Karimunjawa. Or: The Maldives of Indonesia. Nowhere else in Indonesia have we seen such crystal-clear, turquoise-blue water as in the archipelago of Karimunjawa National Park. Approximately 80 Kilometers away from the coast of Java you enter a true island paradise far away from mass tourism.
We dare to say: Karimunjawa is still something of a Insider tip for Indonesia. This is probably also because it takes quite a bit of time and a bit of preparation to travel to Karimunjawa.
Are you planning a trip to Karimunjawa as well? Outstanding! Karimunjawa really is a beautiful piece of earth. In the following article you will find our tips for your trip to the island paradise.
1. Karimunjawa: The dream islands at a glance & first info The Karimunjawa Islands are about 80 kilometers north of the coast of Java in the middle of the Java Sea. The archipelago consists of 27 tropical islands, of which only a fraction is inhabited.
The main island of the Karimunjawa Archipelago is Karimunjawa (or Karimun), which is connected to the second largest island Kemujan by a bridge. When Karimunjawa is mentioned, it means both the main island and the entire archipelago.
A lot of local flair awaits you on the Karimunjawa Islands, lush vegetation with mangroves and palm trees and of course beach and ocean as far as the eye can see. The most beautiful beaches are not so much on the main island, but rather on the tiny, mostly uninhabited islands. There you can look forward to a Caribbean feeling with white sandy beaches and light blue water – a dream!
Who is the Karimunjawa Islands suitable for as a travel destination? For explorers: Karimunjawa is neither particularly easy to reach nor does a luxury holiday await you on the island. Those who travel to Karimunjawa should be in the mood for a bit of adventure. For adventurous families: We have also met families with children and could imagine that it is quite an experience for the little ones on the island. For island lovers: You are half an eternity away from the mainland and you are from ocean surrounded. You should have a little fondness for beach and salt water if you want to travel to Karimunjawa. On Karimunjawa there are no parties, shopping malls or luxury resorts – fortunately! But you can look forward to a lot local flair . Karimunjawa is still very original. The archipelago is a popular weekend destination, especially for Indonesian tourists.
Travel guide for Indonesia: Our tip We personally never travel without a printed guide. In Asia we have a clear favorite among travel guides: Stefan Loose. We really like the Stefan Loose travel guides. They are well researched and perfect for individual travelers.
Stefan Loose’s Indonesia travel guide has accompanied us to Indonesia several times. It is (as usual from Loose) very detailed and filled with great tips. Karimunjawa is also mentioned on a few pages in this travel guide – which is not a matter of course given the remoteness. We have a clear recommendation.
You can buy the travel guide here: Stefan Loose Indonesia
Best Season for Karimunjawa There are two seasons in Indonesia: dry season and rainy season. In general, there is a dry season from April to October in Indonesia and that is exactly the period we would recommend for a trip to Karimunjawa. The dry season does not guarantee good weather (it rains even in the dry season!), but the weather conditions tend to be more stable in the dry season.
During the rainy season, especially in the months December to February, the Java Sea can become extremely (!) restless. It is not uncommon for shipping traffic to be suspended for days due to the strong waves. Quite apart from that, it is of course not much fun to experience a tropical island in bad weather.
2. Getting to Karimunjawa: Our Tips The most common way to reach Karimunjawa is by boat from the port of Jepara. Because the boats leave early in the morning, you can hardly avoid spending a night in Jepara. In addition, since the year also a flight from Semarang to Karimunjawa.
By Boat to Karimunjawa from Jepara: Ferry vs. Speedboat There are two ports from which boats depart to Karimunjawa: Jepara and Semarang . However, the boat traffic from Semarang was gradually stopped or paused, so Jepara is the first choice to travel to Karimunjawa. Currently (as of April 2015) there are no boats from Semarang!
There are two different boats: the slow, huge big ferry on the one hand (Siginjai) as well as the speed boat (Express Boat Bahari). We took the slow ferry on the outward journey and the speedboat on the return journey and would therefore like to report on our experiences with both options.
Important: No matter which boat you choose – the Departure times can always change! Therefore, consult the respective company or contact your accommodation.
