With such a small population and no large commercial fishing enterprises, the waters of Timor-Leste are brimming with sea life, with coral reefs in pristine condition, and the waters off Atauro Island were no exception.
On our first day on Atauro we’d snorkeled in beautiful waters, a few metres deep. The beds of sea grass which grew almost to the shore were home to starfish of various colours and shape, whilst slightly further out the reef began, home to numerous species of fish.
However, as lovely as our first day was under the water, our second was to prove an even greater treat.
Through sheer chance, when we entered the water on day 2, the tide was extremely low. Whilst this meant for the 1st 20-30 metres we were essentially wading through the grass beds, once beyond and into the reef proper, coral formations that a day earlier might have been 4 or 5 metres deep, were now only a couple of metres from the surface.
It was a magical experience, and one that sadly, our photos (with a fairly cheap, but serviceable waterproof camera) do not truly capture.
We probably spent close to an hour in the water, our only hope that our waterproof sunscreen was not lost in the process.
But on reflection on what we were able to see in our time under the waves, it is little surprise that time so quickly and easily got away from us.