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Frequently Asked Questions

We understand, a big trip needs preparation! Here are the common questions we get asked regarding the tour in Timor Leste

When is the best time to swim with blue whales in Timor Leste?

We get asked this question frequently. It’s a difficult answer, as the blue whales (and other species of whales & dolphins) are in the strait between Dili & Atauro Island for about 6 - 7 weeks from early October – the end of November in numbers. We see and swim with them most days through this season – except when the weather is very rainy and windy. We only operate on dates that we absolutely know, through experience, the Blue whales are in this area!

Why are you not operating day trips?

Our aim is to take you on the fullest and best whale-swimming experience possible – not fleeting glimpses. For this, you need to maximize your time on the water. We are not here to force any interaction but instead find you the right whales to have the best interaction with! Our years of experience allow us to know that immersing yourself in many different whale encounters over a week time is the best way to experience this very intimate & profound privilege. It can be absolutely life-changing for many.

AND  . .  know that once you have swum with them, once you have looked in the eye of a whale, you will want to do it again and again.

A good whale-watching skipper knows that the best way to get great encounters is to take the time to let the whales get used to the boat and for the swimmers to be an un-intrusive as possible. Our skipper, is a local and operates from the dive centre in Dili for over 20 years.  Our guide, is a Timorese, he loves all marine ilife and has a very deep respect for the whales and the ocean.


It is harder for a single 1/2-day trip as they have limited time and are under pressure to deliver the swims, so the swims can be fleeting. We intend to be in the water having a relaxed and amazing encounter with the Blue’s - and hopefully some Sperm whales, who feed in the area also, during this time.

How to arrive in Dili, Timor Leste?

You have to fly to President Nicolau Lobato International airport (DIL) which is close to near Dili city, Timor Leste, which is south-east of Indonesia.

The flights connect directly from

Darwin, Australia to Dili - operated by Airnorth

Jakarta & Denpasar, Bali to Dili - operated by Citilink, Nam Air and Sriwijaya Air (all part of Garuda Indonesia)

Singapore to Dili - operated by Drukair 

VISA’s for Timor Leste

You will need a tourist visa to enter Timor Leste. 

Payable in cash USD$30 upon arrival at the immigration for most passport holders. You cannot enter IF you don't have $30 USD in cash! The ATM machine is outside Customs & Immigration) Please find all information here

Can anybody join the tour or do I need a minimum of fitness level?

  • You need above-average fitness and agility in the water.

  • Good snorkeling skills

  • To be comfortable and confident snorkeling in very deep water in the open ocean, for 50 – 200 metres (sometimes in big swells).

  • You need to be able to get your fins/mask & snorkel on quickly when requested by the crew.

  • You must be able to get yourself off and on the boat unassisted.

Although blue whales are 12 -15 metres long and weigh about 40 ton, they are gentle animals and are very aware of us in the water. They will even drop their 5m long pectoral fin or turn their tail fluke to avoid us as they swim by. The calves are sometimes very curious and they often seem to love to be around us.  The thought of being in the water with the largest animal on the planet, may be frightening ­but after your first encounter any fear will just drop away.

If you feel that your swimming and snorkelling skills is not up to the level we require, or that you are a little unfit, we suggest that you enrol in snorkelling lessons and improve your swimming skills and fitness levels prior to joining your tour to insure the best encounters possible.

Your level of skill and confidence will determine whether our Skipper/Guide will allow you in the water with the whales. 

It is TOP PRIORITY to have good snorkeling gear. 

Please note: Your tour leader is not there to assist you in the water, he is there to keep all the group safe.

What equipment do I need to bring?

A good snorkelling gear that fits you personally!​

We will be out in the water every day so it's essential to have your own comfy snorkelling gear. You will not be able to rent good quality snorkelling gear in Moorea.

PLEASE NOTE: FOR YOUR SAFETY we ask you to wear a buoyant wetsuit or vest PLUS your mask, fins and snorkel at all times when snorkeling with the whales on any WhaleSwim Adventure tour

You will need:

  • comfortable mask & snorkel – semi-dry top and self-purging is preferable so you are not constantly blowing water out of your snorkel. (but not with totally dry’ style with the ball in the top – the ball can jam shut, making breathing difficult! ) Please have your mask ‘fitted’ correctly at the store – all masks are different and all face shapes are different. Remember, this gear is the very reason you are booking our tour! Please choose a black or dark blue, red or dark grey masks – NOT clear masks as they tend to create reflection off the surface of the water.

  • comfortable pair of full foot long fins, do not buy them too tight or you will get blisters. Make sure you have a bit of movement in them. (NOT dive fins that you need to wear neoprene booties with) You have to keep your fins below the surface of the water when snorkeling (prevents noise and water disturbance that spooks the whales) and this is difficult if you are wearing booties that float. If you want to protect your feet/heels from blistering in your full-foot fins, then the nylon/spandex skin socks (
    For large feet (up to size 16) – we recommend

  • buoyancy – its safer and easier to be still in the water around the whales wearing a buoyant garment – like a neoprene vest or t-shirt or a wetsuit (short or long – depending on whether you feel the cold). It will keep you afloat on the surface without any effort and allows free movement in the water.

  • Water temperature is 24/26 degrees but we DO recommend, if you easily get cold, to bring a 3mm wetsuit (even in Tahiti!)

  • a Lycra top (Rashie) or suit or a Sharkskin top will keep you warm if you tend to feel the cold easily and for protection from the sun while you are on the boat. (optional)

  • If you are bringing a Go-Pro – short handle pole is the best!  – a headstrap doesnt work and a long-pole is not permitted! 
    Latest iPhone or Samsung with the latest under-water housing, a compact camera with excellent lenses and uw housing  are other excellent options. 

Type of equipment we recommend :


For Safety reasons, we DO NOT recommend this type of equipment :


(This mask is designed for using on a reef in shallow still water - they fog up

and often leak in choppy waters)


(The booties will make your feet float therefore

splash the water & scare the whales)


(Those fins are too short and

not enough powerful to swim with - please do not listen to the store sales
person if the have not swim with whales in the open ocean!)


(The all dry snorkel with

ball on top, the ball can jam shut making breathing difficult!)


(Long selfie stick forbidden on our tours, 

they get in the photos & on the face of other guests)

How many people in the group?

Our tours are small and cater for a maximum of 8 guests only.

Our 24 years of experience around different species of whales, it doesn’t matter if there are 4 or 8 people in the water at one time, it’s about the way we behave around the whales. This means that you are in the water with the whales every time and you will have the opportunity for many in-the-water encounters during our 4 – 4.5 hours on the water with the whales, over the 6 or 8 days. You will have time to enjoy the incredible up-close surface action too. Minimum age is 18 years old unless you are booking all 10 spaces on the boat.

Where to stay prior or after the tour?

Planning to stay a little longer?

We highly recommend that if your are a scuba diver and/or love snorkelling, we highly recommend that you stay extra days after our tour and get a boat out to Atauro Island and stay for a few days. Its amazing!

Dive Timor Lorosae offer a diving and snorkelling trip to Atauro, but they do need a minimum of 6 to run. You could  book this trip and if you want to stay on in Atauro, the public ferries back run on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. 
Accommodation for staying to explore the island, the best is Beloi Beach Hotel that has a/c, swimming pool and cocktail bar,  If you are staying with them then they offer a their own boat service.
If you want to spend extra nights on Atauro, snorkelling and diving, then we recommend Atauro Dive Resort.


We look forward to meeting you and sharing this extraordinary experience with you!

WhaleSwim Adventures
Contact Rae if you have more questions!


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