Lighthouses of Indonesia: 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.

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 K 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
Indonesian Lighthouses
Historic postcard views from the collection of Michel Forand.

Celebes Sea (Northeast Coast) Lighthouses

Northern Kalimantan Timur 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, and another photo is available. 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 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. 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. No photo available. 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
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.
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. A distant view is available, and Google has a distant satellite view of the location. Located at the northern tip of Pulau Maratua, a large reef complex in the Celebes Sea about 50 km (30 mi) east of Tanjungbatu. 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. James Arjuna has a view from the sea (click on the photo for enlargement), and 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 (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. 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.
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. Pawel Kofinski has a distant photo. 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, but the island is only a blur in Google's 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.

Makassar Strait (East Coast) Lighthouses

Central Kalimantan Timur Lighthouses
Tanjung Mangkalihat
Date unknown (station established 1910). Active; focal plane 42 m (138 ft); white flash every 5 s. 33 m (108 ft) iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available; Google has a distant satellite view of the location. This 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, but Bing has a 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.
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. Located on a reef about 10 km (6 mi) off the central east coast. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2024.8; NGA 24796.
* 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. The tower has been enclosed with metal plates, but as of 2009 some of the plates had fallen off. Arief Rachman's photo is at right, a good closeup is available, and Google has a good satellite view. Ekajati Winarmo's February 2011 photo shows that the lighthouse has been repaired and restored. Beras Basah is a popular resort island almost precisely on the Equator, about 8 km (5 mi) east of the port of Bontang. Located on the beach. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty F2027; NGA 24808.

Southern Kalimantan Timur 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 K1468.46; NGA 24881.

Pulau Beras Basah Light, Makassar Strait, October 2009
photo copyright Arief Rachman; used by permission
Bukuan (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. No photo available, but Google has a satellite view. This appears to be a historic lighthouse, and we need information on its history. 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 K1462; NGA 24846.
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; lantern painted red. No photo available, but Google has only a distant satellite view of the location. Located on a minor cape about 20 km (13 mi) northeast of Balikpapan. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-313; Admiralty K1459.8; 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. This light marks the entrance to the harbor of Balikpapan, a principal port of East Kalimantan. During World War II, Japanese troops took Balikpapan in January 1942 and held it until it was taken by Australian forces in heavy fighting in July 1945. 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 K1459; NGA 24920.
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 K1458; NGA 24923.7.
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 K1454; NGA 24932.
Pulau Ambungi
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 33 m (108 ft); quick-flashing white light. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the island is only a blur in Google's satellite view. The Balabalagan Islands are reefs and islets in Makassar Strait emerging from a dangerous reef extending southeastward from Borneo. Located on an island at the northwestern end of the Balabalagan group about 130 km (80 mi) southeast of Balikpapan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-190; Admiralty K1488; NGA 24946.
Balikpapan Light
Tanjung Tokong Light, Balikpapan, 2011
photo copyright Irma Widyasta Pratiwi; used by permission
Kepulauan Balabalagan (Balabalagan Islands)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 40 m (131 ft); three white flashes every 20 s. 40 m (131 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the island is only a blur in Google's satellite view. Located on the southeasternmost of the islands in the middle of the Makassar Strait about 175 km (110 mi) southeast of Balikpapan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-177; Admiralty K1486; NGA 24944.

