The region of East Kalimantan (Borneo) is very much untouched and it offers incredible destinations such as Derawan Island, a tiny little landmass covered with coconut palm trees and colorful beach shacks.
I have put together this complete guide to Derawan Island including how to get there and what to expect when you arrive.
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WHERE IS DERAWAN ISLAND (PULAU DERAWAN)
Derawan Island is located in the Celebes Sea off the coast of East Kalimantan in Borneo, Indonesia.
There is an archipelago of islands in the Celebes Sea and Derawan is the main hub for travelers wishing to visit this mecca of islands.
HOW TO GET TO DERAWAN ISLAND?
The most convenient way to get to Derawan is to catch a flight into Berau Airport and take a 15-minute taxi to the Tanjung Redeb boat harbor.
The cost of a taxi is $8 from Berau Airport to Tanjung Redeb. From here you will have to take a speed boat to Derawan Island that takes 2 hours for 250,000 Rupiah ($25) one way.
The boats run 7 days a week and generally every 2 hours. The first boat departs at 8am and the last boat leaves at 4pm.
You will see a ticket office alongside the river’s edge at the Tanjung Redeb boat harbor and you can organise your trip there. If you have any difficulties trying to find the right boat, the locals are very quick to give you some help, you need only ask.
TOP 4 THINGS TO DO ON DERAWAN ISLAND
1. SCUBA DIVING ON PULAU DERAWAN
One of the main points of interest for visitors to the island is scuba diving. There are a number of Dive Resorts located around the island that offers great packages for some of the best diving locations in the world.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do any scuba diving on my visit to Pantai Derawan as I have had an ear injury in the past that prevents me from diving.
For more information on booking a dive on Pulau Derawan, I have listed 3 Derawan dive resorts below:
Derawan Dive Resort
2. THE BENT PALM TREE – PANTAI DERAWAN
On your self-guided Derawan Tour, you can find a patch of palm trees on a mound of blinding white sand on the most eastern tip of the island.
There is one unique palm that bends out on a 45-degree angle over the water’s edge. My buddy and I took turns in climbing the palm tree to try to get ourselves a fresh coconut. I wish I could say that we were successful in our efforts though I have to be honest and say we didn’t reach the top.
We decided to head back to the bent palm for sunset and we then waited for the milky way to rise to capture a long exposure shot of this location.
3. DERAWAN ISLAND SHIPWRECK
Continue the adventure along the shoreline till you come across the Shipwreck. It only takes a maximum of 30 minutes to walk around the entire island so it’s hard to miss this wrecked boat on the sandbank.
Surrounded by a mecca of palm trees and debris from the shipwreck, this location will make you feel like you’re on the set of ‘Cast Away’!
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4. SUNSET POINT
The best spot to spend the golden hour on your self-guided Derawan Tour is at Sunset Point. There is yet another bent palm tree to climb on this side of the island and it is one of the best spots on Pulau Derawan to perch yourself for a sunset.
Sunset point is located next to the Shipwreck in case you can’t find it!
DERAWAN ISLAND ACCOMMODATION
Derawan has only a handful of accommodation options that include dive resorts and small homestays. See the list below of some accommodations that I personally recommend:
• Derawan Dive Resort
THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Derawan Island can be visited year-round. I visited in early June during Ramadhan and it was very quiet and peaceful.
Local Indonesian cuisine is mostly served at every restaurant and warung. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find a westernized meal on the island.
There is an ATM machine located on Pulau Derawan though I chose to take out some cash when I arrived at Berau Airport just to be sure I had enough funds to cover myself.
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I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions, please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.