Indonesia – Karimun Jawa

Sitting in economy class sometimes for me is like torturing my self, starting from the heat due to the non-existent Air Conditioner, cigarette smoke *gosh I hate cigarette’s smoke from those selfish smokers who won’t let us breathe fresh air (no offense to  smokers😀 ), to the uncomfortable seats which can be made from fiberglass or wood. It feels like I want to scream at someone.

However, I always try to enjoy myself by observing something unique such as looking at a group of mothers who were busy preparing their mats on the floor, ready to be seated and sleeping on it with their little monsters, a bunch of university students laughing at their own jokes and believe me they were the most noisy bunch, a couple always hugging each other while behind them were sitting two old men who were always giggling looking at them hugging, and the last were some foreigners who were always pacing between the deck and their seat *it seems that it was their first time taking a boat.

Well, that scene happened on a ferryboat called KMP Muria from Jepara to Karimun Jawa (Karjaw) island

The trip to Karjaw was an idea that my colleague, Wenny, and I created in less than 1 month. Using my full week leave that I got from my office and Wenny’s last chance to have a holiday before she moved to another company, we started our journey at 2 August to 5 August 2010.

at Karjaw Small Port

At Karjaw Small Port

Karimun Jawa is actually an archipelago consisting of 27 islands, 5 of which are inhabited with Karjaw being the most famous island to stay in. When we arrived at Karjaw, I was a little surprised that this island’s urban planning is quite decent, where the streets are already in asphalt condition and along the streets I could find lots of residences, home-stays or hostels—which were usually two-story buildings, some warungs and souvenir stores. According to a local resident, the island started to grow rapidly since 2009, when lots of tourists started to come and made Karjaw famous among domestic tourists.

The center of this island is a town’s square, which I can reach 300 meters from my home-stay. Near to the town square is a small port for small boats which will take you to go around the islands, several government offices, hostels, warungs and schools. Actually, the inhabitant area in this island is quite small, as I remember when I took a bike trying to get lost in the middle of the city, I always found the same building over and over again😀

Trying to get some delicious food in here is quite difficult; the only famous warung is warung Bu Esther, that is located across town’s square. She serves home made food which taste Ehm…so so lah..I suggest not to come after 8pm, since probably you will get nothing. Warung Bu Esther is maybe just one of a few warungs which serve rice, some meat, fish, vegetables and nasi goreng of course. While others serve mie goreng and gorengan.

Enough with the details about the island, I cannot wait to do island-hopping around Karjaw.

FISH-FEEDING WHILE SNORKELING AT PULAU KECIL

Pulau Kecil

Snorkeling at Pulau Kecil

This island has a white sand beach, and, of course, nothing special in this island😦 . At first, I was quite confused, what kind of activities should we do in this inhabited island. I was lazy to go around this island, or having a sunbath, because, unlucky for me, the weather was cloudy, looked like the rain would pour anytime soon.

Then I asked the tour guide, what could we do here? He said that I could go snorkeling around the small port. I thought, what?!! Snorkeling around the port? ?  In my mind, if I were snorkeling around the port I was sure that I would meet dead corals and no fish around them.  Well, finally I decided to do snorkeling, because I didn’t have anything to do here. I think I was the first person who jumped to the sea around the port.

Apparently, after I jumped I found a group of yellow and black striped fish that wasn’t afraid of humans! They swam around us and would come happily to you if you gave them a biscuit. Love it!!  At the right and left side of the port, I could find lots of live hardcorals! Yes, live! Well, I was underestimating before that I couldn’t find any live corals in here and actually I could find the corals easily in 1 to 2 meters depth. With a shallow depth like that, I think it is necessary to pay attention to my fins so it will not hit the corals. Even though the hard corals here is not colorful and I could not find any soft corals, it was so peaceful to see them alive and swim with lots of fishes and feel like I was swimming in their playground😀

CHASING BLACK FISHES AT PULAU TENGAH

Port at Pulau Tengah

a group of black fishes

The scenery is quite the same like Pulau Kecil, nothing special with this inhabited island, except for a quite long line coast, which is perfect to have a sunbath Apparently, in this island, they rent two or three rooms for travelers, but at that time there were no one in the inn, so Wenny and I went around this inn which lies above the port, and gave some fishes rice from above the port, which, by the way, really love to get fed.

Surprisingly, we saw a group of swimming black fish which looked like a black cloud.  It felt like I wanted to jump again to approach those fishes!! Without the company of our tour guide (the tour guide is needed to accompany us when we were snorkeling) and after joining 3 people and their guide who we got to know there, Wenny and I jumped to the sea around the port and approached the black fishes which were by the way afraid of humans.  Apparently, snorkeling in this island is quite promising; even though it’s not as good as in Pulau Kecil. The corals are still alive but the sea here directly faces a deep ocean so there are more rows of corals in Pulau Kecil. I found several different types of fishes in this island that I could not find at Pulau Kecil such as those black fishes.

Swim to Pulau Gosong

SWIMMING TO A MOUND OF WHITE SAND CALLED PULAU GOSONG

This island is the most unique among other islands that I’ve already visited in Karimun Jawa. The island just shows up when the seawater recedes and its width is only 5×8 meters. I don’t know if this mound of white sand is proper to be called an island😀. The clear ocean near this island is tempting for me and Wenny to swim in to the island, but we must be careful, because the guide said that there are lots of stingray fishes in this area that can make your feet get stitches because of their stingy tail.

