Work and Travel in Cocos (Keeling) Islands

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One might say the Cocos Islands are the forgotten islands of Australia. With a mix of Malay and Australian culture, these Indian Ocean islands represent the only Muslim territory in Australia. If you want to travel in the Cocos Islands you’re going into one of the most remote areas of the world.

If you want to go beyond the pristine beaches, take a look at the volunteer opportunities in the Cocos Islands available now.

Our travel guide to the Cocos Islands will show you everything you need to know.

1. Help Clean Up Marine Rubbish on the Cocos Islands

Anyone who wants to work and travel in the Cocos Islands will find that there are always positions for volunteers to clean up the beaches and various coastal areas. Unfortunately, its position means that this natural paradise is often assaulted by rubbish flowing in from the countries that border the Indian Ocean.

The job is simple but requires a lot of hard work. However, it’s an easy way to travel in the Cocos Islands and extend your stay here.

2. Record Marine Life on the Cocos Islands

Work in the Cocos Islands as a marine researcher. Recording the various tropical fish and other marine life that inhabit the reefs of these coral islands is a fantastic way to help the scientists who spend their time discovering this unique ecosystem.

You’ll also have the chance to enjoy diving in some of the most beautiful waters in the world. Qualifications to demonstrate your proficiency as a diver are usually required.

3. Be a Scuba Diver on the Cocos Islands

Another option for anyone who wants to work and travel in the Cocos Islands is to become a scuba diver. You’ll be able to help with a variety of tasks, including capturing and tagging certain types of marine life for further study.

Plus, you’ll be able to monitor the coral of the Cocos Islands. Scientists are regularly running studies into how human development impacts the ecosystem of these islands. You could be a part of that.


Travel in the Cocos Islands and you don’t need to worry about separate visas. All external territories in Australia operate with the same requirements. In other words, you only need to meet the visa requirements of Australia to visit the Cocos Islands.

However, the Australian visa system can be difficult. For European countries, you have the eVisa system. Apply online and, if accepted, you will be able to travel in the Cocos Islands for 90 days. You may also visit the islands if you’re from a country that has access to the one-year work visa system.

Kiwi citizens don’t need any form of visa because they can enter Australia under the terms of the Trans-Tasman Agreement. For more info click here.

North Americans, Japanese, and South Korean citizens will likely enter Australia through the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). For more info click here. This is free to apply for and gives you the chance to visit Australia as many times as you want for up to 12 months. It also includes a work permit, so you can work and travel in the Cocos Islands for an extended period of time.

South African and Russian citizens need to apply for an Australian visa at an embassy in their own countries.



The springtime for work in the Cocos Islands is the rainy season on the Cocos Islands, so it’s not ideal to visit at this time of year. The doldrums season, as it’s known, sees higher than average rainfall. If you want to work with local people on community projects, choose the springtime.

You’ll be able to avoid some of the unpredictable weather and you won’t have to worry about cancelled projects due to bad weather.


The summer represents the beginning of the trade wind season. There’s still some rain during the summer, but it’s not going to impact anyone who wants to take advantage of the volunteer opportunities on the Cocos Islands.

For example, if you want to work with boats or get involved in coaching for things like kitesurfing, this is the time to land on the island.

The trade wind season sees boats from all over the world arriving in the country, so if you want to work on the docks you can.


Autumn is a continuation of the trade winds season moving back into the doldrums season. It’s one of the best times to visit because you can enjoy reduced tourist numbers and a chance to record marine life.

Many of these scientific projects begin work in autumn, so they can benefit from the transitional period between the two main seasons of the year.

Make sure you apply for any such positions well in advance because most organisations prefer to have a team in place long before their project begins.


Winter is what would be termed as the ‘high season’ in the tourist industry. December and January are the best seasons for diving.

If you want to volunteer in cleaning up the beaches or you want to get involved some of those research projects mentioned earlier, winter is your season for travel on the Cocos Islands.


Despite this being an Australian territory, you’re not going to find much Australian culture here. As referenced previously, the island’s residents are a mix of Australian and Malay. Most residents have little contact with mainland Australia, except for work and studying.

Tourists are few because it’s not cheap to travel in the Cocos Islands. That’s why you’ll feel out of place, but don’t expect the residents to be unfriendly. They’ll be curious because they receive so few visitors from across the world; at least those who leave the large-scale resorts.

So if you believe that work and travel on the Cocos Islands is right for you, start planning as soon as you can.

Are you ready to get off the beaten track?

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