A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY
Appreciating Timor-Leste's Wonders Since 1999
Whether you’re in Timor-Leste for a brief stay or an extended one, booking an adventure with Compass Diving can turn your visit into a memory you will cherish for the rest of your life.
We offer exclusive adventures and diving around Dili and on the pristine reefs of Atauro. On this gem of an island, with local help and permission of Timorese people, we have been able to open our Atauro Beach Eco Lodge close to the village of Beloi, on the eastern part of the island, as well as operate and bring visitors to the western coast, where the village of Adara serves as our base. This affords us year-round diving!
In establishing our operations we’ve opened a door for the local community to learn about hospitality, tourism, and conservation. Our on-going efforts and work with international agencies has also aided the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) around the waters of Atauro, ensuring that these pristine reefs will be around for future generations to discover and maintain. This means that by booking with us, you’ll not only dive or snorkel these coral reefs, but also contribute towards the future of the island through sustainable tourism.
FOCUS ON COMMUNITY & SUSTAINABILITY
Today we continue to commit to ecotourism and scuba diving development in Timor-Leste. By having the opportunity to host exploratory and scientific expeditions along with world renowned scientists and conservation photographers, we have been constantly discovering ourselves what a fantastic place we have the opportunity to contemplate on a constant basis. This inspires us to keep encouraging new ideas and best practices to keep the reefs and the land in its original, if not better, state than when we first arrived. We love teaching dive students, guiding divers and snorkelers whilst sharing our love and admiration for the unique ecosystem that we are blessed to explore. And we demonstrate what you can do to sustain a time-frozen exquisite place, not just for us, not just for the community, but for the generations to come and the global community to see.
We encourage you to see for yourself what is, quite simply, another world!
To our new guests, we thank you in advance for choosing your adventure with Compass and to our long-term guests, we thank you for your support over the years. Without any of you, we know there is no us.
As Told by Antony Crean, Compass Diving & Compass Marine
It started in 1999… Well, 1980 to put you in the picture!
Family moved to tropical Darwin from Melbourne and at school we, the kids back then, made friends with Timorese who left their home country in 1975. A few short years later we’d all returned to Melbourne except for Dad, who stayed and settled into the car industry and the tropic weather, allowing for an initial point of connection with the country, since Darwin’s airport is one of the ones who regularly connected to Dili, Timor-Leste’s capital.
Straightforward to 1999 and the people of East Timor (the name used back then) had just voted for autonomy in an UN led referendum. My sister, then working for the magistrate in Darwin had volunteered to scribe for UNCHR under the Geneva Convention in East Timor. Her task was to document first hand accounts of what was going down around the country. After a month of taking notes she was sent back to Darwin safely, nevertheless upon returning it didn’t take long for her to announce that she was going back to the Asian country to give support. She requested Dad to send over everything he could find as even the most basic supplies were missing in the country. And everything went from toilet paper, toothbrushes, generators all the way to cars and car parts… It wasn't long before it was revealed that even basic tools were also needed! It was from there, with the first UN lease agreement, that together the two of them launched a mechanical workshop near the airport, out of a burnt-out bus depot.
Seven months into 2000 and I arrived to distribute fuel throughout the country for the UN peacekeeping forces. A year later I joined my father at the bus depot, to service cars for the East Timor Transitional Administration. Shortly after, the country was officially independent and became the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
In 2005, we acquired our first boat, purely for recreation and ended up all learning how to dive. Soon other divers were chartering the boat to go diving on Atauro Island for the day. This transformed into Compass Charters & Ocean Adventures at the time when we were the pioneers in diving Atauro Island. From then on, we committed ourselves to tourism and the development of the island!
A FEW YEARS LATER 2008..
A new dive boat came online and the first boat became the official Water Taxi service for the public. It connected the remote island to the mainland regularly and safely.
Moving along to 2010 at the sailing club in Darwin, an opportunity came about with the owners of a local dive centre, who were looking to sell their dive shop. Money was on the bar and the next week the dive shop and the owners were shipped to Dili!
Nevertheless, once the dive shop was fitted out, the ex owners were shipped back… Soon we notified PADI and were approved a new PADI Dive Resort. With that a few more boats were added to the fleet along with qualified PADI Instructors, and soon enough we started teaching dive courses and guiding dives full time on the majestic reefs of Atauro.
AND WHAT HAPPENED IN 2011?
In 2011, we opened Adara Eco-Camp on the west coast of the island. It was a vision after surfacing from an amazing dive. We swam ashore and introduced ourselves to the humble and welcoming Adara community. We explained our vision and soon after agreed to a lease on a small parcel of beachfront land. In no time the community were learning about hospitality and tourism and ways of helping us make our guests’ stay an unforgettable experience.
Gradually we implemented discussions on ocean conservation and ocean sustainability, what marine life means to divers, and what divers mean to the community. Present day Adara now has it’s own official Marine Protected Area, a ‘Tara Bandu’ where fishing is forbidden and penalties apply, whilst divers and snorkelers are welcome to swim and dive amongst one of the world’s most biodiverse reefs for a small contribution fee.
RECENTLY, IN 2017...
Sundance, our catamaran, joined the fleet, allowing us to offer liveaboard diving (liveaboard link) to further destinations like Jaco and Com on the eastern tip of the country. It was on that year that we also opened our second camp location, in Beloi, eastern side of Atauro, recently named Atauro Beach Eco Lodge (Beloi link). From that point on, we started to then be able to offer year-round dive & stay packages on the island.