Asia > Southeast Asia > East Timor > Diving in East Timor
Timor-Leste has some of the best dive sites in the world due to its location, warm waters, minimal tourist trade and lack of commercial fishing or heavy industry. Situated in the Coral Triangle, Timor is surrounded by deep water (about 2,500 m between Liquiçá and Alor Island, Indonesia) that gives home to an abundance of coral and fish life, including the annual migration of whales through the Ombai Strait and Wetar Strait according to a Marine Megafauna Survey in Timor Leste of June 2009. However, those same deep waters can cause strong currents at even the most protected sites so check the Tidal Predictions beforehand. High tide and days of smaller variation are usually better. Always have a good look at the water before entering.
While many of the dive sites can be reached by land, some of these entry points require a long walk over coral, a long surface swim or a boat.
Listed below are some of the popular dive sites in Timor-Leste, but there are plenty more if you are adventurous or have a boat to get to those hard to reach places.
Remember, always dive safely and in accordance with current dive regulations and procedures. Note security precautions topside, cultural sensitivities such as the sacred trees at K41 and private property issues.
West of Dili
General. (This information is unconfirmed and maybe out of date).
Location. Coordinates: 8°37'1"S 125°10'48"E see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Near Nun's clinic.
Points of interest. Large giant clam (~1 meter), black tipped reef sharks, turtles.
Seal Rock Maubara
General. This is a nice dive, easily found, but dangerous currents in all directions have been encountered, including a strong downward/northerly one. Until more data is collected, this is considered an advanced adventure dive for experienced divers. Safety marker buoys and gloves in particular are essential. Tight buddy teams and conservative diving well within no-deco and minimum air limits are also recommended given the potential for sudden changes in the situation. A stand-by boat would be optimal. Have a good look at the water's surface before entering.
Location. Coordinates: 8°36'41"S 125°11'33"E see Wikimapia Satellite Map. From Maubara Fort, drive 1.2 km west and look for the large seal shaped rock on the right. Park on the road.
Entry. Gear up at the car, negotiate a low wall, and go straight in on either side of the rock. Although an easy entry initially, at low tide the coral is very close to the surface, so fin-up early or dive on high tide.
Profile. The slope dips away slowly at first, then drops off quickly to 30 m or more. Follow the shoreline and enjoy nice coral gardens with lots of "bombies" and creatures to see including bat fish, nudibranchs, flute fish, lobsters and others. On the west side of Seal Rock there is plenty to see both at depth and in the shallows, but note safety issues above. As of June 2012 the east side is yet to be explored.
Top Side. There is plenty of parking beside the road, but no shade. However, Maubara, its shade and amenities are close by.
Maubara Church aka Kindergarten
General. Although getting mixed reviews, there is still plenty to see on this coral slope with some good gardens and lots of creatures to be seen. In close proximity to Maubara (see “topside”, below) and with plenty of shady parking, this is a great place for a picnic, sun-baking, snorkelling and diving.
Location. Coordinates: 8°36'36"S 125°12'7"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. From Liquiçá, drive through Maubara past the fort, cross the small river, past the Church and an old, disused, chalet style building on the right. Immediately after that building, turn right onto the track leading to the beach and large shady trees, about 150 m west of the Church.
Entry. Easy entry straight out from the car parking area (NNW), although better to walk west for 50 m before entering, over sand and small rocks.
Profile. Enter, swim out 50 – 100 m then turn west along the lovely coral slope, sprinkled with sandy patches, plenty of bombies (coral outcrops) and an abundance of sea life. Beware of currents on this semi-exposed site. Average depth 15 m, max 28 m.
Points of interest. Bat fish, lion fish, assorted nudibranchs, crabs, the occasional spotted ray or shark, and dolphins and whales (November to January).
Topside. At Maubara there are local products on sale at the road side stalls. The historic Dutch fort is usually open for inspection and the restaurant within it serves a good meal or coffee quickly and at reasonable prices, under the shade of some magnificent trees. Be prepared for local spectators and curious children whilst on the beach!
General. This infrequently dived location has some good coral on a sloping, sandy bottom, although parts of it have been washed away.
Location. Coordinates: 8°36'34"S 125°12'15"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map.
Entry. Entry in front of the fort, down the steep steps of the sea wall and out over the easy entry sandy bottom.
