Christmas Island, Australia
Why go? Discovered afloat in the Indian Ocean on Christmas Day 1643, this Australian territory – the summit of a submerged mountain – is closer to Indonesia than its motherland. It’s certainly tropical in feel, cloaked in rain forest and rich in endemic species. Foremost of these is the Christmas Island red crab – around 120 million of the crimson crustaceans live here. And once a year they make a mass migration from their forest burrows to the sea to breed.
Spurred by the phases of the moon, they sideways-skitter down cliffs, over rocks and across roads to reach the coast. It takes some luck with timing to catch them (though Parks Australia issues predictions), but there’s more to this island than its relocating crabs. The diving is superb (come November-April for whale sharks); the bird-watching raucous (80,000 seabirds nest here); and, with 63% of the island designated as a national park, the hiking is varied and pristine.
When to go: Temperatures vary little (22-28°C year-round). Wet season is December-March. The red crab migration usually occurs November-January.
How to go: Flights to Christmas Island leave from Perth (3.5hrs) and Jakarta (1hr).