DISCOVER DERAWAN ISLAND!
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.
Here is a complete guide of how to get to Derawan Island 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 Pulau 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 island 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.
Derawan Island Indonesia
DERAWAN ISLAND MAP
TOP 4 THINGS TO DO ON DERAWAN ISLAND
1. Scuba Diving on Pulau Derawan
One of the main points of interest for visitors to Derawan 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 Derawan 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 on Derawan Island for sunset and we then waited for the milky way to rise to capture a long exposure shot of this location.
Bent Palm on Derawan Island
Climbing palms on Derawan Island
Astro shot on Derawan Island
3. Derawan Island Shipwreck
Continue the adventure along the shoreline till you come across the Derawan Island 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 – Pantai Derawan
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 Derawan Island Shipwreck in case you can’t find it!
Sunset on Derawan Island
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
DERAWAN ISLAND – 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 westernised 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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WHAT TO PACK FOR DERAWAN ISLAND
Everyday Backpack: One of the best backpacks on the market! The Nomatic 20L Backpack is perfect for on the go adventures. Featuring multiple storage spaces for valuables, drink bottles, chargers, notebooks and more. This sleek backpack was designed for you.
Universal Power Adapter: Don’t leave home without one! I highly recommend getting this Universal Power Adapter so that you are able to charge all of your electronics when you’re on the road. Compatible in Asia, UK, Europe, Africa, USA, SA and Australia.
Hidden Money Belt: I never go on a trip without one! The best thing is they are always out of sight, hidden beneath your clothing. With RFID blocking, they are perfectly designed to keep your credit cards, cash and other valuables safe when you’re out adventuring!
Waterproof Phone Case: A waterproof phone case is a must-have item! This universal case will keep your phone safe from water damage, sand and scratches during your adventures. Suitable for all smartphone models.
Portable Charger: One of the best portable chargers on the market! The Anker Power Bank keeps your phone and accessories charged on those longer adventures. Featuring 2 USB charging ports, rechargeable battery, works with iPhone, iPad, Samsung, Oppo and Android.
Microfibre Travel Towel: To pack a towel or not to pack a towel? A standard bathroom towel can take up a lot of space in your travel bag. Get your hands on a quick-dry Microfibre Travel Towel which is perfect for the beach, backpacking, camping and general traveling.
Rain Jacket: A light-weight rain jacket is an absolute must when traveling! North Face waterproof rain jackets come in both men and women sizes, featuring a breathable mesh lining and adjustable hood that can be tucked away inside the collar.
Kindle: The best alternative for books! Kindle e-readers are perfect for long haul flights, reading on the beach or a quiet evening away from the bars. Kindle’s are waterproof with rechargeable batteries and adjustable light settings to suit indoor/outdoor conditions.
Packing Cubes: My favorite item in my backpack! Perfect for organizing your shirts, pants, jackets, socks, underwear and more. This 5 Set Packing Cubes makes packing easier and more efficient, adding extra space in your bag for your next trip.
Activated Charcoal Tablets: Want to avoid food poisoning? Most of us have been a victim of travelers diarrhea from eating street food. Organic Activated Charcoal Tablets are fast-acting and will rid your system of the bad bacteria that causes stomach upset.
MY CAMERA GEAR
Everyday Camera: The most affordable mirrorless camera on the market! I personally use the Sony A7ii Mirrorless Camera on all of my adventures. It’s compact, lightweight and super easy to use for all levels of photography. A 28-70mm Sony lens is also included.
Drone Camera: Take your photography to new heights! The DJI Mavic Pro 2 Drone is at the top of the game when it comes to high-quality images and video, easy to control functions and traveler-friendly capabilities. I guarantee you won’t regret purchasing one.
GoPro Hero 8: One of the most popular cameras on the planet! I love using the GoPro Hero 8 for all of my underwater shots and fast-paced adventures. The GoPro Hero 8 captures the best moments with its wide range of functions that are very simple to use!
Camera Bag: My favorite camera bag I have ever owned! The Lowepro Protactic 450 AW II Camera Bag features a waterproof rain cover, drink bottle holder, padded compartments for cameras, drones, lenses, accessories and it also has a laptop pocket.
Selfie Stick: Everyone loves a good selfie, right!? The Sandmarc Metal Edition Selfie Stick is sleek, stylish and can extend to 1.2m. I find it much easier to take photos and videos with the GoPro when it is mounted to the Sandmarc Selfie Stick!
Camera Tripod: The Joby GorillaPod is suitable for all cameras. This tripod is easy to use and perfect for setting up a time-lapse video or even using it as a selfie stick. The legs are flexible so you can wrap it around a tree or a pole to get creative with your shot.
GoPro Dome: Have you ever wanted to capture those under/over water shots with the GoPro? This epic underwater GoPro dome housing is the best camera accessory to have to create the perfect 50/50 shot. I use mine every time I am in the ocean!
Memory Card: The best thing about SanDisk Extreme Pro is that it delivers maximum speed for images and videos. Having 64GB of storage means that you can store hundreds of files on this SD card for 2-3 days and not have to worry about running out of space.
External Hard Drive: As a photographer, my images and video files take up a lot of space on my MacBook so I use the WD Elements External Hard Drive to store everything. With 4TB worth of storage space, this is more than enough for 1 years worth of content.
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FINAL THOUGHTS OF DERAWAN ISLAND
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any questions about Derawan Island, please leave me a comment below.