The classic tropical islands of the Derawan Archipelago are where you go to trade jungle trekking and orang-utans for beachcombing and manta rays. Of the 31 named islands found here, the most accessible to visitors are the teensy weekend getaway of Derawan and the peaceful paradise of the Maratua atoll, while the uninhabited Sangalaki and Kakaban islands are on every diving itinerary.
The scuba diving and snorkelling here rank among the best in Indonesia, offering an assortment of reef and pelagic species, including barracuda, sharks, mantas and turtles. Travel to and between the islands can be expensive, so plan your trip carefully and find friends with whom to share costs. There's a feeling of remoteness too, with no wi-fi or ATMs on the islands. Seas are rough in January and February, limiting diving and increasing travel risks.