Borneo is the third largest island in the world. The northern part of the island is part of Malaysia with the states of Sarawak and Sabah, while the southern half, Kalimantan, is part of Indonesia.

From the tourists point of view Kalimantan is not an easy destination to travel to. You need a lot of time to reach and visit the most interesting areas. Distances are enormous and traffic always follows the big rivers. There are very few roads. So you have to travel by boat or plane. Missionary airplanes also fly to the remote areas but it is very difficult to get a seat. During the high season it is nearly impossible. A trip up the Mahakam river or a visit of the Tanjung Puting national park in the south however can be arranged easily, even if you have only a limited time budget.

Due to the many rivers of the island there are very few coral reefs around the island. Most of them are to be found in the north and north-east of Borneo.
Also here the Indonesian dive destinations are situated: Derawan, Maratua, Sangalaki and Kakaban. Further north is the world class dive destination of Sipadan, which belongs to the Malaysian state of Sabah.

Diving on Derawan
Derawan Island can be reached easily from Balikpapan. There are two ways to go there: Either you fly to Tanjung Redep with little luggage or to Tarakan without weight limitations. Guests are collected by staff members at the airport and are transfered

by speedboat to the dive centre (2-3 hs). The Derawan Dive Resort offers bungalows with and without aircondition. The dive shop is well equiped and the 170-hp-diveboats are able to reach all the divespots in a short time.
Kleine Schildkröten auf Derawan
Coral growth at the divespots around Derawan is only average. There are also areas destroyed by dynamite fishing.
10 or more turtles during one dive is pretty normal. During the night it is possible to watch turtles laying eggs on the beach and with a bit of luck it is even possible to watch the nestlings crawl over the beach into the water.
There are also big fish in the waters: Whitetips, Blacktips, Grey reef Sharks and even the occasional Blue Makko can be seen for examle at the Blue Trigger Point.

For an extra 40 US$ pp it is also possible to dive the dive sites of Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua. Sangalaki is famous for its Manta Rays which congregate here all year around and also the turtles which lay eggs here. During certain nights there are hundreds of animals crawling up the beach. The Manta Rays can already be seen in the flat water from the boat.
The rocky island of Kakaban is situated only half an hour away from Sangalaki. Kakaban does not look as friendly as Sangalaki. The steep cliffs drop deep into the sea and there is no beach. It is a good dive spot however to see big sharks (hammerheads), Manta Rays and barracudas.
The interior of the island is filled by a salt water lagoon full of different species of non stingent jellyfish. It is an exciting experience to snorkel among these animals. The Derawan Dive Resort has its own website.

Diving on Maratua

To go to Maratua Island in Indonesia is basically the same way as to Derawan. After arrival in Berau (Tanjung Redep) you are transfered in 4 hs. by speedboat to Nabucco Island inside the large lagoon of Pulau Maratua. Maratua is approximatly 4 km long and the northern half of the lagoon rises sharply out of the water. This part is inhabited. The southern part is below water level with some tiny islands on top of the reef edge. Outside the reef the sea bottom drops sharply to over 2000 m. The neighbouring islands Kakaban and Sangalaki can be reached in one ore one-and-a-half hour, depending on weather conditions.
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The Nabucco Island Resort

Extradivers have established on Nabucco Island an exclusive resort. The aim is obviously to reach Maldive-Standards. The size of the island is only 20 000 m². Extradivers have erected 8 airy and comfortable double bungalows most of them with a view to the sea.

Also ecological standards are very good: There is a biological treatment of waste water and drinking water is processed rain water.
Strand des Nabucco Island Resorts
It is only possible to book half pension on Nabucco. There is a big breakfast and a five course dinner. Lunch and all drinks (drinking water, coffee, tee) must be bought at the restaurant. The prices are also maldive like. So you have to add to the price you pay for your package all the costs for additional meals and drinks. We could not understand why the owners did not reduce the number of courses for dinner and offer a small lunch instead. Maybe it is simply another way to extract some extra dollars out of the guest`s pockets.

Nabucco Island Resort

Diving with Nabucco

The dive shop on Nabucco Island is modern and in excellent condition. There are several speedboats in different sizes which can reach the dive spots off Maratua in 10 to 20 minutes. Kakaban and Sangalaki may be reached in one hour or one-and-a-half. If the weather is bad this trip may last longer. The local diveguides know the dive sites very well. However we were a bit unlucky. Our guide was totally unmotivated and became only active when signalling to come up after excactly one hour under water.

Tauchplätze vor Maratua

Divesites of Maratua

Also during this trip the dive spots of Kakaban and Sangalaki were highlights of our journey. Especially at Sangalaki we had the luck to snorkel and dive with more the 20 huge manta rays. As we already knew these dive spots from our journey to Derawan we were very curious to learn more about the dive spots of Maratua Island.
Big fish country
This dive site is only 10 minutes away and is situated at the entrance of the big channel which connects the lagoon with the outer sea. The channel itself is literally swept clean by the very strong currents and only the edges are covered with nice coral. The dive usually starts at the outside reef and leads following the current to the channel. At the entrance of the channel in 27 m you grap to the dead coral and watch the show which is usually passing by. There are regulary big grey reef sharks, white- and blacktips and other big fish. During one dive we also spotted a huge oceanic hammerhead passing by. A bit further on, on the other side of the channel entrance, there are two nearly stationary schools of big barracudas which can be approached very close. After this the dive follows the current inside the channel and ends inside the lagoon if the diveguide does not signal to go up earlier.
Nabucco Island Resort
Most of the other dive sites of Maratua are also on the north-eastern side of the atoll. Usually we saw turtles, big napoleons, sting rays and eagle rays, some reef sharks and also leopard sharks. Most sites are steep slopes with patches of sand where rays or whitetips may be discovered.
Coral growth and biodiversity are not spectacular. There are doubtlessly much better areas in Indonesia than these ones. Some dives were just a bit boring as nothing new could be dicovered.

With dive spots like Big Fish Country and the dive sites around Sangalaki and Kakaban Nabucco Island Resort offers real highlights for divers. The rest however is just every day diving. For all those who are looking for a comfortable resort in Indonesia with decent diving possibilities and for alls those who have always wanted to dive Kakaban and Sangalaki this is the resort to choose.

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