Diving In Borneo: The Derawan Islands And A Blissful Life Aquatic  

Diving In Borneo: The Derawan Islands And A Blissful Life Aquatic

The steering wheel spins frantically, the engine graunches and the tiny speedboat slews side-on to the swell, centimetres from a large number of floating timber. Luckily our captain, a Bajo "sea gypsy" from the fishing people who first settled Borneo’s Derawan archipelago, is a master of the marine handbrake turn. He grins and guns the engine; the white sands, tall palms and stilt houses of Derawan island come into focus.

My teenage son and I have travelled by means of the coal mine-scarred landscape beyond Berau, a riverside town in Kalimantan on mainland Indonesian Borneo (and reached through two flights from Singapore), to take a boat out to spend every week exploring just a few of the archipelago’s scores of islands. Solely are formally inhabited, though 30-odd others have names and some are house to scientists and sea-dwelling boat people. By the tip of this 12 months the islands will likely be higher related to the mainland, with the completion of a small airport on Maratua island, which can handle short-haul flights.

We’ll be spending the following couple of days at Derawan Dive Lodge, a cluster of stylish wood cabanas reached by jetty over limpid waters, the place green turtles graze on sea grass and algae. No less than 15,000 feminine turtles return to the archipelago yearly, often swimming many thousands of kilometres to lay their eggs on the beaches where they had hatched. Now, so many turtles graze off tour ke derawan island, many of them non-local breeders, that their food sources have gotten scarce.

The highest tides, across the full moon and the new moon, are the best time to observe the females drag their heavy bodies up the sand and wheeze and grunt through the ovulation process. "One laid her eggs beneath the restaurant a couple of weeks ago," says the lodge’s Indonesian manager. We’ve missed their hatching, sadly.

Tranquil, tiny Derawan island has received busier since we first visited four years ago. A handful of memento stalls, some cafes and an indication reading "tourist village" enliven the brushed-sand village streets. Two bungalow resorts clog what as soon as was virgin beach – the last new lodging on the island, if policy holds. But the spirit remains the same. It takes 40 minutes to walk across the island: fishermen greet us, schoolladies line us up for images, the odd turtle pops a scaly head up from the wate, and kids play volleyball.

Derawan Dive Lodge is a cluster of cabanas reached by jetty over limpid waters, where green turtles graze on sea grass
The following day, a refreshingly sturdy dive boat takes us to Kakaban, an uninhabited island ninety minutes away: dolphins shimmy and flying fish leap as we go. As soon as we’re there, rickety wooden steps lead via creeper-tangled bushes to one of many world’s few jellyfish lakes, a Darwinian laboratory where animals have advanced in bizarre, and unique, ways. The jellyfish don't have any sting, so we take to the warm green waters with our snorkels. Clusters of golden brown jellies pulse within the sunlight, their bells agency and rubbery to touch; tiny, neon-filamented medusae rest within the palm of a hand; miniature goby fish hunt their prey in shoals.

The diving, too, is spectacular, although the robust currents that make the Derawans a scuba mecca usually are not for the faint-hearted. "You’ve by no means used a reef hook?" inquires one Indonesia veteran, referring to the glorified tent peg on a rope that divers use to secure themselves in currents which would in any other case wash them away. "You’ll want one."

And 30 metres below the smooth, quick-flowing waters, divers flap in the gale-pressure present like washing on a line, whereas sharks cruise effortlessly by and towers of barracuda hover, streamlined in the blue.

Unifor Mappe