Java Sea (South Coast) Lighthouses

Kalimantan Selatan (South Kalimantan) Lighthouses
Pulau Larilarian
2007(?). Active; focal plane 32 m (105 ft); white flash every 5 s. 30 m (98 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the island is only a blur in Google's satellite view. This island was claimed by South Kalimantan and East Sulawesi provinces; a 2011 ruling by the Indonesian Supreme Court confirmed South Kalimantan's jurisdiction. Located on an isolated island in Makassar Strait about 145 km (90 mi) due east of Pulau Laut. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-212; Admiralty K1445; NGA 24947.
* Balingkar Hill (Tanjung Pemancingan Range Rear, Kotabaru)
1901. Active; focal plane 67 m (220 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) hexagonal pyramidal skeletal tower with lantern and gallery. The upper part of the lighthouse is painted red, the lower part white. A photo shows the base of the lighthouse, but a cloud shadow obscures Google's satellite view. It's not certain, but it seems likely that the Dutch lighthouse is still in service. We need confirmation of this. Located on a ridge in Kotabaru, near the northern tip of Pulau Laut. Site status unknown, but the lighthouse must be easy to see from nearby. ARLHS IDO-105; Admiralty K1438.1; NGA 24956.
* Batulicin
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 22 m (72 ft); white flash every 6 s. 20 m (66 ft) square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. The light can be seen at the left in a view of the harbor, but Google has only a very fuzzy satellite view of the area. Located at the base of the ferry pier in Batulicin, on the west side of the Laut Strait opposite Kotabaru. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K1435; NGA 24973.
Tanjung Petang
1901. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); white flash every 5 s. 19 m (62 ft) hexagonal cast iron skeletal tower with lantern and gallery, painted white. 1-story keeper's houses. Done Husen's photo is at right, and Google has a satellite view of the station. This light is a twin of the Balingkar Hill lighthouse. Located near Pagatan, on the west side of the southern entrance to the narrow Laut Strait separating Pulau Laut from the mainland of Borneo. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-289; Admiralty K1432; NGA 24964.
Sambargalang (Samber Galang, Brothers Islands)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 55 m (180 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) tapered square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Done Husen has a photo, but the island is only a blur in Google's satellite view. Located on an island in the southwestern entrance to the Makassar Strait, about 175 km (110 mi) east of Tanjung Selatan and about 40 km (25 mi) south of the southeastern corner of Borneo at Pulau Laut. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-017; Admiralty K1442; NGA 24976.
Tanjung Petang Light
Tanjung Petang Light, Kalimantan Selatan, 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Done Husen; used by permission
Tanjung Selatan (South Cape)
Date unknown (station established 1905). Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); one long white flash every 6 s. 30 m (98 ft) hexagonal cast iron tower with lantern and gallery. 1-story keeper's houses. Lighthouse painted white. Done Husen's closeup photo is at right, he also has a view from the sea, and Google has a satellite view of the station. Tanjung Selatan (South Cape) is the southernmost point of Borneo. Located on the point of the cape, about 80 km (50 mi) south of Banjarmasin. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-328; Admiralty K1422; NGA 24988.
Tekisung
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 19 m (62 ft); yellow flash every 3 s. 19 m (62 ft) beacon, painted yellow. No photo available, and Google has only a very distant satellite view of the area. Located off the Tekisung beach about 50 km (30 mi) north of Tanjung Selatan. Accessible only by boat but probably visible from shore. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K1420; NGA 24989.
Sungai Barito Outer
Date unknown (lightship station established 1901). Active; focal plane 25 m (82 ft); white flash every 3.5 s. 25 m (82 ft) beacon, painted white. No photo available, and the tower is not seen in Google's distant satellite view of the area. Located about 18 km (11 mi) southwest of the mouth of the Barito River. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K1413.1; NGA 24996.

Kalimantan Tengah (Central Kalimantan) Lighthouses
Tanjung Bandaran
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); white flash every 4 s. 15 m (49 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the tower is not seen in Bing's satellite view of the location. Located at the end of a spit on the west side of the entrance to the bay of Setriruk. Site status unknown. Admiralty K1411.6; NGA 25032.
Tanjung Siamok
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 20 m (66 ft); two quick white flashes every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and Google has only a very distant satellite view of the cape. Located on a cape about 25 km (15 mi) southeast of Segintong. Site status unknown. Admiralty K1411.4; NGA 25036.
Tanjung Putung (Tanjung Puting)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 31 m (102 ft); three white flashes every 14 s. Approx. 28 m (92 ft) tapered square skeletal tower with gallery, painted white. Done Husen has a photo, but Google has only a very distant satellite view of the cape. Tanjung Putung is a prominent cape about 55 km (35 mi) southwest of Segintong. Site status unknown. Admiralty K1411.2; NGA 25040.
Tanjung Selatan Light
Tanjung Selatan Light, Kalimantan Selatan, 2010
Panoramio photo copyright Done Husen; used by permission

