This information from my recent trip may be useful if you are planning to travel to Jepara or Karimunjawa.
Solo to Jepara Journey
Bus to Semarang (Rp. 20,000 for air con, Rp. 15,000 normal), takes about 2 ½ to 3 hours, though longer if there are traffic jams. Bus Semarang to Jepara (Rp. 11,000) is a smaller, more cramped, non-air conditioned bus, takes about 2 to 2 ½ hours.
Jepara: Hotel Segoro
Motel-style, nice atmosphere. We stayed in a VIP Bawah room with TV, air-con, and hot water, for Rp. 200,000 per night including a buffet breakfast. Clean rooms, bathroom in need of some refurbishment but perfectly serviceable. Helpful staff, prompt room service. Good restaurant and cafe. TV has extra channels such as HBO. There’s a city map in reception. Tel: 0291 591982.
This website has good up-to-date information about hotels in Jepara, including Segoro, and helpful info by phone too: http://hotelrestojepara.blogspot.com/2008/12/hotel-segoro.html
Jepara: Around Town
Museum R A Kartini, on the north side of the alun-alun, Rp. 3,000 entry. Turning left out of the museum and then left again walk up to Benteng VOC, free entry.
Pantai Kartini (Kartini Beach) with a huge turtle, foodstalls etc. Great sunset views. Everything here shuts down at dusk.
Get evening meals from the food stalls under the white awnings near SCJ (Shopping Centre Jepara).
Get around by becak (cycle rickshaw) for Rp. 10,000 to Rp. 15,000 per journey, depending on the distance and your haggling skills.
Jepara to Karimun journey
The large ferry KMP Muria leaves every other day at around 8am or 9am. Get there in plenty of time to get a seat. You can buy tickets at the dock before you board. Economy Rp. 28,500. VIP tickets limited availability. An economy ticket does not guarantee you a seat. The journey takes around 6 hours. Take food and water with you. It gets very hot on board. Take a hat, sarong or something to provide shade in case you end up on the upper outside deck. Take anti-motion sickness medicine such as Antimo (available widely at Indonesian chemists or apotek). KMP Muria leaves from Karimun to Jepara on opposite days, so it does a one-way journey each day.
You do not need to buy a package tour to go to Karimun. Although many websites give often inadequate information about packages (paket), it is entirely possible to go there without a pre-booked package and you will be able to arrange your activities once you are there with no problems. Many packages are very snorkelling-focused, but in fact there is much more to see, such as traditional Bugis homes (from Sulawesi), trekking inland etc. By avoiding the middleman of a package or tour you will be putting more money into the island’s local economy. We booked and paid for a package which turned out to be a complete waste of money (read about our bad experience here). Don’t buy a package, and you’ll have a better trip than we did!
Accommodation on Karimun: Dewa Daru
A large reception area with lobby and restaurant area, open to face the sea. Air conditioned rooms as bungalows with bathroom inside, and one larger two-storey structure with a separate bathroom block. All rooms made of wood. Good relaxing atmosphere, about 10 – 20 metres from the sea. Sandy beach. The sea is too shallow for actual swimming here. A lot of mosquitoes in the rooms, and also obvious woodworm problems. Cold water only and bathrooms in shared block could be cleaner. Prices Rp. 300,000 to Rp. 500,000.
See this website: http://www.karimunjawaparadiseisland.com/2010/12/dewadaru-resort.html
Contact: Shaiful 081 325 273727. He was kind and helpful throughout our stay. In addition to accommodation he can also arrange boat and motorcycle hire and other activities.
Karimun to Jepara journey
We took the fast boat, Kartini. It takes about 2 ½ hours from Karimun to Jepara, stops for half an hour, then continues on to Semarang (1 ½ hours). We had executive tickets (Rp. 84,000), but business tickets are also available. Air conditioned and indoors; you cannot go outside on deck. Seriously take anti-motion sickness medicine because the boat really moves with the waves.
Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions. I’ll do my best to answer them based on my recent trip.