Existing Member?

Passing through... We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves--Pico Iyer---Passing through from Europe to Africa to Asia to Oceania etc.& back again! 9 mos. of dreaming and exploring!

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

INDONESIA | Wednesday, 8 May 2013 | Views [1291]

The plan for the next day was to take a boat to Gili Trawangan. The Gilis are a set of 3 tiny islands northeast of Bali. By speedboat you can get there in about an hour from Bali. We had heard about the Gilis from many different travellers over the past few months---an unspoiled, carless, beautiful set of islands worth exploring! The Gilis also boast some of the best diving in the world!! The more we heard from people, the more we were sold on it. So, there are 3 islands: Gili Trawangan (AKA Gili T), Gili Meno, Gili Air. Gili T is the biggest one, and is considered the party island because it is the only one of the islands with some kind of nightlife. Gili Air is the closest to the mainland and the smallest island, with the largest population of locals. Gili Meno is between the 2 & considered the quiet island (this is also where she goes in Eat,Pray,Love to find peace after her divorce and later too). We chose to go to Gili T for its easy access to the dive schools (almost all of them operate out of Gili T). We booked a nice resort right by the beach & walking distance from the boat dock--turned out to be very nice, great location, & great free breakfast!
The journey from Sanur to Gili T was painless, albeit not the cheapest. We got a discount though, from our hotel (maybe because they wanted to promote people to use the high speed boats more often--more people fly Lombok these days and take a quick boat from there). From pickup in Sanur to getting to our hotel on Gili T it all took about 4 hours--the boat ride itself was just over 1.5 hours. Not bad for $25/person for a return ticket, including pick up ..
The island itself is tiny & there are no motorized vehicles on it (only horse & carriage). There is one main road of restaurants and hotels, and then a few other places scattered on the rest of the island. The beaches are quite rocky (not the best for swimming without shoes) & the water is a BRILLIANT turquoise! Even if I didn't get in the water at all (don't worry I did) i could just stare at it all day. The sun, the surf & the landscape was stunning. Our hotel was on the northern part of the main strip--great location because it was still close to everything but far enough away. The room was big & modern, with a great rainforest shower (partially outdoors) & our own patio. It was also the first room in which we did not have a key---instead, your fingerprint opened the door! I honestly don't know if that made me feel safer though...
Breakfast was on the beach & it was delicious!! Any kind of omelette you can imagine & fresh juice to your liking! Our hotel breakfast must have been great because people were coming from other hotels to eat at ours!
We rented bicycles for the afternoon. We heard you could navigate the entire island by bike within an hour. However, the 'biking experience' was not as we had imagined it. There were plenty of patches on the island where it was just too sandy to get through, so we found ourselves walking our bike half the time---not the relaxing bike ride we had imagined! :P sometimes you just can't get your hopes up :P Always think the worst, & then you will almost always be pleasantly surprised--as my brother so aptly puts it.
We swam a bit & then decided to sort out our scuba diving adventure. The island has an interesting setup in that all the companies have the exact same fixed prices (to avoid excessive competition & keep quality high), so you choose your company based on the place you like the most--mainly the people. We went with a place Tom had read about, Aquaddiction, that had a lot of foreign instructors--British, Dutch, German. We decided to do a few dives the next day & just go from there.... See how much we like it. This place has some of the best diving in the world, so we were expecting to dive a lot while we were here. Before the diving began, we had the evening to discover the island. We ate at a great Thai place for lunch, but it was definitely the night market that tickled our fancy (which seems to be the case every time we find one!). It was a small night market near the pier, but how impressive! Our first visit to the market, we did what any foodie would do---we found the longest line up for food (there were a bunch of scattered food stalls) & ordered from there! There is a reason there is such a long line up right??
For $2 we had a massive plate of different spiced pieces of chicken, veggies, salads, and sauces. I was sweating happily from the spices & sauces! Delicious! Good introduction to Gili T! After dinner we spotted another popular stall serving dessert. I am not usually a sweet tooth but we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Let’s just say, all the fuss was there for a reason! We had no idea what each type of dessert was, so we had to ask the guy. We picked at random & ended up filling a small box. The desserts were sensational!! Just imagine, coconut, brown sugar, mango, chocolate & banana mixed in various amazing ways! Mmm heaven! We enjoyed the box of delights while sitting on beach chairs looking at the starry sky, after enjoying a drink at a cool live reggae music spot. What a great first day/night on Gili T!

