Awoken by a coral reef busy with fish, a sapphire-blue swell rises from the Indian Ocean to curl and tumble against the prehistoric limestone cliffs of a remote tropical paradise. A shifting mosaic of colourful birds soar above the emerald jungle, while an army of red crabs methodically tidies the forest floor beneath. Here at Swell Lodge, inside the National Park on Christmas Island’s remote west coast, you will be able to relax and reconnect with nature from your own oceanfront eco-chalet.
Where is Christmas Island? Why build an eco-lodge there? How do you even begin such a project? Since embarking on this adventure to create Swell Lodge, I’ve been asked a lot of good questions (and I’ve asked a lot dumb ones myself) and as the whole process is proving pretty interesting, I’ve decided to share my experiences via this blog.
From coming up with the initial idea and location for Swell Lodge, through to designing the off-grid solar power, toilet and hot and cold water systems, navigating the environmental impact assessments (it’s in side a National Park!), designing the eco-chalets and ultimately the challenges of building and operating this eco lodge on a remote corner of an isolated Australian island that’s invaded by red crabs every year – this sure is going to be a steep and fascinating learning curve!
“This is a first for any of our commonwealth national parks and we’re looking forward to working with Chris on this exciting opportunity. His eco-style accommodation will allow travellers to immerse themselves in one of Australia’s most extraordinary national parks.”
JUDY WEST, ACTING DIRECTOR NATIONAL PARKS
Virgin Australia flies to Christmas Island twice a week from Perth (Currently on Tuesdays and Saturdays, $1,100 AUD return) and there’s a weekly charter flight from Jakarta every Saturday (operated by Garuda Airlines, $780 AUD return, book via Indian Ocean Experiences). Obtaining a visa from most countries is now as easy as buying your ticket – your travel agent can assist you. For Australian immigration information, go to: www.immi.gov.au
Well, that all depends, but we’re aiming for early-mid 2018 to have the first few Swell Lodge eco-chalets up and running. But as we’re learning, building even something as simple as a deck on such a remote island where you can’t just nip down to Bunnings (and even the supply ships that come every couple of months are usually late) takes everyone a lot longer than expected, and with something as unique as Swell Lodge – I’m sure we’re in for a few dramas along the way. Subscribe to our behind the scenes blog and enjoy the ride! Subscribers will also be the first to know when we open bookings.
You can do as much or as little as you want. While Swell Lodge will be perfect for relaxing and soaking up the view, Christmas Island is a wonderland of experiences, many of them within easy walking distance from your eco-chalet, through the jungle. There’s amazing wildlife including birds and crabs, there’s boardwalks through RAMSAR wetlands to a waterfall, hiking, snorkeling and diving, cultural experiences and even golf! You can find out more on our ‘Information‘ page.
Why wouldn’t you?! The only luxury and the only eco-friendly accommodation option on Christmas Island, staying at Swell Lodge will not only be supporting the National Park and its conservation efforts, but it will be an experience like none other: Privately nestled into it’s own section of jungle adorned with red and blue crabs, each luxury eco-chalet features a ceiling-to-floor, wall-to-wall glass front with a spacious deck and BBQ overlooking sunset over the constantly changing ocean with birds soaring overhead. Here at last you will be able to relax and reconnect with yourself, your partner and with nature. While wi-fi will be available, there is no cellphone service on the west coast, allowing you the peace and quiet you’ve been craving. For now, Christmas Island is a place your friends have probably never been, so visit soon before it becomes the next big thing. Whether you’re a couple wanting a romantic break, a solo traveller or photographer keen on nature, or a celebrity wanting an escape, Christmas Island is a great new destination, and Swell Lodge is the perfect place from which to enjoy it.
Founders of Swell Lodge, Chris and Jess Bray are two young Australians who run small-group, luxury photo tours to the world’s most wonderful places. In 2014 they started running tours to Christmas Island, and fell in love with the place, and in 2016, Parks Australia put out a call for ‘Expressions of Interest’ for commercial opportunities ‘such as eco-accommodation’ within Christmas Island National park, and they applied…