HOW TO GET TO MARATUA
The best way to get to Maratua is to fly into Balikpapan and then Berau. We will transfer you from Berau. If you are in Sabah, you can fly or take the ferry to Tarakan. From Tarakan, you take the 1 hour ferry to Tanjung Selor and we will transfer you from there.
FLYING TO EAST KALIMANTAN FROM OUTSIDE OF BORNEO
Fly to one of these gateway cities: Jakarta, Denpasar, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. From the gateway city fly onward to Balikpapan and then to Berau. Jakarta tends to be the best gateway city for price and multiple options of flights. If you can take Garuda Airlines, this is the best choice, as they have the most flights and if you’re late, they can easily get you on another flight. Also, if you are a diver, they allow 20 kg of additional dive luggage. The early morning Garuda flight Jakarta/ Balikpapan/ Berau that arrives to Berau at 10:05 AM is the best flight for a same day transfer to Maratua. The best flight from Berau is the one leaving at 15:40.
ONCE YOU ARRIVE TO BERAU (TANJUNG REDAB AIRPORT)
In order to make it to Maratua the same day, you must arrive to Berau by 2:00 PM at the very latest. If your flight arrives any later than 2:00 PM, we recommend spending the night in Berau and getting an early start the next day. The reason for this is the taxi to the jetty takes a minimum of 2.5 hours and the boat trip to Maratua takes at least 1.5 hours. Please note that these time estimates are based on perfect road and sea conditions. It’s always better to allow some buffer room. If your flight arrives at 2:15, we recommend spending the night in Berau. The best hotel in Berau is Palmy Hotel and they offer free airport transfers, which are usually 80,000 IDR.
The sun sets at 6:00 PM and the boatmen do not travel in the dark. Also, the sea is generally calmer in the early morning so spending the night in Berau and getting a morning start is often a good idea. We will pick you up at your hotel at 10:00 AM. We often have other guests arriving with the Garuda flight to Berau at 10:05, so we can then transfer you with a larger boat.
HOTELS IN BERAU
There are lots of hotels in different price ranges in Berau, so there’s no need to book ahead. However, if you do want to book a hotel in advance and book your transfer with us, many of our guests stay at Rumah Kedaung Guest House, Parama Hotel, Hotel Millennium, and Palmy Hotel (my favorite!). If you do overnight in Berau, We recommend checking out the warungs that open up on the evening along the water. It’s wonderful to hang out on that waterfront and enjoy the local delicacies like pisang cheese and avocado & chocolate shakes.
TRANSFERS TO MARATUA FROM BERAU
We will pick you up at Berau Airport or at your hotel in Berau at 10:00 AM the next morning. The cost for a one way transfer is $75 per person (minimum 2 people.) If we have other guests who are taking the boat on the same day, we will use our larger, more comfortable boat for your transfer. This is to your advantage as you may transfer on our larger boat for no additional charge. Our transfer rates are the average rate that you would negotiate on your own for a charter, but there is no funny business with our transfer. Our driver will wait for your flight if it is late, our taxis are premium taxis and will not take on additional passengers, our boatman is experienced and safe and our boats all have quality life jackets on board. Your transfer is door to door and headache free.
Many people ask about a public ferry to Maratua. There are not regularly scheduled public ferries traveling between Berau and Maratua, so there is no guarantee that you would find a same day transfer to Maratua. However, there is a boatman who travels between Maratua and Berau when he has a full boat of passengers. He docks along the river in Berau. Mostly, the locals take this boat and for the cheaper rate are willing to wait until the boat is full. The rate is negotiable and usually under 500,000 IDR. We do not recommend this as an option, because you are not guaranteed to get a same day transfer. However, we like to just clear up any misconceptions, as you might read about a public boat online and wonder about this.
IF YOU ARE ALREADY IN SABAH (NEW RULE – VISA ON ARRIVAL IN TARAKAN!)
Please note, we caution you about travel in Sabah. Unfortunately, the Malaysian government and military can not guarantee the safety of tourists in Sabah, particularly near the coast. There have been kidnappings of both locals and tourists throughout Sabah and this has been ongoing for 10 years. It’s just in the past year, that it’s become particularly problematic. The trouble is with the terrorists based out of the Philippines and with Sabah being so close, they have become quite brazen. Thankfully, we not have these problems in Kalimantan on our coasts or on our islands. This is likely due to the fact that Indonesia is a military government and because Kalimantan is further away from the Philippines. On Maratua, we have never had a single incident and this is probably due to our remoteness and the fact that we have a police force, navy presence and army command on Maratua Island in the village, just 2 km from our guesthouse. We want you to be informed and encourage you to read more online about this issue. Many guests like to travel to Sabah for the jungle and orangutans and proboscis monkeys. Actually, there are more river trips, orangutans and proboscis monkeys in Kalimantan, where the jungle is still raw and relatively untouched. Malaysia Tourism is quite good at promoting Sabah, while Indonesia Tourism doesn’t promote Kalimantan at all. Ask me for recommendations if you’d like to do jungle trips in Kalimantan.
If you do travel from Sabah it is a lot smoother since the new visa on arrival in Tarakan policy. This means that you will get 1 month on arrival to Tarakan. No need to apply in advance at the Indonesian Consulate, unless you want a 2 month visa. The only way to travel to East Kalimantan from Sabah is from Tawau in southern Sabah. From Tawau, you have the choice of ferry or flight. We recommend flying as this will save you time and the cost is usually not that high. MAS Wings flies from Tawau to Tarakan.
If you would like to come by ferry, you can take the ferry from Tawau to Tarakan which leaves around 12:00 PM and takes 3.5 hours. You will then need to overnight in Tarakan and take a 1 hour ferry to Tanjung Selor the next morning. Ferries start running at 7:00 AM. We will transfer you from Tanjung Selor. The taxi ride to the jetty in Tanjung Batu is 4 hours and the boat to Maratua is 1.5 hours. Please take the first ferry out of Tarakan at 7:00 AM and we’ll meet you in Tanjung Selor at 8:00 AM. The cost for a one way transfer is $90 per person (minimum 2 people.) If returning to Sabah, you will need to overnight in Tarakan to catch the flight or ferry out of Tarakan.
You may read on the internet that you can charter a boat from Tarakan. This isn’t as easy as it sounds on the internet. Boats from Tarakan are expensive because you have to charter the whole boat. There is no regular service between Tarakan and Maratua. There are often problems with pirates around the open sea on this route, so few boatmen want to make this trip. The trip is about 4 hours via speed boat if you are able to charter a boat. Please note that we are unable to make arrangements for boat travel back to Tarakan from Maratua.