Profile. The usual profile is to head straight out (NW) over the gradual sandy slope, then turn right and follow the slope roughly east/SE until ready to turn around. Average depth 8 m, max 18 m.
Points of interest. Large nudibranchs, some “spanish dancing worms”, some unusual soft corals, big shrimps, eels, clams and some larger fish.
Topside. As per Maubara Church, however there is no shade close to the entry point.
General. Although difficult to find underwater, this is worth the effort. Like most dive sites around Timor-Leste, the currents can vary from calm to hazardous and visibility can vary from stunning to poor. A fence effectively denies access to the beach, although a number of dives have been undertaken when the fence has collapsed or divers have walked from the road to the beach.
Location. Coordinates: 8°34'30"S 125°22'7"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map, about 30 km from Dili and about 4 km before Liquica. After coming over a headland with a religious station on it, the dive site is in front of an old, walled Indonesian memorial.
Entry. Nice sandy slope.
Profile. Head straight out (NNW) from the old Indonesian memorial on a bearing of (needs information)° for about (needs information) m to find the bombies and, possibly, the sharks at about 30 m depth. Alternatively, head NW until the slope drops away to a maximum of about 18 m and turn due west. The NE profile drops to about 27 m and is mostly sand.
Points of interest. Large, picturesque bombies and soft corals on a sandy bottom at about 30 m (straight out) or 15 to 5 m (half left). In places, the sand is warm and bubbles leak from the sea bed (needs information). Sharks, barracuda, lobster, nudibranchs, garden eels, blue spotted rays, triggers, puffers, morays, lizards, squirrels, parrots, angels and butterfly fish.
Topside. No shade close to the entry point – fence
Dan's Sandy Bottom
General. A great site for critters, although the best spots can be hard to find; to the west and east is nothing but sand. Like other sites, currents are variable. Named by/after the well-known photographer and environmental activist Dan Groshong [dead link].
Location. Coordinates: 8°33'47"S 125°24'15"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. At the large industrial quarry on the left of the road, look for an old sign board (minus the sign) on the right hand side of the road. Enter track at this point and continue west along the foreshore, passing under some large trees with deep shade. 50m west of those trees is the entry point.
Entry. From the beach, the entry point is halfway between the shade trees and a large palm tree log buried in the shade. A smaller white log [if present] marks the entry. A gentle and sandy slope makes for an easy entry.
Profile. Head straight out (NNW) from the smaller white log on a bearing of (needs information)° for about (needs information) m. The dive site extends about (needs information) m to the west and (needs information) m to the east, at depths from 5m to (needs information) m.
Points of interest. Occasional dugong, pygmy pipe-horses, bobtail squids, a large moray, spotted rays and some interesting nudibranchs. Lions, clams, sea slugs, garden eels, sergeant majors, lobster and hermit crabs. Large table corals and other bombies and rocky formations on a sloping sandy bottom
Topside. Some shade and a pleasant spot for a picnic with sweeping sea views. Sandy Bottom is quite a popular weekend getaway for Dili residents, some with generators and loud music.
General. A reasonable boat dive notable for the giant Giant Clam (over 1.5 m long), but good local knowledge is required to find it.
Location. Coordinates: 8°33'20"S 125°24'46"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map (location to be confirmed). Although really a boat dive, it could be accessed from the eastern end of "Dan's Sandy Bottom" beach [more info needed on bearing and distance from shore].
Points of interest. The Giant Clam, Olive Sea Snake, Batfish, Jawfish and Long-nosed Butterflyfish. Otherwise nothing above and beyond many other sites.
Dili Rock West
General. DRW is the lesser known side of Dili Rock, it is nonetheless a reasonable dive with plenty to look at and some interesting coral formations with the associated sea life. It can be combined with a west to east circumnavigation of the Rock with the prevailing currents, exiting on the eastern side of the Rock.
Location. Coordinates: 8°33'20"S 125°29'54"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Just after leaving Tasi Tolu there is a long open beach, complete with soccer field. At the western end is Dili Rock, a prominent rocky headland through which the main road passes. Pass the Rock and park near the pillar (gates of Dili).
Entry. Rocky entry.
Profile. Head NW from the small cove and turn left or right if circumnavigating the Rock.
Points of interest. Eels, nudibranchs, flutes, trumpets and clams. An interesting hard coral formation near the exit point hides many small fish.
