Marvellous Derawan

Vacation time! The Magical Underwater is on. Derawan is one of The Magical Underwater destination in 2012. Islands are located in Berau, East Kalimantan province which consists of many small islands. Some popular island include the Derawan island itself, Kakaban island, Maratua island, and Sanglaki island.

Left to right: Lydia, Adi, Me, Tatha, Dimas, and Widhi
I planned this vacation with Tatha and Widhi from May 2011 when we were in Gili Meno, Lombok.  We didn’t go alone this time. Three people who came with us are Lydia – Tatha’s cousin, Adi – He’s our college from AIESEC and Dimas a.k.a Papi – Tatha’s junior high friend.   I know nothing about Kalimantan, so Kakaban Trip was our choice. We joined Kakaban Trip for Derawan trip. Kakaban Trip provides local trip like Derawan, Wakatobi and Raja Ampat. It arranged our trip so the preparation was so much easier. 

Thursday, 22nd March 2011 : Maratua Island

Lion Air flew us from Soekarno Hatta International Airport, Jakarta to Sepinggan Airport, Balikpapan. It was a two hours flight. Then we had to transit one hour at Sepinggan before connecting to our flight to Juwata International Airport, Tarakan. Touched down Tarakan safe and sound, BroJo (Bro Johannes) – our tour guide came to us and introduced us to other participants. Total people in the group are 32 people consist of travelers, and photographers. I consider myself as a traveler; a stylish traveler would be okay. :p I’ve never traveled with bunch of people. It’d be crazy because huge number or it’d be great because I meet other travelers. I talked to myself it would be fun and amazing trip. J

Mini bus took us to RM Sundari. Ayam penyet was our lunch of the day. If you are in Tarakan, I recommend to go to RM Sundari, the best sambal and ayam in town. It cost only IDR 20,000 for a nice Ayam Penyet plus tahu-tempe and super delicious sambal.

Us and the travelers
After lunch, all travelers headed to Tengkayu Harbor, Tarakan. From RM Sundari to Tengkayu Harbor, only took us 10 minutes. Very very crowded harbor, you have to take care your belonging for your safety. The funniest thing in the harbor is the voice of lady announcer. The voice is similar to Susana’s voice. Susana is Indonesian horror movie actress. It was so scary it made us laugh, haha - Youtube her anyways. There were no fancy boat or cruise. Don’t expect like you were in Benoa, Bali. It took 3.5 hours from Tengkayu to Maratua Island by boat. I saw a dolphin on our journey to Maratua. I felt so lucky.

Maratua Island

The name Derawan islands has its meaning respectively. For example Derawan derived from the word Perawan means virgin. Maratua derived from the word Mertua means in-laws. Sangalaki derived from the word Lelaki means man. and Kakaban derived from the word Kakak means elder sibling.

It’s already 5 PM, our ship docked in Maratua Resort. We were so ready to enjoy Borneo sunset. Maratua Resort was so beautiful resort. You can go snorkeling in front of your room, swimming with turtle, even if you love diving, they provide us diving equipment.  The resort is suitable to newlyweds. The fact that make me sad, the resort owned by a foreigner. Where is our local business tycoon? If you have bunch of money, I suggest investing for a resort in Indonesia and supporting local tourism. I blame our government somehow; they use our money for their own interest.

While we explored Maratua resort we found turtles and fishes.  Either small or big turtle were swimming in turquoise water. When I saw it, I felt I’m the luckiest man on the earth; I travel and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Kakak, Main Yuk?!
If you’re wondering where we stayed at Maratua, we did homestay. I stayed in a big house with cozy rooms. Two beds and a bathroom inside each room. Most importantly the lady of the house served us delicious meal every day like red snapper, chicken fillet, calamari, fried rice, and fried noodle. I was so surprised she also served  tahu and tempe. It’s not easy to find them in an island. The owners of the house (Bapak & Ibu Jahim) were so helpful. They also treated us very nicely.

A pier at Maratua island
Mangrove tree at Maratua Island 

There are four villages in Maratua. Most of people who live in the Maratua work as fishermen. If you wander around the island, you'll find lots of little kids in every house. We can see there has been no distribution of welfare between major cities and islands in Indonesia. The gap is huge. The houses are very simple and made ​​of wood. Part of the house has been old as time passed.

I met and shared story with other travelers like Pak Abi, Mas Heri, Gisca, Melvi, Ulil, Jeje, Gina, Prana, Joseph, Tiga roda, Ayu Ting-Ting and boyfried - Our captain called their name as he want, haha, and Mehdia.  

Friday, 23rd March 2011 : Derawan and Sangalaki Island

Snorkeling Day! I was super excited to enjoy the underwater beauty of Derawan. I decided to sit on the roof of our boat.  I saw beautiful views in front my eyes. It took one hour from Maratua to Derawan.

