As a start, my journey to Karimunjawa didn’t go as expected. However, that makes it still one of my craziest travel stories. In this guide, I’ll tell you a little bit more about that, but also show you the beauty of Karimunjawa and give you some tips about the island. Karimunjawa is a real hidden gem in Indonesia and brings you to an off-the-beaten-track destination in paradise.
Boats are departing from Jepara. Jepara is located 3 hours from Semarang, the nearest larger city. Costs are around €10 for the speedboat (2 hours), which I would recommend. We took the speed boat from Jepara and took the night bus to Jepara from Surabaya. A little tuk-tuk brought us to the harbour early in the morning. The island Karimunjawa isn’t too big, so you can walk most of the bits to your guesthouse.
The best time to travel to Karimunjawa is between May and October. I travelled in November and I can tell you: not the best idea. It was raining a lot and the weather became so bad the boats stopped running – because of that we were locked up for an additional 3 days on the island without cash left.
There are two ATMs on the island, so you should be able to get some money. However, I would advise you to bring enough cash. When we visited, both ATMs were out of service, which meant we didn’t have any money because we were stuck for more days than planned. The main island is called Karimunjawa, but the place exists out of many small islands of which most are not inhabited. There are different homestays to stay on the island, for which I don’t have specific recommendations. Many can now be found on websites such as Booking. When you tell some locals you would like to stay on an uninhabited island, they might be able to help you out and bring you there!
A great way to get around the island is to rent a scooter. We rented a scooter the moment we arrived, as the weather was still good and we wanted to start exploring.
We drove to sunset beach, to experience a stunning sunset, so we’ve heard. Which is 100% true. The beach is rather small, but a great place to wind down and enjoy the views.
Don’t expect too much of the ‘town’ Karimunjawa. However, a small island where not many people live always has a specific vibe to experience.
Some local fish, fresh from the sea is always a good idea right?! In the evening, on the main square in Karimunjawa, you’ll find a fish market. Pick your fish and they will prepare it for you. Time to enjoy your meal!
The easiest way to discover Karimunjawa and the little islands around is by boat. Your guesthouse will be able to arrange a boat tour for you. It is also a great and easy way to visit some of the most beautiful beaches around.
One of the beautiful beaches we visited during our boat tour. Enjoy the swing, the perfect white beach and the stunning blue water. When being here, you know you’re in paradise.
Another beach we visited during our boat trip was Ujung Gelam. I loved this place. There is a palm tree hanging towards the water that you can climb (or leave that part to the locals). I loved being on this island, also because of some beautiful local girls that we’ve spent some time with.
This place deserves the biggest shout-out ever. We were stuck on the island because of bad weather and no boats leaving. We didn’t account for so much cash and all ATMs were out of service. We did stay on the ground in the restaurant during the night and had all our meals (as simple as possible) at this place. Best. People. Ever!
As you can read – travel to Karimunjawa in Indonesia is quite off the beaten track. It isn’t your main tourist destination, but reaching the place isn’t impossible either and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning tropical island. A local tip! Is this an experience you might like? Also, check out the guide about Sempu Island – another little island located on the coast of Java.