ATAURO ISLAND

The island The mountainous tropical island of Atauro, situated thirty kilometres north of Dili in the Wetar strait, is 24 kilometres long by 10 kilometres wide. It has a population of 8000.There are few motor vehicles and the only sealed roads are on the east coast. The predominantly Protestant Christian population are mostly subsistence farmers and fishers. The main villages, Vila and Beloi, are also on the east coast.Atauro is of volcanic origin, with unusual terracing along the south coast. and there are many offshore coral reefs.

Access

From Dili the weekly one way ferry trip (Saturdays only) leaving at 9am costs $10-00 for foreigners (Malae) and $5-00 for Timorese. During the three hour trip there are frequent sightings of dolphin, flying fish and other sea creatures.The ferry docks at a concrete pier at the central east coast village of Beloi. A market is held under a huge shade tree on the beach at arrival and departure times.The ferry leaves Baloi for the return trip at 3pm.

Alternatively an  interesting option, is to take a local fishing boat or charter a speed boat from Dili to cross the strait. Caution if returning by local boat pay on the boat not at the kiosk.

Base

In Vila you can stay at Tua Koin. This Eco Village is owned and operated by the local Non-Government Organization (NGO) Roman Luan. It is set between the coast road and the beach three kilometres south of the Beloi pier. This can be organized by phoning Guido+67077236085  Contact is sometimes difficult; text is reliable.  www.atauroisland.com

WEST COAST ATAURO

Tua Koin was constructed from mostly natural materials by local builders. The houses in Timorese villages usually face inward. However for Malae the individual thatch cabins face the sandy beach and sunrise. Toilets are composting and lighting is solar powered. The bathroom interior is a beautiful small tropical garden. Meals are provided.

There is a resort in Beloi called   Barry’s Place,it is just north of the pier.    Barry’s number is +67077236084. www.barrysplaceonatauro.com  .

The Atauro people I spoke to welcome appropriate tourism, but they are very concerned by talk in Dili of ‘tourism proper’ with a large hotel, golf course and a road around the island.

As of 2014 mobile reception is good on most of the island.

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