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Dive Review of Borneo Cottages in
Indonesia/Maratua Island, Kalimantan

Borneo Cottages: "Budget diving at Maratua island Kalimantan", Nov, 2019,

by Andrew Falconer , Bunbury, AU (Top Contributor Top Contributor 51 reports with 28 Helpful votes). Report 11246.

Photos Submitted with this Report

Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars

Maratua island is a bit off the radar for most Australian divers, with most visitors being Asians and a few Europeans, although this may change as the Indonesian government is promoting it as a future tourist destination, having recently built an airport and a network of new roads on it.
Currently however, access is mostly by speed boat from Berau on the mainland in East Kalimantan (duration 3 hours), with Berau being served by Wings Air from the cities of Balikpapan and Samarinda.
Accommodation is currently in a few expensive resorts, although more are construction, some cheap home stays, and something in between where I stayed namely Borneo Cottages . Most of the resorts offer diving as does Borneo Cottages

Maratua island is a large atoll, with a U shaped landmass, which together with a circling reef encloses a lagoon, which has several small islands within it and a inlet / outlet channel. The island is covered in thick green tropical vegetation, and also has white sand beaches, brackish inland lakes, caves and several villages. It is part of the Derawan islands group, and is the furthest offshore (about 50km), and has two other islands close by, namely tiny Sangalaka and Samana, which are known for manta rays and a jellyfish lake respectively.
View from my room at Borneo cottages. One of the four Borneo dive boats

Diving was all from boats, and despite being the only guest diving we still went out every day, so it was personalised diving with Amir guiding who was very competent and friendly. For the last few days we were joined by a French lady diver, but still it wasn’t exactly a crowd.
We dived mainly along the reefs along the eastern side of the island which involved short boat rides. Visibility was generally good, the reef either a wall or sloping down, was mostly in good condition, although I did see some smashed coral and snagged fishing lines. The best dives were fusilier (schooling barracuda) and turtle traffic (more turtles than I have ever seen). At times there were currents and thermoclines.
We also dived the channel on the other side of the lagoon, which involved an early start and longer boat ride in order to catch the tide when it changes. This was big fish country with sharks, trevally and a huge school of barracuda. Even at tide change the current was significant and it was not for the faint hearted.
The other longer boat ride was to Sangalaki island which has a manta ray cleaning station offshore. We only saw one manta overhead, and this is one dive where it is probably better to snorkel as they tend to keep very shallow. We saw plenty on the surface from the boat after the dive. This trip also stopped at Samana island on the way back, which has an inland lake with millions of jellyfish, also a snorkelling dive.
Schooling barracuda close up at fusilier Two of the many turtles at turtle traffic
Visibility was pretty good most of the time Dennis pygmy seahorse and skeleton shrimps
Orangutan crab on bubble coral Batfish in formation

I spent nine days on Maratua, doing two dives per day, although it was possible to do three, I chose not to, having more time relaxing and doing other things like painting, reading and exploring the island on a scooter and playing chess with the locals in the village where Borneo Cottages are located. My package included all meals, which were mostly pretty good and tasty. Staff were friendly and helpful.
November is close to the start of the wet season, and we did indeed get a few heavy overnight downpours and some windy conditions, which we worked around by diving later in the day. The overall lack of people suggested “low season”, although on my last day a group of 15 divers from Asia arrived, and more were booked in for later in the month.

The total cost including airfares, transfers, accomodation and 9 days diving ex Perth was approximately $AUD2000
November 2019

Websites Borneo Cottages   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vanuatu, South Africa, Iceland, Scotland, Norway, Cuba, Maldives, Chuuk, Galapagos, Phillipines, Sri Lanka, France, Colombia
Closest Airport Berau Getting There From Balikpapan or Samarinda fly with WingsAir to Berau, then get 9am regular speed boat to the island, about 3 hrs trip

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, dry Seas calm, choppy, currents, no currents
Water Temp 25-28°C / 77-82°F Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 10-30 M / 33-98 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas Squadrons
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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