The municipality of Dili in Timor Lorosae is home to the nation’s capital city, beaches to the east and west and the island of Atauro lying across Wetar Strait to the north.
Dili nestles at the base of surrounding hills which are lush and green in the rainy season and richly coloured by terracotta coloured earth in the dry. The city faces the ocean and is linked by a beachfront road which hosts government buildings, Motael Church, a lighthouse and embassies. There is a pedestrian walkway along the central harbour, statues and small municipal gardens in which to relax shaded by large banyan trees. Vendors sell local crafts, tropical fruits, fresh seafood and refreshing green coconut juice. In the weekends and late afternoon you can watch an informal game of football or beach volleyball.
Due to its compactness, Dili is relatively easy to get around on foot and by taxi. It is a great place to recharge in between dives. It is a pleasant and laid-back city with a good range of accommodation, restaurants, bars, shopping and attractions. The Timorese Resistance Archive and Museum is definitely worth a visit.
Many of the main restaurants and bars are located along the beachfront road (Avenida de Portugal) and out towards Areia Branca (white sands). The most popular of the city’s beaches, Areia Branca has a number of beachside eateries and bars perfect for watching the sun set behind the island of Alor. Further on from Areia Branca is the statue of Cristo Rei perched on Cape Fatucama – Dili’s most famous landmark. Excellent views towards the city and over to Back Beach reward those climbing to the top.
The best time to travel is June to August: the sun shines, the heat is not too intense, and in any case, it’s tempered by the breeze; there are just some short downpours or thunderstorms every now and then. In September, it is often very hot. At the end of September or in October, the rains begin to increase in inland and mountainous areas.
There are daily flights from Darwin to Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili.
Located within the famous Coral Triangle, Timor-Leste has some of the most pristine, ecologically diverse and least explored dive sites on the globe. The marine life is abundant with colourful hard and soft corals as well as a vivid array of reef fish. Open water species such as tuna and mackerel are encountered along with harmless reef and whale sharks, manta rays, turtles and the more elusive dugongs. In more sheltered sites you’ll marvel at the variety of fascinating smaller critters – displaying weird and wonderful shapes and colours.
Reefs run close to the shore along much of Timor-Leste’s northern coast, immediately in front of the capital Dili and around Atauro and Jaco Islands. Sites range from more sheltered and gently sloping fringing reefs to magnificent wall diving with underwater cliffs plunging into the abyss.
Most of the best dive sites are very accessible – some requiring just a short swim from the beach.
Warm tropical waters provide excellent visibility all year around.
Atauro Island is another very popular destination for guided diving adventures from Dili.
26 – 30°C
Diving is available all year round, with most of the dive sites remaining unaffected by the rains during low season. Best visibility is between July to October.
Dive Safari Experience
Journey out of Dili and into the more remote areas of Timor Lorosae. Whether it’s just for one night camping on a beach or a 7 night camping adventure discovering this little visited coastline, if you love an adventure and journeying off the beaten track then this dive adventure is for you! Not only will you be experiencing dive sites that few ever go to, you will come away knowing a whole lot more about this beautiful country and its people.
Motorcycle and 4WD Tours are a great way to explore the stunning scenery that Timor Leste has to offer as well as to experience the interesting culture in some of the more remote areas of the country.
Trekking tours can be arranged to climb Mt Ramelau (2,963 metres), or to explore Ainaro, Mt. Matebian (Baucau) and Mt. Kablaki in the same district. A great area to explore on foot is The Nino Konis National Park in eastern Timor Leste consists of tropical lowland rainforest and offers bird-watching, trekking and prehistoric archeological sites. You can even arrange to dive here!
As a newly independent country and still largely off the beaten path, Timor-Leste is a fascinating place to visit both in terms of heritage and culture, and its general way of life. Timor-Leste culture is strong, unique and reflects many different influences: traditional animist beliefs; a former Portuguese colony; the impact of WWII; the more recent Indonesian invasion and spirited Timorese resistance; the role of the Catholic Church and the effects of other minority groups such as Chinese traders. There are plenty of things to see and do around Dili to really absorb the country’s heritage. From watching traditional music and dance performances to visiting a local historical exhibition. Ask your host for more information on experiences available during your visit.
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