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Lionfish in the lagoon

Diving Cocos (Keeling) | The Indian Ocean | Australia

DESTINATION OVERVIEW
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Scuba diving around Australia's furthest outpost – the Cocos (Keeling) atoll – hardly hits the diver radar. Little known these days, Charles Darwin sailed through on the Beagle, the area inspiring much of his work on coral atolls. During the two World Wars, Cocos was the location of an important telecommunications station used by several navies.

The scenery is typically Indian Ocean: a bright turquoise lagoon is ringed by tiny islands, pale yellow shorelines merging into deep green vegetation. For divers, there are two distinct dive types. The Cocos lagoon is surprisingly barren but affectionately known as ‘diving the desert’. Shaped by currents and tidal surges, smooth rocky surfaces are peppered with small hard coral heads where the marine life gathers for shelter. There are a couple of small wrecks and the remains of that all-important telecomms cable.

Outside the lagoon, the underwater landscape couldn't be more different. The reef drop-offs are smothered in lush hard corals in fabulous condition. At the base of the walls are huge fan corals and more patrolling sharks. There are all sorts of pelagic fish – tuna, barracuda and trevally – and, if you are lucky, a school of bottlenose dolphins will come to play.

Cocos (Keeling) dive photo gallery Scuba diving features

Marine Life Pristine hard corals
Small wrecks
Reef sharks
Bottlenose dolphins
Top dive site Cat's Cables
Seasons All year round but typhoons in April
Visibility 5 – 40 metres
Water temperature 26 – 29º C
Deco chambers Fremantle, Singapore.
Flights from Perth
Information just one dive company and a healthy handful of good cottages to stay in
INFORMATION EXPLORE
PROS and CONS

If you are already in the region, Cocos (Keeling) is a relaxing destination with some curious quirks (the airport runway doubles as the golf course). Flights are limited and expensive and there is only one restaurant, which doesn't always open so you need to be prepared to cook. The supermarket is good and there is a range of charming cottage accommodation.

More diving destinations in Australia
EAST Great Barrier Reef
Osprey Reef, Coral Sea
WEST Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Rowley Shoals
Complete reports on this area are in
Diving the World.

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The digital edition is on iTunes.

SCUBA DIVING

As there is only one dive operator, scuba diving is a hands-on affair. You will need to get involved, put your own dive kit together and help launch the boat every morning. The operator only schedules two dives in a day so if the weather is bad you may not see as much as you like. The big animals that are promoted for the area are not there in poor weather so check the seasons before you go.

OPINION When we travelled to Cocos the weather was truly awful so it's hard to judge what type of diver would really benefit from travelling to such a remote destination. We didn't see as much underwater as was promised yet we still saw at least four or five reef sharks on every dive we did. Contact Cocos Diving for more information.
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