Have you ever had that dream where you were on a beautiful island with white sand, blue waters, fresh fish and coconuts? Well, you don’t have to dream much longer. Get your ass to the Karimunjawa Islands in Indonesia and start living your dream 🙂
In preparation of my trip to Indonesia in December 2014, I was reading my Lonely Planet Indonesia. I was reading about Java, when I came across the Karimunjawa islands. This group of islands is about 80km off the coast of Java and it’s relatively hard to get to. This means, no crowds! 🙂 Of my 3 weeks in Indonesia, this was definitely a highlight!
In this blog I will introduce to the islands, show you how we got there and what there is to do on the islands. I will let the pictures speak for themselves, because it was just so awesome 🙂
What's coming up
Getting to the Karimunjawa islands
Step 1: Train from Jakarta to Semarang
The day after my friend and I landed on the airport of Jakarta, we headed off to the train station. We took a cab from the hotel and arrived at the right train station (yes, mind which one you get a ticket from!). After a good night of sleep, we were taking the train to Semarang. This train stop is on the line between Jakarta and Surabaya. Check out this excellent guide on train travel on Java to get an idea of the different routes on the island, the types of trains and timetables.
We bought a ticket to Semarang at the counter and could take the train one hour later. The train was surprisingly comfortable to travel with! Nice seats, clean and good service in the train. It was a great moment to read the Lonely Planet Indonesia and see what was in store for us in the upcoming days.
Step 2: Taxi from Semarang to Jepara
We had decided to take the ferry from Jepara instead of Semarang, as at the time it was more frequent and took less time. So, when we arrived in Semarang by train, we had to get to Jepara. We had two options: by bus or by taxi. By bus was going to take hours, there were two of us and were just on a 3 week holiday, we decided to split the cab costs (I think this was about €35). This way we would arrive in Jepara by daylight. We spent the night in a simple guesthouse, close to the ferry.
By the time we got to Jepara we were super tired! We asked the reception if it was possible to get a massage closeby. The manager arranged for two ladies to come of to the hotel and do the massage over there. Very relaxing and great service! 🙂
Step 3: Ferry from Jepara to Karimunjawa
The next morning, we had an early ferry to the Karimunjawa islands. The hotel reception had helped us to book tickets for the next day. We took the fast ferry which took about 2-3 hours. The sea was quite calm, so we were lucky!
We had booked our stay via booking.com in the Cocunut House, a hostel / guesthouse type of accommodation. It was an easy walk from the ferry stop to the Coconut house and we were welcomed very friendly. The rooms were simple but well taken care off. The location of the guesthouse is on the main street, which is about 200 meters long 😉 We stayed on the island for 5 days and had a blast!
Daytrip around the Karimunjawa Islands
From the main island, you can easily book a daytrip around the islands. Your hotel or guesthouse can definitely arrange this for you. You will most likely be grouped with other tourists (although when I was there, there only seemed to be 20 other foreign tourists on the islands) for a great day out.
You will visit several tropical islands on which no one lives. They are very small but have great vegetation and beaches. It’s a true blessing to visit such a beautiful space and discover the little islands. Sometimes you cross from one to the other by boat, by sometimes the water is too shallow and you walk to the island 😉
The boat is small but solid and luckily had some cover against the sun! Even though it was cloudy, our white skin got pretty burned so on the way back, we were hiding under the cover 🙂
Exploring the main island
The next three days, we were exploring the main island. We rented a scooter (only way to get around on the island) and after some practice on the main street we took off. There is no motorised traffic on the island so the only way to get in an accident if you cause it yourself 😉
There are plenty of pretty beaches and and palmtrees to take silly pictures 😀 Some are a bit hard to get to by scooter but then we would park it at the top and walk down.
If you want to watch the sunset, there are a couple of viewpoints to up your Instagram game 😉
Dinner we got on the food market every day. You could pick a fish and have it cleaned and grilled on the spot. In addition, we would get some Nasi Goreng from one of the stands in the main street, some spicy tempeh and as dessert a Pisang Goreng.
Want to know more?
As with many places in Asia, information is often best searched for locally 🙂 We were not very prepared as to when the ferry was leaving. The hostel gave us the timetables, but could not book ticket for us. We arrived in high season (December) but we could still get a ferry ticket for the speedboat next day. So although this trip requires some planning, take it easy 😉
One tip: take enough cash. ATM’s at places like these are often empty and you don’t want to miss out on a great tour because you’re broke.
If you want to know some more practicalities, places to eat, viewpoints etcetera, make sure to check out this blog by Travelfish – it’s super comprehensive and the links at the bottom of the post will answer most of your questions too!