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Published: October 5th 2020
Karimun Jawa is an area consisting of 27 islands North of Jepara, Central Java, of which 22 are inhabitated. Covering land area of 1,500 hectare, it has long history. It dated back in the thirteen century, during which Chinese Army, sent by Kubhilai Khan, mentioned the island on its historial record, of which fact was supported by the finding of porcelains from the Ming Dynasty. It's no surprise the islands were mentioned as they were part of the Spice Trail through which ships from the Molucca islands passed through the area enroute to Europe. It was also said that the islands were home to some pirates after the Dutch left the settlement in the 17th century.
Only until recently, it was not accessible by air. Thanks to Wings Air, which operates ATR 72, Karimun Jawa is now accessible via Semarang from Jakarta. I and my friends decided to visit over the weekend last November. During rainy season from December to February, it is not recommended visiting Karimun Jawa as sea is rough. As we landed at the tiny airport Dewadara, we didn't expect the island to be so warm in November; the humid air was unbearable. There was no breeze
either. The temperature was 36c but felt like 40c, and it made us felt like we were in a sauna. Eager to see the turquoise water sea, we were equally surprised by the sight of the island; it was just like any other villages in Indonesia; we knew we were on the right spot as soon as we saw a few foreigners riding motorbikes on the road.
As we booked island hopping tour the next day, we spent the afternoon taking land tour, and our first destination was a 222 ha Eco Park Mangrove forest, home to deer, water lizard, snakes, monkeys and various birds. Had we come early in the morning, perhaps we would have spotted some birds as the place was known for bird watching. Compared to other mangrove forests in the country, this is considered one of the most explorable as it has 2 km wooden path within the area.
Other than mangrove, we were offered to visit Love Hill, a popular spot for locals to view sunset, which we politely turned down and headed to Amora Cafe for afternoon tea. For dinner, we were offered seafood at the city centre, which turned out to
be street food, but the humidity made us to look for other alternatives. Just around the corner from the city centre, we found a cozy, Jamaican style cafe serving healthy food. Its guest house, Coconut House, next door was equally cool. It's too bad we had booked accommodation elsewhere.
The next morning, we went to the jetty, where our wooden boat was waiting, for island hopping. Within 45 minutes of boat ride, we arrived at the first spot for snorkelling. A few fully loaded boats were already there, so we skipped it and headed towards Cemara island, an inhabitated island. As we were reaching the island, turquoise water against white sand backdrop started to appear before our eyes. The color of the water was so inviting that we could not stand jumping into the crystal clear water. For a while, we forgot we were in Indonesia, until the reality hits us when other boats started to arrive one by one, and passengers started to crowd the island. Our boatmen found a quiet beach and prepare our lunch by grilling fish caught earlier, which could not taste better. We spent the rest of the afternoon on the picturesque island; when
other boats started to leave one by one, we had the entire island to ourselves.
When the sun started to set, we left for Menjangan Besar island to visit sharks conservation, which turned out to be a touristy place as guests were allowed to swim with the sharks. Last year in March, hundreds of sharks were said to have died mysteriously on the island. Half heartedly, we had to return to the main island as it was getting dark. There were many other beautiful islands nearby which I'd love to visit next time. Not only I'd spend more time but would also love to stay at the private island, Kura Kura Resort. The next morning, we had to leave early for the airport to catch our flight back to Semarang.
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