A week on Atauro island

Monday called for a particularly early start and had us on board a water taxi to Atauro at 7:30am. Empreza Di’ak is building a new and bigger duck house at their business centre on the island and Joris was to oversee the project for the week. For me it was a great opportunity to tag along.

Atauro is a small island off the coast of Dili. It has a population of around 10,000 and is made up of mostly subsistence fishers and farmers. With Dili being the only gateway for tourists, it’s relatively untouched and incredibly beautiful.


My excitement about finally going to the island was matched by my dread of the boat ride over. Reviews from Joris hadn’t been great and it was something him and his bladder passionately disliked. The waters were relatively calm for the first half but the second half felt like a terrible rollercoaster ride and I was left partially soaked. My complaints were immediately rejected by Joris as this is apparently the calmest it’s ever been – he claims the waves come higher than the boat during the dry season.

It seemed this was not only the best time of the year for the waters but also whale and dolphin spotting. At one point we stopped to watch as a large pack of dolphins passed directly in front of the boat, perhaps only 20m away.

So today is day 5 of this island life. That means it’s been four days without a proper shower, four days of heavy repellant layering (even in bed) and despite this, countless mosquito bites and constant itching. But, the beach has never been more accessible, sunrises more beautiful and life this simple and serene.

My eagerness to capture sunrise photos means I’m out of bed around 6am everyday and strolling the beach for the perfect combination of pink and orange. Joris however prefers his sleep and grumbled and rolled over the first morning I tried to wake him.






While the team here work on building the duck house, I divide my work between morning and evening swims, meals at Barry’s Place (an eco-lodge across the road) and walks to wherever the beach or dirt roads led.




8 Occasionally I’ll wander over to the site, take some process photos and just observe the jolly and carefree way the men worked, guessing what their conversations could be about as they shriek with laughter.


1 reply on “ A week on Atauro island ”
  1. Hi Nancy You are seeing parts of the world few non-Timorese would see. You really are quite the intrepid adventurer ?

    Sent from my iPad


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