A TikTok vlogger and an Instagram user with 135k followers, @mikaelatesta, recently sparked a travel etiquette debate.
How? By wearing a bikini around the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, only to be told by her Airbnb host that some locals had called to say she should wear something more culturally appropriate.
“So I landed in Cocos yesterday and the lady who owns the Airbnb that we’re staying in received some calls from some locals [saying] that I should be wearing something more culturally appropriate because this island is predominately Muslim,” Mikaela said on TikTok.
“So today I am covering up to show some respect and I respect their wishes 100%.”
Where are the Cocos Islands?
Cocos Islands are located 1,088 km off the coast of Java. Christmas Island, which is also Australian, is 956 km (594 mi) in a west-northwest direction.
The Territory is now administered by the Australian Government. According to the DAWE, “Today there are about 470 Cocos-Malay people living in the kampong on Home Island.”
Mikaela’s video had some social media users applauding her for her cultural sensitivity and others saying she had not been sensitive enough.
One TikTok user wrote: “Why ppl hating so hard esp ppl who aren’t even Muslim? I’m Muslim and thought it was really respectful of her to cover up the best she can!”
“I’m so confused she covered as much as she could. She tried to be as respectful as she thought she could what’s with the comments,” wrote another.
On the other side of the argument were comments like: “If that’s respectful in your book then maybe reevaluate” and “Asked to cover up, wears a cut out dress 🙄🙄.”
As Australians start flying around the world more, as international travel steadily returns, this question of being yourself vs. respecting the culture of the place you are visiting is bound to keep popping up.