whale shark and lttle yellow fish

Maratua, Indonesia’s Best-Kept Secret

The island of Maratua is part of the Coral Triangle, which is why it has one of the richest marine biodiversity in the world. The Derawan archipelago to which Maratua belongs is known not only for its rich marine life, but also for the immense beauty of its white sand beaches dotted with coconut trees and washed by crystal clear turquoise waters.

Maratua, Indonesia.
Maratua Beach, Indonesia.

The slender jungle-covered hooked-shaped karst island is slowly developing its tourism industry and is promised a bright future thanks to its stunning nature, Bora Bora style water bungalows, and the shinning beauty of the Celebes Sea. 

White sand beach flanked by a jungle of palm trees and a turquoise blue ocean on the island of Maratua.
Maratua Beach

Where is Maratua Island located?

The island of Maratua is located in the Derawan archipelago, which consists of a total of 31 islands, Maratua being the second largest, 50 km/30 mi off the east coast of Borneo.  Borneo, Asia’s largest island, is divided between the Malaysian provinces of Sabah and Sarawak, the Sultanate of Brunei and the Indonesian part, called Kalimantan, which consists of 4 provinces.   

Close-up of the wooden bridge that accesses the floating bungalows on the ocean on the island of Maratua.
Maratua Island

How to get to Maratua Island?

Getting to Maratua Island by Air

From SAMARINDA Airport (AAP), East Kalimantan.

3 flights weekly, Tuesdays 10:30am, Thursdays and Saturdays 08:am, 27 US$ one way.

Numerous daily flights connect Jakarta and Samarinda, 2h15 travel time, from 80 US$ one way.

Bookings:   +62 811 2119 802

From Berau (Kalimarau airport) (BEJ), East Kalimantan.

1 flight weekly on Saturday 10:30am, 25 US$ one way.

Daily flights connect Jakarta and Berau, 3h35 travel time, from 80 US$ one way.

Bookings: +62 822 5541 9164

From Tarakan, Juwata Airport (TRK), East Kalimantan.

1 flight weekly on Tuesday, 07:55am, 35 US$ one way.

Daily flights connect Jakarta and Tarakan, 2h35 travel time, from 95 US$ one way.

Bookings:   +62 811 2119 804

All flights are operated by Susi Air, but bookings can only be made by phone/whatsapp with each airport’s  ticketing office at the time of writing; see numbers above

Getting to Maratua Island by Sea

From Tanjung Batu Port, in the city of Tandjoengbatoe, take a speedboat to Derawan Island and another one from there to Maratua. Each journey takes about 30 mn. Each speedboat from 30 US$ one way.

From Tarakan. 3h30 travel time by speedboat, quoted prices 70 US$ one way.

Aerial view of a coastal town on the island of Maratua, with a beautiful contrast between the green of the jungle with the navy blue of the roofs of the houses, the gold of the sand on the beach, where there is a wooden walkway leading into the turquoise sea.
Maratua

Things do to in Maratua

Snorkeling

Should be compulsory… Whether you go on a boat around the island or further away, or just in the beach nearest to your hotel/guesthouse, you’ll see plenty of reef life, like turtles, sweetlips, tangs, surgeon or angel fishes and bigger stuff like rays, reef sharks, mantas, barracudas, jackfishes, trevallies…. 

Visit the Caves

There are about 15 known caves and potentially a hundred more yet to be mapped. They were formed by the sea action against the soft karstic island base and you can access them by boat, like the Haji Mangku Cave, or from the jungle where they form pool-like depressions.

Swim with Jellyfish in Kakaban Island

Doesn’t sound very enticing does it? Well, they’re stingless, because in this lake embraced by a thin wall of mangrove forest, they found themselves without predators when what was a lagoon turned into a lake. Kakaban is about 8 km/5 mi away from Maratua, but the jetty that lead to the lake is on the east side of Kakaban so the trip takes about 40 mn.

Diving with Whale Shark
Whale Shark maratua

Scuba Diving In Maratua

Maratua will have experienced scuba divers grinning to the point of loosing their regulator: there are 20 ~ 30 dive sites around the island, many with big pelagics, such as leopard, grey reef and white tip sharks, eagle, devil and giant rays, barracudas, jackfishes, dogtooth tunas, bumphead parrot fishes, Napoleon wrasses and with a bit of luck hammerhead, tresher & whale sharks. If that not was enough, the other islands, reached in average by a 20 to 40 mn boat ride, will tick off a lot of what most divers have in their bucket list: mantas rays & turtles in Sangalaki, more turtles (well, you’ll see so much of them all over the Derawans that you will not notice them after a while) and macro life in Derawan Island (seahorses, flamboyant cuttlefish, frogfish & the amazing blue ringed octopus), the steep walls and strong currents of Kakaban with lots of shark, trevally and barracuda action… Maratua and the Derawans have it all…

Aerial view of a small coastal town and wooden jetty on a beach on Maratua Island, Indonesia
Maratua Village

Where to stay in Maratua?

Aside the high-priced resorts that you can find on the island, there are guest houses or rooms that allow budget travelers to discover Maratua. Check the online booking platforms for details. Prices start at around 20 usd/night.

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