Crocodile fish. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Crocodile fish. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

Derawan under the water

# Borneo # Indonesia

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

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.

I have to just watch the turtles from the dock ... Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.
I have to just watch the turtles from the dock ... Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.

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.

Houses on stilts in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Houses on stilts in Derawan. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

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...

Flat worm. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Flat worm. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Crocodile fish. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Crocodile fish. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Nudibranch. Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.
Nudibranch. Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.
Cuttlefish. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Cuttlefish. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Shrimp. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Shrimp. Derawan Island (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

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.

Just hang a banana leaf under the pontoon to attract turtles! (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).
Just hang a banana leaf under the pontoon to attract the turtles! (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009).

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.

The children of Derawan play in the water near the pontoons. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
The children of Derawan play in the water near the pontoons. (Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)

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...

Selfie underwater with my Legend Expander. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Selfie underwater with my Legend Expander. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)

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.

Nudibranch. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Nudibranch. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Nudibranch. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Nudibranch. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Nudibranch. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Nudibranch. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)

Diving and safety in Derawan

Moral: Derawan is a great place to blow bubbles, but it's better to have your own stuff. After this kind of incident, which could have ended very badly, I know why I bother. with the little extra pounds of my darling Legend.

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.

Dive equipment on the pontoon of losmen Danakan. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)
Dive equipment on the pontoon of losmen Danakan. (Derawan, Borneo, Indonesia, July 2009.)

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 :

→ Trip Borneo [Malaysia+Indonesia] : July 2009


Update: return to Derawan in 2013

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:

→ Travel Indonesia and Malaysia: Borneo - July 2013

  Borneo [Malaysia and Indonesia] - July 2009

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Hi Corinne,

    you make really nice underwater pictures, a real pleasure for my eyes... When will be your next visit in Thailand ? Good day 🙂

  2. 🙄 mmm... I feel like I would like that!
    I love your nude pictures ... and the crocodile is beautiful, beautiful angle of view!

  3. But how not to adore nudibranchs ??? In any case, it works, I am always delighted and fascinated to see these little creatures with incredible colors.
    Thank you 😀

  4. So cool your nudibranchs pictures 🙂
    I became quite a fan and it decided to equip me with a small Nikon L20 to try to flash the nudity during my next dives in the Red Sea in early November.
    Do you have some basic tips for this type of photos?
    Thank you in advance and above all continues to amaze us.

  5. Hello Corinne!

    I'm always stunned by what you can do with an A95 gun? You confirm me that it is always this camera that you use?

    Your photo of the crocodile fish is superb! Not to mention nude photos.

    Thank you for this story "rescue divers". It may seem odd, but since I did my Rescue, I hope that a situation like this will happen to me just to see how I will react. With all these lay-en-situation that I can not wait to put my knowledge into practice! But since it is flat calm ... No cramps under water, no people "narcotics" to calm, no "unconscious diver at the surface" that I could tow ... NOTHING! At the mall the other day, I saw an old lady who seemed to be breathing badly ... I'm going from my best: "I'm a first responder, may I help you ??? False alert, everything was fine! She was a little out of breath but that's it! I want people in trouble and nothing happens.

    I say congratulations, you seem to have reacted like a champion! It's very good that the diver wanted to come down again right away! Did you know what the problem was with his regulator? O-ring problem?

    Let's go with your articles ... I love it!


  6. Thank you for all these beautiful colorful photos, it's like, and better because I'm sitting in the open air, without any worries regulator! Biz!

  7. @PhilippeB: Thank you!!! I do not know when I will come back to Thailand, where I went very often. I think to devote my next trips to explore the Philippines and Indonesia, to discover new diving spots ...

    @Manta: Oh yes! I think you would like. For crocodile fish, I start to know how to highlight them. I now know what is the angle that makes the best, and when I find one that is ideally positioned for this kind of photo a little against-dive, I give myself to my heart. I am particularly pleased with it, with the piers of the pontoon in the blue in the background. Delighted that you like it too!

    @Malene: Ah, me the same, the nudists, I would never get tired!

    @ Jean-Luc: Delighted that the nudis have conquered you too !!! You'll see, the picture under water, when we start, we take a liking and we can not stop. I give some basic tips on this page:
    »Underwater photo

    @Will: Yes, I confirm: it's always with my child Canon Powershot A95 I flash under the water (and I confess that I'm dreaming now to move on, but I'll have to wait to put a few pennies aside).
    : Mrgreen:
    As for this incident underwater, I think I would have preferred that nothing happens, unlike you! (I laughed with your story of old lady breathless ...) But hey, everything went well, I managed well, and my partner too (a N3 who knows all too well the emergency procedures in diving, so that helps). What surprised me most, in fact, was that I felt no fear. I think it's the benefit of training beforehand. I was cold and lucid, I knew what to do, and I did it, that's all ... as if the brain was triggering the procedure.
    As for the regulator, I do not really know what the problem was. My partner was sucking water instead of air, which suffocated him, and so he did not even try to take his relief and ran directly on mine . He did well, I think. The dive-master inspected the regulator afterwards, without being able to tell us what was wrong. I do not know much, but a regulator invaded fleet and no longer delivers air, it's suspicious, it suggests that the first floor has a problem ...
    Otherwise, for the articles, do not worry, I continue, of course. I have a lot of fun keeping this blog. And even more when I receive enthusiastic comments like yours! Thank you!!!

    @ Helen: Yes, I know you enjoy being able to admire all these charming critters without having to put your head under water, comfortably installed in front of your computer!

  8. They are very beautiful photos, also seen the small device that you use! For Dummies in macro like me, you could not also display the EXIF data. Maybe I'll learn something ...

  9. great photos I love !!
    for the equipment I agree with you to have his well revised that limits the risks, we are there in vacations so much to benefit from it at most not 😉

  10. @Max: Thank you!!!! 🙂
    I'm not sure that the Exif data would bring you much. When I'm under water and I trigger, I do not have accurate data in my little head, especially as conditions change all the time during a dive. Simply, with the usual, I "see" quickly what speed and torque to use and the dose of flash to send. If this is not satisfactory, I reshoot by readjusting the parameters. In general, on my little camera, for the integrated flash macro, a nudi for example, I attack on f / 8 so that everything is clean (horns to the nudi's forelock) and I test first to 1 / 500th, by dosing the flash or not at -1/3 or -2/3 depending on the color of the thing to photograph, the light environment or not, etc. I take my time for the focus, because the autofocus is far from perfect, and especially especially, I think the angle of view.
    Some basic tips for the photo sub here:
    Finally, it would be tedious to indicate the Exif data for each photo on this blog (even if the export function of my photo software should allow that). As I want them to weigh as little as possible for the web display, I do not include any additional data in the image file.

    @Laurence: Exactly, it would be high time that he goes into revision, my Legend ... Security first!

  11. Hello,
    thank you for what you make us discover, I discovered diving at an advanced age! ... life your dreams, bravo for the rescue

  12. @Anne Marie: Thank you for that little word! The good thing about "recreational" or "recreational" diving is that it can be practiced at any age. Good bubbles!

  13. "It's five, Paris wakes up! ". I send you an e-mail; it will allow you to expand a little your article!

    The swimmer who was caught by the current ... it's me ^^
    The guy who had a leak on the second floor of his regulator... that's me too ^^ By the way, at the end of the nudi video, you'll be able to see that the picture gets a little crazy. That was my first sip... 😀

    I do not wish anyone, sea water, it really bad taste! 8)

  14. @Guilhem: You're out of the shadows ... Fortunately, all is well who finished well! I saw the video, indeed, we see the camera dive to the nudi ...