Topside. No shade and can be quite secluded, despite its proximity to the main road.
Dili Rock East
General. DRE is a popular dive site with both private divers and the dive shops due to its proximity to Dili, easy entry, sandy bottom for classes and some good coral and some great sea life. The coral is less vivid than other sites, often covered with a light layer of silt. Accordingly, visibility can be hit and miss.
Location. Coordinates: 8°33'22"S 125°29'55"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Just after leaving Tasi Tolu there is a long open beach, complete with soccer field. At the western end is Dili Rock, a prominent rocky headland through which the main road passes. Vehicles can enter about 300 m short of the Rock and park alongside the signboard.
Entry. From the signboard head straight out (NE), although divers should right left to avoid the rocks closer to the headland.
Profile. Heading west, divers will come across the coral slope at the base of the rock. Turning NNW, follow the coral down and around the headland to the designated turnaround point, or continue on to DRW.
Points of interest. “Piccadilly Circus”, a large bombie near the start of the coral, with abundant fish life. Lots of lions, the occasional turtle, octopus, morays, clams, crabs, shrimp, clowns, aggressive trigger fish, parrots, cuttle fish, leaf scorpion, gropers and lots of others. There is a nice coral garden between two and five metres on the southern end of the slope before heading in an easterly direction back to the exit point.
Topside. There is no shade, but a nice spot for a swim or sun-baking. Although relatively public, thieves target the area. On the top of the headland on southern side of the road is a beautiful look out worth driving up to, replete with a statue of Pope John-Paul II and a church.
General. TT is very close to Dili. The dive site can be difficult to find without a guide or previous dives there and it is quite small, but it is a well-known enthusiasts dive site with some interesting macro life. It is especially good at night when many burrowing crabs, crustaceans and cephalopods come out of the sand to look for food. Outside the dive site there is little else to see.
Location. Coordinates: 8°33'18"S 125°30'33"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Just after leaving Tasi Tolu there is a long open beach, complete with soccer field. Park at the sign board.
Entry. Easy, gradual sandy slope (but be careful to check depth to avoid going too deep).
Profile. From the eastern most goal post on the soccer field, head NW on a bearing of (needs information)° for about (needs information) m and look for the small patch of coral.
Points of interest. It is not uncommon to see rhinopias, sea horses, frog fish and harlequin ghost pipe fish. At night, small octopus and well camouflaged pink soft coral crabs often highlight the dive.
Topside. There is no shade, but a nice spot for a swim or sun-baking. Although relatively public, thieves target the area.
General. PJ is another enthusiasts dive site and quite shallow (10–12 m) but is often subject to zero visibility, strong currents and shipping. The site cannot be dived when ships are in or due in and divers should check with Pertamina oil storage security before entering the water. It is at its best at the end of the dry season (September/October). PJ is a bit like the wreck dive you have when you don't have a wreck.
Location. Coordinates: 8°32'32"S 125°32'52"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. A couple of kilometres from the centre of Dili, drive around to the west side of Pertamina oil storage complex and park in the shade on the beach, on the western side of the jetty, immediately north of the Pertamina complex.
Entry. Easy entry over a sandy bottom, but beware of jagged metal wreckage.
Profile. Follow the pylons NNE until the second light pole and descend. Continue to follow the pylons until the end and explore the east/west jetty and debris on the seabed.
Points of interest. Lots of scorpion and lion fish so be careful where you put your hands. Eels, flutes, crabs and shrimp, sweet lip, gropers and fan corals. Be sure to check every pylon, in every pipe and under every small overhang for rewarding discoveries.
Topside. About three minutes’ drive from a number of nice restaurants and bars, with good shade and plenty of parking but beware of vehicle security.
East of Dili
Location. [Coordinates needed].
Entry. Boat dive, straight down.
Profile. straight down to planned maximum depth, follow the underwater pinnacle around as dictated by the dive guide and the currents.
Points of interest. Barracuda,
General. Close to Dili, this is a reasonable day dive and an excellent night dive.
Location. Coordinates: 8°31'23"S 125°36'29"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. A few kilometres east of Dili in Area Branca, parking at the base of the Jesus Statue is plentiful. Park close to the second entrance to the large car-park.
Entry. After negotiating the short steps to the beach, there is a relatively easy entry at high tide. Low tide can be difficult and should be avoided when there is a swell.
