Christmas Island

Main attractions

Coconut Crabs, Christmas Island
Coconut crabs, Christmas Island / , Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Geographically Christmas island is located in Asia, but, as the island belongs to Australia, it is reviewed as a part of Australia and Oceania.

Highlights of Christmas island are:

  • Biological diversity - major part of the island still is covered with primary monsoon forest. Here live numerous rare and endemic species of plants and animals, including five endemic bird species and at least six subspecies, four endemic mammals, five endemic reptiles, more than 190 endemic arthropods. Christmas island contains 14 species of endemic plants, including a rare fern - Christmas Island Spleenwort Asplenium listeri, a tree Grewia insularis, subspecies of stinging tree Dendrocnide peltata var. murrayana.
  • Features of karst processes - island contains interesting caves and springs.

Most interesting landmarks on Christmas Island are:

  • Christmas Island subtropical forest and red crabs - all over the island. Forest of Christmas Island is unique in the world due to dominant species - some 50 - 100 million red crabs (Gecarcoidea natalis Pocock) - clearing the forest floor of leaves and other organic matter. These crabs are endemic to Christmas Island. Once per year they migrate to the sea to lay their eggs, on the way blocking the roads and paths. It is considered that their population increased due to the extinction of the endemic Maclear's rat (Rattus macleari) in 1903.
  • Hosnies Spring mangroves - eastern part. 120,000 years old grove of mangroves some 24 - 37 m above the sea level. Mangrove ecosystems traditionally grow in shallow seawater - but here, as the sea level decreased, mangroves were fed by springs. This is unique case in the world. This 3,300 m² large area (core part, 202 ha in size) contains the oldest trees of Bruguiera gymnorrhiza and Bruguiera sexangula - 30 - 40 m tall, with trunk diameter up to 80 cm. There are mangroves of other species growing well above the sea level elsewhere on the island.
  • The Dales - western part. Seven deep valleys formed by spring streams, closer to the sea turning into deep ravines cut in limestone. Above, at the discharge of springs they have flooded the forest dominated by enormous Tahitian chestnuts (Inocarpus fagifer). These pools in the forest form the largest freshwater basin on island. Endemic plants.
  • Hugh's Dale Waterfall (Hughe's Tufa Waterfall) - western part, one of the Dales. Unusual waterfall, which is sedimenting tufa and creating rimstone pools.
  • Lost Lake Cave (3,500 m), Daniel Roux Cave (560 m), Full Frontal Cave (more than 1,560 m) - northern part. Some of the most impressive caves on Christmas island with beautiful cave formations. There are some 30 caves on island, containing at least 12 endemic species of animals.
  • Cliffs at Steep Point - eastern part. These vertical cliffs of corall limestone rice up to 60 m tall above the sea level. Sea is washing out the cliffs and there are observed occasional, impressive landslides.
  • Submarine spring at Grotto - north-eastern part. One of several powerful submarine springs near the shores of island. There are more springs at Steep Point, in Flying Fish Cove.

List of described attractions

ArrowChristmas Island subtropical forest and red crabsEcosystems
ArrowHosnies Spring mangrovesEcosystems, Springs
ArrowHugh's Dale WaterfallWaterfalls, Springs
ArrowThe Dales of Christmas IslandEcosystems, Springs

Map of Christmas island

Featured: Christmas Island subtropical forest and red crabs

Red Crab, Christmas Island
Red Crab, Christmas Island / , Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Happily Christmas Island has not been heavily transformed by people and now represents a true wonder of nature. "Specialty" of this island is the unique rainforest governed by millions of crabs.

Recommended books:

An Island Called Christmas: A Narrative History

A romantic desert island... Who first saw and went ashore on Christmas Island will never be known. Where these people came from and when is conjecture though we are almost certain they were Polynesians.

Christmas Island History, Travel and Tourism: Environmental Information

Christmas Island History, Travel and Tourism. Environmental Information, A Book on Christmas Island, Even though 63 per cent of Christmas Island's 135 square kilometres is protected as a National Park most people only know Christmas Island as a place for people seeking asylum.

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