"Karimunjawa islands off Java" Karimunjawa by theo1006

Karimunjawa Travel Guide: 75 reviews and 230 photos

The Karimunjawa island group consists of 27 islands in the Java Sea 90 km north of Jepara. Only 5 of them are inhabited and the whole group has been declared a National Marine Park. They are the best destination from Java for snorkeling and scuba diving or just relaxing on the sandy beaches.

We had wanted to go there in 2008, but found out in time that the ferry "Muria" was out of service for repairs. So in May 2009 we spent five days there and were not disappointed. The number of foreign visitors is still very limited and domestic tourists arrive only on holidays, so it is easy to imagine that the islands are there just for you.

We made two boating trips for snorkeling. One to the islands Cemara Besar, Menjangan Kecil and Menjangan Besar west of the main island, Pulau Karimunjawa; the other one to the islands Pulau Cilik and Pulau Tengah on the east. To tell the truth we saw lots of dead coral, but also much newly grown coral. When we asked about this, we were told that in the past fishermen had discovered the use of drugs and explosives for obtaining an easy catch. The use of these is now strictly forbidden and the locals have learnt that by using them they not only kill the corals but also their own livelyhood.
The regrowth of the corals indicates that the habitat is essentially healthy. We found the least damage near the islands Pulau Cilik and Pulau Tengah, and we guess that the best snorkeling spots may be at the islands farthest from the main island - where we did not go yet.

We also went discovering on the twin islands Karimunjawa and Kemujan. Between these lies a region of mangrove marshes, through which leads a single connecting road. Most tourists remain at Karimunjawa village, but we found some ideal "private" beaches at Kemujan as well as interesting local communities.

The name Karimunjawa
An old Javanese word kremun-kremun means "vaguely visible". That's what Karimunjawa island is from Java's shore, or better still from the top of Muria Mountain. See also OTBP tip The grave of Sunan Nyamplung.

How to get there

If one has money to burn, one may fly from Semarang to the small airstrip - Bandar Dewadaru - on Kemujan island, and from there transfer by boat to the luxury Kura-Kura resort on Pulau Menyawakan.

But we think it is more attractive to come by boat and not be isolated on a resort island. Transport by sea is serviced by the ASDP company (Angkutan Sungai, Danau dan Penyeberangan = Transport on Rivers, Lakes and Between Islands) with two vessels. The fast boat "Kartini I" sails between Semarang or Jepara and Karimunjawa, the slower ferry "Muria" between Jepara and Karimunjawa only. Schedule and prices are published on the Jepara regency website. However it is essential to inquire for the latest at the ASDP telephone number +62.291.591 048, because the info on the website is not kept up to date. A vessel may be taken out of service for maintenance, the schedule adapted to demand, and in the months December, January and February the service is likely to be interrupted due to bad weather.

If you prefer a package tour, check out the Karimunjawa Islands website.

Development

From the info we had collected, we had got the impression that there was not much accommodation to be had between a homestay and the Kura-Kura resort. However, we found there are now several moderately priced hotels or "resorts" on Karimunjawa island offering more comfort than a homestay.

We saw evidence that the government is seriously trying to improve conditions on the Karimunjawa and Kemujan islands, both for the inhabitants and for tourists. The airfield is being renovated (there are plans for making the runway longer), communities on Kemujan got access to electricity a year ago, and brand new billboards exhort people to preserve the environment (Bakau Lestari, Hidupku Lestari, "If the mangroves are preserved, so is my life").

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:As yet untouched by mass tourism
  • Cons:Getting there takes time
  • In a nutshell:Sea, sand, forest... and legends... everything!
  • Last visit to Karimunjawa: May 2009
  • Intro Updated Nov 24, 2010
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Reviews (27)

Comments (1)

  • Mar 28, 2010 at 6:10 AM

    Dear Theo1006, Could you please tell me how we can contact Wisma Apung to make a reservation? thnak you. best regards, linda

theo1006

“To travel hopefully is better than to arrive”

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