Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Multicolored dive on Kakaban reef

  Borneo: Indonesia + Malaysia - July 2013

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

I love the bright colors of coral on a blue underwater background. Small immersion, in pictures, on the splendid reef of the island of Kakaban, in Indonesia, near Borneo.

The girl who takes pictures underwater

Some girls, when they go on vacation, fill their suitcase with clothes. Me, it's my diving equipment and my equipment photo-underwater that take up all the space in my bags.

All this to photograph fish and coral! Yep... 😉

Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.
Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

The pictures you see here were taken in July 2013, near Borneo, Indonesia, during several dives around the small island of Kakaban (see the presentation of this trip at the end of this link : Diving in the blue of Borneo). The beauty of the seabed fascinates me a little more each dive ...

Underwater, then in front of my screen, I am ecstatic about the bright colors of the coral - red, pink, yellow, orange - magnified by the flash.

Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

I am happy when I succeeded in capturing a ray of light piercing the surface, in illuminating the delicate interlacing of a giant gorgonian, in freezing the irresistible movement of a school of barracudas...

Light effects

Kakaban, which I presented you the amazing jellyfish lake, in the previous post, is really worth the detour.

At midday, the sun falls on the top of the reef, providing a spectacular play of light along the wall.

Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Coral table in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Magnificent !

Along the "wall" of Kakaban, there are giant gorgonians everywhere, huge barrel sponges...

The coral is beautiful and my dive buddies gradually accept the life of the underwater model.

Barrel sponge in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

But what they prefer is to pose near the gorgonians... 😆

Barracuda Point

And then Kakaban has a Barracuda Point, which rarely disappoints. The barracudas are almost always at the rendezvous ...

Barracuda Point. Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

I did not do any macro photography in Kakaban, and I sometimes regretted to have only my fisheye camera with me. There is also a lot of fun to be had, with the usual small tropical fauna: clownfish, morays, scorpion-fish, flying scorpion-fish, butterfly-fish, anthias, exotic shrimps and mini crabs...

Clown fish. Diving in Kakaban, Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Kakaban also reserves some surprises that make our heart beat a little faster: twice, we saw eagle rays... From a little too far, unfortunately, no way to take pictures.

As for sharks and turtles, they are less abundant than in Sipadan (Malaysian side of Borneo, which I will talk about later), but they are regularly encountered.

At the end of each dive, when we go back to the light and the coral garden, it is an explosion of life and colors...

Diving in Kakaban. Borneo, Indonesia. July 2013.

Kakaban has become my favorite spot for underwater photography in the Derawan Archipelago.


  Borneo: Indonesia + Malaysia - July 2013

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    1. @Amandine: Thank you so much! I had a lot of fun, with the light and the colors of the coral... But not all the sites are like that in the Derawan archipelago, alas. Only the Kakaban drop-off really excited me.

  1. It's a pleasure for our whole family to share these unique moments with you. The kids (13 & 15, 45 dives in indo and ds the area) always look forward to the next post. Thank you so much 😉

    1. @Thierry: Thanks for taking the time to leave a little note, it's really nice!!! It touches me to know that the next post is eagerly awaited... I'll try to take advantage of the weekend to put a new one online!

  2. You're so right, and then how would you get your beautiful dresses on underwater? 😉
    Thanks again for these articles, each one more beautiful than the last. The baracudas gave me the impression of dozens of little planes in the air!

    Question: Have you ever been "attacked" by a jellyfish while diving?

    1. @ Haydée: No, I've never been "attacked" by anything underwater while diving... except clownfish or the occasional titan triggerfish.
      -> https://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/le-monde-de-nemo-20081130/
      -> https://petitesbullesdailleurs.fr/gare-au-baliste-20090106/

      For things that sting underwater (for example, there's often stinging plankton suspended in tropical seas, so you can sometimes get nasty surprises just by swimming), I wear a long wetsuit to avoid any nasty surprises.

      As far as jellyfish are concerned, they never "attack" anyone... You just have to watch out for the sometimes very long filaments that can brush against you underwater. Sometimes these filaments break off and float between two waters, stinging you (even though there are no jellyfish around).

      This once happened to a dive-master I was diving with, who, poor fellow, was allergic to these stinging filaments. Fortunately, the surface of his body was protected by his long suit, but a filament grazed his neck and cheek... He came out of the water with spectacular red patches that were very itchy and swollen. He came out of the water with spectacularly itchy and swollen red patches. We applied the appropriate cream to soothe it all, and he looked great on the boat, all smeared with white cream on his neck and cheeks...

  3. As someone who doesn't dive but is content with snorkeling, you're going to convince me that I'm very wrong, Corinne! Well, hats off to you. I prefer 8 and 25. The 8 for its very strange atmosphere and the 25 for this incredible play of transparency. I'm often rather disappointed by diving photos, which are obviously a very delicate art to master.
    Your first comment made me laugh, because I said that to myself once when I saw a girl traveling side by side with a suitcase heavier than her and another with diving gear. For the former, diving is dead, she'll never be able to do it!

    1. @Laurent: Yes, diving offers other sensations than snorkeling, and lets you admire coral reefs from a different, much more spectacular angle. If you ever decide to try it, don't forget to ask for a flashlight, which will illuminate the corals and reveal their true colors - it's spectacular.

      Thank you for the compliments on my photos, they mean a lot to me, because I feel I've made progress since I started out, and I'm happy with what I'm starting to achieve... Underwater photography is fascinating. Even more than on land, you have to learn to master light (artificial and natural), and that's fascinating!

      As for my luggage, yes, it's been a long time since I travelled in "light" or "backpacker" mode... But who cares, I think it's worth lugging all that bulky gear around, given the pleasure I get from scuba diving and underwater photography.


