Lighthouses of Indonesia: Eastern Kalimantan (Borneo)

Indonesia has been independent since 1945, after having been the Dutch East Indies for more than 350 years. It is a huge country, stretching along both sides of the Equator for more than 46 degrees of longitude (roughly 5100 km or 3200 miles). Comprised of some 17,000 islands (more than 6000 inhabited islands), it has hundreds of major aids to navigation. Unfortunately, we have no idea how many of these aids can be considered lighthouses. Information about them is scarce, and photos are even scarcer. Official light lists contain dozens of entries for "framework towers" and "white beacons," providing little guidance for the lighthouse fan.

Borneo, known as Kalimantan in Indonesia, is the world's third largest island. 73% of the island is Indonesian; the remaining portion includes the Malaysian states of Sarawak and Sabah and the independent sultanate of Brunei. This page describes lighthouses of eastern Kalimantan including the provinces of North Kalimantan and East Kalimantan.

The Indonesian word for a lighthouse is mercusuar. The phrase menara suar, which includes the Arabic word menara, is sometimes used instead. Tanjung and ujung are words for capes, pulau is an island, selat is a strait, karang is a reef, gosong is a shoal or sandbar, and teluk is a harbor.

Aids to navigation in Indonesia are operated and maintained by the Directorate General of Sea Navigation.

ARLHS numbers are from the ARLHS World List of Lights. Admiralty numbers are from volumes F and Q of the Admiralty List of Lights & Fog Signals. U.S. NGA List numbers are from Publication 112.


Pulau Sambit Light, Celebes Sea, 2007
Panoramio photo copyright Christian Redinger; used by permission
General Sources
Online List of Lights - Indonesia - Vol. F and Vol. Q
Coming soon: photos by various photographers posted by Alexander Trabas.
Indonesian Lighthouses
Historic postcard views from the collection of Michel Forand.
World of Lighthouses - Indonesia
Photos by various photographers available from Lightphotos.net.

Kalimantan Utara (North Kalimantan) Province Lighthouses

Nunukan Regency Lighthouses
Karang Unarang
2005. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white flash every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white, rising from a 1-story equipment building mounted on a square platform supported by piles. The equipment building is painted with a red band above a white band, the colors of the Indonesian flag. A photo is at right. This lighthouse is in the Ambalat Block, a section of the Celebes Sea in dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia; the area may contain important oil and gas deposits. Construction of the lighthouse was interrupted in February 2005 when Malaysian naval forces arrested the construction workers (they were later released). Located on a reef, sometimes above water at low tide, about 20 km (13 mi) east of Pulau Sebatic, Indonesia, and 25 km (15 mi) south of the Malaysian coast. Accessible only by boat. Site and tower closed. Admiralty F1999.75; NGA 24744.5.
Makassar (Makasar) Bank
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); green flash every 3 s. 15 m (49 ft) beacon, painted green. No photo available. Located on a shoal about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Pulau Sebatic, near the Malaysian border. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1999.7; NGA 24745.
Gosong Nunukan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) beacon, painted black with a red horizontal band. No photo available, and the light is not seen in Bing's satellite view. Located on a shoal about 25 km (15 mi) southeast of Pulau Nunukan. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1999.65; NGA 24746.
Karang Banda
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); two white flashes every 12 s. 18 m (59 ft) beacon, painted black with a red horizontal band. No photo available. Located on a shoal about 80 km (50 mi) southeast of Pulau Nunukan and 25 km (15 mi) east of Tanjung Ahus. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1999.8; NGA 24747.
Tanjung Ahus
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 15 m (49 ft) beacon, painted black with a red horizontal band and mounted on a square pier supported by piles. No photo available, but Bing has a satellite view. Located on a shoal about 15 km (9 mi) southeast of Tanjung Ahus. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F1999.9; NGA 24749.
Karang Unarang Light
Karang Unarang Light, Ambalat Block
Indonesian Navy photo

Bulungan Regency Lighthouses
Pulau Bunyu
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white flash every 6 s. 18 m (59 ft) white tower mounted on a square platform. No photo available, but Bing has a distant satellite view. Located on a shoal off the east coast of Pulau Bunyu, a large island about 35 km (22 mi) northeast of Tarakan. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2000; NGA 24752.
Tanjung Arang
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 47 m (154 ft); white flash every 5 s. White skeletal tower; NGA does not list the height but a tall tower would be required at his location. No photo available, but Bing has an indistinct satellite view. Located at the southern tip of Pulau Bunyu. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2000.5; NGA 24753.

