If you’re planning a trip to Karimunjawa, Indonesia and are looking for a cozy and comfortable place to stay, then the local Guesthouses are a great option. Karimunjawa guesthouses offer a laid-back atmosphere and affordable rates.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or as a family, for such a small island community there is a surprising number of guesthouse options. From traditional Javanese architecture to modern amenities, Karimunjawa guesthouses cater to a diverse range of travelers.
During our stay in Karimunjawa, we tried out a variety of accommodations at very different ends of the price spectrum. This article provides a detailed run-down of our first-hand experiences – the good, the bad and the ugly 😲
Karimunjawa Guesthouses – What are the Options?
In Karimunjawa, you can pay anything from IDR 100,000 (€7) upwards per night for a room. Although for this price, you’ll be getting a small squalid backpackers place with shared facilities. However, you still get breakfast (and end up cooking it for yourself in the communal kitchen).
You’re unlikely to find the above prices on Booking.com. Just turn up and take your chances.
Even for IDR 200,000 (€14) you’ll still be getting very basic accommodation, though you should at least get a private bathroom.
A more realistic price for decent and comfortable accommodation, with a seaview, is from IDR 500,000 (€35) per night.
Above this, its just a question of how much luxury you’re prepared to pay for. The most we paid was IDR 1.4 million per night (€98) for a wannabe Maldives-style bungalow.
At the bottom end of the scale, the cheapest places on our list were the gallery-style blocks of rooms with communal facilities. There are a few of these establishments to be found in Karimun town on and around the Jalan Dr Sutomo.
In these places, you could expect to pay from IDR 100,000 (€7) upwards per night for a room.
Waru Guesthouse, Karimunjawa
If you’re prepared to pay a little more, you could opt for a place like the Waru Guesthouse.
The Waru Guesthouse Karimunjawa was the first of the 4 guesthouses we planned to visit on Karimunjawa island. We had originally planned to stay at the Waru for 3 nights, but an unscheduled 2-day delay in Semarang meant we were only able to get there for the last night.
We arrived at Kariman port on the early morning boat from Jepara. I had emailed the Waru Guesthouse explaining that we would be arriving 2 days later than planned, so we weren’t expecting a pickup. However, we were pleasantly surprised to be met at the jetty by one of the staff from the guesthouse.
He walked us the short distance from the jetty, while providing useful information about the island.
Arrival at the Waru Guesthouse
When we got to there, our first impression of the Waru Guesthouse was ‘backpackers central’. The place looked nothing like the promotional photos on Tripadvisor.
Our room was small and dark, with just a table and a double mattress on the floor. We had a private shower, but a shared toilet (we had incorrectly assumed that a room with a private shower also had a private toilet).
Our room was located only 20 yards from the sea. However, at that time of year (November) the sea level is low. Too low to swim, unless you’re prepared to walk out a long distance. Also, being close to the port, this isn’t the cleanest place to bathe.
The snorkeling here isn’t too bad, once you’ve negotiated your way through the shallows and around the sea urchins.
On the plus-side, our room was clean with a decent mosquito net and a fan (working after 6pm). The shared toilet was also clean and well-equipped. We had use of the communal kitchen where free tea, coffee, sugar and hot water is provided. On the beach on front of the rooms there are some nice places to sit and enjoy breakfast, as well as some hammocks – perfect for an afternoon doze.
For the price we paid (IDR 180,000 or €12) this is actually pretty good value, and the price also includes breakfast.
Although we only stayed for one night, we returned to the Waru the following week to hire snorkeling equipment and explore their reef. They charged just IDR 25,000 per person per day for mask and fins. You can also hire a Go-Pro camera from them if you’d like to take some underwater footage.
Although the Waru Guesthouse were entitled to charge us an extra night’s costs for the 2 days we’d missed, they only charged us for the one night we actually stayed there.
Samsara Guesthouse, Karimunjawa
Since we arrived 2 days late on the island, we spent only one night in the Waru Guesthouse. For our next three nights, we were booked into the Samsara Guesthouse, which was just 10 minutes walk from the main harbour.
Samsara’s is an inexpensive guesthouse. They charged us IDR 200,000 (€14) per night, including breakfast. This was for a room with private bathroom/toilet and fan. There was no mosquito net (nor any easy means to hang the one we brought with us).
Luckily, we’d brought mosquito coils – and the fan was powerful.
Immediately, we had issues with the faulty toilet. It wouldn’t flush and was permanently leaking. This meant the bathroom floor was always wet, and we needed to flush the toilet manually with a bucket of water.
As with most budget guesthouses, there was no storage space and just one small hanging rack. We had to more or less live out of our rucksacks, which was a little uncomfortable.
Samsara Guesthouse Karimunjawa – They’re Pet-friendly!
At Samsara’s they pride themselves on offering pet friendly accommodation. Well, if you keep your window open you’ll find plenty of stray kittens running over your bed sheets. Fine for some, but not everybody’s cup of tea
Breakfast was pretty basic: A chocolate pancake, and help yourself to a cup of tea.
