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 that offers truly spectacular world class diving among its 5 islands, Derawan, Maratua, Kakaban, Sangalaki and Pulau Sambit

Diving the Derawan archipelago

Discover an untouched diving destination which offers everything you need for the ultimate dive safari. Located off the East Coast of Kalimantan (The Indonesian portion of Borneo) the Islands of Sangalaki, Maratua and Kakaban offer some of the most remote, uncrowded and untouched diving spots visited by the Manta fleet. Not only will you be diving away from the crowds but the diving is spectacular with plenty of ‘Big Fish’ sightings possible throughout the area.


Good potential for manta rays who use the island's surrounding colourful reefs as a cleaning and breeding ground. To the North of the island are Manta avenue, Manta parade and Manta run - where the manta rays may be found feeding on a rich supply of plankton just meters 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. Sangalaki is also a renowned turtle hatching site, every day hundreds of hatching sea turtles can be seen making their dash to the ocean from their nesting sites.

Kakaban & Kakaban Lake

Kakaban is famous for it’s stunning fresh water Jelly Fish lake fringed by virgin Mangrove forest Thousands of years ago the island was naturally uplifted which isolated the marine ecosystem from the surrounding seas making all biota in this marine lake very unique with 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. This truly is a biological paradise where everything can easily be seen snorkelling.On the seaward side of the island sheer drop offs and walls attract Huge schools of Trevally and Barracuda along with the possibility of Hammerhead, Grey Reef and Black Tip sharks.


One of the most action filled destinations in the region, the walls that surround this island provide some great Big Fish dives, with massive schools of chevron barracuda, hunting trevally, thresher sharks and much much more! 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 the strong currents attract these large pelagics. Best time to dive the channel is on an incoming or slack tide where marine life reaches a crescendo of activity, whilst coral growth is not as spectacular here due to the strong currents, pelagic action can be simply awesome!

What to see / Highlights

Plenty of pelagic action; manta rays, barracuda, jacks, tuna, a variety of reef sharks, even Leopard & Thresher sharks can be spotted here. Reef; amazing soft corals, turtles, harlequin shrimps, frogfish, ribbon eels, cuttlefish, nudis, & usual suspects. There is a place to see Whale Sharks here. However, it is not guaranteed. Dives searching for the whale sharks take place around fishing ‘Bagans” (floating fishing platforms) and are located away from any reefs in the open sea. It is a risk worth taking in our opinion, mostly they are there and, well, they are the biggest fish so very very popular!

  • Water Temp; 28-30 degrees Celsius,
  • Air Temp; 28-30 degrees Celsius,
  • "Visibility; 10-30 meters, Level; intermediate to advanced,
  • Best Time to Dive; June-August


Amazing Island Highlights

Whilst the diving in this region is fantastic there are also a couple of land based, island visits that should not be missed! We will have a chance to visit the beautiful fresh water Jelly fish lake at Kakaban, a short trek over an easy walk way through lush tropical jungle leads to this stunning and tranquil lake, an experience you will never forget! We also visit the beach at Sangalaki to witness baby turtles hatching & running to the sea - an amazing experience!

Please Note; these land based excursions mean substituting a dive, there is not always time to plan for these activities along with 4 dives. If guests prefer to dive & miss these excursions we can manage as we have three support vessels available.

How to get there

All trips embark and disembark at Tg.Batu pier, Indonesia. Transfers To / From Berau (BEJ) Airport are around 2 hours to Tg Batu Pier via car. Pick up on trip departure day from airport or local hotel. Our staff will be there to greet you at the Airport.

