Bucket List: Top 12 Best Things to See and Do in Kalimantan, Indonesia
Probably one of the most interesting and beautiful places to visit in Indonesia is none other than the island called the Indonesian Kalimantan. This actually belongs to the huge island of Borneo which is divided between the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei. About three-fourths of the southern part of the island is politically part of Indonesia and is divided into five provinces, Tengah (Central), Timur (East), Utara (North), Selatan (South), and Barat (West). Pretty big, right? That’s because the island is actually the third-largest in the world so expect to witness a lot of nature’s best wonders like majestic mountains, sparkling rivers, and lush jungles during your visit here!
So if your goal is to become closer to nature and enjoy its wondrous attractions firsthand, then coming to Kalimantan is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make! Are you ready? Join me as we both explore and discover the 14 Best Places to Visit in Kalimantan, Indonesia!
The first one on the list and probably the most popular is Derawan Island, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site that you definitely shouldn’t miss during your visit. This famous attraction lies directly off the coast of the main island of Kalimantan so I’m sure you wouldn’t have problems reaching it. With the island’s white-sand beaches, turquoise blue waters, and abundant aquatic and marine life, it’s no surprise why it is considered a world-class scuba diving and snorkeling site!
Prepare to meet beautiful sea creatures like the Blue Ring Octopus, Manta Rays, Dugongs, and many more. There’s also an iconic attraction on the island called the Blue Trigger Wall, a huge underwater rock standing at about 18 meters. Well, make sure to take a picture with it soon!
The White Mountain
The White Mountain, as the name itself suggests, is a popular tourist spot in Kalimantan known for the beautiful, majestic, and white appearance of the mountain. This lime mountain is also an important icon for Indonesian culture because of the Tanjung Palas.
The unparalleled and scenic beauty of the mountain in itself is already captivating but you can also choose to enjoy some exciting activities like rock climbing, trekking, and even cave hunting!
Next on our list is the breathtaking Kakaban Island which is actually a part of the Derawan Islands. Aside from being known for its crystalline waters and lush jungles, Kakaban is actually famous for the Kakaban Lake where rare and beautiful species of jellyfish live! Don’t worry because these are very harmless. The so-called lake jellies evolved to have no natural predators, so they don’t need to use their venom anymore to survive. So make sure to try swimming with them!
The next one is yet another beautiful island we shouldn’t miss! Maratua Island is known for having crystalline turquoise waters, creamy white sands, and two (2) enchanting lakes that are absolutely breathtaking. The Tanah Bamban Lake and Hajj Buang Lake.
But aside from these attractions, Maratua Island is also the perfect place to enjoy exciting watersport activities like snorkeling, jet skiing, and even sightseeing on a boat!
Danau Sentarum National Park
Ah, if you want to experience both the cultural and natural attractions of Kalimantan, then visiting Danau Sentarum National Park would be the best choice! This huge area of wetlands covers 132,000 hectares of land and is definitely full of countless natural wonders from flora and fauna, and interesting wildlife like crocodiles, monkeys, and orangutans.
It is also the perfect place to interact with the indigenous tribes who have been living here for several centuries!
If you’re craving a unique experience around South Kalimantan, then exploring the beautiful city of Banjarmasin is what you should do. There are tons of memorable experiences waiting for you here like shopping at floating markets, visiting Mascots Park, and enjoying the scenic view brought by the Martapura River Siring Park! These and many more exciting things await here at Banjarmasin so be sure to drop by during your trip.
The Mahakam River is one of the longest rivers in the entire country of Indonesia and it also plays a major role in Kalimantan’s economic success. This is mainly because the river serves as the major transportation route to travel around the island! And aside from being surrounded by beautiful rainforests which you can witness during a river cruise, meeting one of the most unique aquatic creatures in the world will surely be the highlight of your trip!
Pesut or the friendly species of freshwater dolphins live in this river, and joining the river cruise would be the perfect opportunity to meet and have a picture with them!
Kutai National Park
Another great ecotourism adventure awaits you here at the Kutai National Park, a huge ironwood forest covering an area of 198,000 hectares! If you’re a fan of trekking and hiking, then visiting this pristine rainforest will surely give you a memorable experience. Feel free to enjoy the fresh air, abundant flora and fauna, and most importantly get ready to meet some amazing wildlife animals like sun bears, deer, and especially orangutans!
Sesayap River Protected Forest
The Sesayap River Protected Forest is yet another great destination to enjoy ecotourism in Kalimantan. This large swamp forest serves as a shelter for different types of animals like monkeys, birds, and crocodiles. It’s also a popular destination for everyone who loves camping, hiking, and trekking!
Sembuku Sembayong National Park
The Sembuku Sembayong National Park, on the other hand, is a stunning natural rainforest covering a gigantic area of 400,000 hectares! In fact, the area is so big that it covers six major areas of various land like hills, mangrove swamps, forests, and more. That’s a lot of trees, huh? But what really makes Sembuku Sembayong National Park extra special is the fact that this is the only place in Kalimantan where you’ll be able to find and meet elephants!
If you’re fond of living in both worlds of city life and island life, then visiting Balikpapan is something you definitely shouldn’t miss. It is considered the financial capital of the entire Kalimantan Island, so expect to see huge establishments like malls, hotels, and major restaurants while enjoying white-sand beaches and exciting watersport activities right in front of you.
Indeed, living in this seaport city of Balikpapan is like having the time of your life in other famous cities in the world like Hawaii and Miami!
Labuan Cermin Lake
And there it is! My personal favorite on this list is no other than the Labuan Cermin Lake which is known for its enchanting crystalline turquoise waters. The water here is so clear and calm that you can actually feel you’re inside a large aquarium. Swimming and diving in this lake, or should I say, lagoon, is really magical and definitely Instagram-worthy.
And visiting this breathtaking natural gem is actually the reason why tourists from different parts of the world visit Kalimantan, so I suggest that you give it a try!
Aside from sparkling islands, magical lagoons, and stunning beaches, there’s also a unique natural attraction in Kalimantan that surprises a lot of people. The Rimpi Hills, better known as “The Teletubbies Hills” is absolutely something worth seeing. The picturesque view of the green rolling hills and the mesmerizing skyline will you a feeling of admiration you’ll never forget.
Sinka Island Park
Finally, if you want to enjoy a full island and beach experience in Kalimantan, visiting the famous Sinka Island Park of West Kalimantan is best. Offering tons of exciting watersport activities, classy accommodation, and the beautiful Sinka Zoo experience, dropping by this destination is the perfect way to end our memorable trip to Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Oh, and don’t forget to take a picture with the iconic eagle statue of the park!
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