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Karimunjawa Islands

Travel Guide

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The Karimunjawa Islands are an idyllic group of 27 tropical islands surrounded by aquamarine water and coral reefs located approximately 120 kilometres north of the Central Java city of Semarang and 90 kilometres north of Jepara.

Disappointingly for the local tourism industry, foreigners are infrequent visitors to these stunning islands, meaning the infrastructure sometimes feels a little rudimentary which can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

This means that travelling the 25 kilometres to the northern tip of the island from the southern town of Karimunjawa where the ferry port is located requires the use of a motorbike, as no public transport exists. Likewise, no regular shuttle services run to the outlying islands, meaning a boat charter is a must if you wish to really get off the beaten track and stay overnight somewhere off the main island.

Accommodation is almost exclusively located on the main island and in the main town of Karimunjawa; it's generally of the homestay variety, which can provide a very local experience. Those seeking luxury can find this too at one of the nearby resorts, but be warned that these are almost always completely empty due to a lack of tourists demanding this style of accommodation.

When it comes to food, most eating places in Karimunjawa are set up at night in the form of a temporary warung or kaki lima, whereas Warung Bu Ester opens all day, every day, in a fixed location next to the boat dock. They serve up standard Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng and mie goreng as well as a selection of daily specials housed in a self-serve cabinet. The owner is a friendly Batak lady who will do her best to give you a good feed. Another bonus – there is cold beer!

Electricity on the island is only available at night, switching on at 17:30 and shutting off at 06:00. There is the occasional surge of power during the day, but it can’t be relied upon. Of course, this affects hotel rooms with fans and air-con to the extent that rooms become incredibly hot during the day. The other effect is that there aren’t too many places in town with refrigeration, so grabbing a cold drink can be difficult.

An ATM and a police station are located in the main town of Karimunjawa, the main ferry port is within walking distance of all the hotels and homestays, and internet services are available at a number of shops. 3G internet is also available on your phone through Telkomsel.

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Text and/or map last updated on 9th September, 2012.

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