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“Dive Trip”
Review of Derawan Dive Lodge

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Derawan Dive Lodge
Ranked #2 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Berau
Reviewed 10 November 2013

A remote location to get to but an overnight stay in Balikpapan helped to break the jet lag; followed by the usual internal flight to Berau, 2.5 hour car ride and half hour speedboat. The internal flight over Kalimantan and the road trip through the edge of the jungle are well worth for the visuals alone.

Let's start with the main reason for visiting - the diving. There are 4 main dive locations to visit.
1. Maratua - has the best dive in my opinion, Barracuda Point. A reef hook is required but the sheer number of Barracuda make this dive site with the hundreds of fish seen in the shoals on both our dives here
2. Kakaban - a good variety of wall dives and another location to see a shoal of Barracuda though not in the numbers of Maratua. The Jellyfish lake is worth the visit during a surface interval
3. Sangalaki - the place for Mantas and we were lucky enough to see a number on one dive but they are by no means guaranteed and we did not see any on the other 6 dives we did at this site, look elsewhere if Mantas are a must see.
4. Derawan - lots of interesting small stuff - frogfish, pygmy seahorses, sea dragons, blue ringed octopus - also seen on some of the other dive sites

Overall Derawan is a worthwhile dive location, other than the sheer number of Barracuda and Turtles there is not an abundance of any one fish life simply rather a huge variety of different things to see both large and small, even Dolphins from the dive boat.

All the 3 main islands are on average an hours boat ride from Derawan. Dive guides, boat operation, nitrox availability are all excellent.
Some of the coral reefs and walls are simply stunning with very large soft and hard corals, unfortunately the effects of the previous local practice of dynamiting can be seen in places but the reef is recovering and should not deter you visiting.

The Dive lodge is located on the beach and is simple, it's all about the diving. The rooms are clean and functional, there is plenty of background noise from the local Mosque to the numerous roosters but a nights sleep is usually confirmed as the diving ensures you are tired!

Food - Lunch and Dinner very basic and consisting of rice / rice and more rice accompanied usually 3 dishes (chicken pieces / diced beef and fish) which though tasty after a few days does get very repetitive,the soup starters were excellent. Breakfast is sticky rice, rice (occasionally noodles) with tinned frankfurters and fried tomatoes but there was always toast available though the measly 2 slice toaster ensured a wait as nearly every guest wanted toast.
The lack of a kettle (just a hot water function on the water dispenser) is a downside as hot drinks were never quite hot enough.
The cold drinks of beer, sprite and coke were reasonably priced though frustratingly they did run out now and then

7 days was about right for the length of stay and if you have time a 2/3 mainland bolt on side trip to experience the jungle, see the wildlife and orangutans would be prudent.

Overall highly recommended, it is a very cost effective location with a wide variety of underwater life and reefs to see.

  • Stayed: November 2013, travelled with friends
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5  Thank grahamz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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25 - 31 of 59 reviews

Reviewed 2 September 2013

*** This review only covers the diving service I engaged. It does NOT cover my opinion on their accommodation as I did not stay at the lodge. Happy travels! ***

HIGHLIGHTS
+ Extremely helpful, friendly staff (we were very lucky to meet Yanis - he's the man)
+ Excellent dive guides
+ Well maintained rental dive gears
+ Must visit: Maratua (especially The Channel), Kakaban jellyfish lake
+ Hospitable service
+ Location is perfect: beach front
+ Lunch is covered if you're just diving with them. Basic meal but enough. Drinks included.
+ Quiet - ideal for getaway holidays
+ Nice room, nice shower, perfect for couples (although I did not stay, I had a peek inside one of the rooms)

COULD BE BETTER
Diving wise, I have nothing bad to write. However, those who stayed here generally had the same recurring feedback that the food served lacks variety especially when you are staying for an extended period of time. My suggestion is to explore the village and try some of the local restaurants there.

CONCLUSION
The staff at DDL is the gem. They always try their best to accommodate to your requests. Everything was great from airport pickup on our arrival to airport delivery on our departure. Service at its best. I really enjoyed my diving holidays with DDL and I would gladly return here in the future. Highly recommended.

Room Tip: If you are traveling with your family/kids, get the family room. It's a double storey directly f...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank onefinesunday
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2013

Our expectation were very high about this place.
Very remote - fly to Berau, 2,5 hours with a car on a very bumpy road, on a speedboat for 45 min. It is on a very nice cosy island with a small village on there. The resort is nice, friendly staff, good dive guides and equipment.
In the village you can find some Warangs (restaurants) who are pretty good for dinner.

