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Maratua Island in the Derawan Archipelago off the north coast of East Kalimantan, is a large tropical island partially encircling a massive lagoon on one end and fringed with sheer rocky walls and coral reefs along the other end.This giant upside down U-shaped island covers about 384 square kilometers of sandy white beaches and mangrove forests and 3,735 square kilometers of territorial waters which contain the third highest level of marine biodiversity in the world after Raja Ampat and the Solomon Islands.
One of the four most popular islands in the Derawan Archipelago, Maratua lies in the province of East Kalimantan. The Derawan Island chain includes the islands of Derawan, Sangalaki and Kakaban, and is home to one of the world’s only saltwater lakes as well as one of the largest green turtle nesting sites in Indonesia.
This paradise island is situated within the fabled Coral Triangle, with all the richness and beauty within itsexotic underwater landscapesthat one would expect from such a location. Over 20 dive spots across the island allow visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves amidst the bountiful treasures which lay tucked neatly beneath the sapphire waters.Maratua’s garden under the sea proudly exhibits an abundance of colorful coral reefs populated with a variety of species of fish, green turtles, manta rays and other marine life.
Unlike some of the other Derawan islands which are uninhabited, Maratua has a population of about 3,000 people and is divided into 4 villages, most of which come from the Bajo Tribes.The Bajo people, or Sea Gypsies as they have often been called, are a landless tribe that is sustained completely and exclusively by the ocean. But not only do they survive solely on marine resources—they actually live in the ocean as well. Entire villages are built on stilts and connected by wooden bridges over large expanses of coral reefs and rocks in the middle of the open sea. The Bajo tribes maintain an intimate knowledge of the maritime coastal ecosystems, as well as the seasons, winds, currents, tides, lunar cycle, stars and navigation. These mysterious sea people are also distinguished by their exceptional free-diving abilities, and through years of practice have acquired physical adaptations that enable them to see better and dive longer underwater.
The closest airport to the Derawan Islands is the Juwutan International Airport in the city of Tarakan, East Kalimantan. International flights to Tarakan are available on Malaysian Airlines from Kota Kinabalu and Tawau , both located in Sabah, Malaysia.
Domestically, Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air fly from Jakarta to Tarakan. From here take an internal flight south by either KalStar or Deraya Airlines (DAS) to Tanjung Redeb in the district of Berau. Boats will take you from here to Kakaban and other Derawan Islands.
Alternatively, SilkAir flies from Singapore and Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur to Sepinggan International Airport at Balikpapan, capital of East Kalimantan, then connect by internal flight to Tanjung Redeb. Batavia Air, Merpati and Sriwijaya Air fly domestically to Balikpapan from Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar.
Once in Berau you can hire a speedboat for the 2 hour ride to the Derawan islands. Speed boats generally have a seating capacity of 15 people, and can be rented to take you to several of the Derawan islands in one day.