Section 1 : Derawan
Describing Derawan would not be enough with words. I feel it is going to be useless if I said too much words either, so I’ll just describe the facts regarding my trip and you can see for yourself in the pictures how in my opinion, Derawan is a sweet escape from the busy life, a silent heaven.
There are some ways to reach Derawan, and I picked the Balikpapan – Berau – Tanjung Batu Port – Derawan Islands. The five of us got on the 10 AM flight from Balikpapan to Berau. Meeting my guide at Kalimarau Airport, I continued the trip down the road to Tanjung Batu Port. There, the local boat operators are ready to take me to Derawan in a speed boat.
The four main Islands of Derawan are Derawan Island itself, Maratua Island, Kakaban Island, and Sangalaki Island. Lodgings are available at Derawan and Maratua. I and my friends chose to stay at Derawan. Maratua had better beaches, but then, the lodgings require a bit more cash.
By the day, we familiarize ourself with the Island. For me, it is fun to hear some facts about the settlers here. They used to be fishermans in the old days. As Derawan became famous with tourism, lot of them are changing jobs to tour guides, lodge owners, dive masters, dive equipment rentals, etc. Even now, Derawan has to import fish from surrounding islands to cover its needs. Life greatly improves here since the introduction of electricity several years back. Yeah, you can now charge your phones here.
Section 2 : Maratua – Kakaban – Sangalaki
The coastal view of Maratua Islands are pretty and mesmerizing. We were served with white beaches, clear water and vivid sky. Be careful though, the sun is really hot, so do not forget to apply sunscreen to your skin.
Kakaban has a lake (fresh-and-saltwater, mixed) at the centre of it that offers the option of swimming with jelly fishes. Not normal ones though, the jellyfishes here are safe to touch since they are stingless!
Moreover, the dive site around the island perimeter is wonderful. Corals are still in good shape. Many kind of fish can still be found, including clownfish, the one that became famous in the movie Finding Nemo.
We also visited Sangalaki Island. “Sanga” is the local word for Manta Ray fish. As the name suggests, the island are famous for Manta Rays living around it. There are also some sting rays around, so be careful when stepping on shallow water. There might be a sting ray (the unfriendly partner of manta ray) hiding below the sands. This island also become a breeding and conservation spot for sea-turtle.
To be continued in Part 2.