For those looking to escape the frenetic hustle and bustle of Dili, Atauro is the perfect getaway in Timor Leste. The rugged island, located to the north of the capital city, is of volcanic origin and fulfils the main criteria of the archetypal beach paradise: Golden beaches, bucolic pace of life, beach bungalows, traditional villages and excellent tropical hiking.
Of most interest, however, is the island’s standing as a world-leading snorkelling and diving location. Thanks to its deep water (up to 3,000m in places) and stunning visibility, scuba enthusiasts can expect to encounter all kinds of underwater critters, including giant blue whales, as they explore numerous sites as yet left off the region’s main diving trails. See divetimor.com for more information.
Things to know
Getting there and away: A ferry costing $11 return regularly heads to the island from Dili. Alternatively, a water taxi – $45 one way for adults – departs for Atauro at 7.30am daily with the return journey at 9.30am (Monday to Friday) or 3.00pm (Saturday and Sunday). The journey is about an hour. Contact Compass for more details.
Where to stay: Barry’s Eco-Lodge. Cabin accommodation is $45 a night. One of the greener options on Atauro, Barry’s offers a friendly welcome, communal atmosphere, beautiful gardens, thatched bungalows and shared bathrooms. Meals included. Activities, tours, snorkelling, bikes, fishing and kayaking can all be organised. Call (+670) 7723 6084 / 7744 1101.