The day before yesterday, National Geographic Orion left behind the arid, stony cliffs of Australia and this morning we pulled back our curtains to see the gentle, verdant slopes of Timor Leste (East Timor). Instead of a continental wilderness with nary a local soul, we are now in a small island nation with a relatively dense population.
We started the day at a delightful little place called Jaco Island. Located about 1 kilometer east of the Timor mainland, Jaco has white-sand beaches ringing a forested (and undeveloped) interior. We spent the day on the shore and in the clear inshore waters, with a variety of activities at our disposal. With a choice between kayaking, snorkeling and beachcombing, it was an active day indeed.
The snorkelers were awed by the profusion of colorful fish and many people took the opportunity to explore the coral reefs that were accessible from the shoreline. Nearby, kayakers plied the tranquil waters, absorbing the tropical scene and moving at their own pace. But no matter which morning activity was chosen, we all met again further down the beach for a splendid barbeque lunch. The Hotel Department had set up a spread that added a spectacular setting to their usual delicious standards.
With lunch finished, there was time to try new activities, or just laze on the beach. A perfect start to “Phase 2” of this expedition.