a pleasure-hunting monkey.

Visiting Labuan Cermin, the Two-Layer Lake in East Kalimantan

I finally wrote this post about Labuan Cermin lake three months after the trip. As I wrote before at my story about the trip Biduk-biduk in Berau, East Kalimantan, this lake was our main destination for the trip.

It is not difficult to agree the plan to visit Labuan Cermin and make a plan of it. Because the pictures of a blue lake with a small boat floating with almost no reflections on the waters were filling my head after I saw those photos on social media since years ago.

Situated around the entrance of Biduk-biduk district of Berau regency in East Borneo, Labuan Cermin is a meromictic lake (I recently knew there’s a name for two-layer lake from Rika!) which is famous for its two layers of water – fresh water on the surface and salty water at the deeper level, and they do not intermix with each other. The lake is even more popular than the district itself, and I was curious enough to see its beauty with my own eyes.


A simple description about the two-layer water. (Photo by @unang_bulweri)

Many visitors go to Labuan Cermin as a part of their trip to Derawan and Maratua Islands, which are also located in Berau regency. However, during my visit to Labuan Cermin, I opted to stay in Biduk-biduk district rather than make a trip to Derawan and Maratua Islands, as I wanted to cherish my time at the lake. So, after a flight from Jakarta to Kalimarau Airport in Tanjung Redeb in Berau, I tooka six-hour road trip to Biduk-biduk and stayed at Losmen Miranti.

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The pier where we can rent the boat to Labuan Cermin.

It took 10 minutes of riding a motorbike from Losmen Miranti to the small pier where we can rent a boat to reach the lake. The boat can accommodate up to 10 people and it was only took 15-minute boat ride from the pier in Biduk-biduk.


A snap at our boat during our trip to Labuan Cermin. (Photo by @unang_bulweri)

Crystal Clear Water Lake

The view as we cruised on the motor boat was already breathtaking, even before we arrived at the lake. Tosca waters with greenery along its sides made a picture-perfect scenery during our journey from the pier to the lake. Sometimes, we encountered other boats that just got back from the lake. And when we finally entered Labuan Cermin area.

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Other boat we saw when on our way to the lake.

I was lost for words!

The lake takes about one hectare and is surrounded by jungle. There is a small pier made of plastic barrels and wood that connects the lake with the land. The area was almost deserted – there was only our group and another boat tied to the pier. I felt like the lake was ours alone.

Before we stopped at the pier, our boat skipper took us around the lake. And every second we spent on the water, I found myself mesmerized by the scenery. I thought the lake was full of underwater ecosystem that made the water so blue. But after a couple of minutes staring at the waters from the boat, my jaw dropped as I realized just how crystal clear the water really is – I could see rocks and some fish swimming under the surface.

The lake may seem shallow as we can see underwater life from the boat, but no one ever actually knows how deep the lake really is. The nearest part of the lake to the land is almost five meters deep already. With waters so pristine, Lake Labuan Cermin is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. So, make sure to bring snorkeling and swimming gear when visiting this lake.

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A small boat the dock that made by the plastic barrels.

Taking the Compulsory Picture 

As photography enthusiasts, we didn’t want to miss the chance to take some “compulsory pictures” in Labuan Cermin; that is to take photos on the boat with almost no reflections at all on the water. This is to create an illusion that our boat is flying rather than floating on the water. This photo style has become iconic to Labuan Cermin on social media, and also one of the reasons I was so intrigued by this lake.

However, it is quite challenging to snap this illusive picture as the best time is only between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the sun is right above our heads. During this time, not only can we get the flying-boat illusion, but we can also capture the lake at its brightest color.

We were very lucky as our boat skipper really can get our intention to take the photographs. He offered us to take the photo from his ‘photo pit’ so we can have the best picture.

Finally, with patience and determination, and of course because of our boat man, we managed to take some shots and were proud of the result!

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A compulsory photo taken by our boat man.

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Look how the sun shines upon my head! (Photo by Prawita Indah)

After taking our “compulsory pictures”, it was time to take a swim in the crystal clear water. As I snorkeled in the waters, my curiosity about Labuan Cermin as a meromictic lake was met. I could see the layers under the surface where waters with different characters and temperatures separate from each other. It was such a unique experience. The water was also so refreshing that we spent hours exploring almost the whole part of the lake.

The roots and tree branches under the water were another interesting discovery as I swam deeper. And I can only imagine how fun it would be to do free diving here and go deeper into the lake. This is definitely one of the best swimming experiences in a natural wonder I’ve ever had in my life.


Trying to dive and enjoy under the surface view. (Photo by @unang_bulweri)


The roots and branches seen 3-5 meter under the surface.

Before dusk came, we had to leave the lake. On our way back on the boat, I said to myself that I would go back to Biduk-biduk district and visit Lake Labuan Cermin again next time. But before that time comes, I would like to perfect my swimming and free diving so I can explore the deeper level of the lake when I return.



  • The boat to Labuan Cermin from the pier in Biduk-biduk cost is Rp. 100,000 for a boat which can accommodate up to 10 persons.
  • You can reach Biduk-biduk by flying to Balikpapan first and continue the trip by plane to Tanjung Redeb in Berau. After that, you have to rent a travel car (with other people who want to go to Biduk-biduk) and take a six-hour trip.
    Call Pak Toni: +62 812 5066 7030 if you want to go Biduk-biduk from Berau. He offers a door-to-door service with a good taste of music along the trip. This travel car from Tanjung Redeb to Biduk-biduk usually cost Rp. 150,000 per person.
  • We stayed at Losmen Miranti homestay at Biduk-biduk. It costs Rp. 250,000 per night, included breakfast. The owner even let us (and other customer) to use her motorcycle to get around the village.
    Losmen MirantiJl. Majahaba RT 04, Biduk-Biduk, Berau Regency, East Kalimantan.
    Phone: +62 812 5392 2468 (Ibu Hartuti)


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