Derawan Islands, East Borneo, Indonesia

Derawan Jellyfish
Derawan Jellyfish



– Derawan Islands are tropical islands near the equator line which are known as one of the best snorkeling and diving spot in Indonesia (or may be in the world) as they have rich of biodiversity.

– There are four main islands in Derawan Islands: Derawan Island, Kakaban Island, Sangalaki Island, and Maratua Island. Several tourists are sometimes also going to other islands such as Nabucco Island, Samama Island, Panjang Island, Labuan Cermin, etc.

– The distinctive points:

a. Derawan Island: This is the most populous island among Derawan Islands. Many housings, lodgings, hostels, resorts, restaurants, merchandise shops, and other facilities were built in this island. Here, you can see dozens maybe hundreds turtles (even some of those are very big and benign), stingrays, lionfish, and other submarine lifes underwater easily. It’s really surprising me while i was walking on the piers, many giant turtles and stingrays were swimming under my feet. Derawan island has a beautiful white sandy beach. Other tourist attractions in this island are volley ball, banana boat, and other beach activities.

b. Kakaban Island: The saltwater lagoon inside the island has become an inhabitation of thousands of stingless jellyfish. FYI, there are only two places in this world where this kind of jellyfish lived, in Palau Islands and in Kakaban Island as well. Surrounding this island, the white sandy beach and coral reefs outspread beautifully.

c. Sangalaki Island: This uninhabited island has become a conservation zone for endangered turtles. There is a green turtle nesting site along this island. Tourists are allowed to see and to touch hundreds of cute hatchlings with the permission from the guardians. Sangalaki is also known as the Manta Ray point since there are so many gorgeous Manta Rays playing around.

d. Maratua Island: One of my friend, he is a divemaster, said that Maratua has incredible diving spot. He said that it is like watching a paintings underwater, very colourful and magical. This island also become an inhabitation of many kind of turtles, dolphins, manta rays, and other marine lifes.

e. Labuan Cermin: Labuan Cermin is a very unique lake. It has saltwater layer with its submarine life in bottom of the lake and has freshwater layer with its inhabitants above the saltwater. This freshwater and saltwater are never collide so that it looks like this lake inhabited with saltwater lifes and freswater lifes.

e. Derawan Islands are also become an inhabitation of endemic giant crab (about 3 – 6 Kilograms) called Robber Crab/Kenari Crab/Coconut Crab/Birgus Latro. Unlike the other crabs, this Robber Crabs grab coconut from its tree, peel it, break its shell, and eat it. Sounds weird huh?? I never knew where this crab lived exactly, but locals said that they are commonly lived in Kakaban Island.


Derawan Islands are located in East Borneo (Kalimantan Timur), Indonesia. (around coordinate 2.131567, 118.329433)

Derawan map
Derawan map

How to Get There:

Option I: Jakarta/Balikpapan/Surabaya – Tarakan (red line) by plane (Cost around Rp700.000-1.500.000 return). Tarakan – Derawan (green line) by boat (cost around Rp1.500.000/boat/one way). If it too expensive to rent the boat, you can alternatively use travel agents which usually offer 3D2N package around Rp600.000-3.000.000 depends on the starting points and the grades.

Option II : Jakarta/Surabaya/Jogja/Makassar/Kuala Lumpur – Balikpapan (blue line) by plane (cost around Rp1.000.000-Rp1.700.000). Balikpapan – Berau (yellow line) by plane (cost around Rp1.000.000). Berau – Derawan (green line) by car+boat (cost around Rp400.000).

How to get there Derawan
How to get there


Hotel rates ranged from Rp50.000 to Rp500.000. Low cost hotels are usually located at Derawan Island. Other resorts can be found at Maratua Island and Nabucco Island. Here are some of those:

– Sari Cottage : +6281346538448

– Derawan Beach Cafe

– Nabucco Island Resort

– Maratua Island Resort

– Usmar House: +6281347807078

– etc.

Travel agents which may help you to arrange your trip:

– Kakaban Tours and Travel

– Lagenta Tours

– Zebaotheo Tours and Travel

–  Narwastu Dive Center

– etc.


– Giant Green Turtle @Derawan Island

Giant green sea turtle
Giant green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)


– Stingless Jelyfish @Kakaban Island

Stingless Jellyfish

– White Sandy Beach @Sangalaki Island

Sangalaki Island
Sangalaki Island


– Coral reefs @underwater Derawan Islands

Lion Fish at Derawan Island
Lion Fish at Derawan Island


– Maratua Island

Maratua Island
Maratua Island



Click here for all Derawan Pictures Gallery