Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Maratua Paradise Resort was only live in my head back in 2009 when I visited Derawan Islands. My friends and I couldn’t afford going to Maratua because we heard it was expensive to get there, let alone staying at the resort. So I was psyched when I knew that the #Terios7Wonder trip was going to end at Maratua Island. Yeay, finally!
We arrived at Maratua Paradise Resort on an afternoon and some of us couldn’t wait to get in that blue and turquoise water. After quite a long process of checking in, Sefin my roomate and I quickly changed into our bathing suits and grabbed our masks and snorkels.
Pic by Wira Nurmansyah. Looks like I’m playing dead.
We plunged by the jetty in front of our water chalet, to find mostly white sand beneath the clear water. Swimming about 15 minutes, I couldn’t say it was remarkable down there, except when I saw a stingray about 20 meters in front of me. Even then, I quickly swam away from it because it reminded me of Steve Irwin’s cause of death. Other than the stingray, I saw some familiar fishes like batfish and angelfish.
Later the guys joined us for some snorkeling – can you believe they had to be talked into it? Sefin and I just couldn’t understand how you’re all the way to Maratua, a place known as paradisal in the middle of the ocean, and not dipping in the water at all, so we were keen to make them all plunge and lend our goggles. The more the merrier! After plunging in, some of them got curious and swam further under the resort’s terrace, and saw quite a few lionfish hiding there!
Pic by Rhynol Sarmond
Turtles are also abundant around Maratua Paradise Resort, but they prefer the quieter area. I had to swim much further to the other side just to snorkel close to the turtles. Unlike the ones around Derawan Island that seemed to be more familiar with human, these turtles around Maratua tend to swim away as soon as the presence of human is detected. If you’re happy just seeing them from above, don’t worry, they’re so easy to spot. And if you’re staying at the Water Villa rooms, you could even watch them pass by while sipping tea anytime of day at your balcony.
I signed up for a dive before the trip started. Because it was a part of the arranged trip as the competition prize, I didn’t really have a say on where I’d dive. I assumed any dive spot at Maratua would be a gorgeous one. Little did I know, we were taken to a spot super near to the resort called Gosong Pal, only about 10 minutes boat ride away. Some house reef could be gorgeous, but not this one.
We dived as deep as 20 meters, like I did in Bunaken, but the reef here was far from colorful. I couldn’t focus much on the biota ‘cos I had to concentrate on my buoyancy – turns out I’m a 5 kg weight belt, not 4 – and my dive buddies were all a mess too, you don’t want to know the details.
It was not a good diving experience for me. Aside from the amateurish diving skills, it also didn’t offer a good underwater view. So if you’re diving at Maratua, make sure you’re not diving at Gosong Pal.
Maratua Paradise Resort consisted of rooms above water and beach bungalows, with a couple of types. Sefin and I were assigned to one of the Water Chalets, which was a strip of rooms behind the dive center, near the dining room. I peeked into a few other rooms, like the Water Villa and Beach Chalet, and it seemed that our room was the smallest.
The Water Chalets have 2-3 single beds, 1 bathroom with shower (yes, with hot water), AC, a hairdryer, and chairs on the terrace. The other types have extra facilities like sofa and bathtub. Electricity is available mainly from 5.30 p.m. until about 6 a.m.
The rooms are cleaned every day, not sure if they changed the sheets or not. There’s no intercom, so it’s pretty tricky when you need to ask something from the staff. You’d need to go to the front desk or wait for one of them to pass by your room.
Inside Water Chalet ~ Me & roommate Sefin
The room rates start from IDR900,000* including 3 meals a day. The food range from Indonesian fried rice (nasi goreng) to spaghetti with shrimp. Sometimes there are Indonesian traditional snacks in the afternoon, and you can make your own coffee or tea anytime of day at the dining room. Once I was super hungry before lunch time, I made myself a toast with the provided bread and jam.
The rates might not cut it for backpackers’ price range. But I think it’s quite worth it, concerning that it is far from mainland and they keep it nice. There are also guesthouses deeper in the island, but I have yet to find the information on that.
*Prices are subject to change according to seasons, so make sure you confirm first.
Transportation to Maratua Island
Two ports of option where you can get a boat to get there: Tanjung Redeb in Berau, or Tarakan that’s now part of the new province of North Kalimantan.
We departed from Tanjung Redeb, and it took about 3 hours to get to Maratua. Upon checking out, we were supposed to go to Berau again and fly from there back to Jakarta. However, our flight was canceled due to forest smoke, so we had to detour via Tarakan.
It also took about 3 hours from Maratua to Tarakan because we were taking a much faster speedboat, hence it was bumpier. From the Tarakan port, the airport was only about ½ hour ride away.
Contact: Arief +6281253868807
*This trip is fully paid by Astra Daihatsu Motor in exchange of blog publication, but the opinions are my own.