This Australian territory—a small speck in the Indian Ocean between Darwin and Indonesia—takes its name from December 25, 1643, the day when Captain William Mynors, an English navigator and master of the East India Company vessel the Royal Mary, discovered it. Remote and inhabited today by fewer than 2,000 residents, the 135-square-kilometer (52-square-mile) island is 966 kilometers (600 miles) from any other land and is mostly taken up by a national park. Often referred to as the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island is home to numerous species of wildlife as well as beautiful rain forests, wetlands and waterfalls. And of course, as is the case with most Indian Ocean isles, Christmas Island has a plethora of stunning beaches.
Among the wildlife on the island are thousands of nesting seabirds, including frigate birds, Abbott’s boobies, imperial pigeons and emerald doves. There are also sea turtles, nesting mainly on Greta Beach, and the famous red crab, a land species known for its autumn migration to the sea.