Zonu beach (Photo by Colin Trainor)

Although the journey can be perilous, all agree that the end justifies the means (and the broken axle). It’s 8km downhill from the village of Tutuala to its fine white-sand beach, also known as Pantai Walu (also spelt Waloo or Vallou). For the first 5km the road is sort of OK, but it turns into a rough rocky track for the last 3km – strictly for 4WDs and a good test of your wits. It takes at least ~ 30 minutes. It’s a fine walk down, but a major slog hack up. The beach looks like a dreamy ad for white-chocolate bar. There are now two accommodations options on the beach, both recently opened. Previously it had been a camping-only affair. When you get to the beach, turn right for the outrigger to Jaco Island and left for the guest houses. Just offshore is Jaco Island and in the surrounding turquoise waters you’ll find reefs with an incredible diversity of life. It’s ideal for snorkeling and diving (like many other places in East Timor, read here other suggestions). Look for large anemones with their colorful attendant anemone fish, reef fish of literally every stripe, porpoises and more. The reef is part of vaunted Coral Triangle.