Ocean Adventure Day 2-4! Two days full of snorkeling, diving, playing fireworks, grilled fish, and rocking boat ride! August Karimun Jawa had really extreme wind speed and slightly wild ocean waves. It’s always been like this, locals said, if you want to enjoy slightly “normal” waves, you can go in March or May (but watch out for random tropical storms… we really got one hell of unpredictable weather forecast here). The locals joked that if there was no wind, our flag wouldn’t be able to stand waving beautifully. Kinda true, though.

Independence Day in Karimunjawa

After preparing everything, especially wearing sunscreen and swimsuit/shirt, we departed from our hotel in Menjangan Kecil for snorkeling at roughly 9AM in the morning. This snorkeling session was hosted by two locals, led by Captain Jack Sparrow!

Bang Jack! >:O

Bang Jack! >:O

He was like true Captain Jack Sparrow, huh? Even Mr. Jerry didn’t know his real name since everyone just called him “Bang Jack” (“Abang” Jack, which means “Bro” Jack… and due to his similarity to our favorite pirate, he became famous in an instant). He was born in Karimun Jawa, being a true seaman since birth, and was said to be descendant of Bugis Tribe – one of Indonesian seaman tribe. The locals were really friendly and knew the sea like their own backyards.

We circled the Karimun Jawa sea to somewhere near Cemara Islands, where there was the best snorkeling spot which was called “Cemara Gosong” Island (literally “Burnt Pine Island”). It was called “Burnt” because it could only be seen during low tide and would be submerged underwater during high tide. Unfortunately it was really in high tide that day, so we traveled back again somewhere around Cemara Island and had first snorkeling session. The waves still were too high for us, two of our tour members immediately lied on the boat deck because of headache. After not-really-successful-session-due-to-weather, we went to Cemara Kecil Island (Little Pine Tree Island) to have charcoal-grilled fish! And extremely yummy! My brother-in-law who didn’t like fish wanted two.

After photo session in super beautiful Cemara Kecil Island (my favorite), we went to another snorkeling spot near our Kampung Bule resort in Menjangan Kecil Island. The waves were small there and we really enjoyed that. Captain Jack showed us how to play with fishes by throwing bread crumbs prepared by him beforehand. And in a second when the bread fell to the water, the fish turned wild and fought over that crumb! Try holding that piece of bread in your hand and these black-and-yellow stripped fish will massage your hand (apparently these smol creatures’ teeth were kinda sharp). I saw Blue Gil there too!

In third day, we went snorkeling again with same schedule like previous day, but I kinda forgot where we went. It was super beautiful island where tourists and backpackers went sunbathing, and there were hundreds of seagulls standing at the beach. When we was about to go there after swimming, someone hushed them and all of the birds flew away >:O! One of our tour member went diving with his instructor, I overheard them saying it cost about 6mils IDR or so (CMIIW). He told us that he saw a giant turtle deep in the sea.

Boss was about to go diving

And for lunch, we spent time in Gileyan Island for another Charcoal-Grilled Fish! Karimun Jawa Island was famous for its “Ikan Kakatua” (Parrotfish), the blue and green fish that was said to clean up corals and the sea. These fish had really soft and tender meat and it was amazingly sweet. After lunch, we went snorkeling again for the fourth time before we went to Wisma Apung near Main Island – “Floating Houses” – for rest because the day after we would need to get on ferry in the morning. Due to circumstances, I couldn’t snorkel with everyone this day so I annoy my sister by throwing her bread crumbs from boat and feed the hungry fish below the boat. Looks like these little hungry creatures knew that boats coming to them meant “delish restaurant for fish”.

Wisma Apung Karimunjawa

Wisma Apung Karimunjawa

For this one, I wouldn’t spoil the experience living in the middle of the sea (lol). But one warning from me, don’t be an ass when you stay here. The fresh and clean water was taken from Main Island because there was no way you could use sea water for bath and drink – so please respect other inhabitants by saving clean water. In Wisma Apung, there was small “Penangkaran Hiu” – Blac-Tip Shark Breeding Zone. You could swim with these cute and friendly sharks there. If you wanted to go to the Main Island, you would need to pay some for Wisma Apung boatman.

