An adventure into the tropical Indian Ocean waters which lap Christmas Island is currently topping the bucket list for divers from all around the world.
For many years sun-kissed locals have kept the island's 5-star diving a closely-guarded secret, however with the arrival of a global diving conglomerate and a new flight which connects the remote island to the rest of the world, the secret is finally out.
Since Extra Divers Worldwide, who operate in 35 locations around the world, opened their Christmas Island diving operation six months ago, the boom provided to the island's tourism industry was instant.
“This is proving to be a massive boost to eco-tourism on our island,” says Linda Cash, of the Christmas Island Tourism Association, adding, “it's also a giant tick of approval for our reputation as a global diving destination.”
Walter Harscher, CEO of Extra Divers Worldwide is so convinced that Christmas Island, located off the West Australian coast, “is the untapped diving paradise of Asia” his company has also invested in a weekly charter flight from Indonesia to cater for the surge in divers from the northern hemisphere.
The air charter, serviced by a Bombardier 96 business jet flies the Jakarta-Christmas Island-Jakarta route every week and offers a special excess baggage rate for divers wanting to bring their own equipment.
“The word is out, and we're getting bookings from the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Holland and Italy and also from all over Asia,” explains Harscher, adding “divers are flocking here for the amazing marine life including turtles, big pelagic fish, whale sharks and dolphins.”
The new Christmas Island diving operation, which enables up to 32 divers per week to explore the island's underwater Garden of Eden is headed-up by husband-wife team of Hiro and Sandra Yoshida.
“From shallow reef diving to deeper technical dives along dramatic drop offs and adventurous cave dives, Christmas Island has it all!” exclaim the Yoshidas who despite having worked in many of the world's diving hot-spots over the past decade, confess they've “never seen anything comparable to the diversity of diving Christmas Island offers”.
The response to the new dive centre and flight have been so strong that Extra Divers Worldwide are already planning to build a dive resort on the island.
Cash reports there is “a real buzz on the island,” with hotels, restauranteurs and other businesses welcoming the influx of divers to the island's waters which are regarded by oceanographers as some of the clearest on the planet.
Discover Christmas Island before the rest of the world does.
- A Garuda charter flight services the Jakarta-Christmas Island-Jakarta route every Saturday. Return fares AUD730. Additional allowance for dive equipment AUD30. Virgin Australia also service the island, flying twice a week ex-Perth.
- Christmas Island rises dramatically from the edge of the Java Trench, the Indian Ocean's deepest point. This contributes to spectacular drop-off diving with most walls just 20-metres from the shoreline.
- As an External Territory of Australia, Christmas Island has historically been excluded from the Australian Tourism Database Warehouse (ATDW). However, the Christmas Island Tourism Association is pleased to announce that from May 2017 the island's tourism products, including its diving adventures, will be listed in the new ATDW online platform. This partnership will enable tourism businesses and events located on the island to register their tourism businesses and experiences and load their listings directly into the ATDW database for wider online distribution. More: www.atdw.com.au
- ATDW CEO Mark Williams reports, “after several years of talking with Christmas Island, exploring ways of how they could benefit from the ATDW platform, we are so pleased to welcome them on board and look forward to a close and fruitful working relationship.”