Karamunjawa is off the central north coast of Java and is an archipelago of 27 islands. The main island is small and very untouristy – a change from Bali but very pretty and clean. We took three days to get here from Lovina with a stop over on an island called Bawean, and arrived about 3pm – just in time for a quick beer and shower and then headed in for dinner. There are not many places to eat we discovered, but at about 5pm the small paddock that acts as a sports field comes alive with mobile restaurants selling their catch of the day. Small very low tables are put out and you just choose your fish which comes with a Nasi Goreng and sit on the ground and eat! To get a beer you have to go to a small vendor at the end as it is a a muslim town and beer is not meant to be consumed…
The next day we explored the island by motorbike with Stedem from Atlantis. Only half the island has roads and is bucketed with rain most of the day – which made riding hard! Oh well the rain is warm and it is the first rain we have seen in 4 months. We crossed the island to where there were a couple of lovely beaches, and colourful houses lined the roads but other than that there was not much else to see.
Not having ridden a motorbike for years, we came back with sore bums to the main part of town and joined some other cruisers for dinner – at the only western restaurant in town. Pizza, Pasta and Burgers – heaven…
Although Karamunjawa is small, they love having the cruisers visit and they work really hard at ensuring we are welcome. Wherever we went we saw signs of this – and we really appreciated it. It is an economic boost for them, they love to showcase their island and practice their English and we can then tell everyone how lovely these places are and increase their small tourist potential. Win Win situation.
The next morning all the locals put on a boat parade for us. We weren’t sure what this was was but all waited on our boats and watched at least 50 brightly coloured boats come through the anchorage. With horns blowing, whistling and yelling we waved them through. They had decorated all their boats and it was an incredible spectacle. They had gone to so much trouble for us – we were all very touched and felt very humbled.
Later that day we ventured into Karamunjawa again where we were all dressed up as traditional Indonesians and had to all go up on stage and ‘perform’ something. We were all sweltering in the outfits but it was funny watching everyone. Eventually we were able to change back and we wandered down for a beer before heading off to the jetty for some local music. Everyone seemed to have turned out to support Sunset Jazz and some of the performers must have been quite famous as the locals were really excited when they came out and knew all their songs.
Another lavish dinner was held and numerous speeches and there was another fashion parade for 7 of us cruisers. We somehow managed to end up in the top 7 so we all had to get dressed up again and perform again on stage. It was all great fun and to our surprise Ian & I won – we were awarded with a statue and our traditional costumes! Such a fun day.
Karimunjawa is a delightful little place. Still unspoilt and clean – but we were so impressed with the colour – all their houses are different colours and freshly painted. They take great pride in their homes and it made for some lovely walks and photo opportunities.