Tarakan Travel Guide

Tarakan is a small town on the island of the same name up in northeastern East Kalimantan Province. It is known for the WWII Battle of Tarakan and lies 100kms south of Nunukan/Tawau, Indonesian/Malaysian border.

Strangely enough, and although such a distance from the Sabah border, Tarakan is used as a visa-free border-crossing with boats and planes coming and going throughout the day. There is actually not that much to see in the town or on the island despite its positioning on the verdant Kalimantan coast.

Apart from the links with Sabah, the history of Tarakan, namely the WWII battle, is a point of visiting for many tourists. The fighting was between the Allies, chiefly the Australians, against the defending Japanese at the end of WWII. Tarakan was also part of the Netherlands East Indies (NEI).

Those who are interested in diving can head for the Derawan Islands from Tarakan, a four-hour journey aboard a speedboat.

Getting There & Away

Flights land at Juwata Airport from Balikpapan, Samarinda, Tanjung Selor, and Long Bawan from within East Kalimantan, as well as from Tawau in Malaysia. Sepinggan International Airport in Balikpapan is the nearest major airport to Tarakan, a good 600kms south. The 4-hour journey for border crossers to Tawau by ferry goes every day except Sunday.

Things to Do

Tarakan Attractions

Derawan Islands

A beautiful archipelago 150kms to the southeast of tarakan, with excellent snorkeling and diving.