Asia’s youngest country, rugged and remote Timor-Leste, is an unexplored global biodiversity hotspot packed with treasures! You’ll discover unspoiled paradise beaches and dive and snorkel in the turquoise waters of the world’s most biodiverse oceans. You’ll help collect data vital to the locally led management of vibrant coral reefs while experiencing the culture and the surrounding landscapes of this beautiful country.
Marine conservation expeditions3 – 12+ weeks from £1950
Short dive trips2 weeks from £1495Whale & coral watch in Timor-Leste
Bathed by the deep waters of the Banda and Timorese seas, Timor-Leste along with Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands form the world-famous Coral Triangle. While it covers less than 2% of the earth’s oceans, the Coral Triangle hosts more than 75% of all known coral species, almost 40% of all known coral-reef fish species, more than 50% of the world’s coral reefs. Numerous shark, whale and dolphin species and six of the world’s seven marine turtle species are also found here.
The waters of Timor-Leste are a biodiversity hotspot and a global marine conservation priority, yet data on the status of the marine ecosystem is severely lacking, with limited monitoring and research. Blue Ventures’ volunteers will assist our team of scientists with the collection of marine inventory data completing research dives in previously un-surveyed waters. The data collected will inform Blue Ventures’ theory and practice and contribute directly to our efforts to develop new approaches to engaging Timor-Leste’s coastal communities in marine conservation.
As well as surveying the status of the coral reefs, particular attention will be paid to threatened seagrass beds, this habitat, home to numerous vulnerable species, serves as a vital feeding ground and nursery area for reef fish.
Regardless of your diving experience and whether you are a budding scientist or a newcomer to the field of marine conservation, all are welcome and able to support and contribute to Blue Ventures’ work in Timor-Leste.
All of the science and dive training throughout the expedition is designed and delivered by our experienced team. Informal lectures, workshops, group discussions and practical exercises will guide you through the programme and provide you with the skills and knowledge required to carry out underwater research dives and contribute to our work.
Expedition prices vary according to your current diving qualification and length of stay in Timor-Leste but, as a guide, start at £2450 for a 6 week expedition.
Use the price calculator to get an estimated cost which you’ll also receive if you apply – please just let us know if you want an exact quote before you confirm your place.
If you have any special requirements (e.g. non-diving volunteer, joining outside normal expedition dates, medic, medical elective or research) please contact us for an accurate quote.
Our 2 week whale and coral watch dive trip costs £1495.
There is no doubt that the highlight of your expedition experience with Blue Ventures in Timor-Leste will be the incredible marine environment. Thousands of fish fly past your nose as you dive or snorkel over the reef and into the deep blue beyond. Truly spectacular coral walls fringe the island with stunning habitat easily accessible from the shore. While we can’t guarantee you specific wildlife sightings, there really are few, if any, better places in the world to explore rich coral ecosystems bustling with life.
The deep ocean channels of the Wetar and Ombai straits surrounding Atauro plummet more than 3,000 metres deep and are a major migratory route for marine wildlife moving between the Pacific and Indian oceans, including whales, dolphins, large sharks and turtles.
Similar to our current expedition sites in Madagascar and Belize, we will be developing, with the help of our volunteers, a number of community based conservation projects in Timor-Leste.
Throughout 2016-2017 our team and expedition volunteers have been working to develop conservation and community priorities, including; seagrass surveys with local community-based monitoring volunteers, cetacean surveys (depending on the season) and supporting local ecotourism ventures and Tara Bandu (marine protected areas). The Blue Ventures team and new volunteers will continue to work together with the communities on these initiatives and to identify future priorities.
In addition to this, volunteers will participate in conservation and environmental awareness projects and activities such as beach clean-ups and language exchange sessions.
With incredible reefs just offshore you’ll be forgiven for spending all of your free time swimming and snorkelling. However, the island is filled with tropical forests covering some high peaks that offer great hiking to savannas and silky white, deserted beaches.
You will also have the opportunity to visit local markets (a weekly highlight for many on Atauro) and craft centres where you can pick up some beautiful souvenirs while contributing to local development efforts.
Beyond Atauro and our expedition site, trips to Dili and the districts of Timor-Leste will be part of our exploration of the country. Tourism infrastructure is limited but improving and Homestays offer the chance to experience Timor-Leste amongst local hosts and families. Whether you would like to visit remote mountain communities specialising in producing stunning coffee, or fancy more underwater time diving along the north coast of the island, there is much to explore.
