LABUAN CERMIN: CRYSTAL CLEAR TWO-FLAVOR LAKE
- Sabrina Sarro
Most people may know Labuan Cermin of its iconic floating boat shot. But even as famous as it is, tourists rarely go there since it’s located too far away from Berau, the main city. Labuan Cermin is located in Biduk-biduk, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. Biduk-biduk itself is a 7-8 hour drive from Berau.
Labuan Cermin is one of the most popular attraction in Biduk-biduk. It’s known as the crystal clear “two flavors lake” or “Danau Dua Rasa”. Why two flavors? Because the water has both salt and clear water beneath the lake that aren’t mixed!
Days leading up to this trip, there were a huge change of plans that almost stopped us from visiting this place and Biduk-biduk. Initially, we wanted to spend the total of limited days we had for our Kalimantan trip—4 days and 3 nights to Derawan and Labuan Cermin by open trip. Since it’s low season, the 4 days and 3 nights open trip to Derawan and Labuan Cermin were not available since no one’s joining as well as it has a minimum of 4 person on the trip, unless we still want proceed the tour below the minimum participants, we will be charged with higher cost and that’s not the best option for us.
We were really doubting whether we wanted to go here or not, since normally you can use open trip since this place is not easily accessible and very far and we’re not traveling with a group of friends on this trip, rather just us two. But finally, we think that this is one of the rare moments for us to explore East Kalimantan, so we took the decision to just go for it without overthinking too much!
So when we made our way to Biduk-biduk by renting a car, it’s legit just the two of us girls—well, three of us when including the car rental driver which really gives us local perspective and stories about this area. Yet, despite this condition, it’s proven that this place is still accessible for you to explore!
This is a story from our visit to Labuan Cermin as a part of our half-day trip to Biduk-biduk.
A bit of history time
Back in time, Labuan Cermin was known as Labuan Kelambu, a place for boats sailing from or to Sulawesi Island to stop by. In order to develop its tourism, it now has a bridge to that divides the access of the main lake with the port.
If we sail from the port in Labuan Cermin, we will be directly connected to the Sulawesi lake, or Selat Makassar to be exact. Even you can directly head to Palu, Sulawesi Tengah using a 3 hours speedboat ride.
Entering Labuan Cermin Lake
Once you’re already in Biduk-biduk, you can ride the boat by joining a group that’s already there or renting the boat for around Rp 100,000/boat, and for insurance for Rp 7,000 (all visitors needs to purchase). Labuan Cermin usually opens around 8.00 – 8.30 AM, depending on the availability of the administration staff.
We rode the boat to enter the area that only took around 15 minutes. When we entered the lake’s main area, I just can’t believe my eyes. It’s like going to a sacred location! And yes, the waters are really that clear!
Best Time to Come
– To make the most out of your visit, you need to pay attention to your timing when coming. Normally, it’s gonna be when the sun shines the most, between 10.00 AM – 12.00 PM.
If you’re not lucky enough to see it while the sun shines, the water will turn into tosca-ish color, even though it’s still beautiful the water will not seem as clear as when the sun shines.
– To play it safe, it’s better to not come during rainy season. I visited Labuan Cermin during rainy season, and we go out from Labuan Cermin at 09:30 where it’s expected to be sunny, it suddenly rains hard instead.
To be honest, our visit timing weren’t so lucky either since in the morning the clouds is still covering the sun. But we manage to get a good sunshine in the end for a few hours before the rain pours down.
Swimming in Labuan Cermin
Swimming in Labuan Cermin is a must! You can see and taste yourself how the salt and raw water are obviously separated beneath the lake. If you dive for a depth of 2 meters, don’t be surprised if you can suddenly feel the water became salty. It feels like as if it has an invisible force that divides both of the water, when there is not. This is just one amazing natural phenomena that makes me realise how the world is so full of magical wonders.
If you can’t swim, don’t worry because you can still enjoy it here! There is a life jacket and swimming tires (ban renang) that you can rent on the spot in Labuan Cermin lake. I really recommend you to at least swim in the surface since the water is cold and really fresh.
How to Get There
I will probably re-phrase my how-to get there from Biduk-biduk story. More detailed information can be seen here.
Getting to Biduk-biduk, East Kalimantan
- Take the flight to Kalimarau Airport, Berau, East Kalimantan. If you’re coming from Jakarta usually you will need to transit in Balikpapan.
- If you are traveling to Biduk-biduk from Derawan, you have 2 choices to go here—by land or sea:
- By sea, yes you don’t have to take it the hard way! This will take much less time than going by land. You can ride a speedboat from Derawan directly to Labuan Cermin for only around 3-4 hours. If you’re joining a whale shark open trip, you go to whaleshark spot along the way.
- By land, is by driving from Berau to Biduk-biduk with a 7-8 hour drive through the Kalimantan forests, with 7 districts you can stop by at to eat or rest along the way. It’s better to go during daytime, since there are very minimum light if you’re still going through the forest at night.You can rent a car (Contact Pak Jen +62813 4736 7855), Pak Jen is from @beborneotour based in Berau. If you’re renting a car with a driver, you’ll need to consider extra cost for the driver’s food and accommodation room. If you want a cheaper option, you can ride a travel that can cost you around Rp 150.000 (one way).It’s better to go by a group so you can rent a car so you can still freely explore Biduk-biduk. Or you can ride a travel and rent a motorcycle (go ask the locals in your homestay on where to rent).
Where to Stay
There are many homestay along the way located around 15 minuts from Labuan Cermin. We stayed in Mayangstari homestay in Biduk-biduk, priced for Rp 200,000/night, including breakfast. More info in my other post.
Don’t Stop Your Journey Here
As I mentioned before, here in Biduk-biduk you should spare just a bit of your time to enjoy the beach and serene of the streets.
I’d like to thank Pak Jen from @beborneotour as he really gave us insights as a local on where to go in Biduk-biduk that little did we know. So, I hope I can forward this story for you decide on your next trip to Labuan Cermin!