Karimun Jawa are a group of 26 islands that lie 70 miles to the north of Semarang in Central Java.
That’s quite a distance from the hustle and bustle of crowded Java and far enough to mean that the waters surrounding the islands are crystal clear.
To get there from Jakarta, get the overnight train from Gambir to Semarang in Central Java. Then catch a cab to the Tanjung Mas harbor from where you can catch the boat to the islands. Make sure you don’t waste any time leaving the train station because the boat (the Kartini) is supposed to leave at 9.00am in the morning. It also only leaves once a week (apparently) - every Saturday. It returns the next day, leaving the islands at 4.00pm. But then again, I could be wrong. So check in advance or you might not even make it to the islands!
The journey time is 3 to 3.5 hours.
Seasickness on the crossing is normal among the locals but that’s the last of your concerns: what you should really worry about is if this ship starts to sink. So make sure you know where the life jackets are – just in case!
Of the 26 islands only four are inhabited. One island is owned privately and has been turned into a holiday retreat for the rich and wealthy.
On the main island, Karimun, there are some 15 homestays, each with up to 10 rooms. Quiet weekdays but they get full at weekends.
Meals are included in the rate which may be as low as Rp175,000 for two days and one night if there are 6 of you, but a bit more expensive for two or three people.
There’s good snorkeling at the nearby island of Cemara, where the coral reefs are home to many species of brightly colored tropical fish. The reefs are shallow with a depth of only 1.5 meters and are safe for kids - provided they are well supervised are of course.
And you may even find Nemo…
… If you are lucky.