the Island are also welcome to participate in the School Fete, Sports Carnival and concert events.

  • 2nd Wind Sailboards. July through to September only. Watersport holidays. Windsurfing, SUP'ing, kiting.


  • Cocos Islands Golf Club. Thursdays. Play the most westerly golf course in Australia that also includes an international runway! Locals and visitors meet every Thursday afternoon for a friendly game of "Scroungers" (Ambrose). Be at the Donga (next to the West Island Supermarket) at 15.30. All adults are more than welcome, club hire is available and a full bar. You won't play this kind of golf anywhere else in the world, not to be missed!


  • Supermarket, Clunies-Ross Avenue, +61 8 9162 6676, fax: +61 8 9162 7605.
  • Community Resource Centre (Administration building), +61 8 9162 7707, e-mail: . Open Mon - Fri (8am - 3pm) Sat (10am - 3pm) Sun (9am - 12pm). The Cocos Islands Community Resource Centre provides internet access and printing facilities. Mobile phones are available for hire and wireless vouchers for your laptops. Come in for a coffee and check your emails, get some information, grab a tide chart or take home a classic Cocos Calendar.
  • Australia Post, +61 8 9162 6645, fax: +61 8 9162 7500.
  • Cocos Club, +61 8 9162 6688. Open 7 days a week.



There are two restaurants on Cocos. The Tropika Restaurant is on West Island, whilst Bunga Melati is on Home Island.

Malay cuisine is a selection of rice, noodles, curry and chilli, featuring chicken, beef, lamb and seafood dishes. Food is prepared to be flavoursome and not particularly hot, unless requested. The Tropika caters to western style meals with a selection of meats, vegetables and salads available from the bistro. In both restaurants, meals are reasonably priced and rarely exceed $20.00 per person.

  • Tropika (Located on West Island in the Cocos Beach Motel), +61 8 9162 6672.
  • Bunga Melati (Located on Home Island in the small business centre), +61 8 9162 7633. The restaurant will open for lunch or dinner on request.

Don't want to eat at a restaurant? Usually, every third Friday, the different social clubs of Cocos prepare a "food night" at the Cocos Club. Excellently priced meals are offered along with raffles and good natured fun. Come along, share a meal. The Cocos Club also offers visitors a great venue to get to know the locals and join in with any activity that is happening.


This 28 room motel is centrally located right in the middle of town, right on the beach and only across the road from the Cocos Club, airport and a short walk to the supermarket. Many of the rooms have direct views to the Indian Ocean. Ideally suited to couples, singles or twin. Private en suite and air conditioned. Three family rooms are available. On site restaurant: The Tropika.

Architecturally designed cottages, purpose built tourist accommodation, overlooking the golf course and the lagoon. They offer spacious bedrooms, fully equipped kitchens, large undercover deck areas and on site BBQ area. Located within easy walking distance of the supermarket, Cocos Club, tennis courts, golf club, restaurants and other facilities.

Stay safe[edit]

Cyclone season is October to April.

Stay healthy[edit]

Fresh water resources are limited to rainwater accumulations in natural underground reservoirs.


Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Cocos Islands is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.