East Timor was plagued by civil wars and unrest up until the early ’00s, but today it is and for the past 20 years has been a tranquil tropical paradise, overlooked by most, but with much to offer the traveler who is looking to chill out and be themselves, with a reasonable standard of comfort. But the journey is long…almost as far as Australia. Make the trip, however, and you´ll come home with images imprinted on your mind and cell phone that very few can match.
Location: Between Australia and Indonesia. West Timor, by the way, belongs to Indonesia.
Population: 1.8 million.
Climate: Tropical with a good deal of monsoon activity.
Short story: East Timor has been inhabited for 40,000 years. In around the year 1000, the population mainly consisted of Chinese and Melanesians. It was then “discovered” by the Portuguese in the 1500´s, after Magellan was killed in the Philippines following a skirmish with local villagers after his ship had run out of supplies on his long voyage home. Fast forward: After a hard battle for their freedom in which over 100,000 of the already small population died, East Timor finally gained its independence in 2002. A number of different dialects are spoken, but Portuguese is the official language.
Attractions: The fantastic beaches with their crystal clear water. You can find these on the main island or on Atauro Island which is 30 km directly north of Dili, where you land (the only international airport), and can be reached by boat.
The island is just 140 sq. km. and measures a mere 25 km. from north to south. The population of a modest 8,000 people live mainly in 2 villages on the east side of the island. There is simple but excellent overnight accommodation available, and this must be one of the quietest, cleanest and most relaxing places to stay on the planet. The visibility in the water is unbelievable. Snorkelling is not an option, it´s a must! To be enjoyed with a romantic partner and/or good book!
Not easy to find but they do exist (and let us know if you find one to recommend), but not difficult to put together a trip yourself online.