Diving in Sangalaki, Kakaban & Maratua

Derawan Archipelago in North East Kalimantan is one of the most remote areas of Indonesia. Here you can find an archipelago the offers truly spectacular world class diving among its 5 islands, Derawan, Maratua, Kakaban, Sangalaki and Pulau Sambit


Sangalaki is known all over the world as the center of Manta Rays. To the east of the island are Manta Avenue, Manta Parade and Manta Run - where the manta rays can be found feeding on a rich supply of plankton minutes from the beach. The mantas can sometimes be seen cruising down these manta highways, whilst other rays forage around for food under the sand together with the goatfish. Their wing tips break the surface at regular intervals as they circle around you. They prefer to swim close to the surface, so snorkeling or free diving is also a good way to interact with them. The best time to see them seems to be full moon when there might be as many 20 mantas hovering over the cleaning stations. These giants, some with wing spans as great as 3.5 metres, fly in graceful circles while feeding in the current line.

Kakaban & Kakaban Lake

Kakaban island lies around 20 minutes from and offers 2 very different diving experiences. In addition to some spectacular wall diving, where pelagics can be found. The island of Kakaban is an isolated marine lake and unique in its own.

Thousands of years ago the island was naturally uplifted and then isolate the marine ecosystem from surrounding marine area making all biota in this marine lake become very unique and endemic critters such as four species of non-stinging jellyfishes and non-stinging anemones. Marine biologists have also found a number of unknown species of anemones, tunicates, flatworms and crustaceans in the lake. The shoreline is fringed with a tangle of mangroves.

Their sturdy roots are carpeted with sponges, seaweeds and tunicates. Visibility is around 10- 12 meters and at its deepest point the lake is 18 meters with tidal amplitude of about 0.2m, this is a result of a network of underground fissures that connect to the ocean. This truly is a biological paradise where everything can easily be seen snorkelling.


There are several impressive drop offs and a drift dive can be done through the channel into the lagoon. The channel entrance is at 27 meters and strong currents attract large pelagics such as eagle rays, barracuda, tuna, mackerel, hammerheads, and variety of sharks. Best time to dive the channel is on an incoming or slack tide where marine life reaches a crescendo of activity. Coral growth is not as spectacular here due to the strong currents, diving should also be carefully planned. Unfortunately, as the island is inhabited, some of the reefs have been fished.

How to Get to Berau airport, Indonesia

daily flights from Balikpapan (we recommand to arrive 1 day before to stay at Balikpapan airport hotel if you are taking long flight)

  • Option 1; fly to Jakarta (CGK) by Garuda air or Silkair to Balikpapan  in morning and connect with Garuda, Sriwijaya Lion Air to Berau airpor tsame day
  • Option 2; fly Silkair direct from Singapore to Balikpapan (BPN) and connect Garuda , Sriwijaya Air or Lion Air to Berau airport same day

NB. for flights via Jakarta; International flight arrive at Terminal 1, with Domestic flights from Terminal 2.  Taxi by transfer 10 minutes (around 50,000IRp) or if you have time Free Airport bus.