Karimunjawa: Java in the Caribbean

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Karimun Jawa is a beautiful archipelago as well as home to coral reefs, mangrove forests, coastal forests and hundreds of marine fauna species of more than 200 species of which are ornamental fish species. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – Indonesia boasts an enormous coastline with magnificent views, and the Karimunjawa group of islands is a gem of the archipelago. Situated in the middle of Java Sea, these islands belong to Jepara Regen­cy, Central Java; just five are inhab­ited while 27 are without any human settlements.

The name “Karimunjawa” is derived from folklore, a story of Sunan Muria who exiled a defiant boy called Sheikh Amir Hasar to “kremun-kremun” is­lands, a Javanese expression meaning “vague”. Because of its indistinct look, people often refer to “Karimun”, and more recently to “Karimunjawa”.

The island, which was designated a National Park in March 2001, is home to coral reefs, mangrove forests, coast­al forests and hundreds of marine fauna, of which more than 200 spe­cies are ornamental fish. This small archipelago is also home to some rare animals, such as the White-bellied Sea Eagles, Hawksbill Sea Turtle and Green Sea Turtle. With its white sands and natural grandeur, Karimunjawa attracts a steady stream of both local and foreign tourists.

This place is quite accessible and can be reached either from Kartini Beach Pier in Jepara or from Kendal Port in Semarang: just head towards the docks. It only takes two hours to arrive on the most beautiful island in Central Java.

The drive from Semarang to Kartini Pier also takes about two hours; just follow the signs along the way. Before boarding the boat, confirm the return schedule as they do not sail every day. From Kartini Pier, boats embark on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The usual daily departure time is between 9~10 a.m.

Return trips from Karimunjawa are scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. The same goes for the trip from Kendal Harbor to Karimunjawa. Tickets for speedboats are also rela­tively affordable, ranging from Rp150 thousand Rupiah per departure.

Karimunjawa is also accessible in just 30 minutes by aeroplane from Ah­mad Yani Airport, Semarang, to Dewa Daru Airport on the island of Kemu­jan. Boat travel is far more popular with travelers, however.

A good variety of hotels and lodg­ing options are available, at an af­fordable price. Some locals also open their residences for homestays. Travel agents offer tour packages, for two days and one night to four days and three nights. Therefore, a trip to this small archipelagic destination can be arranged to fit your schedule.

Several islands have had nick­names bestowed: Vacation Island, Paradise of Java, and Caribbean van Java.

A majority of tourists visiting Kari­munjawa spend much time under­water, with scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing, sunbathing or sim­ply enjoying the gorgeous sundowns. For more energetic travelers there is a mangrove tracking tour in Kemojan Village which is popular. Shark breed­ing in Pulau Menjangan Besar is also sought-after site by visitors.

While it is not yet famous, this ar­chipelagic chain is on par with Bali for its beautiful scenery, tourism sites and friendly locals. Thus, if you want to cherish your weekend with a unique experience, Independent Ob­server recommends Karimunjawa as a destination. (Aldo)