Location : Kecamatan Maratua, Kabupaten Berau, Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia.
The drive from Tanjung Redeb although more popularly called Berau by the locals, to the jetty at Tanjung Batu was more than 2 hours. The jetty at Tanjung Batu is perhaps the grandest so far.
Welcome to Tanjung Batu village
Nice jetty at Tanjung Batu
View from jetty
Despite being the gateway to the world’s top 5 dive sites, facility for the dissemination of tour info is very much lacking. One would have thought that with the popularity of Derawan/Maratua/Sangkalaki, there would be at least a Tourist Information Centre to help organize transportation/homestay. Surprisingly, two personnel were stationed there to sell insurance coupons.
Without prior arrangement for the boat ride we tried our luck over coffee at a foodstall near the jetty. There was a small group of locals having their meals there too and soon as they hear us enquiring about boat rental, one of them quickly offered his service. He was nothing more than another runner who made his commissions from boat owners. We were quickly led to meet Supamni whose boat was moored at the very end of the long concrete jetty. Supamni suggested we spend the first night at Maratua inclusive of visits to Kakaban & Sangkalaki islands and the second night at Derawanin his own home. Asking price for the package exclusive of meals and lodging – IDR2.5m. I had to agree as there were no other competitors to compare prices!
Our rental speedboat
All set to embark Supamni’s little speed boat and so happy to begin our journey to our dream islands….oh so I thought. In a matter of seconds my world turned upside down at the bottom tier of the pier. Without any warning signages here to first time visitors here, I fell victim to a thin layer of slippery silt that the tide left behind. Down I went with a BANG and in trying to break the fall, I extended my arm. Next thing, I was on the wet slippery floor almost passing out. The pain shooting up to my shoulder was the most excruciating I had ever experienced in my entire life. Frozen there and suffered the longest 5 minutes of my life before making a forced decision to continue. When I enquired with the guys who sold me the insurance coupon they replied that it covered only accidents at the islands and not on the mainland. WTF! Enduring the suffering of the 1hr choppy boat ride on a little speed boat was beyond words. The fear of the fiberglass boat breaking into pieces from the continuous pounding on the waves was an added mental torture.
The coupon that didin’t mean anything
Eventually, we arrived under gloomy sky with the whole of Kalimantan engulfed by smog from its annual slash/burn agricultural cycle. Checked into our IDR250,000/night homestay which was concrete and modern looking. Our hostess was a Dayak from Puttusibau married to a local Bajau like our boatman.
Entrance arch Maratua
White sandy beach
After a bit of rest, Supamni and his Balinese assistance Hulpa came with their motorbikes to ojek us for the Day 1 bike tour. We rode along a concrete path that led us to the Maratua Paradise Resort.
Maratua Paradise Resort
Entrance to resort
Maratua dive store
Map of the islands
Sunset view from Maratua Paradise Resort
If we had known earlier we would have checked into this fancy looking resort whose owner is from Tawau, so we heard. More Malaysian owned resorts will be popping up very soon. Hulpa had a lot of stories to tell besides encouraging us to invest here, like a real estate agent.
Haze haze oh haze
Maratua Paradise resort in the distance
As the light was fading fast we headed back to our homestay. Time for dinner at the café run by our hostess.
Schedule for speedboat
After dinner I was surprised by our boatman Supamni who had organized for a local masseur to fix my shoulder.
The man I was hoping to do magic
Although I knew deep inside this 70 year old man would need to perform miracles to restore my torn muscles, at that point in time I was desperate enough for any kind of divine intervention. As his frail fingers went through my shoulder and arm he chanted what seemed to be Islamic mantras. Paid and thanked him IDR100,000 for the miracle that never came.