Derawan islands, being considered as the new contender of Bali, is a truly hidden gem of Borneo island. Located in East Kalimantan, these islands comprise 31 beautiful islands such as Kakaban, Maratua, Panjang, Sangalaki and Samama island. Derawan archipelago has more than anything that every traveler expect from its stunning beaches to its water activities. its marine park has attracted many visitors especially divers around the world. There are many coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove forest that you can see here along with its beautiful landscape.
Derawan island has one of the largest conservation areas in Indonesia, covering 1.27 million hectares of total area. The conservation is also aimed to protect most rare animals in Indonesia including green sea turtles, dugongs, barracudas, and whales. These islands also have beautiful fish, as experts found that more than 870 species of fish live in these islands. That’s why water activities such as snorkeling and diving become the best things that visitors have to do here.
Derawan island is the most popular among other islands in the Derawan archipelago. This island has a magnificent white soft sand beach, a perfect place for relaxing. Derawan beach offers you it’s amazingly clear water which is suitable for swimming or just relaxing. the tropical weather with warm atmosphere combined with its very soft sand that makes it comfortable to walk around the beach. The beach is also confronting the coconut trees where you can easily find coconut water while enjoying the beach in the afternoon.
Snorkeling and diving
There are many spots for snorkeling and diving especially in Maratua and Kakaban island. The stunning underwater landscape and its coral reef make visitors come back here again and again. In Derawan island itself, there are two magnificent snorkeling spots including coral garden and sniper. In the coral garden, you can see any kind of fish while in sniper you can witness the turtles. In Sngalaki island, you can also find manta ray, the spot becomes one of the favorite divers in Derawan islands. Kakaban island has also an interesting spot for snorkeling, here you can see lots of jellyfish.
Exploring the land and know the culture
Derawan islands are not only best for its snorkeling and diving spots but also its culture. the population in these islands are approximately 10.000 people. most of them are fisher and farmers in palm oil plants. Their village is naturally beautiful filed with many wooden traditional dwellings. People are very welcome and friendly as well as nice to talk to, but English is rarely used in there. You can go to the village and see around using a scooter. If you are lucky, you can watch traditional dance performed in a traditional wedding party in this village. But, it happens not too often.
How to get there
These islands can be reached from its capital city, Balikpapan to Berau district. You can choose whether air or land transportation to get Berau district. After you arrived in Berau district, you have to find Tanjung port to connect you to Derawan islands. You can use a speedboat to get Derawan islands for about 30 minutes from the port. For your information, the distance of each island is about 40 minutes using speedboat. The transportation to reach each island will cost you about IDR.1.5 Million rupiahs per boat. Let’s say if you go alone, it means you should pay the total cost
Where to stay
You can choose any option to stay in here, there is some recommended place including Derawan dive lodge, Derawan dive resort, Bumi Menore Interbuana Resort, Nabucco Island Resort, Berto house and fisheries eco villa. Some travelers also enjoy staying with locals for a cheaper price, but you need to get their permission first. Stating with locals have pro and cons because the facilities such as toilet are not in a high standard of accommodation. So, if you consider staying with locals, you have to be ready for its facilities.
Where and what to eat
Unfortunately not many good restaurants and food vendors available here. Most of them offer only seafood and rice with limited option. So, if you are allergic to seafood, you should bring and prepare your own food such as bread. In addition, the foods are expensive here, especially the seafood.
Derawan island travel checklist
- There is water sports equipment available here for snorkeling or diving, but you should bring your own gear for a cheaper option.
- You should bring enough cash because there is no ATM available here. If you want to stay in a resort, you can estimate the amount of Money you need. The longer you stay, the more money you need to bring.
- You have to bring sunblock because there is no store that sells sunblock here.
- You should bring your own water and snack, lack of stores available in these islands. Some islands have no food stall or restaurants, so you should prepare your own.
- If your phone is really important for you, do not forget to bring phone charger, because there are no electricities in some islands like Kakaban Island and Sangalaki Island.
- Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent and your personal medicine. As the area is a little bit isolated, there is hospital or medicine store available.