Derawan Archipelago

Derawan Archipelago in Kalimantan, Borneo, are the tropical Islands you come to Southeast Asia dreaming about. The islands have rich coral reefs, big green turtles, white sandy beaches and emerald green waters.

Highlights

  • Derawan Archipelago is the nesting ground for endangered sea turtle
  • Sangalaki Island the best place in the archipelago to see manta rays
  • In Kakaban Island it's possibile to swim with thousands of jellyfish that won't sting you
  • Maratua's The Channel is one of the best diving experience in Borneo

Derawan is a tiny island with turquoise water teeming with rich marine life where divers can enjoy drift and muck diving.

Maratua is the largest atoll whose exotic underwater landscapes contains the third highest level of marine biodiversity in the world after Raja Ampat and the Solomon Islands.With over 20 dive spots across the island divers can immerse themselves amidst the bountiful treasures. The best dive site is The Channel” also well known as “big fish country”. Due to the strong currents, diver can encounter a startling array of pelagic fishes.

Unlike some of the other Derawan islands which are uninhabited, Maratua has a population of about 3,000 people and is divided into 4 villages, most of which come from the Bajau Tribe, The Bajau people, or Sea Gypsies, are a landless tribe that is sustained completely and exclusively by the ocean.

A special feature of Derawan Archipelago is the Kakaban Island, where you can swim in a lake that is filled with the world’s largest and most diverse collection of jellyfish, including four unique species of stingless jellyfish which swims upside down. With no direct predators, over thousands of years, these creatures have lost their sting.

Sangalaki Island is the world Capital of Mantas, and its dive sites will really make your heart race. At Sangalaki, majestic mantas wing through the water, emerging from all directions. Snorkeling is the best way to interact with these gentle plankton feeders. Sangalaki Island is also home to green turtles that lay their eggs on the pristine beach, and beautiful intact coral reefs.

HOW TO GET THERE

You can fly with SilkAir from Singapore to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan or from Jakarta, Surabaya or Denpasar to Balikpapan or Tarakan with Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air and Air Asia, then take a connecting flight to Berau.
Very soon the islands will be better connected to the mainland, with the completion of a small airport on Maratua island, which will handle short-haul flights.

From Berau continue by boat to the islands.

BEST TIME TO TRAVEL

Derawan archipelago is a year-round destination. Because the archipelago lies on Equator line, generally the climate is tropical warm, sunny and humid throughout the year. The best season for scuba diving is from May to October.
The best time to see mantas seems to be during full moon when is common to see 15-20 manta rays at one time.

ACCOMMODATION

Derawan Dive Lodge
Derawan Dive Lodge is located on the island of Derawan. Built on a private white sandy beach, the Lodge with its just 10 rooms is a perfect place for everyone who likes the personal touch in his holiday.

Maratua Paradise Resort
Maratua Paradise Resort is an intimate and comfortable resort on Maratua island. The resort has exotic water villas, the main hall, turtle station pavillion, dive centre all located on stilts over the water as well as beach chalets lining along the seashore.

Nabucco Island Resort
Nabucco Island Resort offers spacious waterfront bungalows built in the traditional Indonesian style. Around the island are a few little beaches where visitors can swim and sunbathe during high tide. The exotic resort combines the magic of nature and a family atmosphere.

DIVING FACTS

What to expect: Large pelagics like sharks, tuna, eagle rays and schools of barracudas and sometimes mantas or hammer heads.

Average Visibility: 10-80 metres

Average water temperature: 23 – 30 °C

Depth: 5-40 metres

Diving Season: Although the dive resorts are open to diving all year round, the best time to go is during the dry seasons between May to October

Must dive: The Channel is known as the Big Fish Country, Kakaban Barracuda Point and Sangalaki Manta Point

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