Alulu Bay: undiscovered gem of East Borneo

Borneo the land of the Dayak Tribes and Rainforest with it’s richest wildlife of the world. Kalimantan, Indonesian part of Borneo, is two third of this Island, with a total of 540.000 sq kilometers. The northern part of Borneo is formed by Malaysian Sabah & Sarawak, and the tiny oil rich Sultanate Brunei. The heart of Borneo is made up by mountain ranges up to 2000 meters above sea level. Great Rivers cascade down from the highlands, and are crucial infrastructure channels between the coast and the deep interior.

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Several islands are found along the East Kalimantan coast which make attractive dive destination. Among them are Derawan, Samama , Sangalaki, Maratua, Nabucco and Panjang. Those entire islands can be reached from Tanjung Redeb.

Unlike some of the other Derawan islands which are uninhabited, Maratua has a population of about 3,000 people and is divided into 4 villages, most of which come from the Bajo Tribes.  The local population, many of them Bajo (sea gypsy) people, work in fishing, copra and agriculture; there are macaques and monitor lizards in the forest. One of the few established hiking trails leads to a jellyfish lake similar to that at Kakaban.

In Berau regency, East Kalimantan, lies Alulu Bay, a yet to be discovered gem waiting to be explored.

Part of the Derawan Islands cluster, Alulu Bay is an islet inhabited by 700 people that is home to white sand beaches similar to Derawan and Maratua. Curious visitors can also explore local fishing activities and a coconut oil factory.

Despite its rather remote location, the area provides electricity and cellular signal for visitors, with a solar power generator (PLTS) currently being built, according to The latter is said to be necessary to support the operation of an ice cube factory to help fishermen preserve their catch.

How to get there:

Balikpapan International airport has flights from all over Indonesia as well as Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kota Kinabalu. From here, there are multiple scheduled flights daily to Berau. It’s also possible to connect from Malaysia by flying Tawau-Tarakan-Berau.

To reach the location, visitors can stop at Berau regency, and then take a two-hour speed boat ride to Tanjung Batu. Alternatively you can also take another route by visiting Maratua district by light aircraft from Kalimarau Airport in Berau, and then continue the journey to Alulu Bay with a 30-minute speedboat ride.

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