How to set up a local SIM card on the Cocos Islands (Keeling Islands)

Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming rates.

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The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are an overseas territory of Australia. Positioned in the Indian Ocean midway between Australia and Sri Lanka, the islands are popular with tourists looking to explore and watch the wildlife. Using your phone there can be expensive, so to keep costs down, why not switch to a local SIM card and take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs? The Cocos (Keeling) Islands have a prepaid SIM card available for tourists with offers that could reduce your bills. Whether you’re planning a quick break, an extended trip or an island hop, check out the best SIM card offers available on finder.com.

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Updated October 18th, 2019
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Prices last updated 07/06/2017

The telco provider on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands

There is only one main phone operator in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: Indian Ocean Territories Telecom (IOTT). There are also hotspots dotted around the islands, and Wi-Fi vouchers can be purchased to take advantage of a better signal. IOTT has been tried and tested by both locals and international visitors, and can be trusted. Coverage can be weak in some parts, but this will happen on any phone or network you use there.

About the Cocos (Keeling) Islands telco service

IOTT only operates on a 2G/GSM network without any data services, and this can be extremely restrictive. There are no roaming partnerships with international carriers, so using IOTT could be the only way to use a phone there. SIM cards can be purchased without registration, but some retailers will ask to see your passport and hotel address. Your telephone number is already activated when the SIM is purchased.

About IOTT

IOTT SIM cards are only available from the Cocos Islands Community Resource Centre (CRC) on West Island, which is open Monday to Friday, 8am-3pm, and Saturday, 10am-3pm. It’s possible to arrange a SIM card delivery to your hotel if you pre-book it through the concierge service. There are handset rentals to take advantage of the IOTT voice and SMS-only SIM cards and Wi-Fi hotspots.

IOTT’s website: http://cocos.cc/

Wi-Fi vouchers

Wi-Fi vouchers can also be purchased from the CRC and are sold for durations of time, not data usage. Speeds are very slow on all islands, and it might take you some time to get online anywhere.

The following Wi-Fi vouchers can be purchased:

  • 1 hour – AUD$4.95
  • 3 hours – AUD$9.95
  • 1 day – AUD$19.95
  • 1 week – AUD$64.95

It is probably better to pre-book with the CRC so you are guaranteed a voucher. You can also contact your hotel concierge to arrange a voucher delivery service.

Wi-Fi hotspots are available at the following locations: Maxie’s By The Sea, Cocos (Keeling) Islands Community Resource Centre, Cocos Club, Cocos Beach Motel, Cocos Cottages, Cocos Village Bungalows, My Island Home, The Donga Cocos Castaway and the main area on Direction Island.

Some top tips from finder.com staff:

  • Locals call a SIM card a “card” or “SIM”.
  • Ask the retailers to set up the SIM card for you. They are official sellers and will be very happy to help.
  • There are limited stores on the island. Try and visit an official store or ask your hotel concierge to organize a SIM card or voucher for you.

TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them

TripAdvisor reviews can help guide you through what SIM cards have been tried and tested in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Here are some top tips from TripAdvisor users:

“You can buy internet usage (WiFi) or use their computers for a small fee around AUD$5 for 30 mins, watch DVDs on the Islands, hire a phone and buy SIM card as your own phone will not have coverage there.”

“The Visitor Center doubles as a Community Center with computer terminals with Internet access and a quiet space to read.”

Pros and cons of IOTT

IOTT requires you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this option, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.

Pros:

  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current phone
  • Handsets can be rented

Cons:

  • No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
  • There are limited stores on the islands
  • 2G/GSM only
  • No data roaming, so Wi-Fi hotspots must be used

Another question about finding the best SIM?

Q: What if my provider has better options?

A: IOTT has no options available for other providers to roam on its network. It’s highly advisable to purchase a local SIM card while you’re there because you will not be able to use your phone at all otherwise.

Switch to a cell phone plan with international calling

Name Product Data Minutes Texts Can I bring my own phone? Cell phone plans starting at:
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$25
Get unlimited data, calls and text or a customized plan on a 5G network. Eligible plans come with Hulu, Amazon Prime or Tidal subscriptions.
Starting at 2 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$30
30-day phone plans that allow you to cancel your service at anytime. Choose from five different talk, text and data options with the choice to add international calling for $10/month.
Starting at 500 MB
Starting at 200 minutes
Starting at 500 texts
Yes
$0
Bring your own phone for a free plan with 500MB of data, 200 minutes and 500 texts per month using Sprint's CDMA Network. Prepaid plans with more data, talk and text start at $9.99/month.
Starting at 1 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$20
30-day plans with unlimited talk and text and the option to choose how much data is right for you. Add-on rollover data is available starting at $5/500MB.
Starting at 3 GB
Unlimited
Unlimited
Yes
$35
Choose from several different plan options with no contracts, no fees and coverage on the same networks as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

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