Tarakan City Lighthouses
Note: Lingkas is the port area of Tarakan, the largest city of Kalimantan Utara.
Gosong Melulun (Lingkas Approach) Range Front
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); quick-flashing red light. 14 m (46 ft) square skeletal tower, painted red and mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The range guides vessels past shoals off the southern tip of Pulau Tarakan. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2008; NGA 24764.
Gosong Melulun (Lingkas Approach) Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); white flash every 5 s. 19 m (62 ft) square skeletal tower mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located 914 m (0.57 mi) west of the front light. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2008.1; NGA 24768.
Lingkas
2010 (?). Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft) (?); white flash every 10 s. 10 m (33 ft) (?) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white and mounted on a square platform supported by piles. A photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. This tower appears to be at least 40 m (131 ft) high. Located in the harbor of Lingkas, on the south side of Pulau Tarakan. Accessible only by boat but easily visible from shore. Admiralty F2010.1.

Kalimantan Timur (East Kalimantan) Province Lighthouses

Berau Regency Lighthouses
* Tanjung Batu
Date unknown (recent). Active; focal plane about 18 m (59 ft); white light, pattern unknown. Approx. 15 m (49 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white, mounted on a square platform supported by piles. A photo and a second photo are available, and Google has a street view, but the light is too new to appear in Google's satellite view. Note: Tanjung Batu (Rocky Cape) is a common place name in Indonesia and Malaysia. Located beside the pier at Tanjung Batu, a port near the northern border of Kalimantan Timur. Site open, tower closed. Not yet listed by the Admiralty.
Karang Derawan (2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 30 m (98 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white, mounted on a square platform supported by piles. A photo is at right, and Google has a distant satellite view. NGA lists a much smaller tower. Located on a reef about 30 km (19 mi) east of Tanjung Redeb. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS IDO-142; Admiralty F2015.7; NGA 24775.
Tanjung Bolituwatan (Pulau Maratua)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 55 m (180 ft); white flash every 15 s. Approx. 45 m (148 ft) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, painted white; lantern painted red. Helen Agustine has a distant view from the sea (second photo on the page), another distant view is available, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Located at the northern tip of Pulau Maratua, a large reef complex in the Celebes Sea about 50 km (30 mi) east of Tanjung Batu. Accessible only by boat. Maratua is a popular scuba diving location; a diving map shows the location of the lighthouse. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2015; NGA 24774.
Pulau Bakungan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 35 m (115 ft); white flash every 10 s. 30 m (98 ft) octagonal white concrete tower. Markurius Sera has an aerial photo taken from a drone, a travel site has a Twitter photo, a small photo is available, but Google has only a distant satellite view of the location. Located at the southeastern tip of the Maratua reef complex. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS IDO-103; Admiralty F2019; NGA 24775.5.
Karang Derawan
Karang Derawan Light, Celebes Sea, October 2007
Flickr Creative Commons photo by Degi
Karang Malalungan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane about 30 m (98 ft); white flash every 10 s. Approx. 30 m (98 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower, painted white, mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo currently available, and the tower is not seen in Google's distant satellite view. NGA lists a much smaller tower. Located on a reef about 65 km (40 mi) southwest of Pulau Maratua. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2018; NGA 24780.
Pulau Sambit (Karang Muaras, Muaras Reef) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1911). Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); white flash every 5 s. 30 m (98 ft) (?) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. Tower painted white, lantern and gallery red. Christian Redinger's photo is at the top of this page, and Google has a satellite view. From the photo, it's apparent that the listed focal plane is too high or else the tower height is too low. Pulau Sambit is a small island in the Celebes Sea about 80 km (50 mi) northeast of Sepinang; it occupies the extreme southeastern corner of the Muaras Reef atoll. The light guides ships approaching the Makassar Strait on the east side of Borneo. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS IDO-032; Admiralty F2022; NGA 24784.

