Red Crab Migration
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Christmas Island Rainforest
When 70% of your island home is made up of Christmas Island National Park, with more endemic species than any other Australian protected area, it’s easy to understand how Managing Director of Indian Ocean Experiences, Lisa Preston, became captivated by the beauty, the wildlife and the significance of the biodiversity of Australia’s Indian Ocean islands, and felt the need to share these unique experiences and encourage their continuing protection.
Proudly calling herself a local, Lisa Preston founded Indian Ocean Experiences in 2011, being one of the first operators to offer expertly guided land experiences across Christmas Island, centred around sustainable and conservation focussed touring.
From witnessing the Christmas Island Red Crab Migration, described by Sir David Attenborough as one of his 10 most amazing wildlife migrations, to viewing some of the rarest seabirds on the planet in Christmas Island National Park, and swimming amongst the 30,000 Green and Hawksbill Turtles that call the azure blue waters of the Cocos Keeling Islands lagoon home, it is little wonder this region is world-renowned by nature enthusiasts.
As specialists in tailor-made itineraries across passion points such as birdwatching, diving, photography, geology and culture, the team prides itself on delivering genuine experiences for guests, connecting with passionate locals who love sharing their stories.
Christmas Island’s geographic isolation and minimal human disturbance has produced an incredible level of biodiversity and endemism, leading to the label of the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean’.
Over 90 different crab species can be found on the island, with some obvious like the enormous Robber Crab, whilst others are far more elusive. But it is the island’s epic annual migration of approximately 60 million Red Crabs from the forest to the ocean shoreline to mate and spawn each wet season (November/December) that has made this region renowned across the globe.
The island is also one of Australia’s greatest birdwatching regions, with a rookery of around 80,000 seabirds nesting each year, with 23 breeding or resident species and 86 migrant bird species recorded as island visitors. It is home to the world’s rarest booby and frigatebird, the Abbott’s Booby and the Christmas Island Frigatebird and one of the most beautiful seabirds on earth, the Golden Bosun. BirdLife International has declared Christmas Island as both an Endemic Bird Area and an Important Bird Area.
The island is home to 237 native plant species, 28 types of butterfly, 90 types of beetle, 14 types of snail and 5 native lizard species, including the Christmas Island Giant & Lister’s Gecko and the Blue-tailed Skink, with the majority of these species found within the Christmas Island National Park that lays claim to 64% of Christmas Island’s land area. As well as protecting the Jurassic style rainforests, mangroves, wetlands and extraordinary cave system, the National Park extends 50m offshore.
Christmas Island boasts 88 species of coral and more than 650 different types of fish and is regarded as one of Australia’s best dive sites, due to the high volume of immense drop-offs only metres from the shoreline. Sensational visibility of up to 50 metres, ensures that guests can observe abundant fish including surgeonfish, wrasse, butterflyfish, angelfish, groupers, parrotfish as well as reef sharks, dolphins, turtles and Manta Rays and Whale Sharks on an opportunistic basis.
Cocos Keeling Islands
The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are two atolls, made up of 27 coral islands, formed around the ring of an extinct volcano. With 26 kilometres of glorious coastline, the islands are covered with coconut palms and idyllic white-sandy beaches, with the highest point among the islands less than 10m above sea level.
The southern atoll is made up of 26 islands, including the two populated islands of Home Island and West Island. West Island is where most accommodation is located and offers opportunity for snorkelling, kite surfing and canoe safaris. Home Island is home to the Cocos Malay community and the seat of the Clunies-Ross dynasty, Oceania House and is regularly serviced with a ferry across the lagoon.
There are over 60 plant species native to the 22 vegetated islands with the region playing an important role in the routes that shorebirds take during their annual migration, with the islands found within the southwest extremity of the East Asian - Australian flyway. There are 39 breeding or resident species of birds on the atolls and one endemic sub-species, the Cocos Buff-banded Rail.
North Keeling National Park supports many of the vagrant species as it is remote to the other 26 islands and is a key breeding site for many seabirds, with Red-footed, Masked & Brown Boobies, frigatebirds, Common Noddies, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, Red-tailed and White-tailed tropicbirds, and Sooty Terns possible sightings.
The Cocos (Keeling) Island are known for their spectacular clear azure waters, with a renowned population of turtles in the lagoon (15,000 Green Turtles and 15,000 Hawksbill Turtles), reef sharks, dolphins, Manta Rays, diverse coral gardens delicate Gorgonian Fans and hundreds of tropical fish species.
Meet our guides
Meet our guides
Lisa PrestonLisa Preston has called Christmas Island home for over 20 years, and has visited her nearest neighbour, the Cocos Keeling Islands, too many times to count. Lisa has dived all around these islands, has trekked to every corner and loves to share the islands' wildlife experiences and hidden secrets with her guests. When not on tour, you will find Lisa scouring the skies and the jungle for vagrant bird species who happenchance to land on these amazing Australian outposts.