Top 10 Things to Do on Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Relaxing on Direction Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Relaxing on Direction Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands | © Marci Paravia / Shutterstock

Located midway between Australia and Sri Lanka lies the Cocos (Keeling) Islands; a predominantly undiscovered Australian tropical paradise that is all about water-based activities.

Loved by over 40s

It may be remote, but the Cocos (Keeling) Islands archipelago has a lot to offer visitors who make the trek to the middle of the Indian Ocean. Swim at Australia’s best beach, go diving and learn more about the islands’ Cocos Malay population. Keep reading to discover all the the top things to do.

Dive deep with Cocos Dive

Diving is one of the most popular water-based activities on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Join the experienced team at Cocos Dive and visit one of their 30 regular dive sites around the islands. Visibility at most dive sites is between 20 and 30 metres, and many have steep drop-offs, so more advanced divers can head deeper underwater. Marine species you can expect to encounter include reef sharks, manta rays, turtles, dolphins, tuna, wrasse and Kat, the islands’ only dugong. Some of the most visited dive sites include Cabbage Patch, Sandshute, Rosewall Coral and Eden.

Beautiful marine life you can spot around the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Try bonefish fly-fishing

There are very few places in the world with better bonefish fly-fishing opportunities than the lagoon on Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Catching a bonefish is seen as the ‘holy grail’ of fly-fishing, and they can reach up to one metre in length. October to March is peak season for fishing on the islands. Other fish you can expect to catch from the beach include mullet and mahi mahi.

Go snorkelling

Snorkelling on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is great for the whole family, as they are surrounded by shallow and protected waters. A popular snorkelling site is called The Rip, which is located on Direction Island’s southern tip. At low tide, you can also snorkel after walking across to Pulu Maraya from Scout Park on West Island. Snorkelling gear is available for rent from the Cocos Islands Visitor Centre.

Exploring the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Learn more on the Home Island Eco Tour

Home Island is a residential area home to approximately 450 Cocos Malay people. Learn more about their unique culture through a two-hour Home Island Eco Tour. Led by a local guide, during the cultural tour you’ll learn about Cocos Malay traditions, try weaving coconut leaf baskets with the elders, be taught some basic Cocos Malay words and you’ll visit the local museum. The tour runs every Wednesday.

Enjoy a Cocos Island Adventure Tour

Kylie and Ash are the award-winning team behind Cocos Islands Adventure Tours. They do guided motorised outrigger canoe tours and turtle tours of the islands, which include food and drink, as well as snorkelling equipment. There’s also the option to hire kayaks, double kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for self-exploration of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Kylie and Ash have a car and minibus available for hire too.

Canoeing around the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Visit The Big Barge Art Centre

Art Gallery

The Big Barge Art Centre is housed inside a local handmade timber barge’s hull, which was a ferry between West and Home Islands in a former life. It took over 10 years to create the space, which is both an art gallery and a working artists’ studio. The Big Barge Art Centre hosts outdoor movie screenings and creative workshops throughout the year. There’s an assortment of artwork displayed in the gallery, including driftwood furniture, acrylic paintings, watercolour prints and flotsam factory jewellery.

Behold Australia’s best beach

Cossies Beach on Direction Island was declared Australia’s Best Beach in 2017. It was named in honour of Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s Governor General. Fortunately, there are ferries between West and Direction Islands twice a week. In 1836, Charles Darwin said the beach was “heavenly,” and it remains the same in this century. Take time to soak in the clear and calm waters, before walking three kilometres (1.9 miles) around Direction Island. Along the way, check out the plaques describing moments in the island’s history.

Relaxing on Direction Island in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Indulge in Malay cuisine

Don’t miss indulging in delicious Cocos Malay cuisine while on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. It’s been said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover when it comes to the cafe at the airport, as it serves the best nasi goreng. Meanwhile, Dory’s Cafe has the best cup of coffee, and Wick Cafe on West Island and Mesra Kafe on Home Island serve authentic Malay cuisine. Finally, there’s the delicious Malay buffet at Tropika Restaurant at Cocos Beach Resort.

Try kitesurfing

The optimal time for kitesurfing in the islands’ South Lagoon is between May and November. There are a few companies that offer kitesurfing lessons. Firstly, F-one Kiteboarding Pro School has locations on the Gold Coast, Brisbane and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. They offer a range of lessons with professional instructors. Limitless Kite Tours does one-week kitesurfing trips to the islands, which include accommodation, transport, a tour guide and visit to Direction Island. Zephyr Kite Tours also organises tours that feature 24/7 coaching and lessons, for beginner to advanced kitesurfers.

Kite surfing at sunset

Experience a unique round of golf

The Cocos Islands Golf Club is the only golf course in the world that plays across an international runway. You can see planes take off and land while playing across the nine-hole course. Don’t miss playing a game of Scroungers every Thursday afternoon. The friendly team game is a great way to mingle with locals and you can hire clubs at the golf club — known locally as The Donga.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.