The First Flight into Christmas Island
Anil Srivastava May 17, 2023
On May 2, 2023, Fly Water Travel's Anil Srivastava and Landon Mace FINALLY caught the first flight into Christmas Island. The island has been closed since March 2020. Here is our quick report!
If you’ve made this trip before, you know what to expect. Other than the gate moving even farther away from the center of the airport than before, the travel and logistics were identical to 2020. Once we got on the flight, everything went smoothly. There were absolutely no Covid requirements or checks. While both of us brought our vaccine cards as instructed, at no point did anyone want to see them or even ask us about Covid (other than a basic questionnaire about whether or not we were experiencing Covid symptoms upon arrival).
I last set foot on Christmas Island on January 22, 2020. While the world has changed dramatically over the past three years, I had no real idea how much my favorite island had changed. After over three years of shutdowns and countless ‘false starts’ in getting anglers back to Christmas Island, we feared the worst. Had the infrastructure fallen apart? Was there food? Were the boats still working and on and on? We needn’t have worried. Driving from the airport to the Sunset Horizon Lodge, I was blown away by the number of new buildings and the general state of the infrastructure. With a few exceptions, I agreed with Landon’s assessment: “It looks like they’ve only been shut down for three months, not three years!”
This was my ninth trip to CXI, and I have never seen bonefishing this good. Size? The average size was close to twice the historical mean. Numbers? While it’s hard to judge this over only seven days, I’m guessing we saw roughly 50% more bonefish this past week than I’d ever seen in a previous week. In addition to the increased average size and number of fish, was the bonus that they were abnormally unsophisticated and willing to eat! Don’t get me wrong, these were still bonefish, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen bonefish that were this naïve. They often turned towards wayward casts that had no business producing fish. There were also roughly twice as many triggerfish as one would typically see. Yet, while three years without pressure seemed to erase the danger of anglers from the bonefish’s memory, the triggerfish were as wily as ever. Finally, the quality and number of trevally were roughly the same as I recall from previous trips. This may be attributed to the fact that the islanders target them with their own rods and reels and undoubtedly spent some time fishing for them while the rest of us were stuck at home.
If you’ve been to Sunset Horizon Lodge in the past, you’ll know what to expect. The only appreciable change from 2020 was that there is currently no Wi-Fi. I have an iPhone with Verizon service, and I was able to make basic texts (no photos) and poor-quality phone calls. (It was my wedding anniversary, and it seemed ‘prudent’ to give it an honest try). The rooms, food, and overall quality of the lodge were on par with what they’ve been in the past. If you’ve never been to Christmas Island before, that means they were somewhere in between a fishing camp and a lodge.
Landon and I were able to fish every day and even took the long journey down to the Korean Wreck area of the island. We did have some temporary setbacks with malfunctioning outboard motors and a flat tire that delayed but never derailed our days. This is always a possibility at any location, but even more so with the lack of scheduled maintenance and lack of use that these machines have experienced in the past few years. I expect these issues to iron themselves out and return to a normal level within the first few trips to the island but be aware that it’s going to take them a bit of time.
Christmas Island has always been an adventure. The beauty of the location, the warmth of the local people, and the amazing quality of fishing are worth the inevitable hassles for me.
As expected, after over three years without visitors, there are still some kinks to be worked out, but the bulk of what needs to be ready for anglers is done. The islanders were more than ready for us to return and greeted us with an even warmer welcome than we were used to. There were more than a dozen singers and dancers performing at the airport when we disembarked, there was a great dance show the last evening at the lodge. All and all, the only ones not ready for our return were the fish! It was a great trip overall, and l look forward to helping all of you that are interested in returning get set for your own adventure.
The World Awaits…
Christmas Island Outfitters
Experience some of the world's best saltwater wade fishing at an operation that is relatively affordable and easy to reach.