Karimunjawa: discover this hidden gem of Java
Karimunjawa, a well-kept secret that we lovingly share exclusively with you. Situated all alone in the Java Sea, you’ll find the stunning Karimunjawa Archipelago, consisting of 27 idyllic islands with Karimunjawa as the main island.
This island is still relatively undiscovered, as it doesn’t fall on the typical travel routes for many people, often leading to it being overlooked when exploring Java. What a shame… because in the meantime, we’ve visited Sumatra, Java, Bali, and Lombok, and this island stands out head and shoulders above the rest. If you want to experience paradise in Indonesia, then Karimunjawa is the place to be.
In addition to its beautiful white beaches and crystal-clear water, Karimunjawa also boasts a small village, mangroves, and a stunning green environment.
In this article about Karimunjawa
- Beaches in Karimunjawa
- Things to do
- Travel time
- Practical information
- The coolest accommodations
- How to get there?
- Our verdict
Beaches of Karimunjawa
The three most famous beaches in Karimunjawa are all located next to each other. Here, you will find small eateries and even two bars. Take a right at the intersection on the main road, and drive a few minutes uphill on a sandy road. Eventually, you’ll see a sign on your right indicating the name of the beach. A bit further, you can park your scooter and quickly find the beach.
The first beach you’ll encounter is Tanjung Gelam, the smallest of the three. It is surrounded by lush greenery and plenty of shade. Beautiful palm trees stretch to the water, and there are a few small eateries where you can buy fresh coconuts and order nasi goreng. Bring your snorkeling gear to explore the stunning coral everywhere.
The busiest beach is Pantai Sunset, and for good reason. Here, you’ll find two nice bars and bean bags to relax with a cold Bintang. It’s not a very large beach, and it’s never too crowded. However, there’s less shade, so if you get too warm, dive into the water quickly.
A beautifully green environment and stunning rocks characterize this beach. It’s incredibly beautiful.
Bobby Beach (White Beach)
Bobby Beach is a beautiful white sandy beach with crystal-clear water located on the east side of Karimunjawa. This piece of paradise in the southern part, not far from the island’s capital, requires a small entrance fee but offers one of the cleanest beaches on the island. White Beach is also perfect for sunrise, and there are some small warungs where you can grab a drink or a bite.
What to do in Karimunjawa
Besides relaxing on one of the many beautiful beaches in Karimunjawa, you can discover much more on this island. Grab a scooter, enjoy a cocktail, watch a sunset, and go snorkeling. Well, life on Karimunjawa is quite tough. Despite being a small island with little tourism, there’s more than enough to experience.
If you’re in Karimunjawa, snorkeling is a must. Yes, it’s a MUST! During a snorkeling trip, you visit 3 snorkeling spots and two islands. You’ll have a fantastic lunch and be amazed by the beautiful surroundings. The cost for a snorkeling trip is approximately 15 euros per person, including lunch and equipment.
Everywhere you look, you’ll find beautiful coral and countless fish. We also went to Turtle Point, where we spotted 2 turtles. The underwater life here was stunning, and the bounty islands where you anchor seem like they’re straight out of a movie. Besides turtles, we also saw a giant pufferfish and a lionfish.
You can easily book the tour through your accommodation.
Island Exploration with a Scooter
A scooter is practically a must on this island, or else you won’t get anywhere. We decided to explore the island as much as possible for a day. Everywhere, you are greeted warmly, and you discover the beautiful green surroundings of this island. Crossing cows, goats, and chickens are a common sight here. We searched for deserted beaches, which turned out to be a bit disappointing. After a challenging ride and a descent, we did find a deserted beach. Unfortunately, there was more plastic than white sand.
In the middle of the island, you’ll find a large mangrove. It’s a fun place to visit if you want something different. Although they charge an entrance fee, there’s almost never anyone there.
Unfortunately, we didn’t do this as we aren’t experienced divers and no official dive school was established when we were there. However, diving is said to be very beautiful here. There are shipwrecks, sharks, and incredibly healthy coral. If you’re experienced, this is definitely a recommendation.
