Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation made from a post originally written in French. My apologies for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have been generated during the process. If you are reading French, click on the French flag below to access the original and correct text:
Back to Derawan ... under the surface. The reef of the island, even if it is not the most spectacular of the sites of the corner, deserves some dives. The little creatures that I adore abound.
Muck-dive near the pontoon
I regret, moreover, not to have been able to enjoy the site more, during my stay there in July. Because of this damn stingray stingI had to spend three days in the dry to heal properly... No dives! Rageing.
That said, I would still have managed to cumulate three dives in Derawan itself (in addition to the dives at Sangalaki and Kakaban). Contrary to what one might think looking at the azure sea from the pontoons, the visibility under the water is rather bad around the island, because of the sediments carried by the river basin of Berau, on Borneo. The archipelago is not so far from the mouth.
In diving, we move a few meters from the pontoons of the village. Rather "muck-dive" atmosphere, therefore. Personally, I love it. For the uninitiated, the "Muck-dive" (literally "plunged in the mud", understand: in not clear water at the level of the substrate) it often means... that you can't see much! There is like fog in the water. The interest of diving lies in all the little things that are hidden in the sand, the coral, under the pontoon pillars...
If you're content to just palm down on your eyes, you're bound to be disappointed: you get the impression that there's nothing special to see. But if you move slowly, taking the time to scrutinize the bottom, you discover wonders. Gobies, nudibranchs, shrimps, crocodile-fish, cuttlefish, octopus... I enjoyed tracking down all these little people with my objective...
Watch out for the current!
The dives here delighted me. Especially since we almost certainly cross one or more turtles underwater. They are everywhere and even swim under pontoons, where islanders put banana leaves to attract them.
Caution, however. Depending on the time, the current can become quite strong and surprising ... The tides on these shoals are important and powerful.
Even for those who are satisfied with palm-masque-tuba rides to the area where there is a nice coral garden close to the surface, be careful: during our stay, two very good swimmers of our small group of tourists, at the losmen Danakan, had a hard time to get back to the pontoons.
During my very first dive in Derawan, I was with a couple of Spanish, very great beginners. The current has risen suddenly.
They were trained and our guide Oslan had a good run behind them to catch up, they remained a few moments separated from him, without seeing him anymore, which gave them long minutes of stress. Fortunately, we were at the end of the dive and already in the 5-6 meters zone for a while ...
Emergency lift ...
Close to the island, the bottom is about 20 meters away, which makes exploration rather comfortable. But be careful not to get caught up in the weather: as busy as we are with small animals, we reach the no-decompression limits without even realizing it... It's better to keep an eye on your dive computer! Finally, visibility being what it is, I can't really recommend staying close to your buddy. An incident happens so quickly.
Come on, I tell you ...
During a dive there, my duo of the day, a Frenchman, Guilhem, had a problem with his rental regulator. Fortunately we were close to each other.
Absorbed as I was by a nudibranch I was trying to immortalize, I saw nothing. It wasn't until a sand cloud rose up in front of my camera that I looked up. First I weighed in... see the kind: "But it's not true, he screwed up my picture! »
Because he actually rushed at me to grab my emergency regulator.
He rips it off, puts it in his mouth and waves at me, his eyes wide open behind his mask, which he wants to pull up. 😯
Okay, okay, not so fast. Easy, easy, easy, easy. Look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me. Just breathe. How are you breathing right now? How are you doing? You okay? I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. He's responding okay to my sign. Whew.
Unlike the Spanish, it is a diver of good level. He controls himself quickly and his panic is flowing, now that he has air. I let it suck greedily a few bars.
Then we start the recovery, face to face. I control the climb. I see in his eyes that everything is fine now. He confirms it to me several times by sign. We resurfaced well as it should, at the right speed.
I must admit, in retrospect, that I am very very very happy to have followed these damn lessons of Rescue a few months earlier! And for repeating, dozens of times, this kind of comeback...
We'd only been in the water about eight minutes. We were 50 feet away. Oslan, our guide had disappeared, caught in the underwater "fog." He wasn't far away, though. As we started to climb, we heard him banging on his boulder, I answered him on mine, but we were already a few meters higher, out of sight, he couldn't spot us anymore. So we waited for him on the surface. The boat, moored at the nearby pontoon, took a while to come and get us.
Guilhem explained that he had a problem with his rental regulator that made him swallow water instead of air ... In the panic of the moment, he did not even think about his own regulator rescue (the octopus, hanging on the side) and so rushed on mine under water.
Back at the dock, not discouraged, Guilhem simply changed the regulator. Then we went back to the water, he did not want to stop there.
We then did a very nice dive. I took lots of nice pictures. But here, I guarantee you that we stayed all well together, this time, to admire the nudists.
Finally, even if I enjoyed my dives with the small "center" of the Danakan lozmen, I would have many reservations about its organization. Better to be autonomous and able to take care of yourself while diving, I would not recommend the place to beginners divers who need to be supervised... The boss was not there during my stay. This may explain this.
The other option on the island is the Derawan Dive Resort at the other end of the beach, which seems more serious and better equipped (with boats and equipment in good condition). But during my stay, no "walk-in" possible. They only work with packages, much more expensive (accommodation + diving), to be booked on their site or via tour operators (with the inevitable "single" supplement).
To find all my articles on this 2009 trip to Borneo, click on the link below :
After this stay that goes back to July 2009, I returned to Derawan in July 2013. This time I was diving with a new structure, which had just opened. Derawan Dive Lodge (created by the Tasik Divers Center of Manado).
They have trained guides who are used to driving hoist boats, modern and fast boats, with engines that go well. In short, much better conditions, question of safety, to dive around Derawan, Sangalaki and Kakaban... You can find my articles for this 2013 trip at the end of the link below: