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Timor-Leste, formerly known as East Timor, became the world’s newest, independent, democratic nation, in May 2002. Situated north west of Darwin, between Australia and Indonesia, East Timor is already beginning to draw small numbers of travelers to the island. With its beautiful, unspoiled beaches, world class scuba diving, spectacular landscapes and rich history, it is easy to see why.
Brief History of East Timor
For centuries the people of East Timor lived a subsistent farming life-style in isolated hamlets, scattered throughout the mountainous region and spoke many different languages and dialects.
In 1512 the arrival of sailors and merchants from Portugal, resulted in the colonization of the island that would last for over the next 400 years.
During World War II, Timor was invaded by the Japanese who stayed for over 3 years, causing devastation and human misery. During the time of Japanese occupation approximately 50,000 Timorese lost their lives. Following the war, Portuguese rule was restored in East Timor, but development of the country was slow, leaving the Timorese society almost unchanged.
On 28th November 1975, following an attempted coup and clashes between rival political contenders, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste was proclaimed. Within 7 days, the new nation was invaded by Indonesia and thousands more Timorese were to lose their lives, during the next 24 years of Indonesian control.
In 1999, a United Nations sponsored referendum, led to the people of Timor-Leste voting overwhelmingly in favour of independence. The declaration of independence was finally implemented on the 20th of May 2002, creating the first Constitutional Government of Timor-Leste.
The people are warm and friendly and look forward to welcoming visitors to their homeland. Be one of the first to explore this unique and exciting island nation and experience some of the best, and as yet untouched, diving in the world.
Beautiful beaches with sheltered coves and white sands lie in both directions from Dili, with snorkeling and diving just a fifteen minute drive away. With the introduction onto the world tourism stage, Timor -Leste will continue to thrive and grow.
East Timor lies off the northern coast of Australia, at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. It comprises of the eastern half of the island of Timor, the small islands of Ataúro and Jaco, and an enclave on the north-west side of the island called Oecussi. The country has an abundance of natural beauty, with rugged mountains, tropical rainforest and coffee plantations, a spectacular coastline and mile after mile of pristine coral reefs.
Over the last three years the capital, Dili, has sprung to life with many homes, shops, restaurants, bars, hotels and businesses popping up around the town. Dili still retains a few Portuguese influences, such as the villa-lined beach roads, ruins of an old fort built in 1627, many churches and a giant statue of Christ that adorns the headland of Cape Fatacumu, reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro.
There are direct flights to Dili from Darwin.
Dili is a small but buzzing capital city that spreads along the coast with some beautiful beaches including Dollar Beach and Arreia Branca, interesting museums and markets. At the easternmost point of the city is Christo Rei – the world’s third largest statue of Jesus. Relics of the Portuguese occupation, including fortresses, churches and other monuments are scattered throughout the country.
The Nino Konis National Park in eastern Timor Leste consists of tropical lowland rainforest and offers bird-watching, diving, trekking and prehistoric archeological sites.
Ataúro Island and Jaco Island attract divers, snorkelers and eco tourists. In Ataúro, the local fishermen use only traditionally made goggles and spear guns to fish. Ataúro is an excellent place to buy handicrafts, known for its distinctive wooden sculptures and unique dolls.
Trekking tours can be arranged to climb Mt Ramelau (2,963 metres), or to explore Ainaro, Mt. Matebian (Baucau) and Mt. Kablaki in the same district.
Motorcycle and 4WD Tours are a great way to explore the stunning scenery that Timor Leste has to offer as well as to experience the interesting culture in some of the more remote areas of the country.
Timor Leste has a tropical climate - hot and humid with a distinct wet and dry season.
The wet season runs from December to April with daytime temperatures between 30ºC - 35ºC, dropping to the low 20’s overnight. Heavy rains can cause floods and landslides which can limit travel by road.
The dry season is from May to November. Average temperature in the dry season is 20ºC - 33°C.
The temperature in the mountains is cooler with overnight temperatures dropping to 15°C or less at higher altitudes.
Diving is conducted year round. However visibility is low after heavy downpours in the wet season.
East Timor offers the adventurous diver the opportunity to explore the unexplored. The diving is world class with kilometres of majestic walls that drop off into the deep blue sea, acres of untouched reefs, and an abundance of prolific marine life. Diving in Timor Leste gives you a chance to see everything from exciting hammerhead sharks and endangered dugongs to interesting critters like frogfish and ghost pipefish. Dolphins and migrating whales can also be seen around these waters.
The area has some of the most accessible and amazing shore dives with the fringing reef across the northern coast often beginning only a few metres from the water’s edge. Boat dives around Dili and out to the pristine, clean reefs of Ataúro Island (1 hour boat trip) are also possible.
Adventurous dive groups may also opt to venture on a Dive Safari along Timor Leste’s coastline, ranging from just a 1 night beach camping experience to K51 (51 km east of Dili) to 7 day camping trips stopping along the coast at some of the most remote, beautiful and deserted beaches you can imagine - ending at Tutuala Beach and Jaco island.
Dive Timor Lorosae is Timor's premier PADI dive centre. The professional and friendly staff will guide you to some of the best diving in South East Asia. With their purpose built dive vessels all built and run as per Australian standards, the dive centre can cater for from 2 to 20 divers. All boats are powered by Honda 4 stroke outboards for travel in total comfort and safety.
Timor’s best critter dive, great for the macro enthusiast. You’ll also see plenty of octopi and schooling batfish.
A small reef outcrop just outside Dili Harbour. Great spot as a night dive as the 12 - 30 metre dive attracts local reef sharks, pelagics and turtles, not to mention all the critters that go with diving in these pristine waters.
A 1 hour boat ride from Dili is East Timor's most pristine diving area. Around the island there is a variety of dive sites suitable for all levels. Visibility is always excellent and the bio-diversity and unspoilt nature of the coral reefs is simply fantastic. Hundreds of fish, with huge pelagics, gather here. Divers can drift past, carried along by a gentle current.
Deep, fast and an adrenalin overdose. Currents reaching 5 knots whip you past schooling GT’s, tuna, mackerel, sharks and turtles. This is an amazing 2 mile reef (a stretch of wall that seems to go on forever) which also has critters galore.
Set within a towering cliff, this small cove is known for it’s steep drop off with overhangs, manta rays, variety of marine life and vibrant corals. The best time to dive this site is in the afternoon when light passes over and through the many ridges creating a spectacular light show.
|DTL Guest House
A short taxi ride from the centre of Dili
Timor-Leste, formerly known as East Timor, became the world’s newest independent nation in May 2002. Situated north west of Darwin between Australia and Indonesia, Timor-Leste is just over an hours flight from Darwin. International country code for Timor-Leste is 670. Timor-Leste is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
(subject to change)
Visitors who are nationals of British, Australian, Canadian, USA and other EU Countries require valid passports with at least 2 blank pages and a tourist visa valid for 30 days. Visas will be issued on arrival for a fee of USD 30 cash. There are no money exchange or ATM facilities at the airport.
The currency of Timor-Leste is the US Dollar. USD notes produced prior to 2006 are not accepted. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels however restaurants do not allow you to run a tab therefore taking USD cash is recommended.
East Timor -1 AUD = approximately 0.70 USD (May 2016)
Timor-Leste offers the adventurous diver the opportunity to explore the unexplored and has some of the most accessible shore diving in South East Asia. Alternatively you can venture out to the famous Atauro Island, a 45 minute boat ride from Dili. Average water temperature is 28°C. A protective lycra suit or 3mm suit is recommended. Best visibility is between July to October. Dive operators supply tanks, weight belts and dive guide services. There will be an extra charge if equipment hire is required.