In the next day, we went back to Java Island by ferry and oh-god-not-again-night-bus. The ferry ride was really disheartening, though. Although I was glad it was clear day and we could ride it – the waves were really scary. When I sat inside the ferry, I didn’t want to think about anything but to take drugs and had my mind wandering around dreamland for four hours. When I woke up in between, I could see the world shaking like crazy so I just forced myself to go back to sleep. While waiting for the Night Bus, we traveled by taxi sightseeing Jepara, a small and beautiful port town popular for its amazing woodworks. At roughly 6PM we took the bus to Bandung – thank Lord it didn’t have shrieking brakes nor burnt smells even though it still had inhuman speed and Initial-D’s “I want to be the very best, like no one ever was” overtaking every single vehicles on the road.


Jepara, small port town in Central Java

And that was the end of our four days adventure in Karimun Jawa! Thanks to Mr. Jerry as the guide of “Ocean 21 Adventure” tour, all boatmen and fishermen locals and really amazing chefs there. Below Read More are pictures of Jepara!




Karimun Jawa. Untouched, natural beauty of Java Sea. Located in northern part of Central Java province, it consists of 27 small islands, approximately 80 kilometers from Jepara. The population is small, and most of them live in the largest island Karimunjawa. They speak Javanese alongside Indonesian. According to Wikipedia article, the Karimunjawa was once port for pirate activity and uninhabited until British people came to Indonesia. Now it become marine reserve and part of Karimunjawa National Park with many good snorkeling and diving spots. As usual, Nokia N8 Camera with no edit.

Before I write something about my adventure, let me remind you the most important things you should take with you because I regret not bringing them:

  1. Motion Sickness Medication. Don’t try to act strong unless you’re a seaman. That ferry/speedboat trip takes about 3-5hours and the wave is kinda extreme.
  2. Anti-Mosquito. These evil creatures suck your blood like vampires. There’s no mosquitoes in the middle of the sea (obviously), but there are many in other places. There is no malaria, so it’s all good.
  3. Towel and toiletries. Don’t compare the island to Bali’s, Karimunjawa is so isolated and may not provide anything you need. More so, there is no minimart except small convenience shop “warung” in main island. When you visit smaller islands like Cemara or Gileyan, there are only small huts. You may want to have private time there or just do it *cough* “naturally” *cough* in the sea.
  4. Medicines. Your own medicines or just generic ones, doesn’t matter – you’ll need to bring them with you. Karimunjawa doesn’t have clinic or hospital. There’s a drugstore in the main land, but nowhere else beside that. The Red Cross boat will give you first aid and local people will help you when you feel ill.
  5. TELKOMSEL (Phone Provider, Simpati). The only phone mobile/internet provider that works good in these islands is SIMPATI, provided by government-owned PT Telkomsel Indonesia. Other providers have “decent” signal, but only operate until 9PM (I had XL Axiata and accessing internet took ages). I guess if you want to travel around Indonesia, you’ll need to buy at least one Telkomsel’s Simpati SIM Card…
  6. Sunblock and aloeveraEveryone must have known about this already when they decide to go to the sea. I suggest higher spl for sunscreen, but everything is up to you. I’m a mountain guy who never take one and don’t know much about this stuffs. I feel like a grilled fish when I go back to my habitat…
  7. Electricity: extension, powerbank, and batteries. Karimunjawa only has Diesel Power Plant which operates from 6PM to 6AM only. You heard it right: your devices can’t be charged until sunset. Prepare T-shaped extension like [THIS ONE] because normally your hotel room doesn’t provide many. Indonesia works in 220V/50Hz and normally two pin round socket and plug just like Europe.
  8. Sunglasses and hat. This one is optional, but better bring them with you. Sadly I wore (minus 5) glasses so I really don’t fancy having to wear two glasses at the same time.
  9. Cash money. There is no ATM and even there is, only one ATM BRI (Bank Rakyat Indonesia) located in main island. You might not need that many, but better safe than sorry, right.
  10. Sandal. Absolutely you won’t bring mountain shoes to beach, right…

I was invited by my older sis some weeks ago since her friend’s friend couldn’t come and my parents (amusingly) support me to go there. I wasn’t sure about myself joining marine trip at first, but since someone actually invited me: why not? I am still unemployed too. So fast forward to D-Day, we’ve prepared everything (and forgot many things) a day before and took Bandung-Jepara Night Bus.