Pool of sharks at Pulau Menjangan

JUMPING INTO A POOL FULL OF SHARKS AT PULAU MENJANGAN BESAR

This island is the nearest island from Karjaw and can be reached in 5 minutes by boat. This island has some rented rooms, which for me are not quite decent compared to the homestays at Karjaw. The only activity in this island is watching some black sharks that live in a captive pool and turtles. We can swim also with the sharks by only paying IDR 5K.  Don’t worry about getting bitten by the sharks. I don’t know why they are so friendly. Is it because they are already fed by the owners so they’re not interested to human meat, or is it something else? People say that local fishermen intended to capture these sharks to become an attraction for this island. Poor them

Me feeding fishes

FEEDING FISH AGAIN AROUND MENJANGAN KECIL

Not all lodging is based on Karimun Jawa island but also in several islands which are managed by expensive resorts. One of the islands is Menjangan Besar. We are prohibited to enter the island, so we went to the other side of the island to do snorkeling.  At that time, the rain was starting to pour that might contribute to the cold of sea water and made me soooo lazy to jump into the sea. But, what else could I do after seeing the blue ocean in front of me and also the temptation to explore more corals and fishes…and here we go again, jump into the water!

The ocean is quite deep, around 2 to 3 meters so it’s not like in Pulau Kecil or Pulau Tengah.  It’s also too bad that lots of hard corals are already dead which made this spot not as beautiful as other islands. Once again, we could see fishes with yellow and black stripes approaching us when we gave them a biscuit.  From afar, Menjangan Kecil island has a quite short shore, around 1.5 meters to the sea.

SUNBATHING WHILE ENJOYING AN IMPRESSIVE SCENERY AT CEMARA BESAR

The island that I love the most!!! Honestly, the island is so so lah…but, the journey there is amazing🙂

Pulau Cemara Besar

Around Cemara Besar

To reach the island that is around 500meters from the boat, we need to swim into the ocean, where the depth of the water is at adult chest, but only for the first 100meters. The next 400meters to the island, a wide mound of white sand welcomed us and became the perfect spot to do sunbathing. The turquoise water and the bright sun made Wenny the first person to jump from the boat while I was in a rush to finish my lunch before I finally joined her. The sand in this island is so soft so if you want to make sand castles it is worth to try.  When you’re lying down on the beach, you can see the various colors of sea water from the deep blue ocean, green to turquoise colors with a mountain as the background..it was a breathtaking view. Here we cannot do snorkeling. The island itself does not have anything special. It has a short coastline and no waves to the island, so its only calm water with moss.

Corals at Pulau Cemara Kecil

SNORKELING AMONG BEAUTIFUL COLORFUL SOFT AND HARD CORALS AROUND CEMARA KECIL

The last snorkeling activity in my last day of my visit is in this island.  The tour guide said that the hard corals in this spot are quite colorful. This time, I was the first person to jump into the water. And it was true, the corals in here are more colorful with its blue, yellow, green, brown colors and I could also find some soft corals with pink and yellow colors. The depth of the water to see those corals is 1 up to 2 meters, even I could approach the corals and swim around it and see the beautiful corals and fishes in front of me without needing to dive. Unfortunately, lots of corals are also dead and I don’t know the cause of it. Maybe it’s bomb or bleaching. The waves in this spot are also quite strong, remembering that we were snorkeling quite far from Cemara Kecil island, which made me difficult to take underwater pictures. However, I give two thumbs up for its various color of corals. So far it is the best spot in Karjaw that I’ve ever been, maybe you know other spots better than this one? J

ENJOYING SUNSET AT UJUNG GELAM

Ujung Gelam

Sunset at Ujung Gelam

Finally I landed on an impressive island. From far away I knew this island is different from other islands. Yup, my guess was right. This island has small waves so we could have proper sunbathing and play with the waves. I could explore almost half of the island by tracking following its coastline. This remote area has beautiful scenery with coconut trees growing in line with the coastline. Meanwhile, the other part of the island is like the end of the island, because there are a bunch of rocks that stopped me to explore the island. However, the rock is a quite beautiful place to see the sunset. Lucky for me, when the sunset came, I saw one of the best and clearest sunset without any blocking view. That’s why, I could even enjoy it for approximately 15 minutes, which started when the sun turned into an orange color until it disappeared to the middle of the sea.

How to get there?

Karimun Jawa can be reached by various means of transportations. Train and plane only stop at Semarang and then it can be continued by speed boat (Kartini) for approximately 3 hours to Karimun Jawa , or continued by bus to Jepara with approximately 2 hours and then continued by KMP Muria. Taking the bus is considered as the best way to go to Jepara from Jakarta which needs 10 hours, was the way I chose myself.

Where to stay?

The tariffs to stay in this island vary depend on your needs, of course. If you want to stay at a hostel with air conditioner and television facilities, it will cost you from IDR 150k to IDR 175k per night, while for home stay, well I don’t really know, but based on my experience it will cost you IDR30k per night with no air conditioner and television facilities. The home stay here is a house that is intended to be rented for travelers, the condition sometimes is neat, but sometimes if you’re not lucky enough, you will get a house full of dust. 

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