Getting There & Away
Flights and ferries connect the mainland of Java with Pulau Karimunjawa (the main island). Violent weather between December and February, and high winds at any time of year, can disrupt travel, but in calm weather both function on schedule most of the time. Ferries are more frequently cancelled due to weather than flights.
It is possible to reach Pulau Karimunjawa by air from both Semarang (650,000Rp, 40 minutes, every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) and Surabaya (600,000Rp, 1½ hours, every Tuesday and Thursday) with Nam Air (www.sriwijayaair.co.id) or Air Fast. Planes with Air Fast are tiny and seat just 12, so book ahead. The flight itself can be an adventure, but if winds are calm, it's a magical ride.
Karimunjawa's boat connections are fairly reliable, and there are links from both Semarang and Jepara. Check all schedules with the Semarang tourist office, which can also book tickets and make reservations.
At the time of research, from Jepara's Kartini harbour, the Express Bahari boat (executive class 230,000Rp, two hours) sailed to Pulau Karimunjawa on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at 9am and Saturdays at 10am, returning on Mondays at noon, Wednesdays at 11am, Saturdays at 7am and Sundays at 11am. The Siginjai (economy 150,000Rp) sails from Jepara on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 7am, but takes four to six hours. Be warned, economy tickets are cheaper but they are also below deck in often-choppy seas, where seasickness is more common than not – never pleasant.
It's vital to book transport well ahead, especially on weekends and during high season.