Derawan Island, a pristine gem nestled amidst the 31 islands of the Derawan Archipelago in the East Kalimantan province of Indonesia, is a true paradise for those seeking an immersive experience in the wonders of the Coral Triangle. This enchanting island boasts a mesmerizing blend of marine biodiversity and breathtaking landscapes. Let’s embark on a journey of discovery to uncover the hidden treasures of this irresistible destination.
Derawan Island: A Vibrant Mosaic of Culture and Nature
Nestled amidst the pristine waters of the Coral Triangle, Derawan Island is not just a paradise for tourists but also home to a vibrant and unique community. The village of Derawan is one of the two inhabited islands in the Derawan Archipelago, a cluster of 31 islands, with the other inhabited island, Maratua, comprising four villages. What sets Derawan apart is its predominantly Bajau population, often referred to as Sea Gypsies. These resilient people, with a Malay origin, have a deep-rooted history of living harmoniously with the sea.
The Bajau people’s way of life is inextricably linked to the ocean. They engage in a diverse range of marine-related activities, including fishing, boat building, salt production, seaweed cultivation, and pearl diving. Their rich culture thrives on their strong connection to the sea, evident in their language, religion, music, dance, and art.
The Bajau village on Derawan Island paints a picturesque scene, with traditional wooden houses perched gracefully on stilts above the crystal-clear waters. These charming abodes are connected by a network of wooden bridges and walkways. Boats play a central role in their daily lives, serving as their primary mode of transportation and reinforcing their intimate bond with nature.
For their livelihood, the Bajau community relies on a delicate balance of fishing and tourism. They sell their fresh catches either to the mainland or to the eager tourists who flock to the island. Beyond fishing, they offer boat tours, diving expeditions, and homestay experiences for visitors eager to delve into their unique culture and experience their warm hospitality.
Derawan Island’s Bajau community showcases a harmonious coexistence between people and the sea, offering a glimpse into a way of life intricately tied to the marine environment. Embark on a journey of discovery to this enchanting island and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of culture and nature that Derawan Island has to offer.
Derawan Archipelago: Private Beach and Jetty
One of Derawan Island’s highlights is its private beach, a secluded oasis that’s part of the Derawan Dive Lodge. The beach boasts powdery white sand and a jetty that offers a breathtaking view of bats emerging from the mangrove forest during the enchanting sunset hours. Moreover, it’s a sanctuary for endangered green turtles, which make their nests on the island’s sandy shores.
The private beach is an idyllic spot for relaxation, sunbathing, and photography. If you’re an underwater enthusiast, you’re in for a treat – the crystal-clear blue waters teem with vibrant marine life, making it a paradise for snorkelers and divers.
Cycling around Derawan Island: A Journey of Natural Beauty and Cultural Immersion
Unlock the wonders of Derawan Island with a leisurely bike ride. From tranquil beaches to vibrant villages, this island paradise awaits your exploration.
Rent a bike from a local shop or your accommodation. The simple yet sturdy bikes are perfect for navigating the sandy roads and trails.
Pedal at your own pace, savoring the natural scenery and cultural encounters. The island loop takes about an hour to complete, but feel free to linger at any of the many attractions along the way.
Observe the daily life of the Bajau people, who live in traditional wooden houses on stilts over the water. Greet them with a smile and learn about their unique culture and lifestyle.
Encounter the diverse wildlife of Derawan Island, from macaque monkeys and monitor lizards to a variety of birds. Keep an eye out for sea turtles nesting on the beach or swimming in the crystal-clear waters.
Pause at the turtle conservation center, mangrove forest, or jetty to admire the breathtaking views of the ocean and sky.
Cycling around Derawan Island is a fun and rewarding experience for all ages and fitness levels. This immersive activity offers a glimpse into the island’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Derawan Island Tour on a Boat
Embark on a nautical adventure around Derawan Island with a boat tour. Marvel at the stunning scenery and encounter diverse marine life, from majestic manta rays to endangered sea turtles.
Book a tour through your accommodation or a local operator. Prices vary depending on the number of participants, duration, and itinerary. Negotiate with the operators to secure the best deal.
Choose from a variety of tour options, including half-day, full-day, and sunset cruises. Customize your itinerary to match your interests and budget.
Popular destinations for boat tours include Kakaban Island, Sangalaki Island, and Manta Point. Snorkel or dive with jellyfish, manta rays, dolphins, and sharks. Visit the turtle conservation center to observe endangered green and hawksbill turtles.
Expect to pay around Rp 1.000.000 per person for a full-day tour, including lunch, snacks, drinks, snorkeling equipment, and entrance fees. Prices may fluctuate depending on the season and availability.
Indulge in a fun and exhilarating boat tour of Derawan Island and its surrounding waters. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and encounter awe-inspiring marine life.
Diving Derawan Islands
For those who can’t resist the allure of underwater exploration, Derawan Island boasts a top-notch dive center, an integral part of the Derawan Dive Lodge. This PADI 5* Dive Resort offers an array of amenities, including two purpose-built dive boats moored on a private jetty, free Wi-Fi, warm water showers, battery charging stations, and a comprehensive fish ID and diving library.
