Places to stay on Atauro Island… If you are planning to dive Atauro – and you should if you are going to Timor Leste. There are now several accommodation options options to choose from. But you need to be aware of the limitations of where the accommodation actually is relative to where the best diving is.
By far the most developed is the east coast of the island and specifically Beloi. Which is both the main village and where the weekly ferry and daily water taxi arrive and depart from. Beloi also has a road… well it is at one end of the 6km long stretch of tarmac that connects it with the village of Vila. The only paved road on Atauro!
While there is diving at Beloi, the best diving on Atauro is on the west coast of the island. So, depending on what you want to experience, it may be better to stay in Dili and dive the west coast of Atauro on a day trip from there.
Barry’s Place at Beloi
“Barry” is Barry Hinton – a Queenslander who went to Timor Leste in 2001. Where he met and married his wife Lina and moved to Atauro Island to start Barry’s Place.
In terms of places to stay on Atauro Island, Barry’s Place is somewhat of an institution. As it was the first formal accommodation on the island.
Barry’s Place is a true eco-lodge with a very strong focus on the environment. And a sustainable approach to everything they do through the use of traditional construction techniques. Using locally sourced building materials like bamboo and lontar palm that are cut seasonally so as not to degrade the source of supply.
Water is a big issue on Atauro… It’s a dry island with no lakes or river, that almost goes bone-dry in the the dry season. Barry’s Place uses composting toilets, small sinks and bucket showering to minimise water consumption. Together with recirculating all the grey water from the kitchens and bathrooms for irrigation.
Similarly for electricity consumption the lodge minimizes its needs by using natural ventilation and breeze-paths. Grass thatch roofs with naturally low heat absorption to keep rooms cooler. And natural lighting during the day and solar panels for lighting and ceiling fans.
The lodge is very well done and a real pleasure to walk around. And, while I have not stayed there, would definitely do so if I was staying on the east coast of the island. However there are no scuba diving facilities at Barry’s. So you would need to coordinate your diving with one of the main dive operators in Dili. By arranging for them to pick you up at Barry’s and drop you back again after the diving is done for the day.
Beloi Beach Hotel and Dive Resort
In a clear sign that tourism is growing nicely this is a fairly new facility that did not exist when I last visited Atauro Island. No personal experience whatsoever, but the website looks quite good and they offer diving all around the island.
Clearly there is a cost associated with diving by boat around Atauro. So you will need to do your research and do the comparison between diving Atauro from Dili. Or staying on Atauro and using the Beloi Beach Hotels and Dive Resort’s boat.
The Adara eco-camp at Tua Klungu on the west coast of Atauro is also known as Mario’s Place. When I stayed there a few years ago it was owned and operated by Compass Charters. But they now seem to operate from a beach camp at Beloi.
In my limited experience “eco-camp” is marketing jargon for “basic” and the Adara camp was definitely a no-frills affair. Unfortunately it would seem that diving from the eco-camp is no longer an option.
That said, as they say in the real estate world “location, location, location” and the eco-camp is located under a beautiful grove of palm trees. It is right on the beach and adjacent to one of the best dive sites on the west coast of Atauro Island…
Accommodation is in dome tents located on concrete plinths. Which are under a traditional shelter with a palm frond roof to keep the elements at bay. There is a central bush-style eating area, kitchen, traditional mandi-type bathroom and composting toilet