6 December 2017
East Timor is South-East Asia's youngest nation and a new destination for diving. Whilst the border region with West Timor (Indonesia) may be troublesome, Dili and areas further East are generally safe. (You can check the British Foreign Office site for the current situation.)
Previously Portuguese, East Timor became independent in 1975 for just nine days. The Indonesian army then moved in. Not until 2002 was Timor-Leste internationally recognised as an independent state.
North of Australia and south of Indonesia, Timor-Leste includes the eastern half of the island of Timor, the Oecussi (Ambeno) region on the northwest portion of the island of Timor and the islands of Atauro and Jaco. The capital is Dili, home to the international airport.
There are limited medical facilities in Timor-Leste: check that you are covered in your insurance for medical evacuation (to to Australia or Singapore). If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 110 and ask for an ambulance.
Take US dollars with you, which is the local currency, in cash or travellers' cheques. The limited banking system in East Timor will not exchange Pounds Sterling or Euro. Few places accept credit cards.
Timor-Leste lies at the southwest corner of the coral triangle. This contains nearly 600 different species of reef-building corals, six of the world's seven marine turtle species and more than 2000 species of reef fish.
The main diving areas are around Dili and Atauro Island. Most of the Dili dives are shore dives whilst the Atauro Island dives are boat dives. Non-divers are generally welcome to accompany divers to dive sites.
Diving is possible all year round. The visibility is best from April to November, and worst in February. Manta rays and whale sharks may arrive in September. Water temperature is a warm 26-28 oC. The tropical cyclone season in Timor-Leste normally runs from November to April< /p>
"Totally unspoilt diving - couldn't wish for more - sharks, turtles, millions of fish, giant squid, rays, abundance of living coral. Only need to swim out from shore about 5 metres before you hit the drop off round the island - and this slopes gently to about 40 m, and then straight down to about 2 km! Also great diving around 10 m mark - so air lasts for ages. More fish species here than anywhere else in the world. Living coral like I have never seen. Divers paradise. "
|East of Dili||Timor-Leste > Dili|
"20 dive site within 40 km of the capital. From wall to muck to amazing reefs. Easy access via car. "
|Dili Rock||Timor-Leste > Dili|
"Shore Dive. Slope to drop off..garden eels, Frog fish, leaf scorpian fish and more....one of the closer dive sites to Dili."
"Closest of all dive site. I was told this was the training dive site. Although not as fantastic as the rest of Timor with a good guide this is a great close dive."
|Secret Garden||Timor-Leste > Dili|
"Fantastic dive when the tide is in as there is a 40 m surface swim. With the tide out its a little harder in the shallows. But well worth the effort. Another great Site in Timor...Has to be visited. "
"A lovely gentle dive. You should only dive this site at high tide as you may damage coral at low tide. "
|Cave||Timor-Leste > Dili|
"30 m Cave on 100 m wall...Everything everywhere...got to see it to believe it. "
|One Tree (Lone Tree)||Timor-Leste > Dili|
"Easy dive, swimming along sloped dive wall, huge turtle, great scorpion fish, "anenome city", good sandy patch to hover and watch the world swim by."
|Atauro Island||Timor-Leste > Atauro Island|
"We wanted to dive at Atauro, and Kim from Compass Charters was very helpful...On the journey to Atauro we saw dolphins and whales - our skipper carefully steered the boat so we could watch them as long as possible. The diving at Atauro is excellent - the coral is in beautiful, undamaged, pristine condition and visibility was approximately 25 meters."
David Johns, Australia, 4 March 2013
" A whole island of walls, currents, pelagics and critters. Untouched for thousands of years "
|Big Fish||Timor-Leste > Atauro Island|
"Great fast deep dive. Thousands of pelagics and sharks. One wild ride. "
"Deep Dive on Atauro island. Great dive with strong current. The highlight is the large schools of pelagics and sharks. Great thrill rush dive. Good guides and safety needed. "
|Manta Cove||Timor-Leste > Atauro Island|
"Cove dive in smooth waters. Huge 80 m wall with great overhangs and amazing reef and marine life. "
"Calm wall dive with great reef and wild over hangs. Best time to dive around 2 pm as the shadows make for a great effect for photos. No mantas on my dive but everything else. "
"Bite in the corner of a cliff. Great wall dive with many over hangs and no current. Deep or shallow this wall dive has it all. Must dive from boat. "
|Bar Stool||Timor-Leste > Atauro Island|
"Great wall dive with huge amount of fish and Jurassic size corals. Can have a wicked current too. "
|North Point||Timor-Leste > Atauro Island|
"Wall dive that ends on a sand flat bottom with sharks gallore. Great dive with the best vis i have seen (40 m easy). "
"Great clear water dive at the tip of Atauro Island. Great wall dive that opens up to flat sand bottom with small coral outcrops. Great for sharks. "
"Small island at the east end of the country. The best diving I have ever seen. Clear calm water with so many fish and untouched reefs. "
|Oecussi||Timor-Leste > Oecussi|
Oecussi is an enclave on the North West of the Island. All its land borders are with Indonesia. A ferry from Dili goes overnight twice a week. Few people travel to Oecussi. If you plan to travel overland (rather than by the ferry) you will need two further US$30 tourist visas as well as the $40 double-entry full page transit visa for Indonesia.
|Compass Charters||Timor-Leste > Dili|
Timor-Leste is nestled deep in the heart of the Coral Triangle, home to some of the most diverse and abundant marine life anywhere on earth. The region boasts some truly spectacular scenery from the rugged coastline and pristine water to the untouched Atauro Island just north of Dili. Heading east or west from Dili, you'll find more of the excellent conditions for all of your marine based activities and day tours.
