FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ARE YOUR TOUR PRICES FOR THE WHOLE BOAT?
Yes, prices quoted on our whale tour packages are for the charter of the entire boat. Each booking can organize their own group participants to the maximum capacity of our vessels, and split the cost accordingly.
WHAT PAYMENT METHODS ARE ACCEPTED?
Deposits and balance payments can be done by cash, credit card (VISA only, with a 3% bank charge), or bank transfer to our BNU bank account.
DO YOU REQUIRE A DEPOSIT?
Yes, a 50% deposit is required to secure your preferred tour and date. Due to the fact that the whale migration is a natural occurrence and we aren't able to pinpoint the exact date their migration will begin, we will not require a deposit up until the week when the first whales are sighted passing through and we are certain the migration season has begun. Until then, you are more than welcome to make a booking without placing a deposit. We will be in touch once the whales show up :)
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN THE WHALES WILL ARRIVE?
Our assumptions that this year, the pygmy blue whale southern migration will begin sometime in mid-October onwards, is based on our own sightings of their northern migration which occurred recently. Another factor that is taken into account is the weather patterns and ocean upwellings. There is no way to be sure of the exact date the whales start turning back south, but Compass regularly has boats on the water and our spotters are always keeping an eye out for sightings of the first whales to make their way through. We aim to share announcements of the migration via our social media channels.
DO MANY WHALES PASS BY?
We hope so! Based on sighting records compiled through cooperation of all operators here in Dili, since 2016 there are more than 100 individual pygmy blue whales passing through our waters within any given season. Data also shows that on a 'peak day', up to 15 whales have been spotted to swim past the coast. There are of course sometimes a mix of quiet days in between, where lesser or even no whales are seen to be passing through. It's all about keeping our eyes open to see if they're around!
AM I GUARANTEED TO SEE A WHALE?
As with all things nature, no, we can't guarantee a definite whale sighting on any of the tours. On most days, we will have more than one vessel roaming the waters, therefore increasing chances of sighting one. Our spotter crews are also on full alert throughout all our tours in our attempt to find marine fauna for you to contemplate in wonder. We sometimes even encounter dolphins and other species of cetaceans during the tours. We believe in running an honest operation hence once we announce the official start of the migration we believe that the chances of sighting a whale is there. Ultimately our aim is to provide you with an enjoyable & memorable time on the water :)
ARE YOUR TOURS GUIDED?
All our tours come with a professional staff as your main host. Because of our own appreciation of the ocean and the magnificent life that harbours within it, we include beautiful and educative briefings to all guests who join us on our tours to share our knowledge of the cetaceans of Timor-Leste, migration patterns, observable behaviours and more. We want our tours to not only be about checking off a to-do list of seeing a whale, but for everyone to truly contemplate the significance and importance of these animals to our ecosystem.
CAN I SCUBA DIVE WITH A WHALE?
We don't run scuba diving trips for whale encounters, firstly as a means to not be intrusive on the whales, and also because the whales we encounter are mainly on a mission to go to their intended destination - hence they are constantly on the move in very deep waters. The most personal opportunity on offer is a Passive In-Water Whale Encounter (PIWWE) tour, where there is an option to snorkel in the water - at a respectful distance - with a passing whale, should the opportunity materalizes.
CAN I BRING MY CHILD ON THE PIWWE SWIM TOUR?
Children are welcome to be part of the group on the PIWWE Swim Tour boat, but our company policy is to not put anyone under the age of 16 years in the water for a whale swim. This is due to many safety factors, as this activity involves higher risks. Therefore children on the PIWWE boat will stay on the boat with our crew, whilst the adults are placed in the water. However, due to the longer hours on the water for the PIWWE tour, we highly encourage sticking to our two other cruise options - the catamaran or speedboat cruise - for children for their safety and comfort.
WHAT KIND OF WHALES CAN WE SEE?
During the migration season, our main expectation is of course to sight a pygmy blue whale. There are, however, many other species that can be found in Timor-Leste waters - home to a third of all known cetacean species in the world! Some of these include Fraser's dolphins, Pantropical spotted dolphins, melon-headed whales, Risso's dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, sperm whales, and more!
CAN I BRING MY OWN PICNIC ON THE CRUISE?
Yes! You are more than welcome to pack your own favourite snacks for your group's cruise, but we do include a hearty selection of bites for everyone to enjoy throughout the tour. We can also cater to dietary requirements such as halal, vegetarian or vegan options, and allergy considerations. Just let us know your group's restrictions when making a booking.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR FOR THE CRUISE?
We recommend wearing light, sun-protective wear - airy cotton based clothes, a hat, sunglasses, etc. Non-marking shoes with light-coloured soles are highly encouraged on our boats, especially for those doing tours aboard the catamaran. If you are not booking the PIWWE Swim tour, there is no requirement to have swimwear on - there are no in-water activities for our speedboat and catamaran cruises.