The dive center’s professional and amiable staff are passionate about diving, ensuring a memorable experience for both beginners and seasoned divers. You can encounter majestic creatures such as manta rays, dugongs, blue ring octopus, and an array of colorful reef fish during your dives in this aquatic wonderland.
Rave Reviews from Diving Aficionados
Divers who have plumbed the depths of Derawan Island have showered the dive center with accolades. One reviewer proclaimed it “the undisputed champion of dive centers on Derawan Island,” praising its professional dive masters, inviting ambiance, and tantalizing menu. Others applauded the exemplary service and seamless operations, citing the comfortable dive boats, delectable cuisine, and warm and welcoming staff.
Beyond Derawan: Exploring the Archipelago
Derawan Island’s strategic location near the mainland and other nearby islands makes it the perfect springboard for exploring other captivating attractions in the Derawan Archipelago. Seize the opportunity to discover the hidden treasures of Kakaban Island, Maratua Island, Sangalaki Island, and Manta Point, each offering its own unique allure and natural wonders.
Derawan Islands How to Get There
To reach the idyllic Derawan Islands from Jakarta, you have several options depending on your budget and preferences. The fastest route involves soaring from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport to Berau Airport, followed by a minivan ride to Tanjung Batu and a speedboat journey to the Derawan Islands. While this option is the most convenient, it is also the most expensive.
Alternatively, you can opt for a more affordable but longer journey by flying from Jakarta Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport to Berau Airport, then taking a minivan to Tanjung Batu before boarding a speedboat to the Derawan Islands. This route may take more time, but it is gentler on your wallet.
You can also explore other transport alternatives such as flying to Tarakan, APT Pranoto, or Tanjung Selor, followed by a boat or ferry ride to the Derawan Islands.
Accommodations for the Discerning Traveler in Derawan Island
Derawan Island offers a diverse range of accommodations to cater to the discerning traveler. Whether you’re seeking a luxurious beachfront retreat, a comfortable and affordable base for exploring, or a unique and immersive experience, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay on this idyllic island.
Noah Maratua Resort: A Tropical Oasis
Perched on the shores of Maratua Island, Noah Maratua Resort is a tropical oasis offering beach chalets and water villas with mesmerizing sea views. Divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and kayakers alike will find paradise here, with a wide range of activities and amenities available. Guests rave about the resort’s excellent dive center, chillout platform, and friendly staff, although some have mentioned the presence of mosquitoes.
Derawan Dive Resort: Your Gateway to Underwater Adventure
Located on Derawan Island itself, Derawan Dive Resort boasts a professional dive center and comfortable rooms with air conditioning and hot water. The restaurant by the jetty offers a spectacular view of bats flying out of the mangrove forest at sunset. Guests commend the resort’s clean and comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and excellent diving sites, with minor reservations regarding Wi-Fi and boat noise.
Derawan Island Hotel: Spacious Accommodations and Stunning Views
Also located on Derawan Island, Derawan Island Hotel features spacious rooms with balconies and complimentary Wi-Fi. Guests can relax in the garden or embark on tours to witness Komodo dragons, manta rays, and turtles. Reviews highlight the hotel’s spacious rooms and private beach but mention limited dining options and inconsistent service quality.
Unlock the Secrets of Derawan Island: Essential Tips for a Memorable Adventure
Nestled amid the pristine waters of the Coral Triangle, Derawan Island is a nature lover’s paradise, beckoning visitors with its mesmerizing marine life and breathtaking landscapes. Whether you’re seeking an unforgettable underwater experience, a luxurious beachfront retreat, or a budget-friendly haven, this Indonesian gem has everything you need for a truly memorable stay.
To ensure that your Derawan Island adventure is as enriching as possible, here are a few essential tips:
Embark on an Underwater Odyssey at Derawan Dive Center
For an unforgettable underwater adventure, entrust your diving and snorkeling excursions to the experienced professionals at Derawan Dive Center. Their state-of-the-art facilities, pristine dive sites, and stunning marine life encounters make it the top choice for divers of all levels.
Indulge in Luxury at Noah Maratua Resort
If you’re craving a luxurious and indulgent stay, Noah Maratua Resort on Maratua Island offers a range of world-class amenities and stunning accommodations. From their beachfront villas to their gourmet dining options, you’ll experience the epitome of tropical bliss.
Witness the Magic of Green Turtles
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the endangered green turtles nesting on Derawan Island’s secluded beaches. This awe-inspiring spectacle is a testament to the island’s pristine environment and its commitment to conservation.
Explore the Hidden Treasures of Nearby Islands
Take a boat ride to the neighboring islands of Kakaban, Sangalaki, and Manta Point to discover even more marine life wonders. From jellyfish lakes to manta ray hotspots, these islands offer a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers.
Discover the Budget-Friendly Charm of Derawan Island Hotel
If you’re on a tight budget, Derawan Island Hotel offers a private beach and Wi-Fi at an affordable price. While the rooms may be basic, the staff is friendly and the location is ideal for exploring the island.
Derawan Island is a treasure trove of natural wonders, offering something for everyone. With its diverse accommodations and convenient transport options, this Indonesian gem is the perfect destination for an unforgettable getaway. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey of discovery to the enchanting Derawan Island!