West Island, capital city of Cocos Keeling Islands
West Island is one of the only two inhabited Cocos Keeling Islands. The remaining 27 islands are some of the last unspoilt paradises in the world, and West Island itself is a pristine getaway over 2,700 kilometers from Perth. The tropical Eden is an ideal place to go when you want to get away from it all and spend your time enjoying tranquility, relaxation and a touch of adventure.
Avid birdwatchers have long come to West Island in hopes of spotting some of the tropics' most rare and exotic species. Nearly 40 different bird species live or breed on the island, and many migratory birds can be sighted as they replenish their fat reserves there from September through April. Recent recorded sightings include the common sandpiper, Cocos buff-banded rail, ruddy turnstone, Saunders tern, white-throated needletail, red-tailed tropicbird, masked booby, white tern, red-footed booby, white-winged black tern and the sooty tern.
The waters that surround West Island offer a unique combination of deep sea jigging, open ocean trawling and lagoon sport fishing. The clear waters teem with marine life, and few places in the world can compete with the quality of bonefish fly-fishing offered on West Island. The exhilarating experience of catching bonefish is not to be missed. Pelagics like sailfish, mahi mahi and wahoo are other common catches.
From July to October, the conditions on West Island are ripe for kite and windsurfing. The southeast trade winds that come billowing through the island at that time ensure that the lagoons and beaches are always dotted with colorful kites and sails.
Professional divers often name West Island as one of the world's best diving locations thanks to its warm water temperature, high visibility, varied underwater terrain, incredible diversity of marine life and uncrowded dive sites. Over 1,500 species of sea creatures thrive in the waters, including the Cocos pygmy angelfish, the only endemic species. As soon as you dive in, you will be greeted by an array of enchanting creatures, including butterfly fish, surgeon, parrot fish, angel fish, wrasse, damsels, manta rays, moray eels, sharks and even dolphins.
The Rip is the most popular snorkeling site, located not far from Wet Island at Direction island's southern tip. Humbug Drift on Prison Island is another favorite, especially for first-time snorkelers, and visitors there can take a tour on a glass-bottom boat.
Pulu Keeling National Park is about an hour's journey from West Island by ferry, and the park's rare ecosystems makes it a must-see for any visitors to the Cocos. While exploring the many trails that cut through the dense forest and across the white sand beaches, you can spot creatures like multiple kinds of crabs and 24 species of seabird. It is also common to spot mourning and smooth-scaled geckos scurrying across the grounds.