Karimata Strait and South China Sea (Southwest Coast) Lighthouses

Kalimantan Barat (West Kalimantan) Lighthouses
Gosong Mangkut
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) tower, painted black with one red horizontal band. No photo available, and the islet is barely visible in Google's distant satellite view. Located on a shoal about 16 km (10 mi) southwest of the southwestern tip of Kalimantan. Accessible only by boat. Site open, tower closed. Admiralty K1410.3; NGA 25049.
Pulau Bawal (Tanjung Rotan)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 67 m (220 ft); three white flashes every 12 s. NGA has no description, but a tall tower is likely at this location. No photo available; Google has a very distant satellite view of the cape. Pulau Bawal is an island about 10 km (6 mi) northwest of Tanjung Simbar, the southwestern corner of Borneo. Site status unknown. Admiralty K1410; NGA 25050.
Gosong Mampango (Discovery East Bank) (2)
Date unknown (station established 1903). Active; focal plane 13 m (43 ft); white flash every 5 s. 20 m (66 ft) skeletal tower, painted with red and white horizontal bands. No photo available, but Lightphotos.net has a historic photo of the original Dutch lighthouse, said to have been destroyed in World War II. (This photo is from a Java Post article.) In Jaunary 2010 the Irish racing yacht Cork Clipper wrecked near the light, bringing it briefly to international attention. Located on a dangerous reef far out in the northwestern corner of the Java Sea, about 200 km (125 mi) southwest of the southwestern corner of Kalimantan. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-132; Admiralty K1034; NGA 25052.
Karang Ontario (Ontario Reef)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 15 m (49 ft); two white flashes every 5 s. 15 m (49 ft) tower, painted black with one red horizontal band. No photo available. Located on a coral reef about 50 km (30 mi) south of Palau Serutu; the safe shipping channel of the Karimata Strait lies between these lights. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. Admiralty K1405.5; NGA 25058.
Pulau Serutu
1910. Active; focal plane 175 m (574 ft); three quick white flashes every 10 s. 25 m (82 ft) iron skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and Google has only a distant satellite view of the location. This is major light with a range of 36 nautical miles (67 km, 42 mi). Pulau Serutu anchors the southwest end of the Karimata Archipelago, which extends into the Karimata Strait separating Kalimantan from Sumatra. The light is an important landmark for ships sailing between Singapore and Jakarta. Located on the highest point of the island. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-181; Admiralty K1406; NGA 25060.
Pulau Layah Kecil
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 72 m (236 ft); two white flashes every 15 s. 40 m (131 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and Google has only a distant satellite view of the island. This lighthouse is in Sukadana Bay, a broad embayment on the southwest coast of Kalimantan. Located on a small island about 80 km (50 mi) west of Tanjung Baikbudi. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-213; Admiralty K1407.5; NGA 25064.1.
Pulau Lemukutan (Lemoekoetan)
Date unknown. Active; focal plane 314 m (1030 ft); three white flashes every 10 s. 19 m (59 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. No photo available, and the tower has not been found in Google's satellite view. Pulau Lemoekoetan is a mountainous island about 18 km (12 mi) off the westernmost point of Kalimantan. Located on the highest point of the island. Accessible only by boat. Site status unknown. ARLHS IDO-214; Admiralty F1885; NGA 25084.
[Tanjung Datu]
1988 (station establishment date unknown). Active (?); focal plane 171 m (561 ft); white flash every 15 s. 10 m (33 ft) skeletal tower, painted white. This lighthouse marks the border between Indonesia and Sarawak. Malaysia lists an 8 m (26 ft) round cylindrical concrete tower, and a photo (no longer available online) shows that both lighthouses are present. A chain link fence separates the skeletal tower in Indonesia from the concrete lighthouse in Malaysia! We do not know if both lights are active. In 2014 Malaysia began construction of a new light on a platform off the point of the cape; construction was halted when Indonesia protested that the location was in Indonesian waters as provided by a 1969 treaty. Located on a promontory at the tip of the Datu Peninsula about 50 km (30 mi) northwest of Sematan, Malaysia. Site status unknown. Admiralty F1894; NGA 23872.

Information available on lost lighthouses:

Notable faux lighthouses:

Adjoining pages: North: East Malaysia | East: Northern Sulawesi | Southeast: Southern Sulawesi | South: Java | West: Bangka-Belitung Islands

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Posted December 9, 2008. Checked and revised December 11, 2013. Lighthouses: 43. Site copyright 2013 Russ Rowlett and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.