The coral reefs that surround Maratua Island, Kakaban, Sangalaki and Derawan are bursting with colour and life and over 870 fish species live in these waters, from pygmy seahorses to giant manta rays. These Islands are part of a chain known as the Derawan Islands, which consists of six main islands as well as a number of islets and reefs, all set in the aqua-blue waters of the Sulawesi Sea.
From Jakarta, took a short flight to Balikpapan and transfer to Berau, East Kalimantan and then transferred to Maratua Island by speedboat. In around three hours I arrived at the island, a small sandy atoll and a truly magical place.
The next day involved a trip to the nearby island of Sangalaki. It took 1.5 hours to reach the island by small speedboat. A marine protected area, it is home to a turtle breeding program where turtle eggs are incubated, and the hatchlings are tagged and protected before release.
The waters around Sangalaki provide a natural habitat for the manta ray, with divers naming the area ‘The Kingdom of Mantas’. These massive sea dwellers have a four-metre wingspan. While still on the boat, I spotted a number of them breaking the surface of the water.
After jumping in and snorkeling with the mantas, I had another treat in store. I travelled a further hour by boat to Kakaban Island, and then headed inland to visit Kakaban Lake, which means, “hug” in the local language. “The inland forests hug the lake,” my captain told me, “and the jellyfish like to hug your legs too.”
Locally the lake is known as Jellyfish Lake. It is a landlocked body of water raised above sea level and retaining trapped seawater. This has enabled life forms in the lake to evolve separately from those in the surrounding ocean over millions of years and has resulted in numerous unique fish species, many of which are yet to be identified.
Why do people like to snorkel and swim amongst jellyfish? Well, the four species of jellyfish that live in the lake have evolved to become stingless and are harmless. It was the most surreal sensation swimming in a sea of graceful and beautiful jellyfish, some of them translucent, some large, some small and some ever so curious.
You need four days three nights to explore the idyllic Derawan and surrounding islands. It is a laid-back travel experience with beautiful sunsets and fresh seafood feasts, as well as spectacular day trips. We would recommend you visit now, before more tourism hits this place. The charms and wonders of this remote area off East Kalimantan are awaiting you.
Details Itinerary :
Day 1 : We transfer from Berau Airport- Berau Port. Continue with speedboat for 3 hours to Maratua Island. Then, check in Maratua Guesthouse. (Relaxing, swimming and snorkeling).
Day 2 : In the morning we visit kakaban Island by speedboat for around 1 hour and we swim in Kakaban lake with beautiful view (PS. you can swim with brown Jellyfish and safe 100% guaranteed). Then, continue to sangalaki Island (Turtles conservation). After that, back to Maratua.
Day 3 : In the morning we check out Maratua and boating to Derawan Island. Check in to Derawan Guesthouse and free activity. (you walk around this Island using bicycle)
Day 4 : Check out from Derawan and back to Berau. End of tour
How to get there?
Bali-Surabaya-Balikpapan (stay 1 night)- Berau
Jakarta-Balikpapan (stay 1 night)- Berau
Palangkaraya-Balikpapan (stay 1 night)-Berau
The islands are remote island, the weather is unpredictable. Sometimes, In the morning is storm and big wave. You can continue your trip after storm. Re-itinerary may apply based on the wearher. After that, when we come back to Berau, we suggest you book flight in afternoon like 3-5 pm. According to our experience, we missed our flights in the morning because there was a storm and we stuck the Island.
The price including: Ticket domestic Jakarta-Balikpapan- Berau and return, car for transferring and back at Berau airport, speed boat during trip, guesthouse ,meals, snorkel equipment, ticket entries to the Island and English guide fee.
The price excluding: Alcoholic drink, personal expenses, diving equipment.