Variant no. 1: By Slow Ferry (Siginjai) The local ferry is definitely the more leisurely way, to reach Karimunjawa by water. The ferry does not run every day, but only on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and only once a day, more precisely early in the morning.
We personally met on the ferry safer felt than on the speedboat. Of course, the huge boat sways quite a bit, but it’s bearable. If you get seasick quickly, you should definitely stock up on appropriate supplies – a lot of people have thrown up around us.
The departure time is officially with about 6: 30 clock given, but from experience we can confirm that the ferry is happy to depart earlier when it is full. We were able to reserve our ticket through our wonderful accommodation (Ayu Hotel – more on that in a moment). Otherwise you have to buy your ticket directly at the port in the morning on the day of the crossing. The ticket office opens at 5 a.m. In the high season you should not be there much later than 5 am.
The return trip from Karimunjawa to Jepara is every Tuesday and Sunday morning (around 7 am) and Thursday and Friday around 13: 30 Watch.
Duration: approx. 5 hours Price: 111.500 IDR per person for Economy Class or . 01 IDR for VIP class + low adhesion fee
Variant No. 2: By express boat (Express Boat Bahari) The faster option is a Fast Boat crossing. This departs Jepara four times a week: on Monday, Tuesday, Friday (at 9 a.m.) and on Saturday at 11 Watch. You can find more information about the times on the official website, which is unfortunately only available in Indonesian: Express Boat Bahari.
On the day of our crossing, the waves were quite high, so we have absolutely no good memories of the speedboat ride. The same applies here: if you know you get seasick quickly, then make sure you take appropriate precautions. A nice side note: plastic bags are included in the price and will be handed out in advance by the cabin crew.
Price: 92. 01 IDR per person for the Executive Class or 92.000 IDR for VIP Class
Duration: approx. 2 hours
Important: Waves in the Java Sea
Before crossing to Karimunjawa, you should always keep an eye on the waves. The Java Sea is pretty rough – on the way back, for example, we were really shaken up. If in doubt, it is best to contact your accommodation on Karimunjawa.
You can see the forecast here: Wave forecast
By plane to Karimunjawa There is a tiny airport on Karimunjawa which Dewadaru Airport. It is flown from Semarang with a Wings Air (a subsidiary of Lion Air) propeller plane and three times a week: Monday, Friday and Sunday. You can book the ticket on the Lion Air website.
The airport on Karimunjawa is located in the northern part on the island of Kemujan, which as mentioned is connected to the main island of Karimunjawa by a bridge. From the airport you need about by car minutes to the main town which is located in the south of the island. We recommend that you arrange transport to your accommodation in advance, as there is no public bus and taxis are extremely rare.
3. Getting around Karimunjawa There is no public transport on Karimunjawa! You are therefore dependent on a moped. You can get one for .000 IDR per day (or more precisely per 24 hours). By the way, there are no helmets either: “No helmet, no police, no problem”, as our guesthouse owner said.
The streets are indeed in some places in adventurous condition, but there is hardly any traffic (apart from the neighbor children on bikes or mopeds). We usually do not recommend this for new drivers to learn how to ride a moped in Southeast Asia, but there really isn’t much going on on Karimunjawa’s roads.
The biggest danger is the potholes or gravel roads, but with a bit of practice it’s not a problem. In Indonesia, drives on the left. But don’t worry: you get used to it pretty quickly.
4. Beaches on Karimunjawa The most important information in advance: The beaches on Karimunjawa are more natural. Depending on the current and the season, some flotsam (twigs, remains of coral, etc.) can be found on some beaches. Personally, that didn’t bother us at all – on the contrary!
During our visit, the stands were not littered, but very clean – but we have already read in other reports that sometimes Rubbish is washed up. This applies above all to the smaller beaches, which are cleaned little or not at all.
Although the beaches on the two main islands (Karimunjawa & Kemujan) are very beautiful, you will find the right dream beaches with the crystal-clear, turquoise-blue water, in our opinion rather on the small neighboring islands. On our snorkeling excursion (which we will tell you about in a moment) we landed on lonely, heavenly picture-book beaches.