Enjoy a Cocktail at Pantai Sunset
Go to Pantai Sunset during sunset, order a cocktail, and relax in one of the bean bags. All you have to do then is enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
Hotspots & food in Karimunjawa
Karimunjawa is not like Canggu or one of the Gili Islands where you have a plethora of trendy eateries to choose from. This is precisely what makes Karimunjawa such a unique and pleasant place. You can enjoy delicious meals at a local warung or indulge in a fancy dinner with a view of the sea. Discover the best restaurants in Karimunjawa.
The Fish Market of Karimunjawa is undoubtedly the number one spot to grab dinner in the evening. It might be a bit startling when you arrive. Fish is simply laid out on a table and filleted on the not-so-clean ground. It’s not exactly up to European standards. But rest assured, the fish couldn’t be fresher, and it’s expertly grilled on the barbecue right in front of you. A whole tuna will cost you less than 3 euros, and this is more than enough for a satisfying meal for two. For a few cents, you can also get a plate of rice to go with it. Voila, dinner is served!
The Coolest Restaurants and Coffee Shops in Karimunjawa
- WAIKI: from smoothie bowls to Espresso martinis
- Restaurant The happinezz Karimunjawa: from nasi to burgers
- Karimunjawa Coffeeshop: for the tastiest coffees
- Warung Ibu Esther
- Martabak & Terang Bulan DAMARA: because martabak is always a good idea
- Kawela: a super cool and hip spot
Best time to travel to Karimunjawa
In Indonesia, there are two seasons: dry and rainy. Generally, the dry season in Indonesia lasts from April to October, making it the best time to visit Karimunjawa.
During the rainy season, especially from December to February, the Java Sea can become extremely rough! It’s possible that boats may not operate due to strong waves.
Transportation in Karimunjawa
The best way to explore the island is by scooter. Scooters can often be rented at your accommodation for approximately 5 euros per day. There is hardly any traffic, making driving here delightful. However, be mindful that you should drive on the left side, and in some places, the roads may be a bit less well-maintained.
Which budget do i need in Karimunjawa?
Karimunjawa is undeniably a budget-friendly destination. You’ll find numerous homestays, and you can join a warung for just a few euros. Your stay on Karimunjawa doesn’t have to be expensive at all. If you prefer a bit more luxury, a fancy hotel, and the occasional good espresso, the costs will be higher. Your budget depends on your preferences and travel style. To give you an idea, we’ve listed some costs for you.
Hotels on Karimunjawa:
- Hostels: 5 – 10 euros per night
- Hotels: 20 – 30 euros per night
- Resorts/luxury hotels: 50 – 150 euros per night
Food Costs on Karimunjawa:
- Warung: 2-3 euros per person
- Western restaurant: 5 – 10 euros per person
- Beer: 2 euros
- Soft drink: 1 euro
- Scooter: 50,000 – 80,000 per day (approximately 3 – 5 euros)
- Beach parking: 10,000 (0.80 euros)
- Snorkeling trip: 150,000 – 300,000 per person (10 – 20 euros)
As a general guideline, a budget traveler can expect to need around IDR 500,000 to IDR 700,000 per day (25 – 40 euros). For a traveler with a moderate budget, a daily budget between IDR 800,000 and IDR 1,500,000 should be sufficient (50 – 80 euros).
What are nice places to stay in Karimunjawa?
How to get to Karimunjawa?
While it may not be on the main route, it’s not too difficult to get to Karimunjawa. We departed from Yogyakarta, where you can easily arrange a bus on any street corner. The bus leaves around midnight and takes about 5 hours. You’ll arrive at the Jepara port around half past five in the morning, where a ferry to the island departs (you can also take the fast boat, which takes 2 hours). The ferry ride takes approximately 4 hours, and don’t be surprised as the boat gets quite crowded. Try to find a reclining bed on the upper deck to enjoy some fresh air and even take a short nap, just as I did. You might have to share your bed with others, but that’s part of the experience.
Make sure to coordinate with your hotel to arrange pickup at the port.