Photographing Cocos (Keeling) Islands

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are one of the most photogenic destinations in Australia.

Guest blogger, photographer Karen Willshaw shares her professional tips to capture stunning pictures of this magnificent atoll.


It’s well worth getting up early and heading up to the old West Island jetty to capture the sun rising over the lagoon. Colours change rapidly and vanish as quickly as they change.

Pro Tip: Allow plenty of time to set up - the colours of sunrise and sunset vanish quickly.

Sunset at West Island Jetty


The incoming tide at Trannies Beach is a great place to capture the waves entering the small swimming pool. This is just one of the areas to capture stunning images of Trannies Beach.

Pro Tip: There are many vantage points to capture images from. Make sure you also go left and south along the beach for a different perspective. I like using filters to slow the movement of the incoming tide.

Incoming tide at Trannies Beach


This image was taken late afternoon at high tide with no beach visible. Access is from the small boat ramp just north of Scout Park, heading towards the Yacht Club. The tiny island pictured is Pulu Maraya, which is an easy walk in waist deep water from Scout Park. It’s a great place for a snorkel, some stand-up paddleboarding, and to take some underwater pics.

Pro Tip: Every day is different so visit at different times and tides.

Coconut Islands


Direction Island is the best swimming beach in the southern atoll. A twice-weekly ferry trip from West Island enables you to visit and capture the incredible beauty of this tiny, historical island.

Pro Tip: This is a photographer’s heaven ,with every direction allowing you another photo opportunity. If you have a polarising filter, make the most of it here with the stunning turquoise water.

Direction Island Jetty


There are several smaller uninhabited islands east of West Island. Motorised canoe trips are available so you can explore to your heart’s content.

Pro Tip: During the summer months the lagoon generally becomes very calm so capturing idyllic scenes like this is possible.

South Islands


Capture the sun setting over the Indian Ocean from any point on West Island.

Pro Tip: There are a number of good vantage points here - the choice is yours.

Sunset on West Island


The Spot is about 3 km north of the main settlement, and one of my favourite places to capture the setting sun.

Pro Tip: Stay a little longer and photograph the stars.



Not every day on Cocos is sunshine, blue sky and perfect sunset. Don’t be afraid to venture out and capture the moodiness.

Pro Tip: North Park, 1.5 km from the main settlement has a wonderful rocky shoreline.

North Park


If you are into astro-photography then Cocos is the place to capture stars and star trails. With little to no light pollution, the islands are blanketed by millions and millions of stars.

Pro Tip: Don’t be disappointed if the sky is cloudy during the night. Quite often in the early hours the clouds lift.

Get up early to capture the stars