Scuba Diving in Timor Leste… There really is some excellent diving to be had in Timor Leste! With sites ranging from beautiful bommies and coral reefs, excellent critter sites to the superb walls of Atauro Island!
The country is also a very interesting and deserving place to visit, with a strong culture and a turbulent recent history!
Devastated by the Indonesian military, and the militias it sponsored when they departed. The country had a very troubled birth in May 2002 when it finally became fully independent.
While some significant progress has been made since then, much remains to do… So don’t expect five-star resorts and multiple-lane freeways for your trip to Timor Leste. But there is some excellent diving and many interesting things to see – plus the people are great!
Scuba Diving in Timor Leste: The Indonesian Throughflow
A quick look at the map and a basic understanding of the Indonesian Throughflow is enough to tell you that the north coast of Timor Leste has significant scuba diving potential.
To the north of Timor Leste are the remote islands of Alor and Wetar. The most easterly of the chain of islands called the Lesser Sundas, which form the southern boundary of the huge Indonesian archipelago.
Further north above Alor and Wetar are the deep basins of the Banda Sea. And as the rich Indonesian Throughflow surges its way south and approaches the Lesser Sunda shelf it creates upwellings that suck up the phosphorus and nitrogen laden detritus of the sea that are so rich in nutrients.
One of the three main passages for the Indonesian Throughflow through the Lesser Sunda islands is the Ombai Strait between Alor, Wetar and Timor Leste. Which means a virtually constant flow of nutrient-rich water along the north coast of Timor Leste.
The Main Scuba Diving Locations in Timor Leste
The main diving locations in Timor Leste can be broken down into four principal areas: In and around the capital Dili, the coastal sites to the east and west of Dili. The island of Atauro roughly in between Alor and Wetar and the island of Jaco at the far eastern tip of the country.
Dili Dive Site Summary: The sites I have dived around Dili were all shore dives and mainly muck/critter sites. Such as Tasi Tolu and the Pertamina Jetty, plus Dili Rock which is a mixture of critters and coral gardens.
Coastal Dive Site Summary: All the sites I have dived east and west of Dili were also shores dives. The dives were mainly on reefs and bommies close to the shore and offered some excellent diving. The coast road in both directions from Dili is very scenic. So although quite a lot of time is consumed driving to the sites, I really quite enjoyed the whole experience.
Atauro Dive Site Summary: On my first trip to Timor Leste as I was diving with Dive Timor Lorosae. Unfortunately their boat was out of action at that time due to a force majeure situation. And the replacement had yet to arrive from Australia… So I was unable to get over to Atauro. Which was a big disappointment as I had heard some excellent things about it.
I returned a few years later to do 10 days of diving with Compass Dive Charters – who know Atauro and its diving very well! It was a great experience and I had some wonderful dives which I have documented on my Atauro pages.
Jaco Dive Site Summary: I have heard great things about Jaco. But it’s remote location means it can only really be dived from a liveaboard… I will also update this guide soon as I have been there.