Tanjung Gelam Beach (= Pantai Ujung Gelam) This beach on the western tip of the main island of Karimunjawa is considered one the most beautiful of the island. Here a small entrance fee is required , but the beach is cleaned regularly.
Tanjung Gelam Beach is great for swimming . However, it is most popular at sunset. Because you can admire wonderful sunsets from this beach, Tanjung Gelam Beach is often also known as Sunset Beach. There are also a few bars where you can buy something to drink.
The beach is relatively long – it’s also worth a to go a little further. We climbed a bit over the rocks and had a small bay all to ourselves.
Barakuda Beach (= Pantai Barakuda) Barakuda Beach is located on the east of the island, near Ary’s Lagoon Bungalow & Hotel. During our visit we were (almost) the only guests here. We opened one of the fallen coconuts with our bare hands and drank the coconut water – Robinson Crusoe feeling in perfection!
White Beach (= Pantai Bobi) The White Beach, also called Pantai Bobi, is also located in the east of Karimunjawa – more specifically in the southern part, not too far from the island capital. A small entrance fee is charged here, but White Beach is one of the cleanest on the island.
If you want to experience the sunrise on Karimunjawa: White Beach is perfect for this because it faces east. On the beach you will also find a few places where you can buy something to eat and drink.
Tanjung Gelam Beach (Pantai Ujung Gelam)
Tanjung Gelam Beach (Pantai Ujung Gelam)
Barakuda Beach (Pantai Barakuda)
5. Snorkeling on Karimunjawa Different from many other regions of Southeast Asia, the underwater world around the Karimunjawa archipelago is large and whole still reasonably intact. Therefore our tip: You should not miss a snorkeling trip on Karimunjawa! Quite apart from that, the small islands around Karimunjawa are heavenly beautiful. Snow-white sand & turquoise-blue water – it couldn’t be more beautiful!
We booked our day snorkeling trip directly at our accommodation (more on that in a moment). The excursion takes place in small, manageable groups and starts after breakfast. In the morning there is enough time to explore the underwater world. All equipment will be provided for you. So you don’t have to take anything with you (unless of course you want to).
Around noon the fishing boat heads for a fantastically beautiful, tiny and deserted island. There the crew will prepare lunch, which you can enjoy directly in the shade of the palm trees. After lunch you have some time left on the lonely island – you can go swimming or just lie in the sun. Afterwards, return home by boat.
The price of the day trip depends on the group size. There were six of us and we .04 IDR paid per person. Don’t forget: A t-shirt protects you from the aggressive rays of the sun while snorkeling!
6. Our accommodation tip for Karimunjawa The range of accommodation on Karimunjawa is still manageable. Most of the accommodations are simple to slightly fancier guesthouses. You won’t (fortunately) look for huge hotel bunkers.
Our recommendation: Ayu Hotel We stayed in the fantastically beautiful Ayu Hotel and can warmly recommend this accommodation to you. Quite apart from the lovingly designed main building with its huge garden, the rooms and bungalows are also beautifully furnished.
We ourselves have stayed in a bungalow with an open-air Bathroom stayed – lovely! The system was 2014 completely renovated – you really feel at home from the first moment. This is not least due to the friendly hosts Marco & Eryl, who take care of the well-being of their guests in a very courteous manner. The atmosphere is very informal and personal.
We were also well looked after in culinary terms: the breakfast is very good. Served in Eryl’s main house, it looks a little different every day. Also in the evening we were well fed. We also really liked the offered snorkeling tour. Our conclusion: Clear recommendation and great value for money!
A little hint: Many accommodations in Karimunjawa (including the Ayu Hotel) are not direct located by the sea. With the scooter you can reach the beaches very quickly. Incidentally, the friendly staff will pick you up directly from the jetty upon arrival – very practical after the difficult journey.
You can book the hotel here: Ayu Hotel Karimunjawa
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This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
Have you ever heard of Karimunjawa? Or have you been there yourself and have further tips or experiences? Are you also planning a trip to Karimunjawa and still have questions? We look forward to your comment!