British Indian Ocean Territory is centrally placed in the Indian Ocean, south of the Island of Maldives, about halfway between Indonesia and Madagascar. The central island, Diego Garcia, is a military facility off-limits to anyone not on an official visit. Still, some of the uninhabited outer islands can be visited by yachters with permission.
Flora and fauna
British Indian Ocean Territory Marine Protected Area shields various wildlife, including 1% of the coral reefs. You may see endangered species such as hawksbill sea turtles, green turtles, sharks, and rays, and the territory also includes species that don’t live anywhere else in the world: Chagos anemone fish and the Chagos brain coral. Other wildlife includes billfish, tuna, and eighteen species of seabirds, including red-footed and sooty terns and brown boobies. Fish in the territory can thrive due to the prohibition on fishing; the reefs here have more fish than anywhere else.
The prohibition on commercial diving means that your chances to experience the thriving fish populations and the coral reefs will be limited. You can savor whatever you can see from the outside, though, as well as the flora and the seabirds on the islands. The islands are also abundant in the indigenous coconut crabs, the largest land arthropods, which can grow to a meter in length.
Top Things to see in British Indian Ocean Territory
Boddam Island (Île Boddam): Formerly home to a private plantation, whose buildings, including a church, are now technically overgrown by jungle. The ruins here include a cemetery and old rail tracks. Some of the buildings have been converted into a private yacht club”, which has a logbook where you can add your name.
Île du Coin: Île du Coin is a central island in Peros Banhos atoll, earlier home to the Perch Settlement. The coconut plantations, which were scattered on many of its islands, were run from here.
Catalina Beach: Perhaps the cleanest beach in the world, Catalina Beach has a wrecked aircraft and beautiful flora worth exploring.
Top Things to in British Indian Ocean Territory
- Snorkel – the marine life is nothing less than spectacular. Beware of those teeth-filled sharks, though.
- Go for a hike through the ruined buildings, coconut jungles, and pristine beaches.
- Plantation Trail is a stroll to the beach, a little over fifteen minutes, that lets you observe numerous native trees, coconut crabs, and ferns. To make the trail, many non-native trees have been cleared and native trees supremely planted—most of the work, including the trail construction, has been done by volunteers.
- Boddam Island has a volleyball court and a swing. You can socialize with daredevils here.