The bus. Oh God. May be it can force an atheist to think about the existence of Higher Being on the spot and realize that he needs a faith to whoever drive the bus. We took off the bus pool at roughly 6.30PM and arrived in Jepara’s Kartini Port about 4AM, stop to eat dinner somewhere about 30minutes. The speed was like 120kmh in toll road and it freaking drifted like Fast-n-Furious Tokyo DRIFT complete with screaming brakes and burning smells. When I saw outside the bus window, I immediately realized it overtook every single cars we met. I’m glad I’m still alive.

Our journey didn’t end in that 10hours Bandung-Jepara flying bus. We still need to go on roughly 2.5 hours Monday speedboat ride rocking in August Java Sea Wave. It was a clear day but I didn’t want to experience boat-drift-and-furious once more so I asked my sis a motion sickness medicine. Collapsed to dreamland for 3 hours afterward and finally arrived in Karimun Jawa main island. Wooo!!

Look at that clear blue sea and sky! Welcome to Karimun Jawa! I was told that the ferries and speedboats aren’t always depart, which surprised me. If the weather is bad, no boats can cross to the island; so you’ll have to wait for the next day since they only depart once per day in the morning. The sea isn’t so friendly in August either, so I am really happy we finally made it safely. Mr. Jerry, our guide, told us that there was one trip that people just wanted to cross the sea despite the horribad weather so they boarded small fisherman boat to go there. It took them 5 hours rocking ride in extreme waves, felt like they could be thrown to the sea at any moment (but for local seamen it was nuthin! I admire their strength…!)

Menjangan Kecil Island

Menjangan Kecil Island

We arrived in our resort hotel “Kampung Bule” in Menjangan Kecil Island (unfortunately the google map doesn’t provide its name. Menjangan is “Deer” in Javanese but unfortunately you won’t see any deer there). I feel like my pictures taken by phone couldn’t serve any justice on the beauty of this island. The white sand to blue sky gradation and whatever I found inside the water body… I can only suggest you to go there yourself and see it with your own eyes! Our resort covers entire Menjangan Kecil Island, 15 rooms for guests in huts and 12hours electricity just like the rest of the islands. There are many plantations here, not just coconut tree. The people living there are just guests and hotel employees (and sometimes tourists who did island-hopping), and other creatures like mosquitoes, gecko, mantis, three dogs, fish, crabs, shells, and birds.

Menjangan Kecil (Cloudy) Sunset

Menjangan Kecil (Cloudy) Sunset

There were many swings like this one for tourist photo spot (I admit random swings like this and sea scenery is beautiful) and also in the island tied to strong tree branch. I recall there was a hammock too and a net for beach volley ball. Resort’s chef cooked delicious food and the grilled fish was really good! I loved her tongkol balado (sweet-chili-sauced mackerel). They’re Javanese, so they tend to put sugar in the tea. It was too sweet for my Sundanese tongue, so we only ordered plain (slightly bitter) Jasmine Tong Tji tea.

In the western side of island, there was a spot dedicated for sunset gazing. Not only that, the spot next to it (fenced with bamboo) was border to the most beautiful snorkeling spot Menjangan (Marine) National Park. You could snorkel your way from beach, but better hire a fisherman boat who knew best snorkeling spots and they would bring you to open water. At the beach, it was also home to various kind of fishes. When we were there, Mr. Jerry’s acquaintance (a local fisherman) snorkel his way and harpooned a huge fish. We also caught a small (poor) crab trying to hide in the sand and watched two small fish built their nest under a coral. They brought materials (sand, shells, and huge branch[?]) with their mouth and shoo away other fishes who approached them. Kinda cute.

Menjangan Kecil Sunset Hunting

Menjangan Kecil Sunset Hunting

At night, we went to bamboo-built dock and lie down there for stargazing and playing fireworks brought from Bandung. But due to super strong wind, the fireworks flew above the resort with huge bam (instead of above our head at the dock). Sadly it was full moon and the moonlight was too bright for stargazing. The plankton’s light couldn’t be seen because of that too.

Below read more are the pictures for Day-1, including sunset and Menjangan Kecil beach.