Profile. Head straight out (west, NW) and down, turn north and follow the coral slope. Beware of lobster traps, fishing nets and other lines in the water.
Points of interest. Stunning coral colours at night. Resident turtle, spotted rays, moray eel, scorpion fish, lobsters, shrimp, puffers, angelfish, butterflyfish, clowns, lions, nudibranchs and many others. Nice garden at the end of the dive.
Topside. A little crowded by day as this is a popular beach.
Christo Rei East aka Back of Jesus aka Kiwi Beach
General. Best done from a boat as a drift dive, but perfectly doable from the surface if the currents are favourable. Great spot but be wary of strong current near the point.
Location. Coordinates: 8°31'13"S 125°36'50"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Note that it is about 90 mins from the dive shops and about half an hour back to Kristo Rei. Drive over “Ramos-Horta gap” and descend again to sea-level, turning left into the first navigable track. Follow this back along the seashore to the entry point, which is marked by a small hook shaped “bay” (see satellite image)
Entry. See map: Good entry point, surface swim quite short.
Profile. Hook around and head straight out (north) and down; turn east or (most probably) west and explore the sandy patches and extensive coral gardens, improving closer to the point.
Points of interest. Nudibranchs, shrimp, Banded Sea Snakes, Clown Trigger Fish, Moray Eels and a small Devil Ray (4 March 2012).
Topside. Some nice beach and shade, but be careful of security.
Secret Spot / Sacred Garden
General. Sacred Garden is a lovely dive site and generally reliable for good visibility all year round and little current.
Location. Coordinates: 8°29'18"S 125°49'53"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. This dive site is a bit hidden at 34.8 km East of Dili. It is located behind a grove of lovely palm trees; find the small dirt track leading NNW through the trees to the beach (it is not well marked). If you get to "Dollar Beach" you have gone too far.
Entry. This site has a relatively long, shallow entry. It takes some distance to get to deeper water but well worth it. Although not generally recommended for low tide dives, the site can be accessed via a sandy “path” that heads NNW from the large mangrove tree in the water on the north eastern edge of the dive site.
Profile. Straight out, left or right at various depths.
Points of interest. Variety of slope, short walls and plenty of "caves" to explore if you have a torch. Stunning gardens at 3 to 8m, right the way along the dive site. Reef sharks, Crocodilefish, spotted rays, scorpion fish, shrimp, large bats, big clams, various Nudibranchs (e.g. nembrotha cristata, phyllidia picta), lobster, flutes, lions and many others.
Topside. Plenty of shady parking and a great spot for a picnic, but beware of coconut strike and security. Good snorkelling is also available with fantastic gardens at 3 to 5m. The lip of the drop off is at about 8m, so visible from the surface when viz is good, but a fair way out.
Black Rock – Galole Hato Metac
General. Black Rock is a beautiful dive and probably the best wall dive on the mainland but it can be challenging due to the strong and frequent currents. Consult the tide charts before you go – usually the water is calmest an hour or two before high tide. Avoid neap and low tides, the latter to avoid walking on the coral. The currents should be checked from the elevated headland at the western end of Dollar Beach before entering the water. Don't dive if the water looks as if it is "boiling" or streaming around the rock. Note that there can be three different currents acting on this site at the same time and they can come up quite suddenly during a dive, so this is only recommended for experienced divers. As the current between the Rock and the mainland is often strong, be prepared to crawl back to shore (gloves are essential) or drift east and make for Dollar Beach.
Location. 36.3KM East of Dili, coordinates: 8°28'41"S 125°50'30"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. The turn off for Black Rock is just before the small headland which overlooks Dollar Beach. Turn left off the road and follow the tracks between the trees to the water, parking close in beside the western face of the headland . Alternatively, continue on to Dollar Beach and park on the eastern side of the headland, although this requires a longer surface swim.
Entry. The most popular entry is on the deeper, Eastern side of the rock (see map) in order to circle anti-clockwise around to the shallower Western side and then back to the beach. The first part of the entry is marked with a flat shelf of broken coral, then drops off into the abyss. At low tide this shallow shelf can make for a bit of a walk before it starts to get deep.
