The origins of the names of the Dive sites in Timor Leste

The origins of the names of the Dive sites in Timor Leste

Who named the dive sites?

The dive sites in Timor Leste were primarily named by the pioneers of scuba diving in this young country around the time of the country’s independence. Timor Leste was under the United Nations from 1999-2002, and then in 2002 it got its full independence.
At that time there were two main dive operations, ourselves, Dive Timor Lorosae and Freeflow owned by the late Wayne Lovell and Ann Turner.

Whereas some dive site names are self explanatory such as Maubara church (Off of the beach in front of the church in a coastal town called Maubara) and Behau Village (you guessed it, the beach in front of the village with the same name!) other sites have more interesting origins. Here is a few of the more unusual ones:-


Scuttled shipwreck TimorK41 is probably one of the most commonly known sites and one of the most popular for divers, snorkelers and picnickers alike.

K41 East has a dramatic wall dive jutting straight out from the beach and it is teeming with marine life, with a shallow coral garden on top which is great for snorkelers and safety stops. To the west K41 boasts Timor Leste’s newest shipwreck the NRDTL Kamanasa (check out our blog for details).

So why is called K41? Imaginatively it was named that because its 41km from Dili! We also have another awesome wall dive called K57. Guess why?

Wayne’s World

Nothing to do with the 1992 film of the same name, Wayne’s World is at the Eastern End of Dollar Beach and a great place to see stunning coral and sharks. It was discovered by the late Wayne Lovell the owner of Freeflow. At the time a guy called Rick was diving there with Wayne and he named it Wayne’s World as a tribute to Wayne.

Bob’s Rock

Unlike Wayne’s World this hidden away site with an enormous field of garden eels, wasn’t named after a person. At the entrance of the site, just off the road, there was a large black rock and someone had graffitied the word ‘BOB’ on it, hence the name Bobs Rock stuck.

Franks Crack

On the West coast of Atauro Island is probably some of the best wall diving in the country. Whilst out on Dive Timor Lorosae’s boat a guest called Frank discovered a large crack in the reef, teeming with fish.

Frank was Australian and there are many other connotations and embellished explanations of Franks Crack  in line with Australian humour. But let’s stick with this one!

Backside of Jesus

Backside of Jesus dive sitesOr Jesus’s backside! On the nose of the crocodile (the land formation that can be seen from Dili and if you squint your eyes and use your imagination), stands a huge statue of Jesus overlooking Christo Rae, facing Dili.

However, if you dive the beach behind the statue, a beautiful coral laden reef, best done as a boat drift dive, you surface looking at the back side of the Jesus statue.

Not many people have this unique dive site name in their logbook!

Dan’s Sandy Bottom

One of the pioneers of scuba diving and a true friend of Timor Leste, the late Daniel Groshong put diving Timor Leste on the map with his book ‘Timor-Leste Land of Discovery’ (available in our shop). Dan discovered this dive site with beautiful soft corals and a favourite hangout for Sandy the dugong.

Dan spent many years in Timor Leste and was the founder of the Hummingfish Foundation an NGO designed to help add value to the earth’s unspoiled natural environments, by helping in the promotion of sustainable community-based nature and cultural tourism. Dan sadly lost his life in 2017 in a tragic accident when a falling tree crushed his car on the way to one of the coffee plantations his foundation was supporting.

Bubble Beach

blue spotted stingray christo Rei East TimorThis site is aptly named due to the thermal bubbles that rise up from the sand and stream towards the surface. It’s also a blue spotted stingray playground with a massive area of garden eels and beautiful corals.

The deep part of this dive site it a beautiful coral garden with shark often sighted.

The location of this dive site in front of an abandoned graveyard where all the tombs have been destroyed. It’s said it once housed the bodies of Timorese that helped the Indonesian military during the Indonesian occupation.

Lone Tree

Lone tree should actually be renamed ‘No Tree’ as the singular tree after which it was named is long gone. It could also be renamed Nemo City as it has the biggest garden of anemones and anemonefish that anyone we know, has ever seen. And at 5 meters depth, the Nemo’s are great for safety stops and snorkelers alike. (See main photo).

One warning though, this dive site is hot as there are no trees for shade!

We have many more dive sites but these are the most memorable ones by name. Check out our dive sites page for more details of each site.