Have an unforgettable experience swimming with the turtles and stingless jellyfish at this Kalimantan gem.
Located in Berau Regency in East Kalimantan, the Derawan Islands have gained quite the popularity these last two decades, thanks to their magnificent underwater paradise. Scientists have declared the islands as home to third highest level of marine biodiversity in the world, after Raja Ampat and the Solomon Islands.
The Derawan Islands comprise the islands of Derawan, Sangalaki, Maratua and Kakaban, and boast natural wonders like one of the few saltwater lakes in the world (where you can swim with a plethora of stingless jellyfish), and one of the largest green turtle nesting sites in Indonesia. There are more than 20 dive spots across the islands, each catering to different levels of divers.
Maratua boasts a colourful garden under the sea, parading vibrant corals, a variety of fish, green turtles, manta rays and other marine life. Another popular dive spot is Turtle Traffic, where you can encounter hundreds of turtles frequenting the ocean and nesting by the beach. Advanced divers can check out The Big Fish Country, where the water is deep and the currents are strong, which is a regular hangout for manta rays, eagle rays, schools of barracuda, white tip sharks and occasionally, hammerheads.
Where to Stay
There are not many accommodations in Derawan that meet international standards, but Maratua Paradise Resort is a hidden gem worth discovering. The resort is located on Maratua Island and offers 12 beach chalets and 10 water villas. The beach chalets are charming and offer unrivalled views of the natural surroundings. Having said that, living in a picturesque villa above the water is an experience you should not miss.
How to Get There
The closest international airport is Juwutan International Airport in Tarakan, East Kalimantan. From Tarakan, you can take a speedboat directly to the Derawan Islands, including Maratua. You can also catch a local flight from Tarakan to Tanjung Redeb in Berau. From Berau, there are boats that take you to Kakaban or other Derawan Islands.