    2. And what about the diving equipment you can hire on site? Not so good? I guess it's like in many sports, you're happy with it at first, but once you've reached a certain level, you prefer to use the equipment you're familiar with.

    3. @Laurent: the quality of rental equipment can vary from one center to another... But, as with any activity, after a while you prefer to have your own gear. Underwater, I like to have my own mask, adapted to my face, a regulator that gives the right amount of air, fins that fit me, a wetsuit that nobody has peed in, etc. etc.

  4. whaooo !! What an explosion of color! I have a weakness for the gorgonians: I find them majestic! Well, the schools of barracudas too, and... well, everything else ! Normal for a diver! 😆

  5. The colors are truly magnificent. I can't wait to do some photos and videos here around Reunion Island too... it must be worth the detour too, I imagine.

    1. @Chris: Three dives? So you're at the very beginning of your discovery of the underwater world... 😉 I have over 500 dives behind me, mainly in Asia. Inevitably, this has enabled me to discover many wonders underwater...

  6. magnificent photos, as usual, which console me for not having dived all season (pierced eardrum then a hellish stroke a few days before my departure for a week's diving on the Chausey archipelago) 😡 !!!!
    I'm content to accompany my little friends on the boat and it's a bit frustrating!
    continues to make us dream 🙂

    1. @Laurence: Pierced eardrum??? 😯 Oh dear, I hope I never experience that... Well, obviously, Chausey isn't the same kind of dive as Borneo. Get well soon, Laurence, I hope you'll be able to go back to blowing bubbles in the Channel or elsewhere very soon !!!!

  7. Hello,
    your photos are beautiful, bravo!
    With our noses in the air, sailing through the starry sky, we lose ourselves dreaming of other universes,
    other lives so different... that we forget we only have to bend down and get a little wet to touch them.

    You are working brilliantly to repair this error, but it remains for me a pleasure at a distance,
    always a little impossible. In my country it would be rather the bath of crowd.

    Too jealous so :) Big thank you for sharing.


  8. Hello Corinne, I'm coming back to thank you for all the precious advice you gave us before we left for Raja Ampat. 3 weeks of pure happiness! It really is a heavenly destination: 2 weeks cruising with Wallacea cruise, then a week at Papua Paradise on Biri Island. I put some pictures on my flickr site, I had a blast taking pictures, what a richness!
    images on: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yvonleblond/sets
    I don't know where we'll be going this year...but it might be around here...

    1. @ Yves: how happy I am with this good news!!!! Delighted that Raja Ampat made as much of an impression on you as it did on me. A thousand thanks for the link to the photos, always a pleasure to see these landscapes again... And, yes, what a wealth!!!! I want to go back too. There's so much to see (and see again).

  9. These are pictures that make salivate .... Kakaban, what club were you with? I'm just starting our research. See you soon - Isa and Marco

    1. @IsaM: Sorry I didn't reply sooner... I can't keep up with the flow of messages! During this July 2013 stay in Derawan, I opted for Tasik Divers' Derawan Dive Lodge :

      I have mixed feelings. Good for the diving (great guides) and the boats, well suited to diving, with good engines for reaching remote sites. But in terms of accommodation and food, I found it very expensive compared with the rates charged by the surrounding guesthouses and restaurants. But it's also partly my fault, I made a rookie mistake: I hadn't made it clear in my e-mail exchanges whether meals were included in the price... And as they weren't, I ended up paying full price (compared to local rates) for very ordinary food... Nothing serious, but it's still a bit unpleasant. As for the comfort of the room, it was decent, but nothing fabulous either (I was expecting better, given the rates).

      Otherwise, the atmosphere and the staff were quite nice. However, I had the misfortune to be in the room closest to where the staff were staying, and so I was treated to music and conversation late into the night... Some of them would even sit on my terrace, with a bit of awkwardness. No matter how much I told them that I wanted to sleep and make less noise, they would apologize very kindly, but it was a bit tiresome to have to tell them again every evening... I was also there at a time of transition for the management, it seems, hence a certain "slackening"... Perhaps things have improved since then?

      In short, I'd recommend staying elsewhere (there's plenty to choose from on the island) and using them only for diving...

  10. Hello Corinne, thank you again for your beautiful reports with your valuable advice.
    After Komodo in early May, I'm still your tracks, this time Sipadan and mabul 4days early July with Billabong. 2 days in Sipadan.

    For the descent to Derawan I chose an aerial option, see below, not necessarily more expensive, and requiring less than a day, with a connection to Tarakan. For Derawan I'm only staying 2 days and if I've understood correctly it's mainly Kakaban that's worth a visit for its drop-off, and the.lake, the Sangalaki mangas having unfortunately paid the price for illegal fishing... and Maratua having suffered from.dynamite.fishing... I hope it hasn't got even worse since 2013...

    After Sipadan and Mabul, rather than having to take the midday ferry at around 300,000Rp from Tawau (1h drive from Sempurna) to Sabah and arrive 4h later in the late afternoon in Tarakan and be obliged to sleep there, to spend the 2nd day in sea+road+sea transport or try my luck by joining a speedboat to Derawan (3-4h) between 2 and 4 million (prices depending on the sites I look at), I chose a much faster and not necessarily expensive option, at least at a fixed price, in the same day:
    -Tawau-Tarakan with Malaysia Airlines. 10h30-11h10. 490000Rp
    -Tarakan-Berau with Kalstar. 13h45-14h10. 540000Rp (instead of 7h mini by the road or 3-4h in speedboat, which in the end can be more expensive if poorly filled)