How to Get to Timor-Leste…and onto Ataúro
First stop, Dili
Getting to Dili:
Dili is well-connected internationally with direct air services daily from Denpasar (Bali), Darwin (Australia), and Atambua and Kupang (West Timor). The airlines that run these flights are Air North, Air Timor, Citilink, and Sriwijaya Air. You can also get in by bus from West Timor with buses from Kupang.
Please note, most nationalities can obtain a visa upon arrival at Dili airport for 30 USD. If crossing by land from West Timor, a visa authorization form is necessary that you can obtain at any Timorese consulate/ embassy around the world. There is a departure tax upon leaving that is factored into the price of the ticket.
As the capital and first point of entry for any traveler coming to this country, you will inevitably wind up having to spend some time in Dili. Though it is not everyone’s favorite city, there are quite a few things to do in this ever-growing, chaotic capital.
Learn about Timorese resilience and the resistance movement through free local art classes and displays at Arte Moris, or enjoy a beautiful sunset at a delicious oceanfront restaurant for every palate.
You can climb to the best vantage point of the city with the Cristo Rei statue or perhaps visit the Resistance Museum and learn about the complicated and bloody history that created the foundation for the nation. Or visit the night BBQ market and enjoy freshly grilled seafood, drive 30 minutes outside of town to Dare for sweeping views of the city, and finally visit the Tais market for some beautiful local products.
Getting to Ataúro:
Located across Wetar Strait from Dili, Ataúro is readily accessible by boat or plane. All services are weather-dependent and vary depending on the season and year. In addition to scheduled departures, transport operators run extra trips if there is demand. Getting to Ataúro is an attraction in itself! Enjoy a breezy boat ride over bright blue water and keep a look out for whales and dolphins as sightings are common. Seabirds and flying fish are other highlights.
Rezerva is an online boat reservation system for Timor-Leste that was recently launched in December 2020. Check out their website to directly book a boat to Atauro today: https://www.rezerva.tl/
More adventurous or budget-conscious travelers can arrange outrigger or other boat transport directly with owners/crew. Local boats usually leave very early when Wetar Strait is smoother. (Note: These boats normally have no radios, life jackets or other safety equipment on-board and passengers are usually exposed to the elements – Wetar Strait can get extremely rough!).
Saturday only ferry service. Departs 9am from Dili Port (ticket must be booked day prior from wharf office) and 3pm Beloi Pier, Ataúro (ticket purchased on Island day of travel – available from 1:30pm). Crossing by ferry takes approximately 3 hours.
Owner/Manager: Timor-Leste Government
Tel: (+670) 331 7264
The Atauro Express is a medium vehicle and passenger ferry that makes unscheduled return trips during the COVID-19 era from Dili to Atauro. The ferry is owned and operated by local people. The ferry leaves from Dili port and takes 3,5 hours to arrive at Beloi. If you want travel to Ataúro, you can contact:
Manager: Mr Paulo
Tel: (+670) 7676 3273
Laju Laju “MV Success” Ferry
This spacious vehicle and passenger ferry service (3.5 hours) is the slowest but one of the most comfortable crossing options available. The ferry departs at 8:00 am from the Dili Port and at 3:00 pm from Beloi Pier back to Dili. The vessel is spacious and comfortable with sitting room outside and inside. Though it is the slowest option, it is hard to argue with the price and the comfort.
To buy a ticket to Ataúro, you can go to the Dragon Star Shipping Company office in Dili across from the port or show up at the pier at least 45 minutes before departure.
To buy a ticket to Dili, contact
Owner/Manager: Dragon Star Shipping Ida
Tel: (+670) 7302 2266/7302 2288
Email: [email protected]
For faster and more luxury transport options, you can book directly with private dive resorts based on the island or book a chartered flight.
MAF Plane (NGO)
Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) light planes are available for charter flights between Dili airport and Ataúro airstrip (located midway between Beloi and Vila). Flights take 15-20 minutes.
Note: MAF Planes may not be available for short time periods due to medical evacuations.
Owner/Manager: Bookings Line
Beloi Beach Hotel Boat
Modern motor-launches provide transport across Wetar Strait for hotel guests and other travelers on a demand basis. Departs Dili waterfront, just to the east of Palácio do Governo and Ataúro near the Beloi pier. Charters can be arranged.
Owner/Manager: Neyl Moniz Da Silva
Tel: (+670) 7558 3421 / 7729 2222
Email: [email protected]
Location: Beloi Beachfront
Compass Diving, utilizing motor launches, provides boat transfers in between Dili and Ataúro to customers doing activities with them or staying at their Atauro Beach Eco-Lodge. Private charters, rated hourly, can also be arranged.
Owner/Manager: Robert Crean and Cassio Schumacher
Tel: (+670) 7723 0964 / 7723 0965
Email: [email protected]