Turtle in Timor Leste

A massive turtle- one of the amazing creatures you’ll see diving in Timor Leste

Mark Dive Timor

Another day in the office for Mark, from Dive Timor Lorosae
It’s hard to imagine living in East Timor without all the outlets there now are for expats. Yep, just think about that for a moment, no restaurants or bars along the beach… What on earth would anyone do in their spare time, just write poetry and exercise? It’s a scary thought, and exactly how underdeveloped Timor was when Mark, first arrived there in 2000. Twelve years later, expats are spoilt for choice on how they can blow their money and you can thank Mark and Volker, the Managing Directors’ of Dive Timor Lorosae, for letting us blow it on something well worthy of every cent: diving. As you’ll see from some of the pictures below, Timor is a diver’s paradise. And if you weren’t planning on doing any diving while in East Timor, I reckon this blog post might just change your mind.

Enter Mark.

Why did you first go to East Timor and what made you want to setup a diving business there?

Mark: I first came to East Timor in early 2000 as a consulting Engineering Surveyor for the United Nations. During my first year in country I had to map every road and all major infrastructures including airports, harbours, hospitals etc etc. Over this period I fell in love with the country and its natural beauty and even more so with its untouched underwater world.Timor had no outlets for expats other than work so I decided to bring in my own compressors and boats to explore the underwater world and I soon found a lot of other people that shared my enthusiasm. And what started of as a private endeavour turned into Timor’s largest dive centre.

Fish in east timor

Did we mention the fish?

A lot of people bang on about how good the diving is in East Timor, why is this and how is it different to any other dive spots around the world?

Mark: For me Timor’s main attraction is due to its location. Both in a marine sense and also because it’s an ease to travel to the dive locations. Most dive sites around the world are found in the isolated pockets of those countries. Places hard to get to and untouched by human interaction. But, you can fly into Dili and literally dive at the airport beach, an untouched dive site. Timor was closed off for so long that the underwater world was mostly left alone until Timor found its independence.The water along the coast drops off to 3000km. Hence there is always a fresh supply of temperate water that reefs need to maintain their health. Global warming threatens a lot of the reefs around the world and most of these places have shallow waters, but not Timor. With the deep blue waters also brings the deep blue sea creatures.

Dugong in East Timor

A playful dugong in the waters off Timor

What is the most interesting thing you’ve seen under water?

Mark: Over the years we have seen some amazing shows underwater, from killer whales taking dolphins, whale sharks, turtles, all sorts of whales and much more. Yet I am still a big fan of the dugong. This playing creature no doubt stands out as my favourite sight underwater. 

Where is your favourite dive spot in East Timor?

Mark: Tasi Tulo right next to the airport is an amazing muck dive. And due to its close proximity to Dili (5min drive) it is by far my favourite close dive. Yet the Eastern end of the island around Jaco Island and the walls before it, are still my favourite dives anywhere. Due to its rather remote location as well, it is still rather unexplored.

We get a lot of questions from people who want to run a business in East Timor, do you have any practical tips for these people?

Mark: Do not start a business in Timor if your main goal is money. A love for the country and people is required to get you over, around and sometimes through the hurdles you will face daily in a developing country.

What has been your biggest achievement from living and working in East Timor?

Mark: We have achieved so much over the 10 years in Timor. From starting Timor’s first PADI dive centre to watching it grow into a 5 star Instructor development centre.

Juvi diver timor

Juvi- Dive Timor Lorosae’s Trainee Divemaster
Yet I think the centres best achievement would be our local Divemaster Trainee, Juvi! Watching him grow from his first breath underwater to now doing his Divemaster’s course and watching the country’s dive industry grow alongside him.  This will only ever be topped when he becomes an Open Water Instructor himself.

Anything you’d like to add?

Mark: Timor is ready, eager and excited to invite all to visit and explore what is truly an amazing country with a magical and healthy marine world.

Barracudas East Timor

A swarm of barracudas- has anyone ever seen so many?

If you’ve never dived before, Dive Timor Lorosae have a full range of PADI accredited courses including snorkelling, scuba diving, divemasters etc to get you on your way… They run diving trips all year round but if you’re more comfortable in a boat than the water, you can take advantage of one of their whale watching trips. Check out their website for more information. Or visit them in person, they’re located behind the infamous Castaway Bar!Thanks to Mark and Volker from Dive Timor Lorosae for sharing their story and stunning pictures with us.

If you’ve got an interesting story you’d like to share with us, we’d love to hear from you! Don’t be shy people…