The idea of having another holiday with friends has been there all along after our last year’s trip to Derawan (post here) and since my traveling buddy was so busy with his thesis this year, we finally decided to take a short holiday instead of a time consuming one. Our choice fell for Karimunjawa, an archipelago consisting of 27 islands located in northwest of Jepara, Central Java. There were only 3 of us when I first arranged the trip, but we ended up as a group of 10. Some friends went there back in 2010 and the review was pretty good. You might want to know more about it here. As we did when we traveled to Derawan, we joined WisataKita again this time.
We actually took the 3D2N tour, from Friday to Sunday, but since the ship will depart early on Friday, we had to fly to Semarang (the closest airport to Jepara) on Thursday evening, go directly by land to Jepara and stayed there for 1 night. None of us had been there before, so the transportation method reference from Jepara’s tourism website was really helpful. I contacted all 5 travels listed there, but finally chose Panama Travel as they are the most flexible one – the others would only depart outside of their regular service hour at a higher price. So off we go to Jepara from Semarang airport and stayed the night in Samudra Hotel, located near Kartini port at Jepara.
We met WisataKita crew at 8 AM in Kartini port, from where Bahari Express will depart. For your info, there are 3 options to go to Karimunjawa: KMC Kartini departing from Semarang every Thursday, Friday and Saturday with the duration of 4 hours, Bahari Express (which we took) departing from Jepara every Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the duration of 2 hours, and KMP Siginjai (ferry) departing from Jepara every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday with the duration of 4.5 hours. Bahari Express departed on time at 9 AM and we arrived in Karimunjawa port at 11 AM.
Again, instead of staying at villager’s houses, we upgraded the accommodation to Kelapa Karimunjawa Beach Resort. It was the most distant accommodation the tour participants were staying as it is located 2-3 km from the town square (alun-alun), so WisataKita team booked a minibus to pick us up every time. As soon as we arrived, we were picked up and checked in at the resort to have lunch and arrange our belongings before we continued with the activities.
At 2 PM, we were back at the port to go to Cemara Besar island and snorkel there. The first impression when our boat set sail there was how clean and beautiful the sea was. When we snorkeled, however, the coral reefs are not so colorful (or maybe it was the effect of me having seen Derawan before). After snorkeling for 1 hour, we went back to Karimunjawa island to chill out at Tanjung Gelam beach. The beach is so clean with white, soft sand that is so beautiful during sunset. After sunset, we went back to the resort.
Our second day started at 8 AM, when the minibus again took us to the port. We spent the whole day on the boat (we cannot do much at the resort anyway, since there is no electricity from 6 AM to 6 PM!). First destination was snorkeling at Pulau Kecil, where we saw beautiful fishes and quite colorful coral reefs (again, not as colorful as the ones in Derawan) with clear view. The downside, though, was the sea level is so low that some of us hit the coral reefs (which only later I know would cause great itchiness to the affected skin). The trip continued to Batu Topeng beach, again located in Karimunjawa island, where we had lunch and had some time to play frisbee and chill out.
After lunch, off we go to another snorkeling at Pulau Tengah. Unfortunately, the sea level was quite high that Pulau Gosong (a sand island with an area of only 5 m x 8 m) didn’t appear on the surface so we didn’t go there. After snorkeling, we directly went to Pulau Menjangan Besar to see the shark captivity. Then, we went back to the resort. Later that evening, we were taken to the town square to buy some souvenirs. Instead of buying souvenirs, we were tempted by the very cheap fresh seafood (we were too late to taste the lobsters and clams but we still got to taste the giant squid priced only 35 kIDR) and ordered grilled squid, and very tasty kelapa bakar (grilled coconut – they put the coconut on fire and after the shell turned black, they crack it open to put in some cracked grilled ginger and honey). Satisfied with the snack we had (that was after we had dinner at the resort), we bought some firecrackers and fireworks before we went back to the resort.
On the third day, we had to finally say goodbye to Karimunjawa – our ship departed at 9 AM, 2 hours earlier than the scheduled time and arrived at Jepara port at 11 AM. Well, it wasn’t the end of our trip yet. Our flight was at 7.20 PM so we still got plenty of time to have some culinary adventure in Semarang after we arrived there at 1.30 PM. We had the famous lumpia semarang, nasi soto ayam, wingko babat, another famous Oen ice cream, nasi gandul, and nasi ayam until 6 PM when we went to the airport.
Apparently, God didn’t allow us to fly back to Jakarta that night. It was the day of the JW Lounge incident at Soekarno Hatta airport, Jakarta and somehow no Garuda Indonesia flight was departing that day. After waiting for almost 6 hours at Ahmad Yani airport, Semarang, we decided to stay for another night in Semarang and fly back to Jakarta the next afternoon by other airline, to prevent another delay by Garuda. Thanks to my situation-maker traveling buddies, the tense was not too high and we enjoyed the extra night. We even had some lunch box from another famous restaurant in Semarang and the famous lekker Paimo before we took off. The trip that was supposed to end on Sunday evening had finally ended on Monday afternoon and we all had fun. 🙂
Overall, one thing to remember when you book your trip to Karimunjawa is to go there before you explore the eastern part of Indonesia. Otherwise, you will be a bit disappointed. The place is beautiful, with the clear blue sky and sea, but still the sea creatures are lacking compared to those of eastern Indonesia, say, in my case, Derawan.
My message to other travelers (I heard this from Adam, my tour guide of Great Ocean Rd trip back in 2012): leave only footprints, take only pictures. Wherever you’re going.