Derawan Trip Report, part 1

Nick Rawson’s Derawan Trip Report

“Finally, 8 years after over flying the Sangalaki archipelago I’ve arrived! I saw the islands on a return flight from Manado to Singapore & thought that I would like to visit, but after reading some very disappointing trip reports, I decided to wait.

Last year my two friends D1 & D2 from Tasik Ria told me they were planning to open a dive lodge on Derawan, one of the islands of the archipelago, so knowing that the accommodation & dive operation would be first rate I knew my wait was over.

Friny from Tasik Ria booked flights for us, by us I mean me, Nick, my Wife Jill & our very good friend Jennifer.

We spent 10 days at Tasik Ria, diving most days, the day off-gassing before the morning flight to Balikpapan was spent chilling in the resort.

We had an early start, leaving Tasik Ria @ 4:50AM, stopping along the way to pickup Dan Green (D2), who was joining us on the trip. We arrived at Manado Sam Ratalungi Airport at 5:45, where we boarded Batavia airlines flight to Balikpapan. After the short and pleasant flight we arrived at Sepinggan Airport on the east coast of Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). We had a 3 hour wait before the next leg of our journey to Barau, so we decided to spend the time chilling out in the BlueSky Lounge, the service in the lounge was great, they rechecked our baggage and kept us informed about the flight status.

The second flight was also with Batavia, this time it only lasted 40min. On arriving in Barau, we quickly collected our luggage & were picked up by our driver, who would take us on the road trip section of our adventure.

Dan Green @ Barau Airport

Dan Green & Jennifer @ Barau Airport

The trip to Tanjung Batu was very interesting, for much of the journey we traveled beside the impressive Barau River, the road then passes through the jungle & eventually to the port where we boarded the speed boat that was to take us to Derawan Island.

Our Boat to Derawan

We sped across the calm turquoise water and after about 30 minutes were greeted with the sight of the white sand beaches of Derawan

Approaching Derawan

The resort is situated on the beach surrounded with palm trees, an idilic tropical retreat!

Derawan Dive Lodge

The Lodge

The day we arrived was a BBQ night so we got to feast on freshly caught crab, delicious! A note about the food, my wife doesn’t like most Indonesian food, so the staff made meals to her liking throughout our stay, thanks 🙂

We put our dive gear outside the rooms, and went to bed filled with anticipation about the next days diving, Nadine, The Manager had told us we were going to dive with Mantas!

Our first day’s diving was around Sangalaki island, on a site named Manta Run, we dropped down, in the low-ish vis water, to 12M and waited, after about 10 minutes the first Manta I’d ever seen underwater went cruising past, only to be followed by a second and a third! I’ve seen Mantas from the boat before but nothing had prepared me for being so close to these magnificent creatures. We did three dives that day, I spent most of my time watching and photographing the mantas but we also saw a large green turtle, a Spotted Eagle Ray & a very big Giant Clam.

Day two was spent muck diving around Derawan & Palau Panjang, where we saw Lembeh Sea Dragons, Denise’s Pigmy Sea Horse, octopus………….

In part 2, Night Dive @ The BMI Jetty, Kakaban & the jellyfish lake, Maratua Island & more about the Lodge”

Nice report Nick, We’re so glad you all had a good time! Looking forward to part 2


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