Compass Charters specialise in Dive Adventures, Eco Tourism, Recreational Sailing Charters, Dolphin and Whale Watching, Guided Snorkeling and Land-Based Cultural and Historical Tours.
Now, with our newly constructed Eco Dive Safari Camp of Adara (Tua Klungu) on the west coast of Atauro Island, we can also offer a unique secluded accommodation experience right on the beach to immerse yourself in the idyllic natural settings whilst having the chance to view village life on the culturally rich Island.
Whether your here for a week or just a weekend we will be able to tailor something special to your needs. So contact our experienced team of Diving, Sailing and Touring professionals today to get your adventure started.
Ave. Dos Martires Da Patria
(our office is located in the Tiger Fuels Complex)
Tel: (+670) 77230967
"We wanted to dive at Atauro, and Kim from Compass Charters was very helpful. We contacted them in Dili one day, and they were able to organise to take us by boat to Atauro the next day (they need 3 divers as a minimum number). The diving is run by an Australian couple, with a Timores First Mate, and they were great to dive with. The boat that we went out to Atauro on is a powerful, safe, (ex-US embassy) boat. On the journey to Atauro we saw dolphins and whales – our skipper carefully steered the boat so we could watch them as long as possible. The diving at Atauro is excellent - the coral is in beautiful, undamaged, pristine condition, and visibility was approximately 25 meters. The diving instructors are extremely competent - they gave a safety briefing before we departed Dili - and they are relaxed and friendly, and provided a tasty lunch. A great day."
David Johns , Australia, March 2013
"Just had a fabulous experience diving off Atauro Island and east of Dili in East Timor with Compass Charters. Professional, good equipment, careful dive briefings and good company. The diving itself was amazing with almost perfect viz. So much coral and so many fish all in a small area, water was a perfect temperature and absolutely no one else around!! Highly recommended."
Jan T, Australia, March 2013
|Dive Timor Lorosae||Timor-Leste > Dili|
"Dive Timor Lorosae has to be Timor's premier dive centre. With purpose built dive vessels (with seats) full time staff (rare in Timor) and professional and friendly staff, it's easy to see why Dive Timor Lorosae has established themselves as the leaders in this undiscovered country. Their boat is a purposed built dive vessel that is made especially for Timor. The hour trips in Timor mean you need a seat on the trip. Worth the price at around 125 USD you get your money's worth. Best diving I have seen to date. Will be coming back in the new year. "
Mick Daffy, UK, 2005
"Dive Timor Lorosae is without doubt the premier dive centre in East Timor. Located right on the beach (and having two dive centres) these guys are the friendly, professionals you expect to find in the diving game. I would dive with these guys every time. The boat is great. Heaps of room and with seats. All boat dives take about 1 hour to get to so comfort is needed. Be careful the other dive operators (if they have boats) don't have seats! I stayed next to the dive centre is these massive rooms that cost about 30 USD a night. Great value and location. Boat dives are around 125 USD with everything included. Gear, lunch, drinks and guides. The day is from 9am till 5pm with whale watching dolphin watching and heaps of other water activities. Well worth the cash - but ask for a discount! The diving would have to be the best I have seen. So untouched and remote. These guys have been doing it for 5 years so they really know how to look after you. "
"Dive Timor Lorosae is by far the most experienced and professional company within in this new dive destination. With the only fleet of dive vessels that are comfortable and safe DTL is the way to go if diving in East Timor. A twin dive was 100 USD including everything, gear, tanks, lunch, drinks and whale/dolphin watching. Good price for what you get. Probably one of the best dive areas i have been to. Lots to see and so close. More fish than divers. The night life is a little slower but great food. "
Brett Edwards, 2005
|Explore Timor||Timor-Leste > Dili|
Tel: (+670) 725 5382
"Explore Timor are a new operation in Dili East Timor. All the equipment is brand new from the ground up...A refreshing change, need I say more...I would dive with them again. Very well run and great attitude from all the staff. Very good value for money. different packages for different people...the more we dived the cheaper it got. And it was cheap with the FREE rooms. They are basic with A/C but it is all i needed. The staff there would do anything. Carry tanks wash your gear...you name it...Some places in my experience in Timor will not even help you off load your car after a days diving. "
Kathy, Washington DC
|FreeFlow Diving||Timor-Leste> Dili|
Tel: (+670) 332 1187
"FreeFlow Diving were excellent. The owner/divemaster knew the dive sites very well. He has done over 3000 dives in East Timor already! The cost was very competitive compared to the rest of Asia. I would definately dive with FreeFlow again. And I didn't have to carry my equipment from the car afterwards. FreeFlow arranged all my accommodation for me and my party. Very efficient. The food provided by FreeFlow was outstanding. My girlfriend is vegan and she said the meal was better than she could have prepared herself. "
- Timor-Leste (East Timor): Country Guide
Includes 32 dive sites. 176 pages, 2011.
Buy from Amazon.co.uk, 20% off
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- Amazing Diving Stories: Incredible Tales for Deep Beneath the Sea
- by John Bantin, 2011
Good for between dive reading.