Timor Leste – Dive Sites East of Dili… As you head east out of Dili, along the scenic coast road towards the town of Manatuto, you will pass numerous dive sites. Most are down short tracks from the main road, with little to indicate which one is which…
But the dive operators and local diving community know them well. All are shore dives and most are easy to dive. But care needs to be taken with the strong currents that sweep along the north coast of Timor Leste.
The locations of the best five sites that I have personally dived are illustrated on the map below and beneath the map are the site descriptions.
Dive Sites East of Dili – Secret Garden
Secret Garden is my personal favorite of the coastal dive sites east of Dili.
That is mainly because of its small, but superb and very photogenic sponge garden, with its resident colonies of purple anthias and silvery glass fish.
There is a lot to see generally at Secret Garden. If you can tear yourself away from the sponge garden that is…
The site benefits from minimal strong current, but good visibility nearly all year round.
Above water the site is distinctive because of its lone mangrove tree. Which looks high and dry at low tide, but partially submerged at high tide.
Secret Garden, or Secret Spot as it is sometimes referred to, is physically located about 35km east from Dili.
But you will need a guide as it is just off the coast road, but hidden down a short dirt track behind a grove of palm trees.
The site has a pretty long entry which either involves wading out through shallow water if the tide is in. Or, if the tide is out, walking out over the pebbles and coral rubble to get to deeper water.
Once in the water and submerged you head straight down the sandy slope. When you reach the short wall you can either turn to the west or the east. But west is where the sponge garden is… All in all, Secret Garden is a very pleasant dive with a lot to see!
Dive Sites East of Dili – K41
As the name suggests, this site is 41km from Dili… It is also very popular with local divers and snorkellers at the weekend. So, if at all possible, it is best to dive the site during the week.
Entry is from the rocky beach and once underwater K41 has a good assortment of things to see. Ranging from banded pipe fish to pelagics like barracuda that come in from the deeper waters offshore.
It is also said to be a great place to encounter dugongs in the sea grass beds out from the main wall. But on the days that I dived K41 there were no dugongs to be seen… So I concentrated on exploring the numerous excellent bommies.
Strong currents can be experienced as you follow the wall out, but generally K41 is a safe and interesting dive.
This is another dive site that is very popular with local divers and snorkellers. So again it is best dived during the week if possible.
You will know you are there because of the rock at the side of the road with ‘Bob’ written on it…
There is a lot of small critters to see at Bob’s Rock such as ghost pipefish and commensal shrimps. Plus in about 7m of water near the main entry point for the site there is a large colony of garden eels that can be approached carefully.
There are also numerous anemones complete with their resident clown fish to tease the underwater photographer in to another attempt at that perfect shot of these constantly moving creatures!
Dive Sites East of Dili – One Tree
Continuing the eloquent tradition established with some of the other Timor Leste sites (like K41…) One Tree owes its poetic name to the lone tree on the side of the coast road that identifies the site…
The rather stark and barren conditions above water are a reverse mirror-image of what is below. As One Tree has some beautiful and really lush bommies to explore. Richly coated with hard and soft corals, sponges and schools of anthias that dart out in to the clear blue water those bommies are delight to dive!
Entry to the site is an easy walk over the sandy bottom. Then head out to the deeper water and the slopes and short walls that make up the sites.
Away from the bommies you will find a variety of things to see and photograph on the sandy bottom. All of which makes Lone Tree an excellent site that is well worth the journey from Dili.
Another quite poetic name is used for this site, almost 50km from Dili and the last of the sites I dived on the coast road to Manututo.
Dirt Track takes its name from the track leading off the coast road. Which takes you down on to a grassy area above the short rocky beach that leads to the site.
Underwater, Dirt Track is swept by the strong currents that can make the site quite challenging. But those currents are rich with the marine life that makes the site so interesting!.
Entry to the site is straight off the rocky beach and once in to deeper waters you can either head east or west. But watch out to the east because, although there is more to see, the currents are stronger…