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.
To reach Derawan, SilkAir flies from Singapore to Balikpapan in East Kalimantan. Or you can take a flight from Jakarta, Surabaya or Denpasar to Balikpapan or Tarakan by Garuda Indonesia. Then take a connecting flight to Tanjung Redeb in Berau. From here, boats will take you to the islands.
Experience Derawan Archipelago
Maratua Island, the Turtle Capital of Indonesia
Maratua Island in the Derawan Archipelago off the north coast of East Kalimantan, 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 contain the third highest level of marine biodiversity in the world after Raja Ampat and the Solomon Islands.
The Derawan Island chain includes the islands of Derawan,Sangalaki and Kakaban, and is home to one of the world’s only saltwater lakes as well as one of the largest green turtle nesting sites in Indonesia. This paradise island is situated within the fabled Coral Triangle, with all the richness and beauty within its exotic underwater landscapes that one would expect from such a location. Over 20 dive spots across the island allow visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves amidst the bountiful treasures which lay tucked neatly beneath the sapphire waters. Maratua’s garden under the sea proudly exhibits an abundance of colorful coral reefs populated with a variety of species of fish, green turtles, manta rays and other marine life.
Turtle Traffic is one of the most popular dive spots, and true to its name, is filled with Green Sea Turtles. Hundreds of turtles frequent this portion of ocean, gliding gracefully about in search of food. The island is also a nesting ground where the Green Turtles return each year to lay their eggs, hence resulting in Maratua sometimes being referred to as the “Turtle Capital of Indonesia”. Big Fish Country is located between the islands of Maratua and Nabucco, where the stronger currents bring the big fish in to play. Many pelagic creatures like Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Tuna and Mackerel roam this channel together with schools of Barracuda, White Tip Sharks, and even the occasional Hammerhead.
This dive spot has deep waters and strong currents, and is therefore reserved for advanced divers. Once you’ve had your fill exploring the world beneath the waves, complete your Maratua experience with a stroll around solid part of the island. Pay a visit to any of the 4 Bajo villages and take the opportunity to learn about the lives of these mysterious sea people. When all that is complete, sit back and relax on the beach and bask in the glow of the setting sun sinking beneath the horizon.
The closest airport to the Derawan Islands is the Juwutan International Airport in the city ofTarakan, East Kalimantan. From here take an internal flight south to Tanjung Redeb in the district of Berau. Boats will take you from here to Kakaban and other Derawan Islands.
Once in Berau you can hire a speedboat for the 2 hour ride to the Derawan islands. Speed boats generally have a seating capacity of 15 people, and can be rented to take you to several of the Derawan islands in one day.
Sangalaki Island, the Underwater Paradise
For those of you who like diving, the beauty and diversity of flora and fauna around Sangalaki Island will attract you to come again and again. This island is located in the Derawan Archipelago, Berau, East Kalimantan. It is one of the best locations for diving and snorkeling in the world, along with Raja Ampat in Papua province.
Blowing winds, clean seawater, soft sands, warm sun, beautiful waves, coconut trees, and beautiful afternoons complete the excitement of your diving. Sangalaki‘s underwater scenery facinates everyone who sees it. Manta Alfredi (Pari Hantu), which only exists in Derawan, Barracudas, Stingrays, giant squids, and starfish are only part of the underwater paradise of Sangalaki.
Since Manta Alfredi is a very rare animal, many tourists come to Sangalaki to see this very unique animal. This tropical animal looks like a stingray, but both its whiskers work as wings. Popular diving points in this area include Channel Entrance, Coral Gardens, Town, Sandy Ridge, Manta Run, Sherwood Forest, Manta Parade, Manta Avenue, Ridge, Lighthouse, and The Rockies among others. Sangalaki is also known as an island where turtles lay eggs. You could see this unique process during breeding season close-up.
Unlike other diving locations, the management of Sangalaki Island strictly maintains the natural conservation of this island. It is situated between East Kalimantan and Sulawesi. As an example, at night when you don’t need any urgent electricity, the management will shut down the electricity on this island. Thus, this island is very quiet and is a favorite place for those of you who like to stay away from busy and noisy cities.
To reach Sangalaki Island, you may take an airplane from Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta to Sepinggan airport (BPN) in Balikpapan. Among airlines flying to Balikpapan are Garuda Indonesia, Airasia, and Lion Air. From Sepinggan, you may take a Deraya airplane to the capital city of Berau district, Tanjung Redeb. Deraya serves commuter and chartered flights. During this journey, you may see the life of the local community in the Kalimantan hinterlands which are not influenced by modernization.
Upon your arrival in Tanjung Redeb, you have another journey by speed boat along the Segah River to Sangalaki. Seeing the local community living by the river side and happy children playing will bring a smile to you after a long journey. In total, it takes about 8 to 9 hours from Jakarta to Sangalaki. In addition to visiting Sangalaki, you could also visit equally interesting neighbouring islands such as Maratua, Derawan, and Kakaban islands.
Source : http://www.indonesia.travel/