Derawan is an island, one of the Derawan Islands, off the coast of East Kalimantan, Indonesia
As of May 2015, Sriwijaya Air flies to Berau from Jakarta directly. Starting on June 8, 2015, Kalstar will also fly to Berau from Jakarta and Surabaya directly. Both airlines are medium-service airlines. The only international airport in East Kalimantan is Sepinggan at Balikpapan. From Balikpapan you can go to Tarakan or Berau on a smaller plane, but there is no flight from Balikpapan to Derawan. Although Tarakan is farther from Balikpapapan than Berau, with a bigger airplane, a ticket from Balikpapan to Tarakan is cheaper than one to Berau. There are direct flights from Jakarta to Tarakan. Direct flights from Jakarta or Surabaya to Berau are the least time-consuming option with only 2 hours. The new Maratua Airport does not have scheduled flights yet (as of February 2017).
Alternatively, if you choose to go to Tarakan, you must continue the journey with 3 - 4 hours across the sea by speed boat. To charter a boat costs, according to the men in the pier, 3.000.000 IDR per boat, final price depends on how many people are joining. From the pier Pelabuhan Tegkayu there is a boat departing on Thursdays to Derawan and returning on Sundays operated by the agency Paguntaka Jaya for 300.000 IDR (as of March 2019). You should make arrangements with Mr. Ivan to check for availability (Contact Number +6281258790176).
If you choose to go to Berau, you must go to Tanjung Batu first by land transportation (it's about 2 hours from Berau) and then take a 30-minute journey by speed boat to Derawan.
If you want to go by land transport from Balikpapan, it's approximately 750 km to Tanjung Batu and then a 30-minute journey by speed boat to Derawan. It is a long and hard way. It could take 16 - 24 hours because of the condition of the road. The route is Balikpapan - Samarinda - Bontang - Sangatta - Muara Wahau - Berau - Tanjung Batu.
In order to avoid high waves, strong currents and low visibility at sea, the best months for visiting are March to May and August to October.
Darawan island is pretty small and you can walk everywhere. Many people rent bicycles and scooters to go around - you can rent them in the main road parallel to the west shore of the island.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
The Derawan Islands have a large number of unique and protected species, among which are the coconut crabs, whales, dolphins and dugongs. The coconut crabs are found near the islands of Kakaban and Maratua, while whales and dolphins in particular months can be seen around Semama, Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua. Dugongs swim around Pulau Panjang and Semama, and manta rays are found around Sangalaki with pygmy seahorses around Semama and Derawan. Other protected species are the barracuda.
There are a total of 28 dive points identified here. Avid divers will need at least 10 days to explore them all. Diving or snorkeling at Derawan island or for deep sea diving Maratua island. Famous spot for snorkeling is Manta Spot, where Manta fish can be seen, near Sangalaki island.
Sharks and sea turtles can be seen at Maratua or Derawan island.
- Derawan Dive Resort, Komp. Balikpapan Permai blok G1 No.34, ☏ .
- Danakan Dive Center. Dive center with a nearby lodge for divers Danakan Losmen. Offers dive courses, dive trips and introduction dives. Equipment is fine, dive masters are local and know where to find everything. A trip with 2 divers costs 350.000 IDR each dive (1.050.000 for 3 dives), but if you want to do them in another island and not in Derawan, you have to add 1.500.000 IDR to charter a small boat for the day. These prices don't include the lunch and in Kakaban or Sangalaki there are no restaurants, so you need to bring your own food. Arrange your dives with Mr. Ichuk (+6282148088672)
Cuddle with jellyfishes
You can cuddle with jellyfishes at Kakaban Island, which has no human inhabitants except for some guards and researchers. One kilometer from the beach there is a lake with salt water, but not so salty as seawater. The lake has 4 kinds of jellyfishes and none can sting human skin. The clear water of lake Kakaban is made easy for snorkellers to cuddle or touch the jellyfishes, and see the biggest kind of jellyfish eat the smaller kind of jellyfish.
There is one bank and ATM on the Derawan Islands, but it only accepts Indonesian cards. Make sure to go to the island with enough cash for accommodation, diving and/or snorkelling trips, food and other activities.
Drinks are scarce and expensive in the Derawan Island. One can of beer in the shops is around 40.000 IDR.
There are many hotels in Derawan. The largest one is Derawan Dive Resort managed by PT BMI. Other hotels are managed by local citizens.
If you want to stay on other islands, there are two famous resorts on Maratua island: Nabuko resort and Paradise resort.
Derawan and Maratua are also popular with domestic tourists, so when there are long holidays (at least 3 days) in Indonesia, the hotels and resorts in both islands are fully booked, but homestays with spring beds and air conditioning are still available for Rp 250,000 to Rp 300,000 per night, or you can sleep in Tanjung Batu.
Kakaban island is a conservation island for jellyfish, so nobody lives there. Sangalaki island is for sea turtle conservation; only NGO people live there.