The easternmost part of East Timor is an uninhabited island, and the smallest one of the country. It is called Jaco, and it is a protected area. When we drive out of Lospalos, we first go to Tutuala, a village on top of a hill with sweeping views of the north coast of East Timor. From here, it is easy to see how there is a shallow, light turquoise part of the coast, which then drops off sharply just off the coast into dark blue. Our destination of the day, Jaco island, is not yet visible: it is just behind a mountain range. The 8km it takes to drive down to Valu beach are gruesome, and take well over half an hour of being thrown around a 4WD with hands clinging on to grips, trying to avoid your head being smacked against the car. You start asking yourself: where is that beach, and is it really worth the trouble?
When we get out and look east, these minor hardships are quickly forgotten. Standing on a white sand beach, with a few colourful wooden boats, Jaco emerges from the narrow channel separating the island from Timor. Three boats take our party across, and when we approach the island, the sight of the transparent, brilliant blue sea and the blindingly white sands of the beach imprint themselves on our eyes. The boats drop us off, and the island is ours for a couple of hours - even though we have to share it with a few others. I walk the beach one end, and back, dip in the water, and have a look at the interior of the island of Jaco.
We have lunch, and when we see one of the boats coming across, we feel it is way too early to leave. But they do not come to pick us up; instead, they have grilled two of the big fish that we had seen hanging from a branch of a tree. What we thought was lunch turns out to be just the appetiser, and we literally dig into the fresh meat of the barbecued fish. Our stay in paradise is extended; more relaxation time follows, in which some of us just lie on the beach, others chat in the water, or snorkel, or walk the beach. But even these moments come to an end, and when we see three boats on their way across the channel, we know our time has come to say goodbye to paradise.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Jaco island (Timor-Leste). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Jaco island. Read more about this site.