Derawan Island

The ship was docked in Derawan. I quickly changed my clothes and wore my snorkeling equipment. The first time I went snorkeling without a life vest. Oh, Heaven on earth. Beautiful coral reefs and fishes are everywhere. Tatha and i swam with turtle near pier. It felt amazing. After snorkeling, we decided to take banana boat to explore Derawan. Don’t tell other travelers! The man who rode our banana boat took us to a huge carpet of gorgeous white sand and crystal clear water. The view was close to Gusung Islands. It was breathtakingly beautiful.  Tatha and i decided to go snorkling for last time before we’re going to lunch. Lucky us, one of other tour guide showed us a giant clam or what the locals call it, Kima and a crocodile fish.

Only two of us left, my friends have gone up for lunch. We walked on the bridge to Derawan resort and passed local houses to find our restaurant. We were last bunch to arrive however lunch was not started yet. I sat in front of the fish that will be served. I immediately took the red snapper in front of my eyes before anyone did. It was very tasty.

Lunch was over. The ship began to sail to Gusung Island. It was very beautiful scenery in Gusung Island. Wider white sand and very clear water really spoiled my eyes. O Mon Dieu. They say further  you are to the east of Indonesia, the beautiful the marine sights would be.

Gusung island
Lydia and crystal clear water
Hands all over like Adam Levine said :p

Sangalaki Island

After we enjoyed the beautiful scenery of Gusung Island, the ship sailed to Sangalaki Island. It took 30 minutes from Derawan. The ship docked at the pier, we jump into the sea for snorkeling. The beauty of the underwater Sangalaki made me stunned. I found family of clowfish! It was mother of Nemo and two little nemos, I kept starring for 10 minutes. That should be my way to enjoy underwater beauty. Coral reefs are everywhere, different shapes and colors, from large to small. After we finished snorkeling, we walked on the pier and ready to explore Sangalaki Island. Sangalaki is famous for Turtle Breeding. Baby turtles or tukik are maintained by the NGOs before being released into the sea in Sangalaki. They're so cute.

The Goddess of Sangalaki
The color of Sangalaki sea water was crystal clear makes us want to go and play in the water. The sun began to fade;  we also enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the Sangalaki beach. I'm gonna reveal top secret for you guys, the clue is skinny dipping. Yes, I tried it too. * blushing *

Manta point

Before we went home to Maratua, BroJo took us to Manta point. We saw two Manta’s from above. Some people were so lucky; they could see them very close include Adi and Tatha. However unlike the few lucky people, Adi even more saw three Manta’s. Tatha called him a Lucky bastard. LOL

Saturday, 24th March 2011 : Kakaban and Nabucco Island

It's raining in Maratua. Our 7.30 AM departure is delayed. OH NO! We continued our journey to Kakakan Island after the rain stopped. The journey took about 30 minutes from Maratua.

Kakaban Island

Welcome to Kakaban island
Arriving alive at Kakaban pier, our group was first group to land. There are trees lining from of the left and right you would feel you were entering The Jurassic Park. We needed to go through stairs to reach Kakaban Lake. Kakaban Lake then was seen from a distance, feeling impatient to see jelly fish began to appear. Finally we reached the lake. It was a beautiful view of Kakaban Lake. We immediately jumped into the lake to swim with the jelly fishes.

Can you see the lake?
This time I didn’t join snorkeling with friends, I enjoyed the beauty of underwater Kakaban Lake by snorkeling around and starring at those jelly fishes for a long time then imagining I was playing Underwater Zen by Bemby Gusti. I felt peace of mind when I starred jelly fishes. It was really really great. I always stare at corals and clownfish for a long time; it gives me satisfaction and peace of mind.

Catch you
Nabucco Island

Nabucco Island Resort located at a small private island called Pahabanan island surrounded by the Maratua atoll.

There was clown fish inside

Sunday, 25th March 2011 : Kawasan Konservasi Mangrove and Bekantan (Mangrove and Bekantan Conservation Area) in Tarakan

Oh so sad, we had to go home. I packed my bag and ready to go. BroJo took us to Maratua Resort to make a group photo. As always, we gave bunch cameras to Maratua Resort’s staff to take our photo. I thought tatha and I enjoyed pose by pose. Group photo is done. 

We headed back to Tarakan. Touched down Tengkayu Harbour, we finally met Mas Maliq. He was supposed to be our tour guide from Kakaban Trip. We wish he could guide us on Derawan trip. Unfortunately he couldn’t join us because a trip of Raja Ampat. Lunch on Depot Madurasa, we found another great place to eat. We ordered like crazy. Sorry Mas Maliq. I forgot to take photo our food. It tastes delish. Last stop before we went to airport was Kawasan Konservasi Mangrove and Bekantan (Mangrove and Bekantan Conservation Area) in Tarakan. We found a ‘jungle’ in the middle of the city. I saw four Bekantans cradle in the tree. Nice sightseeing.

Overall, Derawan Trip is eight out of ten. I wish I could enjoy more the beauty of underwater in Derawan. I felt it’s too short for us. One thing I love about Derawan is swimming with Jelly Fishes. It felt so amazing. I highly recommend to you guys, if you love underwater, coral reefs, and beaches. Let's experience the wonders of Indonesia and support local tourism!

"Live, Travel, Adventure, Bless, and Don't be sorry."

P.S: Thanks to @tatsqij for editing. ;)


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