Our base on Atauro is Barry’s Place in the village of Beloi. The accommodation options are spacious dormitory style cabins that can comfortably house up to five people. For an additional supplement, smaller cabins are available on request for couples or volunteers that wish to spend their stay in private accommodation.
All of the accommodation has eco-toilets and traditional mandi style shower blocks close by. The cabins have solar powered lighting for use after dark, hammocks, fans and mosquito nets and we have electricity for charging devices available on site.
This is a peaceful and idyllic location far from the bustle of everyday life.
During your expedition you will also spend 2 to 3 weeks living in local Homestay accommodation with Timorese families in Beloi.
Homestays are an important part of our strategy to diversify and strengthen alternative livelihoods for coastal communities, ensuring the economic benefits of tourism go directly to community families, rather than resorts or international investors. They provide a rich cultural experience, and the chance to really understand the lived experience of your host community.
“I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to participate in the homestay programme. It gives the expedition experience some real context, and I now have a better understanding of the importance of marine conservation in the area.” – Mackenzie Burke (Timor-Leste volunteer)
Local chefs prepare three meals per day for our expeditions team and volunteers, using fresh, locally sourced produce. Breakfast is freshly baked bread with a selection of jams and spreads, eggs, fruit (such as banana or pineapple) and coffee or tea. Lunch and dinner comprise a combination of salad, rice, noodles, spaghetti, beans, fish or meat, and plenty of locally grown vegetables. We’re normally able to cater for those with specific dietary requirements, particularly vegetarians.
Treated drinking water is freely available on site, with bottled water and other beverages available to purchase on site.
No matter where you are departing from (unless you already are in Timor-Leste), you will arrive in Timor-Leste’s capital and only international airport Dili. Flights connect daily from Bali or Darwin or three times a week from Singapore.
On the first day of your expedition you will be greeted by our staff in Dili and receive introductory briefings before heading to Atauro the following day.
On the island you’ll travel in our purpose built dive boat, by foot or by local tuk-tuk – quite an experience!
Particular attention will be paid to surveying the health of coral reefs found just off shore as well as the threatened seagrass habitat. They are home to numerous vulnerable species, including dugongs, and serve as vital feeding grounds for six out of the seven world’s existing turtle species, which occur in the Coral Triangle.
Environmental protection and stability is deeply enshrined in the Timorese culture due to their long standing relationship with the ocean and their reliance on the sea for food and income. Due to climate change, globalisation and overfishing, there is now a critical need to collaborate with coastal communities, government agencies, and other conservation and development organisations to build the island’s capacity for effective marine management.
Specifically, Blue Ventures will support projects enhancing the conservation effectiveness of the seagrass ecosystem supporting globally significant populations of dugongs across the Indian and Pacific Ocean basins. This project is executed by the the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, with financing from the GEF, implementation support by UNEP and technical support from the CMS Dugong MoU Secretariat.
Since 2003 our marine conservation expeditions in Madagascar and Belize, have established and supported projects that benefit coastal communities and conservation efforts.
This is an exciting new expedition and an opportunity for volunteers to work in a new country as part of the team that will establish the focus of our work and specific goals as we explore Timor-Leste.
Blue Ventures does magnificent work, helping local communities and offering extraordinary volunteering opportunities that you'll remember for the rest of your life.
A model for everyone working to conserve the natural life-support systems of our troubled planet.
Expedition prices vary according to your current diving qualification and length of stay in Timor-Leste but, as a guide, start at £2850 for 6 weeks.
Participants at our Timor-Leste site need to be PADI Open Water divers (or equivalent).
Please talk to us if you have any questions about this and we can discuss your options!
Expeditions run year round, if the exact start dates don’t work for you please ask, we’ll likely be able to sort something out that works.
Yes! We’d love for others to come and can offer a slight discount for non-divers. The capacity of these expeditions is limited to 12 people though, so do get in touch as soon as you can to discuss options.
Yes! We regularly work with schools, universities and other groups to provide bespoke short expeditions. See our specialist page for more information or just drop us a line using the contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
Just complete our simple online application form and we’ll be in touch very soon!