It survived the Portuguese Malacca attack and gave birth to the heroine RA Kartini (Princess Kartini), who fought for education equality for women - Jepara now stands proud as one of the top tourist destinations, in Indonesia.
Jepara is a coastal city in the northern part of Central Java province, on Java Island, Indonesia. You can easily reach Jepara by train or bus from Semarang, the capital city of Central Java province. There are daily flights and trains from major cities in Indonesia, to Semarang.
Famously known as the centre of Javanese teakwood furniture carving, Jepara lets you experience a truly exotic, Javanese holiday.
1. Swim with the sharks at Karimunjawa Marine National Park
Jepara is the entry port for Karimunjawa Marine National Park, an island chain stretching across the northwestern part of Jepara. Set in a cluster of 27 islands, this mini archipelago became a protected marine park and it’s like a treasure for those who love marine life. You can find protected coral reefs with very colorful plateaus and plains in both deep and shallow water, sea grass and many kinds of sea creatures, from crabs, anchovies, starfish, sharks, stingrays, jellyfish and red snappers.
You can also spot pelicans and hornbills in the nearby rainforest. The secluded, tranquil white beaches will give you a relaxing holiday feeling.
Menjangan Besar Island, one of the islands in the Karimunjawa archipelago, serves as a conservation area for black tip reef sharks. The island features a lagoon where you can swim with the juvenile sharks. It’s the highlight of a visit to Karimunjawa. Don’t miss it!
Website: 4D3N Snorkelling
2. Fly a kite at Bandengan Beach
Bandengan Beach, also known as Tirta Samudra Beach, is located in Bandengan village, 7 km (4.3 miles) north of Jepara and it is the famous white sandy beach of the area. It hosts several annual motocross festivals and also a kite festival.
The white sandy beach and the winds of the Java Sea make Bandengan Beach the perfect spot for kite flying along the shoreline. You can also enjoy the water activities here, such as banana boating, jet skiing and canoeing. Or you can ride an ATV to explore the surrounding area.
Stay at Bandengan Beach a little longer and you will be granted with a breathtaking sunset view. A perfect way to end your visit!
3. A glimpse of history at the Portuguese Fortress
The Portuguese Fortress, located 45 km (28 miles) northeast of Jepara in Banyumanis village, serves as a reminder that Sultan Agung of Mataram’s victory over Holland was not separate from the help of the Portuguese.
Open every day, from 6 am to 6 pm, you can access the fortress and go to the top, where you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the white sandy beach and Mandalika Island, nearby.
Stay longer and walk to Gua Manik Beach, a less popular and yet beautiful beach, near the fortress. You can walk up the hill and enjoy the scenery and catch an amazing sunset.
Address: Desa Banyumanis, Kecamatan Donorojo, Jepara, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia
4. Catch some fish at Mandalika Island
Mandalika Island’s signature landmark is the lighthouse that used to guide big ships around the surrounding coral reef. Now, the lighthouse serves as one of the top destinations in Jepara and its coral reef provides shelter to many fish, making it the perfect fishing spot.
You can take the Kartini Express Karimunjawa boat that stops at Mandalika Island. Bring your fishing gear and start hunting for groupers and white snapper.
Kartini Express Boat
Website: Kartini Express Boat
5. Learn about the life of RA Kartini, Indonesian national heroine, at the Kartini Museum
RA Kartini is one of a few Indonesian national heroines and she is famous for her dedication to the education of women in Indonesia. Born with royal blood, she was lucky enough to study until she reached age 12 at which point she had to stop studying to prepare for marriage.
At the Kartini Museum, learn how Kartini fought for her right and other women to gain an education. There are various pieces of memorabilia here, like letters she wrote to her friend in Holland, information about how she learned the Dutch language and also her famous book, “Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang”, which showed that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel when fighting for equality.
Address: Jl. Alun-Alun No.1, Panggang, Kec. Jepara, Kabupaten Jepara, Jawa Tengah 59411
Website: Kartini Museum (in Bahasa)
6. Take a break from the tropical heat at the Songgo Langit Waterfall
Songgo Langit waterfall is a famous waterfall located 30 km (18.6 miles) north of Jepara. It’s a beautiful sight, at 80 meters (262 feet) high and 2 meters (6.6 feet) wide. You can enjoy the waterfall while watching the colourful butterflies that live in the area.
Unfortunately, you cannot swim here because of the deep riverbed and strong currents.
Songgo Langit Waterfall
Address: Bucu, Kembang, Jepara Regency, Central Java 59453, Indonesia
7. Seafood dinner feast at Pungkruk Beach
Taking a holiday at a coastal city means having a seafood feast! Go straight for the seafood dinner feast at Pungkruk Beach, the biggest seafood culinary centre in Central Java.
Located 7 km (4.3 miles) from Jepara, you can enjoy a variety of grilled fish or a typical Jepara dish, “pindang serani” or fish soup. You can enjoy the delicious seafood while watching the sunset by the beach. What a good life!
Address: Mororejo, Mlonggo, Jepara Regency, Central Java, Indonesia
8. Explore the ancient and mystical Tritip Cave
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Java Island has long been famous for its ancient mystical beliefs that tie the people to the mountains, seas, valleys, and caves. While you are in Jepara, don’t forget to explore the ancient and mystical Tritip cave, located 45 km (28 miles) north of Jepara.
Tritip Cave is a natural cave, famous for its ancient rituals. You can admire the natural stone inside the cave and the forests that surround the area but please respect the area because there are offerings for the gods in some places, inside the cave.
Jepara, an introduction to Javanese exotic culture
Being a small part of big Java Island, Jepara has its own history and exotic destinations. Call it an introduction to the richness of Javanese exotic history and culture - for sure, you’ll want to explore more.
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