Profile. There is a great underwater horseshoe wall on the eastern face of the rock which can be clearly seen in the satellite image, dropping away to depths of 50+ meters. Beware of west to east currents at the northern tip of the horseshoe, at the point where the wall flattens out into slope (max depth here is about 20m). If currents are running, stay within the protected confines of the horseshoe and return the way you came. Take the time to explore the “cave” (deep recess) at 6 to 10 m near the entry/drop off point.
To the north and west, depths are shallower as the seabed flattens to a slope. If safe to do so, leave the horseshoe and continue around the rock in an anti-clockwise direction via the northern and western slopes to some enormous bombies at about 10–12 m, quite close to the base of the Rock, and nice coral gardens from 3–5 m on the north, west and southern sides.
Points of interest. Within the horseshoe shrimp, flutes, lobster, lion fish, pipe fish, hermit crabs, nudibranchs, eels and the small “flash light” fish in darker recesses can be regularly seen, or a spotted ray in one of the other recesses. Occasionally reef sharks, barracuda, lobster, turtles, cuttlefish and bump head parrot fish can also be observed. On the western side look out for turtles, lobster, Wide Mouth Blue Ribbon Eel and other big fish.
Topside. There are some shade trees near the water which can make for a nice picnic spot, but note security issues
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'39"S 125°50'45"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map.
Points of interest.
General. (Needs development)
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'26"S 125°51'17"E Wikimapia Satellite Map. Eastern end of Dollar Beach, on the eastern side of the small rocky headland.
Entry. Easy, sandy entry.
Profile. Head straight out (NNE). Long swim through exposed seas to a shallow slope. If taking the western profile, be careful of the rocks when exiting.
Points of interest. Some lovely gardens with huge bombies. Eels
Topside. Plenty of shade and camping, close to the ever popular swimming, snorkelling and sun-baking Dollar Beach.
General. Extremely popular with divers and snorkelers, K41 can get a little crowded on weekends and public holidays. But the shady beach, easy entry, proximity of the dive-site to the shore (a matter of metres) and the wall (with fish streaming up and down it) come slope further out plus shallow coral plateau on top are good reasons to go there if you don't mind sharing. Although one of the most protected sites, currents sometimes swirl about in the small coral bay which is clearly visible in the satellite image.
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'30"S 125°52'56"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Drive 41 km from Dili and enter the first track at the grove of eucalyptus trees, just before a bay. Do not use the second track.
Entry. Rocky but easy entry at any tide, although it can be tricky when the seas are rough.
Profile. North: Follow the coral wall north/NE. Beware of currents as the wall flattens out however if calm continue as far round as your air allows. There is also an interesting dive to the left (NW) across grass beds that sometimes attract dugongs, to coral slope.
Points of interest. Razor fish in a bush just to the left when entering, at about 7 m. Occasional bump head parrots, barracuda, striped catfish, hermits scorpions, banded pipe fish, crabs, crayfish, flutes, trumpets, spotted rays, clown triggers, peacock gropers and ribbon eels. Plenty of angelfish, butterflyfish, bats, nudibranchs, lions, giant trevally, clowns, puffers, sergeant-majors and millions of others. Apparently there are sharks in a cave at 40 m but this author has never seen them.
Topside. The second track leads to the point at K41, which is a local sacred site. The first track takes you to some big trees with plenty of parking right next to the sand. IMPORTANT NOTE: The four little trees on the North/NE most foreshore are sacred to the Timorese as a place where the spirit of the wind lives. Non-Timorese should stay away from them, so keep west, towards the big trees and deep shade).
Be'e Hau Village aka Resort
General. Another lovely dive spot, usually but not always well protected from currents and silt.
Location. 42 km east of Dili, coordinates: 8°28'35"S 125°53'28"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. At Be'e Hau village, enter the walled beach enclosure through either of the two. The entrance is rocky and care should be taken when entering with smaller vehicles.
Entry. If the currents are favourable, walk east along the beach for about 50 m to a large tree and head into the water in a NNW direction until the bottom drops away. Alternatively head straight out (NNW) from the parking area over a sandy patch until the bottom drops away. The first few meters is rocky leading to sandy bottom and then on to coral structures.
Profile. Head straight down to your maximum depth and go east or west depending on your entry point and currents. To the West the coral cover is more expansive with small outcroppings whereas to the East, the area is characterized by larger coral outcroppings in a more sandy area.