The next day we had a dive scheduled for Shark point at 9am. Unfortunately, there are less & less sharks in the waters these days (sadly, due to the popularity of shark fin soup in Asia it will not be long until they die off completely) so although it was once a popular place to see sharks, it is no longer the case. The dive was still great though, as shark point is known as a 'turtle city' & one of the first things we saw in the water was a 1 meter long green turtle just hanging out around the coral!! Turtles are so cute & they are even cuter in the ocean!! I could have floated there all day watching them! We saw plenty of them during that first dive along with lots & lots of different fish (quite big!) & many schools of beautiful, colorful fish. It was one of the best dives we have done. Tom had a bit of a toothache after so we planned to only do another afternoon dive if his tooth was better. It got better & we decided to go for another! This time the original plan was to do a 'fun dive' (which means we can only go as deep as 18m as an open water diver) but depending on how we felt, our instructor might make it a deep adventure dive. A deep adventure dive means we could technically go as deep as 30 meters and it would count for a step towards getting our Advanced divers certification (were not sure if we actually want to do this yet, but doing one deep dive is good because you are technically allowed to go deeper on every dive from then on). The deep dive was less exciting than the morning dive. We didn’t see as much, & going deeper you actually see less and everything just looks more blue (colors fade). However, the reason it is good to do is because in some places it's worth it to go deeper to see more (for instance, sharks often hang out in slightly deeper waters). So, nonetheless, we had an exciting first day. Ofcourse, come night time we strolled over to our Indonesian aunties food stall and had another plate of dinner for less than $3. After our first course, we hopped over to our dessert cart & got another box of goodies--this box was even better than the first one from the night before!
The next day we decided to sleep in a bit & we didn't do our first dive until11:30am. The dive was at a spot called Manta Point, where manta rays often migrate through. However, like the shark story, they are rarily seen these days due to overfishing. We wanted to take an underwater camera for this dive & boy are we happy we did!! This was dive #9 for us in total & it was THE BEST dive to date! In the whole 40mins under water there was not a moment where there wasn't something exciting to see! Lots of big & small fish, beautiful coral, a big moray eel , another turtle munching away on coral, 2 white tip reef sharks (!) & lots more!!! It was a bit hard to get great pics and video trying out an under water camera for the first time, but we tried our best given the awesome circumstances. I got really close up to the eel, the sharks, the turtle, & a big triggerfish munching on coral (I was told later that they apparently bite, but it spared me!). We got really close to the sharks, but surprisingly we weren’t scared---probably because they were MUCH smaller than the great whites we saw in Australia! The turtle was the cutest one we had seen to date--- the current was really strong on this dive & the poor turtle was trying to munch on some coral but was constantly being tossed around, flipping it upside down & then forwards again. It was cute and funny to watch him flip backwards to frontwards constantly, all while holding a firm grip on the coral ;) The dive was just amazing..... My favourite one so far hands down.
We had some great local seafood for lunch (no shark ofcourse!) and hung out on the beach for a little bit---the tide was really rough & you just get pounded by the waves when you try to swim ...
We got rebellious that day & decided to do a night dive also. After our fantastic day dive at Manta Point we were not expecting the night dive to be better, but we knew it would be very different & cool in its own right. We got in the water just after 6pm, right after the sunset. We get in the water before its completely dark, & by the time we are finished the dive, we surface into darkness. We have strong flashlights with us the whole time. I thought it would be an exciting experience so I was actually the one to propose it to Tom originally. After the fact, I can't say that I really liked it. I was really scared when we first got in the water---it's completely black and all you see is where the flashlight points in front of you! No peripheral vision, you have no idea what could be lurking behind you, to your sides, or even in front of you! It felt weird and freaky. I found myself having a few panic moments & sticking very close to Becky, our instructor. Later, Tom told me he was quite freaked too. There was definitely a different array of marine life down there at that time, though. That made for a unique diving experience. Lots of colourful crabs, big fish, sea snakes, an octopus!, and glowing plankton & algae!!! The sight we did that night was called Biorock. It is actually a conservation project in which they built a sort of artificial reef in order to stimulate the growth of real coral. So you are swimming within an intertwined fake & new reef with steel debris all around that resembles a shipwreck. It was quite surreal--pitch black all around you, corals and fish staring at you & fascinated with the light, nocturnal animals out & about....
I did notice on the night dive that the marine life seemed more surprised to see us and either scared of us or fascinated even more with us. You could tell that they don't see divers with glowing flashlights at night in the water often. It is like we barged into their bedroom and shone a light in their eyes--wouldn't you be annoyed too?? :P it wasn't our favourite dive but there were some nice highlights: the glowing plankton in the water when we turned off our flashlight for a minute; the massive octopus; & the large googly-eyed fish staring at me from behind some steel wires. The best part, however, was surfacing after our dive to find ourselves amidst a dark ocean and a glowing starry eyed night-- simply stunning & so surreal. It was an amazing boat ride back to land, watching the lit up sky from our boat. What a memory...
The next day was our last day in Gili T. We slept in, had an awesome late breakfast (great as usual) & caught our ferry back to Bali after saying bye to the scuba diving squad. The boat ride was much rougher coming back to Bali than the ride to Gili T. There were a lot of rain clouds and random rain showers throughout the 1.5 hour ride. As we neared the dock in Padang Bai, Bali, we noticed it was POURING rain! I mean seriously pouring!! We ran off the dock (making sure not to slip) to our minibus that was taking us to Ubud. It was about a 1 minute run to the van and we were absolutely drenched when we got there-- not to mention how worried we were about our electronics!!!! We partially dried off during our hour long ride to Ubud, but were still quite wet when we got there.

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.



Travel Answers about Indonesia

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.