Do you want to travel to Karimunjawa? Excellent, go for it! Karimunjawa is an amazing place on earth. Here are our travel tips.
To be honest: You’ll need some time to plan before heading to Karimunjawa. We have been traveling for a long time when we finally reached Jepara, the small town from where the ferries to Karimunjawa leave. We slept at a small Guesthouse (“Sriya”) for a few hours, went to the harbor and tried to get our ticket. Even though it was only 5 o’clock in the morning, there where hundreds of people boarding the boat with their children, their animals and their baggage. As soon as the ferry left the harbor, everyone was unpacking their plastic bag.To be honest: Karimunjawa is worth every effort. In short, the island is one of the most amazing places we’ve ever traveled to. These are our best tips for a trip to Karimunjawa.
How to go there
Most people travel to Karimunjawa by boat. There are two harbors in the North of Java: Semarang and Jepara. We only travelled from Jepara’s harbor as it’s more frequent.
You can either take the slow ferry or the speedboat. You’ll find the estimated arrivals and departures on this website, but please note that the times can change. Our ferry definitely left before 7 o’clock. We advise you to check if there even is a boat (wind, weather, whatever) and if yes, when it will be leaving. If you decide to go with the speedboat (we’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages later), you better call the telephone number on the website above. If you go within high season, you also better call the harbor and ask them to book at ticket for you.
The slow ferry takes about 6 hours whereas the speedboat only takes 2 hours. We felt a lot safer on the slow ferry, although the big ship waved a lot (so does the speedboat). Traveling with the speedboat really scared us…. Fun fact: Plastic bags are included in the rate and are delivered by the cabin crew.
Both options, the speedboat as well as the slow ferry, are not expensive: The ticket for the ferry is about 60.000 IDR, going by speedboat will cost about 140.000 IDR. Always check the waves before travelling. You can download the forecast here. Short explanation: Try to avoid pink areas around Karimunjawa.
When all the other boats left, there is another option: You can charter a small fishing boat. This is actually no joke: We met a group of Germans who did so. It took them 8 hours on a tiny boat. On top of that, the motor broke on the high seas. Moreover, this horrible trip wasn’t cheap: they paid 7.000.000 IDR. Think twice before traveling with a fishing boat to Karimunjawa.
To complete all possibilities, you can also reach Karimunjawa by plane. There is a Cessna (8 seats) departing from Semarang. In fact, the flight was to expensive for us.
We can recommend you the Lonely Planet Indonesia which includes some pages (not a lot!) for Karimunjawa. There will be a new edition soon!
Transport at Karimunjawa
There is no public transport at Karimunjawa, that’s why you’ll need a scooter to go around. The rent is about 75.000 IDR per day. There are no helmets at Karimunjawa: “No helmet, no police, no problem” like the owner of our Guesthouse said. The roads are sometimes in really bad condition but there is hardly any traffic except the neighborhood kids on their bikes.
You can easily reach a lot of beaches with your scooter. Go to Tanjung Gelam Beach for nice sunsets. If you want to feel like Robinson Crusoe, head to Barakuda Beach and try to open coconuts with bare hands. Don’t miss the beautiful small islands around Karimunjawa. You can reach them with a fishing boat. A snorkeling day trip is 200.000 IDR per person.
You can either be modest like Eddie, the French guy who slept in a room without any window and an Indonesian styled bathroom with a squat toilet. Or you can do it like us: We booked a room at Ayu Hotel, a lovely accomodation owned by a German guy and his Indonesian wife. There are two rooms in the main building where the owners live and four beautifully furnished bungalows. We slept at a bungalow and enjoyed our stay a lot. The outdoor bathroom is lovely. The breakfast was great. It was served in the main building. Almost all the guests were sitting together at the big table – we felt like home. We stayed there during Idul Fitri, the most important muslim holidays, that’s why all the restaurants where closed and we weren’t able to find any food. In the evening the owners cooked for us – we really appreciated that. The bungalows cost 429.000 IDR per night for two which isn’t expensive at all regarding to what you get. Make sure that you book the room in advance, especially during high season.
Take enough cash with you. There is only one ATM, which in fact didn’t work while we where at Karimunjawa. There is no electricity on the whole island during the day, but only between 6pm and 6am. Internet is available, but only at a few spots like Café Amore and moreover the connection might drop unexpectedly.
Last but not least we’re gonna show you some pictures of this divine island. Go there before it’s run over by tourists!
Have you already seen our video of Indonesia?
Have you ever been to Karimunjawa? Tell us about your tips, we’re looking forward to your comment!