Points of interest. Alternating small walls and sandy slopes. Big bombie at 30 m to the NNE of the car-park. A variety of wall, slope and some sandy patches at depth, but plenty of coral and fish life. Beautiful “gardens” between 10 and 3 m, right on the lip of the drop off and back to shore. Big barrel sponges, Napoleon wrasse scorpion fish, lion fish, giant clams and shrimp (particularly at night).
Topside. Shady parking, with some cement foundations that are useful for setting up on. Be prepared for lots of spectators.
Bob's Rock / Be'e Hau Forest
General. Great spot for picnic and good for snorkelers too, this dive site is well worth repeat visits, although currents and visibility can be variable.
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'36"S 125°54'33"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. After curving around a raised headland road, descend to sea-level and turn left into the forest.
Entry. Rocky entry that can be difficult, particularly when there is a swell running.
Profile. Go NNE and turn west, various depths.
Points of interest. Occasional turtles, flying gurnard (Dactylopteridae), feather duster worms, puffers, clowns and crabs, butterfly-fish, bat-fish, lions, clams, scorpion fish and a "garden" of garden eels at about 7 m at the end of the dive, near the entry point – sit well back and stay still to watch these interesting eels as they feed.
Topside. Shady parking in the forest, but parking can be limited (please think of others when you do park) and it is quite isolated if you are on your own.
Chimney (Marble Rock West)
General. Dramatic walls to 40 m or more and, as the name suggests, a chimney. Beware of currents.
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'42"S 125°55'6"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. 50m west of the Marble Rock parking area (see below).
Entry. Entry is rocky and can be difficult, but with a shorter surface swim than Marble Rock to the drop off and the chimney.
Profile. Head out on a bearing of 40° to the drop off: Good wall to depths of between 40 and 50m but flattens out above 25m with sections of wasteland, particularly above 11m, so better near the line of entry. The swim-through "chimney" is located at 340° azimuth (to be confirmed) from the centre of the rocky beach below the small tree (closest tree to the water), about 150m from shore. In addition, about 30° azimuth from the entry point at 5m is a nice sandy patch at the top of a sandy valley that continues in that direction, offering a really nice dive profile gradually descending to 18m. From there, proceed west following the 18m contour until the swim-through, then ascend to the top of the wall at 12m and return to the entry/exit point on a bearing of 160°. There are even more dramatic walls and canyons further west of the swim-through, with depths well below 40m.
Points of interest. Coral chimney swim-through and dramatic walls. Blackspotted/dog-faced puffer (arothron nigropunctatus), long-nosed butterflyfish, purple spotted jelly fish possibly venomous, clams, maori wrasse, goatfish, bats. Tons of coral on the walls and sufficient fish, but not teeming.
Topside.: Beautiful topside parking area with stunning sea and mountain views.
General. This is an interesting spot with slope and a good wall, albeit quite short.
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'45"S 125°55'14"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. After passing Bobs Rock, and curving around a small headland, look for a large rock marking the small track, just prior to the road re-joining the foreshore and passing a small village.
Entry. Entry is rocky and can be difficult, both immediately in front of the carpark or further west, the former being the easiest.
Profile. Head NNW and then go west. Beware of currents.
Points of interest. White tip reef shark, yellow-lipped sea krait, lobster, puffers, big sea slugs, various nudibranchs, butterfly-fish, cuttle-fish, Ribbonfish crabs, shrimp, garden eels, puffers, lions, and a chimney with openings at 19 and 14 m.
Topside. Extremely limited parking (two cars) and not a lot of room, but good shade.
Bus Stop/The Wall
General. Although a longer surface swim, this is a stunning dive on a steep slope/wall densely covered in all sorts of coral and teeming with fish.
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'45"S 125°55'14"E Wikimapia Satellite Map. Located 46.2 km from Dili, 360m west of the entry to Marble Rock, where the road rejoins the foreshore, at the base of a small village. Park on the side of the road.
Entry. The entry to the site is rather rocky but there is a patch of sand that makes for an easier entry/exit. If the surge is bad or there is considerable wave action, make a note of this point otherwise getting out can be challenging.
Profile. Long surface swim (100m plus) straight out before the gentle slope drops away sharply into a steep slope. Turn north-west to follow the coral bulge visible in the satellite image.