  • International Flights; first you will need to fly to Balikpapan International Airport (BPN), Kalimantan, Indonesia. Daily flights are available from Singapore or Jakarta by Silk Air, Garuda, or Lion Air
  • Domestic Flights/Hotels; We highly recommend arriving to Balikpapan on the morning prior to trip departure day & flying on to Berau (BEJ) (approx 1hr 10min) the same afternoon with Garuda Indonesia, (GA 463 ETD-16:10) Lion Air ( IW 1360 ETD-17:30) or Sriwijaya Air. (SJ 232 ETD-18:20) You can then overnight in Berau where we will collect you from your hotel on trip departure morning, we recommend the Bumi Segah for it’s proximity to the airport. Other recommended hotels include; Neotel Hotel & Grand Parama Hotel.
  • Alternatively you can overnight in a Hotel near Balikpapan Airport and take one of the scheduled morning flights to Berau (BEJ) on Trip Departure day. Recommended hotels near the Airport in Balikpapan include; Hakaya Plaza Hotel (150m from Airport) IBIS Balikpapan (10km from Airport) Novotel & Swiss Bell Hotel  both (15min Drive from Airport). You can then fly on to Berau (BEJ) Airport on trip departure day with Garuda (GA 467 ETD 08:50) or Lion Air (IW 1364 ETD 08:30) Please be advised we shall be planning pickups on trip departure day based on guests arrival times to the airport, in order to get the trip underway and have the chance to enjoy a check out dive on the first day we highly recommend guests arriving to Berau on trip departure day arrive in the morning on one of the above flights.
  • How to get from Berau (BEJ); Garuda, and Lion Air have morning flights back to Balikpapan which will allow you to meet connecting flights in the afternoon back to Jakarta or Singapore. Please note our earliest drop off on trip return day will be scheduled to meet Garuda Indonesia’s & Lion Air’s morning departures (GA462 ETD 10:25 & IW669 ETD 10:00) We will leave New White Manta in plenty of time for your flight & check in. If you plan to depart Berau on an earlier morning flight you will need to leave the boat after the final dives on the penultimate afternoon. In this case we can arrange transport to a local hotel in Berau, we recommend the Bumi Segah for it’s proximity to the airport

How to book flights

  • Flight Booking; Book online directly with carriers Garuda Indonesia & Lion Wings
  • Other airline carriers; you may need an Indonesian credit card. For this reason we cannot book for you but we DO recommend Indonesian agent; Come2Indonesia Contact; Norberto/ Melysa info@come2indonesia.com
  • Flight Schedules; Please check the current schedule with your chosen operator before booking flights as schedules and prices are subject to change. WMD or recommended agents cannot be held responsible for any flight delays, cancellation, or changes in schedules

 2023 Trips.

From 2023 all trips Embark and Disembark from Tarakan Indonesia. Transfers To / From Juwata International Airport (TRK) Airport are around 10-15 mins from the New White Manta. We arrange Pick up on trip departure day from airport or Local hotel in Tarakan. Our staff will be there to greet you at the Airport or your hotel.

International Flights 

International arrivals should plan to arrive to Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Jakarta (CGK) the evening before trip departure allowing you to take a morning connecting light onwards to Tarakan (TRK).

Domestic Flights/Hotels

We recommend guests plan to arrive to Tarakan no later than the afternoon of trip departure day. Batik Air have daily direct flights from Jakarta to Tarakan departing 10:00 arriving 13:35. For those staying in Bali (DPS) Lion Air have daily flights via Surabaya (SUB) departing 07:00  arriving to Tarakan at 11:55.  Our crew will collect you from the airport & transfer you to the waiting New White Manta where your cabin will be waiting. If you prefer you may choose to arrive to Tarakan the day before trip departure & stay in a local hotel, where our crew will collect you on the morning of trip departure. Recommended hotels in Tarakan include; Swiss-Belhotel Tarakan Hotel Lembasung Hotel Tarakan Plaza My City Hotel

Once transferred to the White Manta we set sail for Derawan (9-11 hours). Please do note there is no diving on trip departure day. First dives will take place on the first morning, usually at Derawan Island for check out dives.

How to get from Tarakan (TRK)

You can fly onwards to Bali with Lion Air who offer daily morning flights via Surabaya (SUB), departing 07:00 arriving 11:05 or back to Jakarta with Batik Air departing 14:15 arriving 16:05. Citilink also offer flights (Sun, Mon, Wed & Friday only) back to Jakarta via Balikpapan (BPN) departing 13:00 arriving 14:45.