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Timor Leste Sailing Cruises

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Diving Timor Leste
Overview | Dive Cruises on the Junk

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  • June Hong Chian Lee

Bounded by the Timor and Banda Seas, Timor Leste offers divers many different sites with diverse topography and a fantastic array of marine life. You can expect all the wonderful creatures and colourful corals that would be found in Indonesian waters, yet this area is little explored and many new dive sites are ready to be discovered. Pristine corals, sandy muck diving slopes and off shore pinnacles await the adventurous diver.

The wondrous sea cow - Dugong- can be sighted along the northern coast, the steep walls of Atauro Island bring sharks and rays, Jako Island is a rush of currents, and the sheltered bays provide havens for many tiny species from seahorses and octopus to frogfish and rhinopi.

Most, diving in Timor Leste has been made from the shore with divers hopping in at many spots along the northern coast. However there are now liveaboards operating as well at certain times of year.

Departing from Dili, a typical  route would follow along the north shore to visit some fantastic macro sites before moving to pinnacles within the strait and northwards to Artauro Island for some drift dives and dramatic reef scenery. From there eastward to Jako Island, where currents bring nutrients and hungry sharks & rays.

Diving Highlights of Timor Leste

The Church
On the Northwest coast of Atauro Island the steep walls rise up from depths of 50m+. Covered with hard and soft corals this site attracts passing pelagics such as tuna, barracuda and swordfish along with reef sharks and hawksbll turtles. A closer look at the wall reveals a startling diversity of crustaceans and molluscs.

Tasi Tolu
The sandy slope gradually descending to 30m/ 100ft is the place to scour the sand in search of amazing and interesting creatures. If thorny seahorses, rhinopias, mimic octopus,pipefish, frog fish and a range of nudibranchs are not enough to hold your interest then you can turn your attention to the grazing dugongs or hunting sea snakes.

Jaco (Jako) Island
Off the eastern tip of Timor Island lies the small island of Jaco. Currents pass through bringing nutrients that support the life of some large marine animals. Expect to see mobula rays, grey and white tip reef sharks and schooling trevally and snappers.

On the northern coast to the east of Dili, the coral garden of K41 attracts schools of midnight snappers, huge batfish and yellow-fin bass. Dolphins are heard and occasionally seen during the dives and whale sharks often make an appearance. Hiding underneath the coral bommies whiptail rays can be found, whilst the shallow waters are the place to hunt for ghost pipefish and sawblade shrimps.

About Timor Leste

Timor Leste, once governed by Indonesia, has a tumultuous history with a strong influence from the Portuguese, which is one of this small nation's official languages. The young nation is made up of the eastern half of Timor Island, Atauro Island to the north and the tiny island of Jako, yet despite being an island nation does not have a strong fishing background.Onland the hot humid climate brings lush vegetation and the opportunity to tour the jungles and mountains. Average temperature is 28C / 83F with the heavy rains starting in November through to March.

Weather and Water Temperature

Timor-Leste is a tropical country and the weather is fairly even all year round, being typically hot and humid in lower regions with more moderate temperatures in the mountains. November to May is considered the “wet season” and travelers can expect heavy tropical rains, with temperatures reaching 30 °C (87°F). The “dry season” runs from June to October and sees temperatures rising to a high of 34°C (92°F), peaking in November just before the heavy rains begin.

Water temperatures are broadly similar throughout the region; ranging from 26-29°C (79-85°F). A 3mm wetsuit is suitable for these conditions and available for rental, free of charge, whilst onboard. However we advise those guests who feel the cold, particularly after prolonged exposure, to bring their own 5mm full suit and or hooded vest or thermal protection. The sun can be particularly strong, as such, we advise guests to bring a long sleeve UV shirt and to wear sunscreen if using a shorty.


Main picture: Rhinopias Scorpionfish by Don Silcock �
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