Always a pleasant, laid back little capital, Dili has sprung to
life over the last three years. Although most of the city was
destroyed during the militia attacks of 1999, many of the homes and
businesses have been rebuilt.
Dili still sports a few Portuguese accents like the villa-lined
beach roads, the former colonial garrison built in 1627 and the
church built on the waterfront. But new shops, restaurants and bars
are opening all the time, bringing a new energy and style to this
once sleepy city.
The waterfront remains a centre of activity from dawn until late
at night. A park separates the beach from the road, with banyan
trees and benches offering an excellent place to cool down in the
shade with a coconut to drink! Fishermen unload all kinds of fish,
squid and lobsters on the beach, making this one of the best places
to find the freshest seafood in Dili. In the afternoon, join the
boys in their daily games of football - an excellent way to meet
the local people. Peddlers sell cold drinks, snacks and satay all
day and into the evening. The nearby island of Atauro can be
reached by chartered boat or the new ferry service.
Strongly Roman Catholic, Dili features many churches. A massive
statue of Christ on the nearby headland at Cape Fatucama is
reminiscent of Rio de Janeiro. From the various stops on the way up
to Jesus there are magnificent views of Dili and also the coast
stretching to the west. There are good beaches a few kilometres
outside of Dili in both directions with snorkeling and diving
possible within 15 minutes drive from the main government
buildings. The most popular beach area is the sheltered cove of
Areia Branca, also known as Pasir Putih (or white sands in English)
just before you get to Jesus.
The Santa Cruz Cemetery near Taibesi is also worth visiting. It
was here in 1991 that the world was first alerted on a wide scale
to the suffering and injustice that the Timorese were experiencing
under Indonesian rule.
The Xanana Reading Room and Library is an essential stop for
visitors to Dili in search of information and advice about East
Timor, their video and film library is excellent.
Additional detailed information can be found at Wikitravel.
Image of Government building by Travlr; other images by Kok