Nunukan sounds unfamiliar to most tourists, even to Indonesians. Most Indonesians know Nunukan as a small town on the island with the same name that borders the neighbouring Malaysia. However, you will be amazed by how fascinating this place is and how the small town in East Kalimantan has lots to offer. For divers, Nunukan may not be as popular as Raja Ampat or Gili Trawangan, however, the dive sites there are impressive, surrounded with all kinds of fish and beautiful coral reefs.
If you plan to visit Nunukan, make sure that you get the visa in advance as Nunukan is not included as a visa-on-arrival entry point. You can reach Nunukan by boat operated by government-owned PELNI from several cities in Nusa Tenggara, Bali, Sulawesi, Java and Kalimantan. From Malaysia, you can get there from Tawau, Sabah, Malaysia.
There is a main diving center in Nunukan, called Nabucco’s Nunukan Island Resort. This center offers day-trip tours to some great dive sites at Sangalaki and Kakaban Island. Besides those dive sites, do not forget to visit South Maratua and “Big fish Country” one of the most famous dive sites there. This diving center in Nunukan is equipped with full set of diving equipment such as regulator, BCD, emergency oxygen and so on. This center also offers diving course, ranging from Refresher course (45 Euro, including one dive and theory lesson) to SSI Speciality Course (each 160 Euro, certification included). As mentioned before, there are some half-day trips to Nunukan’s wonderful dive sites such as Sangalaki and Big Fish Country. Halfday trips to Maratua cost 15 Euro, Big Fish Country 20 Euro and if you prefer full day trips, you can choose daytrips to Sangalaki and Kakaban dive spots for 40 Euro. There is additional cost to the house reef.
You can reach the dive spots near the house reef by traditional boat, or Tuk Tuk and it only takes about 1-10 minutes from the center. A modern boat is used for the day trips to guarantee divers’ safety. The house reef is surrounded by a sloping wall (about 40 meters deep) and you will be impressed by what you can see there. Just mention bumphead parrot fish, groupers, eagle rays, leopard sharks as well as nurse sharks. Besides that, other kinds of magnificent undersea creatures are available under the wonderful water of Nunukan, from nudibranchs to seahorses.
The resort is at the southern end of the Maratua atoll, on the outer reef. The bungalows are built carefully into the nature. The price starts from 116 Euro for Single room (half board that includes breakfast with fresh juice, coffee, tea and 5 course dinner) to triple half board that cost you 74 Euro (full board for triple room is 85 Euro). Lunch is included in full board. There are also some arranged packages that include accommodation you can choose.
This diving center in Nunukan really spoils you as divers. However, there are still some attractions you can see while you are there, such as Binusan waterfall, Kayan Mentarang National Park and wonderful Batu Lamampu and Sedadap beaches.