The dazzling offshore archipelago of Karimunjawa, a marine national park, consists of 27 coral-fringed islands – only five of which are inhabited. Most islanders are Javanese but there are a few Bugis and Madurese families, who make a living from fishing, seaweed cultivation and, increasingly, tourism. Lying about 90km north of Jepara, the islands are a tropical haven of white-sand beaches, turquoise seas and relaxed retreats.
Holidaying Indonesians account for most of the visitors here, although a growing number of foreign travellers now brave the rough seas (which can occur at any time of year) for a few days of R&R. Independent travellers head almost exclusively for the main island, Pulau Karimunjawa; this lush, mountainous little landmass, ringed with coral reefs, is home to most of the archipelago’s facilities and the only town of any size, also named (somewhat confusingly) Karimunjawa.