Derawan Island

Located just away from the mainland of East Kalimantan in the district of Berau, the Derawan archipelago comprises 31 islands, most well known among these are the islands of Derawan, Maratua, Sangalaki and Kakaban. Here is Indonesia’s largest nesting site of the rare and endangered giant green turtles and hawksbill turtles, where one can daily watch turtles lay their eggs in the sand or swim to sea with the turtles.

The entire marine conservancy region covers a total area of no less than 1.27 million hectares. It is the perfect tropical paradise with warm, isolated islands, soft white sand beaches fringed with waving palm trees, pristine seas that change color from green to deep blue, and an amazing underwater life of giant turtles, dolphins, manta rays, dugongs and barracudas, stingless jellyfish and sometimes, whales. Here, you can find 460 different species of corals, ranking this area second only to the Raja Ampat Islands in West Papua. The Nature Conservancy and a team of international experts also found more than 870 species of fish here, ranging from tiny pygmy seahorses to giant manta rays.

We based our stay in Derawan Island itself and took boats to visit Sangalaki, Maratua and Kakaban island. Derawan island is the most populated island which have more accommodation and making it a nice base if you are going to visit the area. There is also a sand dunes you can visit during low tide not far from the beach on Derawan.

Sangalaki Island

Blowing winds, clean seawater, soft sands, warm sun, beautiful waves, coconut trees, and beautiful afternoons complete the beauty of Sangalaki island. Sangalaki has underwater scenery which can fascinates everyone who sees it. You can find Manta Alfredi (Pari Hantu), which only exists in Derawan, Barracudas, Stingrays, giant squids, and starfish. Sangalaki also has a sea turtle conservation area where turtles lay eggs. You could see this unique process during breeding season close-up.

Maratua Island

Maratua is a large tropical island partially encircling a massive lagoon on one end and fringed with sheer rocky walls and coral reefs along the other end. This giant upside down U-shaped island covers about 384 square kilometers of sandy white beaches and mangrove forests and 3,735 square km of territorial waters which scientists believe contain the third highest level of marine biodiversity in the world after Raja Ampat and the Solomon Islands.

You can chose to stay in Maratua Paradise Resort, where you will see the sea stretching out in front of you to the far horizon, changing colors from transparent blue under your chalet to turquoise blue further out, then suddenly changing to dark blue, where the ocean drops into the deep. When we saw the resort as we snorkeled in Maratua, we wanted to kick ourselves on why we didn’t know about this resort beforehand so we can asked to stay here.

Kakaban Island

Have you every thought that you can swim with jellyfish? Yes, you heard it right, jellyfish, the one sea creature that is most likely to give you stings, itches, and all kinds of unpleasant swimming experiences. In Kakaban Island you can , not only swim unharmed with this fascinating creature, but you can actually touch them since the island is one of only two places on earth where you can find stingless jellyfish.

Kakaban Island is a large coral atoll in the Derawan Archipelago in the Regency of Berau, off the east coast of East Kalimantan Province, covering 774 hectares of uninhabited terrain. Its most distinctive feature is a huge land-locked lake, which makes up almost two thirds of the island. This brackish lake is alive with several species of endemic marine life, including millions of stingless jellyfish that only exist in one other place on the planet which is at Palau in Micronesia. The island is shrouded among a tangle of dense mangrove forests, right down to where the water meets the earth. There are very few sections of beach, as most of Kakaban’s circumference end in a rocky wall of sheer limestone cliffs, some sections dropping hundreds of feet to the choppy waves below.

Our Thought

We loved Derawan to bits. We Don’t like the long journey to get there but then now that we were there we wanted to keep things just the way it is so less people found the place and it still maintains its charm 🙂 Pretty selfish, I know. We can definitely see ourselves coming back again to escape the stress and traffic on living in Jakarta and enjoy the laid back life style plus the fresh air

Staying at the local managed homestay is a nice experience but also leaves me with  a mixed feeling. I noticed that on running their homestay,  they are still littering the place. I could see rubbish were being thrown to the sea which is so disheartening to see…. if we’re not being careful, Derawan can end up like Tidung and their garbage problem. During our island hopping trip, the boat crew were throwing plastic bottles to the sea despite our efforts of collecting all rubbish in the box and us screaming to get him to stop!

Government needs to take serious action on the rubbish management on little islands. They have to seriously incorporate tourism as our nations asset and treat it properly.

in the end I am hoping that Derawan will always stay like this, quiet and serene.

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