Points of interest. On the rock wall you will find cup corals, and soft corals including lots of sea squirts. This is a great place for a night dive where the wall lights up with the reds and oranges from the blooming polyps of nocturnal corals. Small reef sharks and blue ribbon eels have been seen at this site as has purplemouth(?) moray eel, masked anglefish, flutefish, damsels, long-nosed butterflyfish, parrotfish and schools of fusiliers. There is plenty to see above 10m including a group of three huge and stunning "bombies" at 6 – 3m, NNE of the entry point, complete with a large tassled scorpionfish, perfect for the safety stop.
Topside. Little shade on the beach side of the road. Directly to the East there is a pebble strewn beach good for taking strolls. The area is close to the road and not very private, though.
Lone Tree / One Tree / Giant Clam
General. Good site with west and east profiles.
Location. Coordinates: 8°28'42"S 125°55'51"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Just before rounding a rocky bluff there is a small pretty bay and beach, with a single, looking tree.
Entry. Easy entry over sandy bottom.
Profile. Head NNW, turn left or right, variety of slope and short walls. Beware of currents at the eastern point
Points of interest. Under water apostle (from NE corner of sandy patch, drop down to 27m), garden eels on the sandy patch, Flounder, small bombies on sandy bottom are very pretty, nudibranchs and millions of other fish.
Topside. No shade whatsoever.
Dirt Track aka Whale Shark Point
General. The deep water and prevalent currents bring an abundance of marine life to this dive site, however those currents can make for challenging diving here, particularly towards the easternmost point.
Location. 47.8 km east of the Government Palace. Coordinates: 8°28'37"S 125°56'21"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map.
Entry. Steep sandy bank then rocky entry, difficult if sea is rough. Entry can be gained from either the western or eastern end; the former is easier, the latter is harder and may be subject to more currents, but is the better end of the dive site
Profile. Straight off the beach (NW) and go right or the better, left profile.
Points of interest. Whales (around November) can often be seen off the coast of Dirt Track, millions of fish including nubiranchs, orangutan crab Barracuda lions, eel, masked batfish, crabs, lions, fusiliers, pipefish, scorpion fish, triggers, black sweet lips, rays, bumphead parrot fish, squid, maori or humphead wrasse, sharks, turtles and many other large fish, combined with vibrant coral, large fans corals, etc.
Topside. Little if any shade, but stunning mountain range vista and lovely sea views.
General. This little dived site is believed to be one of the few true cave dives in Timor-Leste.
Location. Coordinates: 8°29'5"S 125°57'49"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map. Go over the cliffs to K57 (see below) but park on the western edge of the bay, near the eastern end of the cliffs, near the fisherman's village. Seek permission from the residents of the house on the beach to both park and dive before proceeding.
Entry. While it is possible to swim round to the cave, it is between 500 and 600m distance. The local fishermen know where the cave is and, for a small fee, can drop divers on it and bring them back. A picture of the cave's location, taken from the western side of the cliffs, can be seen along with photos in the cave at American Dive Master – Phil's Cave [formerly dead link].
Profile. The cave is at about 32m and highly susceptible to silt. Entry should only be undertaken by experienced divers, with serious thought about safety. Like K57, this site is very susceptible to silt from the nearby Manatuto River, particularly during the wet season (October to April)
Points of interest. Cave diving. The cliffs are covered by coral, another awesome wall, but frequently the coral is dulled by silt.
Topside. Some shade, but be respectful of the local residents.
General. A wonderful site with very interesting topography and wonderful coral. However, the area is frequently subject to poor visibility thanks to the nearby Manatuto River and is best dived towards the end of the dry season (September to October).
Location. 57 km east of Dili, on the eastern end of the beach. Coordinates: 8°29'15"S 125°58'27"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map.
Entry. Straight out, entry is easier to the left.
Profile. NW, left or right although the right is better.
Points of interest. Crevices and caves (deep overhangs), razorfish, lions, cleaner shrimp, exotic nudibranchs, scorpion fish, box fish, clams, butterflyfish and many others.
Topside. Some good shade and camping areas, with plenty of parking, but beware of thorns.
Atauro stands some 27 km off the coast of Dili, see (Wikimapia Satellite Map) and has a number of stunning dive sites with great visibility almost all year round due to the lack of run-off and the deep, deep waters (up to 3000 m) that surround it. There are a number of eco resorts on the island but none are consistently equipped with diving equipment. Most diving is done via boat from Dili.
Hand of God aka Frank's Crack aka Kitali Bay
General. One of several stunning wall dives.