As they say, you get what you pay for.
In the common area of the guesthouse was a seating area, a thermos with hot water, and some tea bags. We’d also brought some coffee sachets with us, so were always able to make ourselves a drink.
Samsara has 3 rooms and a dormitory. While we were there it got pretty noisy at night with people singing, and one sad bozo trying to play a guitar. If you want quiet and privacy, look elsewhere. Even with a private room, the experience is just like staying in a dormitory.
The place seems to be owned by a group of young Indonesian guys who prefer partying to running a guesthouse. As guests, they made us feel like we were a bit of an inconvenience. The place is lacking a lot of maintenance, not to mention cleaning.
One of the guest notices – painted in large letters on the front wall as we arrived – should have given us an indication of what we could expect.
We stayed 3 nights at Samsara’s, though we came close to leaving after our first sleepless night listening to our hosts partying.
This isn’t the cleanest of places. Fine for some, but not everybody’s cup of tea.
Following our hit-and-miss fortune with guesthouses in Karimunjawa, at well over 3 times the price of a regular homestay, we expected Cocohuts Karimunjawa to be quite an upgrade on the 2 places we had stayed so far in Karimun town.
Fabulous Views from Cocohuts Karimunjawa
Perched high up on the hillside overlooking the port and town, Cocohuts definitely offers the best views.
We chose a deluxe bungalow for IDR 500,000 (€35) per night. There are 2 of these cabana-style lodgings, which share a large open balcony and stunning views.
A little higher up the slope, you can rent one of 2 double-storey bungalows. Lower down, there are 4 more places to rent, without the view.
Our bungalow had a large, comfortable bed with a mosquito net and airco. There was plenty of quality storage and a good bathroom and shower. We had a flatscreen TV and media box that gave us access to a wide selection of HBO movies and series. There were multiple points for charging devices, and the wifi worked most of the time.
Breakfast was included in our booking. There was a choice of Indonesian or Western breakfast, which was fine.
The owner also provided in each room a detailed ‘Welcome Manual’ and FAQ. These documents contained useful information in English about the island and the guesthouse.
Just behind our cabana, there was a private spot high on the cliff with room for just a single table and 2 chairs. Here, if you booked a couple of days in advance, you could enjoy an exclusive and romantic sunset dinner for 2.
So much for the good stuff.
Where is everyone?
A major problem with Cocohuts is that it is grossly understaffed. During our stay, the German owner wasn’t present. I understood he actually lives on the mainland, leaving management to a young Indonesian guy with little English.
In the morning, guests needed to wait until 2 ladies arrived to prepare breakfast. The timing was a bit hit-and-miss, but never before 8am.
Between 12 and 17pm there are no staff on the premises (the young manager goes home to sleep). If you need anything at this time – including the key to your room – you’ll have to wait.
This caused real problems for guests in the room next to us, who were locked out in the heat for 2 hours with their baby.
Unlike all the cheaper guesthouses in Karimun town, Cocohuts doesn’t provide coffee or tea for guests – not even just a flask of hot water.
Stairway to Heaven
Finally, the steep uphill climb to your bungalow is not for the old, unfit or faint of heart. Some days we found ourselves returning uphill to our bungalow more than 3 times – That’s quite a calorie burn, and pretty exhausting in the heat.
If you’re lucky, when you reach the top there will be someone there to greet you and offer a cold drink – but don’t count on it.
We spent 3 nights up at Cocohuts, and were quite happy there. The place is serene and peaceful, and you can spend a lot of time just enjoying the views from your balcony.
Our next and final guesthouse in Karimunjawa would be the Breve Azurine, located further around the bay. At almost 3-times the cost of Cocohuts, our were looking forward to spending our last 2 days on the island in some serious luxury…
Breve Azurine, Karimunjawa
Located about a ½ hour walk from the town centre, Breve Azurine is a picturesque mini-resort with individual deluxe bungalows, a private beach and lagoon, and prices to match. We paid IDR 1,410,000 per day – that’s around €95.
As should be expected, everything at the Breve Azurine was clean and tidy, and the service was excellent, but at these prices it really wasn’t worth the money.
For a detailed description of our experiences at the Breve Azurine, take a look at this related article.
If you’re keen to get away from Karimun town, in the north of the island you can visit Timo beach and the nearby Asari Guesthouse. It takes around an hour to motor up there from Karimun town.
The Asari Guesthouse has just two or three lodges to rent, and is very secluded and private.
Here you can rent a budget double room for IDR 200,000 (€14) per night.
If we return to Karimunjawa, we would probably choose to stay at the Cocohuts and the Asari guesthouses.
Both offer good value for money, and allow you to experience different locations on the island. However, you would need to arrange some form of transport if staying in the north.
If you’re looking for an Affordable Guesthouse in Karimunjawa, check out our Central Java Travel Plan. You may also like: