The principal destination of our trip to Indonesia was the offshore island of Karimunjawa. To get there on a budget involves a roundabout trip from Jakarta to the port of Jepara, travelling via the central Javanese capital – Semarang. From Jepara, there are a number of boat options for travelling to Karimunjawa.
We needed a hotel close to Jepara port, since we planned to take the fast boat to Karimunjawa island early the following morning. Hotel Samudra was one of just 2 hotels on Booking.com which fit our bill.
The description of the Hotel Samudra read well and the photographs looked fine. Also the price, at IDR 314,000 (€22) including breakfast, seemed reasonable.
TIC and Jepara Shuttle (Deja Vu!)
After breakfast, we left the Hotel Quest in Semarang and again made our way to the Tourist Information Center on Jalan Pemuda. Here, we met the manager, Mr Pram, and his associate.
With the help of Mr Pram, we were able to book a shuttle bus for the 2-hour journey back to Jepara. He also reserved our tickets to Karimunjawa on the ‘fast’ boat, leaving from Jepara port the following morning.
We paid IDR 50,000 (€3.50) for 2 shuttle bus tickets, and IDR 400,000 (€30) for 2 one-way boat tickets. We were told that the boat tickets would be delivered to our hotel in Jepara that evening.
This was now our 3rd time taking that Jepara shuttle: Each time the price was different.
Our bus journey to Jepara was delayed a little by flooding across sections of the road leading out of the city. Semarang is a water-fronted city and there is frequent coastal and river flooding in the area.
The shuttle bus eventually reached the gated port-area of Jepara, and dropped us off directly in front of our hotel.
Hotel Samudra Jepara Port – The Reality
The Hotel Samudra seemed quite grandiose and attractive in the promotional pictures, decorated in an ethnic Indonesian style.
Unfortunately, the place has clearly seen better days and is now lacking in maintenance, TLC, and cleanliness.
Our room was dusty – made worse by the fact that it was carpeted. The bed was comfortable enough, though there were small rips in the bed sheet. There was an extremely unpleasant smell coming from the bathroom, which also wasn’t clean.
The room had air conditioning but no mosquito net, so we burned coils instead.
Our ‘deluxe’ room boasted a balcony with sea view. In fact, it looked onto a shared balcony from the window. We had to walk out of our room to reach this communal balcony from the corridor.
The only advantage of the Samudra Hotel is its proximity to Jepara port. Though further away, we found the Hotel Elim to be a better and cheaper alternative.
Jepara Port & Facilities
After checking out our room, we wandered around the gated port area in search of someplace to eat. We found several warungs not far from the hotel. These were catering primarily to tourists travelling to and from Karimunjawa.
At IDR 700,000+ for a fish supper, they were certainly charging tourist prices.
We ate chicken and rice at one of the quieter places, away from the central area.
The following morning, breakfast at the Samudra Hotel comprised a plate of Nasi Goreng with a cup of tea.
Our boat tickets hadn’t been delivered to the hotel as promised. We checked out of the hotel and walked to the port office, where we were relieved to find them waiting for us.
Finally, after all our setbacks, we were about to take to the sea for our 2-hour boat ride north to Karimunjawa island.
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