Impressions of our visit to Derawan Island
Derawan, also called the Hawai of Indonesia is situated in the province of East Kalimantan. Derawan archipelago consists of 31 islands, some even uninhabited.
Most famous islands of this archipelago are Maratua, Sangalaki, and Kakaban.
This region is a great diving and snorkeling area. Many endangered species can be found here, like the giant green turtle, dolphins, manta rays, stingless jellyfish and barracuda’s. The waters here change from green to deep blue.
Derawan in itself is not in itself the perfect diving spot, but it’s a great hub to discover the other islands. You can stay in Maratua or Sangalaki resorts, but prices are much more expensive than in Derawan. Derawan has a lot of local restaurants, homestays, and hotels (cottages), build above the sea. From the cottages, you can spot the giant turtles every day. But they don’t lay many eggs on the shores here. To see this (every night) you have to be in Sangilaki.
Many people think Derawan is difficult to reach, but in fact, you only need to book a ticket to Berau. From June 2015 they are direct flights from Jakarta with Sriwijaya Air or Kalstar. Or you can fly to Balikpapan first and take a smaller plane to Berau.
From here you will be picked up by car and driven to Tanjung Batu.
From Tanjung Batu a speedboat will take you to Derawan 30 min. Or you can take a speedboat from Berau to Derawan, but this will take about 3 hours and ends up to be more expensive.
From Derawan you can book day trips to the other islands. On one day you can visit Maratua, Sangalaki and Kakaban.
Maratua has a beautiful white sand beach. There are 5 villages on the island, but I didn’t have the time to visit them, so I can’t tell you much about it.
Kakaban is famous for its lake with the stingless jellyfish. Entrance fee is 25000 rupia. It’s also nice to snorkel in Kakaban. You will see many coral and beautiful fish. But don’t go too far from the beach, as they are dangerous currents.
From Kakaban the trip goes to Sangalaki. On the way, you can see dolphins. In Bali, Lovina beach, there are sometimes 50 boats following the dolphins and here I was alone. So I was able to spot the dolphins from very close and even managed to film them under water with my go pro.
On the east side of Sangalaki you can swim with the giant manta ray. This I an amazing experience. And they are many; you don’t even have to look for one. Sometimes they come so close you could even touch them.
From here it’s a few minutes to Sangalaki. On Sangalaki, the giant turtles come ashore to lay eggs, every night. Entrance fee to the beach is 100.000 Rupiah. The money is well spent as it is used to protect and conserve the turtles.
The best time to visit Derawan and the other islands is from June till October.
How to get to Derawan
- Step 1: First, get a flight to Berau. Fly from Jakarta with Sriwijaya Air or with Garuda, Sriwijaya Air and Wings air from Balikpapan.
- Step 2: Arrange transport over land to Tanjung Batu. The trip takes about 2 hours. Roads are quite good.
- Step 3: Take a speedboat in Tanjung Batu to arrive in Derawan 30 minutes later.
For an impression of this day trip have a look at the following video:
Derawan from the sky: Sky view
Derawan underwater experience: Underwater life Derawan
Mundooz can also help you with arranging your trip to Derawan and book the boat trips to the other islands. Click here to send your request for a Customised tour