The food at the resort dissapoint us, we were before on a Klotok in the jungle, also very less resource to serve food, but it was excellent, this was very very basic.
You can ask for your breakfast for eggs if you don't want to go on bread with jam only.
Lunch and Dinner also basic, we were very lucky to have a BBQ served by the staff, with excellent fish and chicken this was very nice.

The village is nice, there is a even a pretty professional clinic with doctors who can speak good English - Go for a walk.
The cabin where you stay in is good,
We have been diving at Marautua, Kakaban and Sanglaki. Kakaban was the highlight especially the snorkling in the Jelly fish lake.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Anneke T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2013

It was a very long and tiring trip from South Africa to reach Derawan Island. The location of the Dive Lodge is magnificent - right on the beach. The accommodation was very nice and comfortable. The only bad side of our stay, was the food. They did not cater in any way for Western food which meant going diving on 1 or 2 slices of bread with smooth jam - if you were not prepared to eat the spicy noodles or rice for breakfast. Our request for eggs dit not materialise. The service in the dining room was not up to standard.
The highlight of our dives from Derawan was the barracuda dive at Maratua and the snorkeling with the non-stinging jellyfish at Kakaban. It is a different kind of diving than for instance the Red Sea or Maldives. There are not that many coral fish, but rather macros and critters (nudibrancs; frog fish etc.). The Dive Masters were excellent and tried their best to provide an excellent service.
The food and drinks that they take with on the boat for the day out diving, was very basic and again only spicy food and some fruit.
The trip to Derawan was an experience, but I believe not worh the cost and long hours of travelling unless they upgrade on their food and provide for the tastes of the Western public.

Room Tip: 10 Great double airconditioned rooms. Although the rooms at the waterfront have a fantastic view, th...
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  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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4  Thank Summer444
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 May 2013

We spent 14 hours to get here from Singapore. The staff were friendly and attentive to our needs. Our Dive guide Ali is excellent together with the rest of the crew. The journey especially the 3hrs land transfer from Berau airport to the pier is torturous. The hotel is very basic and 1-2hrs from all the dive sites. So for every dive day, we spent 3-4 hours to and fro. The current at our first dive in Maratua was so extreme, it was cancelled after 20mins by our guide. Our main aim was to see manta rays where Derawan is famous for. However, we saw none over the 12 dives. We did catch a passing glimpse of a school of eagle rays and the barracudas at Maratua. I would not mind coming back but for the journey. There are more accessible sites in the region where the diving is just as good. Hopefully these graceful creatures will make their way back to Derawan again soon.

  • Stayed: May 2013
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3  Thank PuayHeng
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 May 2013

After 29 hours of transit (3 flights, 3hours bus ride, 20minutes boat trip), we finally arrived from Johannesburg (SA) in Derawan. There was no time to worry about resting or getting over jetlag it was time for diving. We had some amazing dives and think highlights would be the barracuda dive at Maratua channel and of course Kakaban snorkeling with the jellyfish.Unfortunately just one manta at the surface before our dive at Sangalaki. Thanks to Jimmy, Simon, Herdin & Asman for the diving. The rooms were awesome and it was great to experience such a small lodge right on the beach. Food wise I think it should perhaps cater a bit more for western cuisine but as I think it is so remote and not probably visited by a lot of European and African countries, we are not use to very spicy food. The walk in the village was an experience with some nice local pancakes at one of the vendors. Some shopping therapy before flying to Manado ended our 4/5 day trip to Derawan. Would presume we were the first South Africans on this part of East Kalimantan???

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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2  Thank TwobarScuba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 March 2013

Me and my husband stayed for a week at DDL. It took us about 12 hours to go there from Jakarta but it was worth it. The room was nice and clean, the food was delicious, the staff were extremely friendly and helpful. Will definitely recommend this place to our friends.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Chemonita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Derawan Dive Lodge

Address: RT 3 Kepulauan Derawan | Tanjung Batu, Berau 12345, Indonesia
Region: Indonesia > Kalimantan > East Kalimantan > Berau
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 12 Speciality Lodging in Berau
Price Range: £53 - £68 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A unique dive destination for big fish, stingless jellyfish lake, Mantas, turtles and muck diving. Enjoy an adventure of a lifetime with Tasik Divers and stay with Derawan Dive Lodge. 10 room property with a good standard management. We offers PADI/NAUI and NITROX ... more   less 

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