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Bantam Village, Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Wind condition: 7 Kmph
The Cocos Keeling Islands tick all the scuba diving boxes - water temperature between 26C and 29C, average visibility of 25 metres, more than 25 uncrowded, regularly dived sites, varied atoll terrain that suits divers of all abilities, and minimal travel time to see a huge diversity of marine life. What are you waiting for? This is adventure diving at its best!
Expect to see species mainly of Indo-West Pacific varieties with some from the West Indian Ocean. There are a possible 1550 species of sea creatures to discover, including the only endemic fish species, the Cocos pygmy angelfish.
Dive among gardens of hydrocorals, soft corals, sea fans, sea anemones, stony corals and black corals. Discover colourful varieties of nudibranchs (colourful sea slugs), shrimps, flatworms and crabs. Come face-to-face with dolphins, manta rays, sharks, moray eels, 'Kat' the lone dugong, and pelagics. Enjoy varieties of surgeonfishes, parrotfishes, wrasse, damsels, angelfishes and butterflyfishes at play. With endless colour and character plus many a sea creature just dying to pose for your camera, it's a perfect place for underwater photography.
Dive sites are located both inside and outside the lagoon and range from wrecks to reefs, caves and drop-offs. Explore the Cabbage Patch, Fern Wall, Garden of Eden, Two Caves and the Rose Wall to name just a sample.
The local dive operator has over 10 years' experience diving the islands and can accommodate divers of all levels, from experienced and special interest right through to beginners. It is advisable to book all dives before arriving on Cocos as even dive operators need a holiday!
Snorkelling while on Cocos is a definite must. It's great for all ages, and offers shallow and protected conditions. Never mind those conveyor belts that slide you through tunnels with fish swimming behind glass, jump into the Cocos aquarium and experience their world!
Probably the most famous of snorkelling sites is 'the Rip' located at the southern tip of Direction Island. The ferry visits Direction Island on Thursday and Saturday and then it's just a 10 minute stroll down the white sandy beach. A current runs from the outer reef towards the lagoon and it is this flowing (fast or slow) body of water that beckons to take the adventure snorkeller on an exciting ride. A safety rope has been strung across the tail of 'the Rip' for snorkellers to catch hold of and pull themselves to the beach.
If you desire a more gentle experience, then the 'Humbug Drift' alongside Prison Island is great for first-time snorkellers, kids and those that want to build their confidence before tackling 'the Rip'. The Glass-Bottom Boat Tour stops at Prison Island as well as a number of other great inner lagoon snorkelling sites.
From Scout Park at the southern end of West Island, enjoy a short reef walk across to Pulu Maraya on low tide to visit another protected, safe and shallow snorkelling site. Across all these sites you can catch a glimpse of clams, sea stars, sea urchins, rockcods, basslets, butterflyfishes, bannerfishes, angelfishes and parrotfishes along with many other species.
Either bring your own snorkelling gear or hire equipment available from the Visitor Centre, where you can also find information on accessing these sites. It's easy to forget the world above when engaging with the Cocos aquarium but always remember to apply plenty of suncream and wear a rash shirt if possible. If you want to stand up while you're snorkelling, look for a sandy patch to stand on, not coral, and exercise caution when touching or handling marine life.