Timor Leste (East Timor)
This is a country in the eastern part of South East Asia. It used to be a Portuguese colony and was then occupied by Indonesia till end of 1990ies. There are only a few dive shops in the country, mostly located in Dili and one on Atauro. The dive shops are small and so chances are very little that two groups will dive at the same site.
What to see: Healthy coral reefs with abundand fish life, many special critters, rare nudibranchs, some muck sites, big stuff around Atauro island including sharks and schooling fish. During the boat ride to Atauro it is possible to see dolphins and whales (mainly pilot whales, during the season in Nov-Dec it is possible to see many different kinds of whales)
Diving: Shore entry for the macro/reef sites on Timor, the dive sites are reached by car from Dili in up to 1 1/2 hours, boat dives in Atauro. The boat ride from Dili to Atauro takes around 1 hour.
Level: From entry-level to experienced diver, strong currents possible in Atauro
Who should go there: Divers who are looking for special critters, untouched dive sites and underwater photographers.
How to get there: Flight to Dili, direct flights from Denpasar (Bali) for around $ 250, Darwin $ 400 or Singapore $ 600. Pick-up at the airport by the dive shop.
Rates: Timor Leste is more expensive than its neighbour Indonesia. It is possible to get a package for one week diving, accommodation and food for around $ 1000. Accommodation starts at $ 30, food is around $ 10 for a meal, diving costs $ 100-160 for two dives depending on the dive site.
Climate: Around 30°C all year round
Water temperature: 26-29°C
Visibility: 10-30 m
Season: All year round, rainy reason Dec-Mar, whale season Oct-Dec
Favorite dive sites: Tasi Tolu – incredible muck dive site just outside of Dili, K41 – beautiful reef with loads of rare nudibranchs and other critters, Big Fish in Atauro – as the name says, for the big fish and for the pilot whales we saw on our way over to Atauro
I flew from Bali to Dili with Srivijaya Air for $ 240. Staying and diving with lovely Jen and Des at Aquatica Dive Resort for a bit under $ 1000 for one week. I can definitely recommend this place for diving, especially as underwater photographer. Des himself loves photography and will know how and where to find great subjects. Jen is an awesome spotter and will find all the small critters for you.