Jaco Island: Timor-Leste’s Hidden Paradise

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I always brag about how I managed to travel from west to east of Timor-Leste on a public bus in one day. Apologies. But seriously, it’s not easy. I believe that it’s not the journey but the destination and many would agree with that cliche but for this specific trip, it’s both the journey and the destination. The destination is already stunning in itself whatever kind of journey I have taken, either by a private 4WD or a public bus. And yes, the journey made the destination much more stunning. As they say, the greater the effort, the sweeter the reward. The more you fought for something, the more meaningful victory is. While eating the most delicious biscuits I ever had and waiting for the rain to stop under the shades of a giant tree, I felt that I was in a battle of journeys, fighting my way to see the mysterious beaches of Jaco Island.

I have never met a Timorese who had been to Jaco Island. Foreigners I’ve met in Dili know where it is but have never been there. I heard that it’s a sacred island for Timorese and no one lives there. Crocodiles live around the island though making this island more elusive and more enchanting.

It may be true that it is enchanted. Carrying a 2-kg bag that got heavier each step, a deafening silence except for the mockingbirds, I heard the splashing waves from afar and believed I was close only to find out, in retrospect, that I was not even halfway yet. Fatigue, hunger and thirst probably caused this hallucination but I prefer to believe that the island is indeed enchanted, casted a spell on me, and it was, at that time, calling me, encouraging me to continue walking towards it.

And continue I did. And I’m glad I did. And I did see the most enchanting island paradise tucked away in this corner of Timor-Leste, calling for weary travelers to rest, and waiting to be discovered by those who heed the call.

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Have you had a difficult journey that you want to share? Was the destination worth it? We’d love to hear about it!

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10 thoughts on “Jaco Island: Timor-Leste’s Hidden Paradise

  1. I was planning to visit Jaco, but given the limited time I had in Timor-Leste, Venilale was the furthest I went in the country. However your photos assured me to come visit Jaco the next time I go to Timor-Leste. Such a beautiful island, indeed!

    • Hi Bama! :) My friend and I owned the island for 2 hours. It was so peaceful there and the views are just stunning.
      Venilale is a significant town in Timor-Leste and I hope I could also visit it next time.

  2. I wish I could double like this post. First of all, the pics are amazing and your story incredible. I had a similar experience and it didn’t involve extremely long hours on a coach bus but we traveled from San Jose to Puerto Viejo in Costa Rica for bout 6 hours. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride but the destination made the journey worth it. And I agree, sometimes we have to focus on both the destination and the journey bcos both combined is what makes an awesome experience. Here is my post on my trip to Costa Rica. It was definitely worth it.
    How it all started | Countless Miles


    • Wow, I’m so happy to read this comment. Thank you so much, Monie. Your trip in Costa Rica also sounds exciting and fun. And yes you are right; the way and the destination make a trip memorable. Thanks for sharing yours. :)

  3. I’ve never put Timor Leste very high on my travel list – despite the fact that I actually know Timorese people through my work (I work for a development organization and we have a project in Timor). I just never considered it a tourist destination… but you’re changing my mind. Thanks for sharing. Timor just got a bump up my list.

    As for difficult journeys, we haven’t experienced anything too difficult yet… just stuff that tries our patience… like this http://wp.me/p1jtUK-js

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