Location. Coordinates: 8°12'28"S 125°33'20"E., see
Points of interest. Stunning walls and topography, including crevices dropping away into the deep, with abundant coral cover. Turtles, large parrot fish, sea snakes, lionfish, giant trevally, clams, the occasional lobster and plenty of others,
Adara Hill's Reef
In front of Adara Village of Atauro, closed to Frank's Crack. On the left side of the village is made up of coral outcrops surrounded by white slope of sand gardens. And, on the right side of the village is a wall with a spectacular contrast in the clear water anything, from turtle, napoleon wrasse, white tip shark, pipe fish, leaf scorpion fish and other creatures, can be expected here.
Average depth 20 m. Max depth 40+ m. Visibility is good, approximately 10 – 30 m.
Activities at the dive site: – First dive – Dive training – Snorkelling / Free diving – Photography
Points of interest.
Points of interest.
Big Fish Rock
General. This difficult dive site at about has an abundant stock of bigger fish due to the convergence of three currents, but this is not for the feint hearted or novice divers, requiring depths of 35m or more to get to the rock, which is at about 30m. Gloves and/or reef hooks are essential, and surface marker buoys are a must. Note the danger of
Profile. Follow the slope down through the saddle and then back up to the rock. Seek an appropriate hand hold, hang on and watch. Upon reaching maximum dive time, let go and ascend slowly, monitoring depth carefully as the strong current pushes south.
Points of interest. Big pelagics, baracuda, trevally, trigger fish, tuna, potential for sharks.
Topside. Enjoy the whale and dolphin watching.
Points of interest. Abundant and colourful coral with wonderful topography, nudibranchs, lionfish, clams
Shark Fin Reef
General. Can suffer from strong currents.
Points of interest. Reef sharks and turtles are common. Spotted rays, big puffers, parrots, trevally and many other larger fish.
Points of interest.
Most northern point of Atauro is made up of coral outcrops surrounded by white sand gardens. A spectacular contrast in the clear water anything can be expected here.
Average depth 20 m. Max depth 40+ m. Visibility is good, approximately 10 – 30 m. Activities at the dive site: – First dive – Dive training – Snorkelling / Free diving – Photography
General. A really interesting shallow dive akin to a wreck dive. Note there is a sign on the pier warning of crocodiles
Location. Wikimapia Satellite Map
Entry. Off the pier can be difficult, particularly at low tide – a boat is better.
Profile. Up and down the pier and nearby debris on the seabed, maximum depth is about 14 m.
Points of interest. The many hiding holes and pylons provide habitat for eels, scorpionfish, lionfish, crabs and shrimp.
Topside. Com Beach Resort is a nice place to stay and the Com harbour is beautiful, with white sandy beaches and a few old Portuguese buildings.
You need to walk to the end of fisherman village and approaching the rocks, at the edge of the fisherman village is the entry to the dive site. The entry is an easy entry on the beach, small rocks and follows by the nice coral reef garden with lots creatures to see. Average depth 15 m Max depth 28 m Current is a little bit strong Visibility is good, approximately 10 – 30 m Activities at the dive site: – Snorkelling / Free diving – Photography
Jaco Island South
General. This is a really stunning dive site, but it can only be reached by boat.
Location. Coordinates: 8°26'51"S 127°19'44"E, see Wikimapia Satellite Map
Profile. In accordance with currents/boat dive procedures.
Points of interest. The slope/sandy bottom with a channel through which a lot of marine life moves. The sandy bottom sets large bombies off beautifully. Multiple reef sharks and turtles, large Maori wrasse, parrotfish, bumpheads, remora and thousands of other fish and corals.
Sadly, break-ins and theft while divers are in the water do occur from time to time and a number of assaults against lone sun-bakers have also occurred. For a small cost, security can be organised through the dive shops Dive Timor Lorosae or FreeFlow and is well worth it for peace of mind, as well as creating some dive industry employment.
Dive Site Briefing Template
- Objective/value of diving here
- Entry (location, tips on how to go in / leave the boat)
- Profile, route, topography, layout, contours, bottom composition, etc.
- Points of interest and at what depth
- Hazards, environmental dos & don’ts
- Normal conditions (surge, viz, etc.)
- Exit (location, tips on how to get ashore / aboard the boat)
- Nearest medical facility
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