Kutai Timur (East Kutai) Regency Lighthouses
Tanjung Mangkalihat
Date unknown (station established 1910). Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every 5 s. 33 m (108 ft) square pyramidal iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view of the station. This may be the original lighthouse. The lighthouse stands on the easternmost point of Borneo and marks the northern entrance to the Makassar Strait. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-043; Admiralty F2024.5; NGA 24788.
Birahbirahan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 14 m (46 ft); two white flashes every 10 s. 14 m (46 ft) tower mounted on a square platform. Lighthouse painted black with one red horizontal band. No photo available, and the light has not been found in Bing's satellite view. Located on a reef off the east end of an island about 100 km (60 mi) west southwest of Tanjung Mangkalihat. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2024.6; NGA 24790.
Pulau Miang Besar
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 51 m (167 ft); white flash every 6 s. Approx. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. No photo available, but Google has a good satellite view. Located on an island off the entrance to the harbor of Sangkulirang. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-223; Admiralty F2024.65; NGA 24792.5.
Sangatta
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 131 m (430 ft); white light, 1.5 s on. 3.5 s off. NGA describes a "white structure." This light is almost certainly on a communications tower seen in Bing's satellite view. No photo available. Sangatta is an important coal mining area. Located on heights above the port. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2024.75; NGA 24794.
Sangatta (Sengata) Reef
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); two white flashes every 8 s. 25 m (82 ft) "metal structure," according to NGA. No photo available; Bing's indistinct satellite view shows the foundation of the tower. Located on a reef about 20 km (13 mi) southeast of the Sangatta wharf. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2024.805; NGA 24796.

Bontang City Lighthouses
Note: Bontang is an industrial city of about 175,000 residents. Its busy port exports coal, natural gas, and fertilizer. The approaches to the various port facilities pass through a maze of marshy islands, requiring a large number of range lights.
Karang Kiampan
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); green flash every 2 s. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with a daymark colored green. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the west point of a reef on the north side of the entrance to the northern harbor of the city. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2025.7; NGA 24797.8.
Karang Kiampan South
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 10 m (33 ft); red flash every 3 s. 10 m (33 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with a daymark colored red. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located at the west point of a reef on the south side of the entrance to the northern harbor of the city. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2025.8; NGA 24798.
Pelabuhan Loktuan Segaja Range Rear (C2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 20 m (66 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with a daymark colored with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 12 m (39 ft) tall. Located on a platform in a marsh about 5 km (3 mi) northeast of the harbor.. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2025.61; NGA 24797.5.
Pelabuhan Loktuan Entrance Range Rear (A2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 20 m (66 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with a daymark colored with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 12 m (39 ft) tall. Located on a platform in a marsh about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) northeast of the harbor. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2025.1; NGA 24796.7.
Pelabuhan Loktuan Batutanbu Range Rear (B2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 20 m (66 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with a daymark colored with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This range guides vessels departing the port. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 12 m (39 ft) tall. Located on a platform in a marsh 320 m (350 yd) south southeast of the front light. Site status unknown. Admiralty F2025.41; NGA 24797.1.
Bontang Fifth Range Rear (0G)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 23 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower painted white and mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 16 m (52 ft) tall). Located south of the Bontang natural gas harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2031.1; NGA 24819.1.
Bontang Fourth Range Rear (0D)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 30 m (98 ft); quick-flashing white light. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower painted white and mounted on a square platform supported by piles. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 16 m (52 ft) tall). Located in the Bontang natural gas harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2029.41; NGA 24818.1.
Bontang Third Range Rear (3B)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); quick-flashing white light. 23 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 16 m (52 ft) tall); it also carries the front light of the outbound range (next entry). Located in Bontang harbor about 1.2 km (3/4 mi) southeast of the waterfront. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2028.9; NGA 24817.4.
Bontang Outbound Range Rear (0C2)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); white light, 3 s on, 3 s off. 23 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Located in Bontang harbor about 600 m (3/8 mi) east of the Third Range Rear light. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2029.1; NGA 24817.2.
Bontang Second Range Rear (2B)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); quick-flashing white light. 23 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 16 m (52 ft) tall). Located about 5 km (3 mi) southeast of the natural gas harbor. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2028.31; NGA 24816.
* Pulau Beras Basah
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 36 m (118 ft); five white flashes, in a 3+2 pattern, every 20.5 s. 35 m (115 ft) square pyramidal skeletal tower with gallery, enclosed with metal plates. A photo is at right, Wikimedia has a more distant view, a 2014 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. As of 2009 the tower was in poor condition, and some of the plates had fallen off. Ekajati Winarmo's February 2011 photo shows that the lighthouse had been repaired and restored. Beras Basah is a popular resort island almost precisely on the Equator, about 8 km (5 mi) southeast of the port of Bontang. Located on the beach. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2027; NGA 24808.
Pulau Beras Basah Light
Pulau Beras Basah Light, Makassar Strait, September 2012
photo copyright kedaihijau; permission requested
Bontang Entrance Range Rear (1B)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 23 m (75 ft); quick-flashing white light. 23 m (75 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 16 m (52 ft) tall). Located about 2 km (1.2 mi) west of Pulau Beras Basah. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2028.1; NGA 24804.
Tanjung Meranggas Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 18 m (59 ft); white light, 2 s on, 2 s off. 18 m (59 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. The front light is on a short skeletal tower. Google also has a satellite view of the front light, on a similar tower 7 m (23 ft) tall).Located on a marshy point across from the Bontang Coal terminal. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2028.21; NGA 24810.1.

