Diving Timor Leste: Compass Charters & Ocean Adventures
Whether you’re in Timor Leste for a brief stay or an extended one, booking an adventure with Compass Charters can turn your visit into a memory you will cherish for the rest of your life.
We offer exclusive adventure dive holidays around Dili and on the pristine island of Atauro. With local help and permission we have been able to open eco-camps on the east and west coasts of Atauro, affording us year-round diving, camping, and trekking. In establishing these camps we’ve opened a door for the local community to learn about hospitality, tourism, and conservation. Our work with Conservation International has also aided in creating marine protected areas around the waters of Atauro, ensuring that these pristine reefs will be around for future generations to discover and maintain. By diving with us, you’ll not only dive these coral reefs, but also help to ensure the future of the island through sustainable ecotourism.
Read on to learn a little bit more about who we are, how we got here, and where we’re going!
As told by: Antony Crean
It started in 1999, well 1980 to put you in the picture. The family moved to tropical Darwin from Melbourne. At school we made friends with Timorese who left East Timor in 1975. A few short years later we’d returned to Melbourne except for Dad who stayed and settled into the car industry and the tropics.
In 1999 the people of East Timor 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. Upon returning she announced she was going back to East Timor to give support. She requested Dad to send over everything he could find as there was nothing left. From toilet paper, toothbrushes, generators, cars and car parts, it soon became apparent, tools were also needed. From there, with the first UN lease agreement, together they started a mechanical workshop, near the airport from a burnt out bus depot.
Seven months into 2000 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 for recreation and we all learned to dive. Soon, other divers were chartering the boat to go diving in Atauro Island for the day. This transformed into Compass Charters & Ocean Adventures at the time when pioneering diving Atauro Island in Timor-Leste started. From then on, we committed ourselves to tourism and the development of Atauro Island.
A few years later in 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.
Wanting to sell their dive shop, the money was on the bar and the next week, the dive shop and the owners were shipped to Dili. Once the dive shop was fitted out, the ex owners were shipped back. We notified PADI and we were approved a new PADI Dive Resort. A few more boats in the Compass fleet, a couple of qualified PADI Instructors, we started teaching dive courses and guiding dives full time on the majestic island of Atauro.
And what happened in 2011?
In 2011, we opened Adara Ecocamp on the west coast of Atauro. It was a vision after surfacing from an amazing dive. We swam ashore and introduced ourselves to the humble 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.The community are helping us to make your stay an unforgettable experience.
Gradually we implemented discussions on ocean conservation and ocean sustainability and 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 among the World’s most biodiverse marine life for a small contribution.
And in 2017…
We have by now extended our fleet with a liveaboard catamaran and have opened a 2nd camp on Atauro Island. Our camp in Beloi is on the East Side of the island and offers us 12 months diving at the island.
What is our mission today?
Today we continue to commit to ecotourism and scuba diving in Timor Leste. Encouraging new ideas and best practices to keep the reefs and the land in it’s original if not better state than when we first arrived. We love teaching dive students, guiding divers and snorkelers. 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.