Lying 30km north of Timor Leste capital Dili, Atauro Island boasts some of the richest reefs in the Coral Triangle. A 2017 research study suggested it may have the highest levels of reef fish biodiversity on the planet. It sits right in the path of the famous Indonesian Throughflow that carries nutrients from the deep basins of the Banda Sea to the north. Simply put it’s a dive paradise.
The island of Atauro lies in the Ombai Strait, some 30km north of Dili and right in the path of the famous Indonesian Throughflow as it streams between the main islands of Alor and Wetar, carrying a rich cargo of nutrients from the deep basins of the Banda Sea to the north. it is this that gives Atauro some of the richest reefs in the Coral Triangle - and that's saying a lot for an area that is the centre of marine biodiversity on the planet! The island is sparsely populated and most inhabitants live by subsistence farming and fishing and are protestant, though animistic traditions are still strong on the island. The low population density has probably played a part in protecting Atauro’s astonishing reefs.
There’s a small range of accommodations on Atauro Island – Barry’s Place is an institution on the island, a beautifully maintained and genuinely sustainable eco lodge that’s also involved in social enterprises with the local community. It’s run by a Timorese woman and her husband. Atauro Dive Resort is another longstanding option with a quarter century’s diving experience in the area. Both offer comfy, eco-friendly beach cabanas.
A 2017 research study suggests that Atauro Island may be home to the highest number of reef fish species recorded anywhere on the planet. For divers of course this means a treasure trove of world class dive sites, on both eastern and western flanks of the island. The most spectacular sites are steep walls that are a riot of both soft and hard corals. There are also a good number of incredible fringing reefs in sheltered bays, featuring scarlet sponges, gorgonian fans and a colourful variety of soft corals.
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