Kutai Kartanegara Regency Lighthouses
Tanjung Tamarong
2007. Active; focal plane 33 m (180 ft); white light, 2 s on, 8 s off. 30 m (98 ft) "white tower." No photo available, and the tower may be too new to appear in Bing's satellite view. Tanjung Tamarong is the easternmost point of the Mahakam river delta. Located (apparently) about 2.5 km (1.5 mi) east of the cape, in which case it is accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty Q1468.46; NGA 24881.
Bukuan (Muara Pegah, Pulau Bukuan, Bukuan Island, Samarinda)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 41 m (135 ft); white flash every 15 s. Approx. 40 m (131 ft) skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. A 2016 photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Located on an island at the south end of the delta of the Mahakam River, which leads to Samarinda, the capital of East Kalimantan. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-119; Admiralty Q1462; NGA 24846.

Balikpapan City Lighthouses
Note: Balikpapan is a large city, having more than 700,000 residents; it is the center for oil production in eastern Kalimantan. It was captured by the Japanese early in World War II and retaken by Allied troops in very heavy fighting in July 1945, one of the last battles of the war.
Tanjung Manggar
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 43 m (141 ft); three white flashes every 21 s. 40 m (131 ft) square skeletal tower with lantern and gallery; tower painted white, lantern red. Google has a street view and a satellite view of the station. Located on a minor cape about 20 km (13 mi) northeast of Balikpapan. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-313; Admiralty Q1459.8; NGA 24918.
Balikpapan (Tanjung Tokong, Tukong Hill) (3?)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 93 m (305 ft); one long white flash every 20 s. 30 m (98 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted with red and white horizontal bands. Irma Widyasta Pratiwi's photo is at right, another photo is available, and Google has a satellite view. Forand has a historic postcard view said to be of an earlier lighthouse, but light lists do not describe such a tower. In fact, no references are known to any Balikpapan lighthouse prior to World War II. NGA describes an 8 m (26 ft) "white building," a light known to have been in place at least by 1955. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-362; Admiralty Q1459; NGA 24920.

Penajam Paser Utara (North Penajam Pasar) Regency Lighthouses
Balikpapan Approach Common Range Rear
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); white light, 1 s on, 1 s off. 25 m (82 ft) square skeletal tower painted white. No photo available, and the tower does not appear in Bing's satellite view. Located about 5 km (3 mi) off Panajam in the northwestern corner of Balikpapan Bay. Accessible only by boat. Admiralty Q1459.41; NGA 24904.
Tanjung Maruat
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 16 m (52 ft); white flash every 10 s. 16 m (52 ft) tower. No photo available, and Google has only a distant satellite view of the area. Located on a shoal off a cape about 80 km (50 mi) southwest of Balikpapan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty Q1458; NGA 24923.7.

Pasar Regency Lighthouse
Gosong Aru (Aru Bank)
Date unknown (station established 1901). Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 13 m (43 ft) skeletal tower mounted on a platform supported by piles. No photo available. This is the oldest offshore light station in the Makassar Strait. Located on a notorious shoal about 130 km (80 mi) south of Balikpapan. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. ARLHS IDO-364; Admiralty Q1454; NGA 24932.
Balikpapan Light
Tanjung Tokong Light, Balikpapan, 2011
photo copyright Irma Widyasta Pratiwi; used by permission

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: East Malaysia | Northeast: Northern Sulawesi | East: Western Sulawesi | South: Southern Kalimantan

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Posted December 9, 2008. Checked and revised December 31, 2016. Lighthouses: 41. Site copyright 2016 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.