The Best Beach

Karimunjawa Paradise Islands

Love Engine | Wednesday, 17 December 2014 - 23:17:32 WIB | be read: 4176 reader

The dazzling offshore archipelago of Karimunjawa, a marine national park, consists of 27 coral-fringed islands that lie about 90km north of Jepara. The white-sand beaches are sublime, swimming is wonderful and the pace of life as relaxed as a destination defined by coconut palms and turquoise seas should be.
Holidaying Indonesians account for most of the visitors here, though Western travellers are starting to be seduced by the islands too.

The main island, Pulau Karimunjawa , is home to most of the archipelago’s facilities, and the majority of the islanders, most of whom are Javanese, though there are also some Bugis and Madurese. Fishing, tourism and seaweed cultivation are the main livelihoods. This is also the site of the islands’ only real town, Karimunjawa, and, despite widespread mangroves, a couple of good beaches. An airstrip is located on adjacent Pulau Kemujan .

The archipelago is divided into zones to protect the rich ecosystem. Zone One is completely out of bounds to all except national park rangers, with other areas set aside for sustainable tourism.
Access has improved recently, although during the rainy season boats don’t always run.
Pulau Karimunjawa is a delight to explore by bike. Most of the shoreline is fringed by mangroves. The best two stretches of sandy beach are Pantai Tanjung Gelam, 7km north of the main village, which also has some good snorkelling; and the lovely private beach at the Nirvana Laut hotel.

If you can find one of the park rangers, organise a hike up Pulau Karimunjawa’s 600m peak, Gunung Gendero . In the far north of the island there’s a network of walkways and platforms that allow you to explore the extensive mangroves that fringe Pulau Karimunjawa and neighbouring Pulau Kemujan.
Boat trips to other islands are an excellent day out; to charter a boat costs around, or hotel owners can often hook you up with tour groups to save costs. The uninhabited islands of Menjangan Besar and Menjangan Kecil both have sweeping white sands and decent snorkelling, and are within easy reach of Karimunjawa town.
Further out, Pulau Menyawakan is the site of Karimunjawa’s only major resort. Pulau Nyamuk, Pulau Parang, Pulau Bengkoang and Pulau Genting are all home to small, traditional communities. The reefs around many of these islands offer quite decent snorkelling . Diving can be arranged through the Kura Kura Resort.
As a marine park, many parts of Karimunjawa – including Pulau Burung and Pulau Geleang, home to nesting sea eagles – are officially off-limits (though this protected status is not always strictly enforced).
The islands can experience violent weather between December and February; during this time, flights and boat trips can be badly disrupted.
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