Derawan is an island city in East Kalimantan, Indonesia
As of May 2015, Sriwijaya Air flies to Berau from Jakarta directly. The new Maratua Airport in Berau has only a 1,400-meter runway and is not yet officially opened (predicted in June 2015), but the promotional ticket, which is less than $80, is reasonable. Starting on June 8, 2015, Kalstar will also fly to Berau from Jakarta and Surabaya directly. Both airlines are medium-service airlines. The only international airport in East Kalimantan is Sepinggan at Balikpapan. From Balikpapan you can go to Tarakan or Berau on a smaller plane, but there is no flight from Balikpapan to Derawan. Although Tarakan is farther from Balikpapapan than Berau, with a bigger airplane, a ticket from Balikpapan to Tarakan is cheaper than one to Berau. There are direct flights from Jakarta to Tarakan.
Direct flights from Jakarta or Surabaya to Berau are the least time-consuming option with only 2 hours.
Alternatively, if you choose to go to Tarakan, you must continue the journey with 3 - 4 hours across the sea by speed boat. If you choose to go to Berau, you must go to Tanjung Batu first by land transportation (it's about 2 hours from Berau) and then take a 30-minute journey by speed boat to Derawan.
If you want to go by land transport from Balikpapan, it's approximately 750 km to Tanjung Batu and then a 30-minute journey by speed boat to Derawan. It is a long and hard way. It could take 16 - 24 hours because of the condition of the road. The route is Balikpapan - Samarinda - Bontang - Sangatta - Muara Wahau - Berau - Tanjung Batu.
In order to avoid high waves, strong currents and low visibility at sea, the best months for visiting are March to May and August to October.
Scuba Diving & Snorkeling
The Derawan Islands have a large number of unique and protected species, among which are the coconut crabs, whales, dolphins and dugongs. The coconut crabs are found near the islands of Kakaban and Maratua, while whales and dolphins in particular months can be seen around Semama, Sangalaki, Kakaban and Maratua. Dugongs swim around Pulau Panjang and Semama, and manta rays are found around Sangalaki with pygmy seahorses around Semama and Derawan. Other protected species are the barracuda.
There are a total of 28 dive points identified here. Avid divers will need at least 10 days to explore them all. Diving or snorkeling at Derawan island or for deep sea diving Maratua island. Famous spot for snorkeling is Manta Spot, where Manta fish can be seen, near Sangalaki island.
Sharks and sea turtles can be seen at Maratua or Derawan island.
Cuddle with jellyfishes
You can cuddle with jellyfishes at Kakaban Island, which has no human inhabitants except for some guards and researchers. One kilometer from the beach there is a lake with salt water, but not so salty as seawater. The lake has 4 kinds of jellyfishes and none can sting human skin. The clear water of lake Kakaban is made easy for snorkellers to cuddle or touch the jellyfishes, and see the biggest kind of jellyfish eat the smaller kind of jellyfish.
There are many hotels in Derawan. The largest one is Derawan Dive Resort managed by PT BMI. Other hotels are managed by local citizens.
If you want to stay on other islands, there are two famous resorts on Maratua island: Nabuko resort and Paradise resort.
Derawan and Maratua are also popular with domestic tourists, so when there are long holidays (at least 3 days) in Indonesia, the hotels and resorts in both islands are fully booked, but homestays with spring beds and air conditioning are still available for Rp 250,000 to Rp 300,000 per night, or you can sleep in Tanjung Batu.
Kakaban island is a conservation island for jellyfish, so nobody lives there. Sangalaki island is for sea turtle conservation; only NGO people live there.