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Karimun Jawa or Karimunjawa is an archipelago of 27 islands in the Java Sea, Indonesia. If you are looking for a more secluded and less touristy experience of tropical islands in Indonesia, this is the right place where to find it.
How to get to Karimun Jawa
The main island of Karimun is located around 80 kilometers northwest of Jepara, Java. There are several ways how to get to Karimun Jawa:
- By a ferry
- By a speedboat
- By plane
- By private fishing boats
From what I have read online, I’d suggest only the first two. Small planes with seats for about 9 people are flying from Semarang and Surabaya, but those seem to be expensive, and the airport is quite inconveniently located in Karimun Jawa. And private boats are expensive and slow.
On my trip to Karimun Jawa, I reached it by a slow ferry. You can check the schedule here. The slow ferry takes around 4,5 hours to reach Karimun Jawa. It departs at 7 a.m. or when the boat is full. So if you want to buy the tickets just before the ferry, you should be there more than an hour early. Note that on weekends and in the high season all of the tickets might be sold out, so it is better to ask your guest house in Karimun Jawa to make a ferry reservation in advance.
The journey with the ferry is quite interesting because of how diverse the passengers are. There are some backpackers and a lot of locals carrying all kinds of stuff, even some live animals.
Exploring Karimun Java
The archipelago is quite secluded and a bit less populated than Java. Streets are not crowded, and there are several creative small businesses selling bensin bottles, fish, and other random products on the streets.
The most convenient way of getting around is a motorbike, which costs around 75,000 rupiahs per day. You have to specifically ask for a helmet to get one. In the rental the locals where laughing that there is no police, so no helmet needed. But safety is important.
I was staying in Cocohuts Hotel quite near the town. It was charming, with a nice wooden design. I especially enjoyed the breakfast in their Best Views Restaurant, which had an incredible view as the name suggests.
Another amusing thing was the security. The tiny key to my room is barely visible in the picture. But as the island is so small and relaxed, the security threats aren’t that often there, I guess.
I had read in the internet that there might be a time on the island that there is no electricity, and that there is just one ATM there and you should bring your own cash. On my stay there, however, I didn’t experience any problems related to how secluded the island is. There was even a wifi in my hotel room.
If you have a motorbike, you can explore the many beaches on the island. Some of them are more industrial with boats or covered with a bit of trash, but for a small fee clean white sand beaches are accessible. Ask for recommendations in your hotel to find the nearest ones.
Snorkeling day trip in Karimun Jawa
In 2001 two-thirds of the Karimun Jawa archipelago islands have been declared as a marine reserve. You can go on a full day snorkeling trip to get the most beautiful views of the Karimunjawa National Park coral reefs.
In the morning there are many boats preparing for a day-trip each day, so you can easily go and book a seat. Or you can ask in your hotel to prebook it just to be safe.
You will be snorkeling in several different places during the trip. The underwater world is quite amazing here, with colorful corals, fish, and turtles. Just remember to use a lot of sunscreen on your back, because the sun is strong during the day and sunscreen washes off in the water.
In the middle of the tour, you will stop at a rural island with breathtaking views for lunch. It is so nice to stroll through the clear warm water with amazingly blue sky and palm trees surrounding you. And there is even a swing!
Locals grill some freshly caught fish for the lunch. It is accompanied with rice, as usual. And there will be some fruit and water as well.
After lunch and a bit more snorkeling the final attraction of the tour is waiting for a sunset on a different island. The feeling here is so contrasting with what can be experienced on Java. There are no crowds of people, and this feels like some separate world. Just small islands and beauty all around.
How to get from Karimun Jawa to Jepara
As we had already experienced the long trip to Karimun Jawa on the slow ferry, we decided to go back to Jepara twice as fast with a speedboat. As the boat is as fast as the name suggests, it also has quite noticeable up-and-down movement in the waves. So if you are prone to motion sickness, this might not be the best choice for you.
During the high season, it would be wise to prebook the place on the boat, as there might be not enough places for everyone wanting to buy a ticket just before departing.
The boat is quite modern and arrives quickly in Jepara. Totally worth the higher price.