Karimunjawa consists of 27 small islands, the main ones being Karimunjawa, Kemujan, Menjangan Besar and Menjangan Kecil.
Since June 2016, there is 24-hour electricity in most places in Karimunjawa Island, though some other islands may receive as few as six hours per day.
Most facilities for travelers are found on the largest island, also called Karimunjawa. The main settlement is at the southern end of that island. It is where ferries dock and most services are to be found. Accommodation is scattered across the island.
Travel out to the furthest islands in the archipelago will take two or more hours depending on the type of boat used.
Tropical. It is very hot here in the dry season (approximately April to October) and wet and humid in the rainy season (December till March).
According to a local legend, Karimun means not clear or obvious, because in clear weather the islands can be seen from the coast of mainland Java, but not clearly.
Karimunjawa was first settled by Sunan Nyamplungan, the son of Sunan Muria, one of the Muslim Saints (Sunan) who introduced Islam to Java.
Karimunjawa is more famous than Bali (who was only a base for pirates for long) since centuries. The island has been known by navigators worldwide as a haven on the trade roads trough java sea to Borneo or Spices Islands and can be found under different names (Tortuga, Chirimao, Carimon jawa...) on all Antique portulans and maps of the area.
Historical Sources relate the discovery of the Archipelago by Chinese Army sent by emperor Kubhilai Khan in 1293 (they named it CHI-LI-MEN), followed by Ottoman Turkish navigators in 1403, Portuguese, Dutch, French (Bouguinville), and English. Archeological researches have found porcelains from the Ming dynasty.
Many Yachtmen stop now in Karimunjawa on their way from Australia to Thailand or China sea or back.
Mostly low-lying islands with sandy beaches. There is some fringing mangrove around Kemujan. The highest point as Bukit Gajah at 506m.
Flora and fauna
One can find various kinds of sea animals, like turtles, sharks, and fishes, in the watery territory of Karimunjawa. On land, birds, deer, monkeys and snakes. Entrance to the natural forest requires a National Park guide.
Javanese is the most common language of communication between local residents, with Indonesian widely used and understood as the national language. English is not widely understood, so knowledge of some Indonesian is recommended.
There are regular ferries from Jepara, Semarang and Kendal, except during the monsoon season from December to February when the waves may be too high for a day or two, except in severe cases like on December 31, 2014 when about 500 tourists could not go back to Java due to 3.5-m-high waves and the ATMs ran out of money after 3 days, because some of the coal cargos also landed to avoid high waves and its crew also use the ATMs. Cash for at least 5 days should be prepared, because vendors still have their merchandises.
- There is a regular ferry, travelling 5 hours from Jepara (Rp 60,000) to Karimunjawa Island. Be at the port before 06:00, as the ferry sometimes departs earlier than scheduled. The ferry departs at 07:00, four times a week.
- There is also a speedboat, travelling 2 hours from Jepara to Karimunjava (Express Bahari, Rp 150,000). It departs at 09:00, four times a week. In high season it may need to be booked in advance. Go to the office along the street to Jepara port or ask your hotel to do it for you.
All boats are only operational if the waves are none to medium.
- Express Bahari, ☏ (Kendal), (Karimunjawa). Departing Kendal for Karimunjawa at 08:30 on Tuesdays and Fridays. Departing Karimunjawa for Kendal at 12:00 on Wednesdays and Sundays. Kendal is the town immediately to the west of Semarang, reachable by bus and train. The crossing is scheduled to take two and a half hours; traveler feedback indicates three to four hours is more realistic. Schedules are not reliable and services may be cancelled at the last minute if there are not enough ticket sales. VIP tickets Rp260,000.
- 1 Dewandaru Airport (KWB IATA) (on Kemujan). There are flights with Airfast from Surabaya. Travel from the airport to town takes about 45 minutes.
- Airfast, ☏ (Surabaya ), (Karimunjawa). Departing Surabaya for Karimunjawa at 11:31 on Tuesdays and 11:40 on Thursdays, arriving 1 hr 20 min later; departing Karimunjawa for Surabaya at 08:00 on Wednesdays and 13:45 on Thursdays. Tickets may be ordered over the phone but must be paid for and collected in person at the airport of departure. The system seems to be the one who pays first gets the ticket, so even if you order a ticket over the phone, it is not yours until you pay for it. Cost for a taxi from the airport to the Karimunjawa town is around Rp350,000. Rp379,900 single for flights from Surabaya to Karimunjawa; Rp309,900 single for flights from Karimunjawa to Surabaya.
- There are direct flights from Jakarta to Karimunjawa and flights via Semarang. The second option is considered to be cheaper.
On Karimunjawa and Kemujan islands you can rent cars or motorcycles. Boats are available to get to the other islands. It might be a good idea to book a rental car before you arrive in Karimunjawa because there are few cars.
Beaches and beautiful coral reefs.
Diving and snorkelling. There are many interesting spots for diving like Taka Panyawangan and Gosong Cemara. There are some shipwrecks that attract fish and divers alike.
You can also go hiking around the island to find many places where there is a beautiful panorama
The best known handicrafts in Karimunjawa are its wood carvings, and many shops sell them.
Many people also go to Karimunjawa to find the dewandaru plant, believing it can prolong life.
Surrounded by sea, Karimunjawa offers lots of seafood. Fresh fish and prawns are staples in the island diet. Restaurants are located within hotels. Other eateries, or warungs, provide decent cheap food like fried rice, fish, or an assortment of veggies. Be flexible and you'll do fine.
- Eat & Meet, Jl H Dr Soetomo RT01 RW02, Karimunjawa (near the ATM), ☏ . Wood-fired pizza, pasta, beer, ice-cream
There are no clubs and only one lounge bar, the Cumibar. It is difficult to find alcohol, but can be found at Breve Azurine (Cumibar & Lumba Beach Snack Bar), the Eat & Meet restaurant and The Happinezz hostel. A beer costs about Rp45,000.
Bottled water can be bought readily. At meals, seasonal fresh fruit juice is a treat (mango, orange, avocado).
There are various kinds of accommodation, from four star hotels to homestays and campsites.
- 1 The Happinezz. The Happinezz is one of the nicest hostels in the centre of Karimunjawa. They offer five clean and comfortable rooms with private bathroom, fan, WiFi, 24-hour electricity and breakfast. In the common area they have a large shared kitchen. The indoor/outdoor lounge area is a relaxing and cosy place to meet other travellers, share experiences, make music and watch movies.
- 2 Roemah Emak Villa. A relaxing home for family, next to the beach.
- Melati hotel
- Blue Lagoon hotel
- Dewandaru hotel
- Wisma Apung floating hotel
- 3 [dead link] Escape Beach hotel.
- 4 Kura-kura Resort, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. On Menyawakan Island. Shaded by coconut trees and surrounded by white sand beaches and pristine coral reefs. A high class hotel with scuba facilities.
- 5 Breve Azurine Lagoon Resort (Jiwaquest), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Five minutes to the east of Karimunjawa town, on Lele lagoon. Twelve rooms, 2 restaurants and bars.