Paradise found, Gili Islands

Trip Start Jul 01, 2013
Trip End Jul 01, 2014

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Flag of Indonesia  , Nusa Tenggara Barat,
Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Gili islands are an other worldly place. The coraly pristine beaches, shady tree covered shoreline and fantastic laid back feel, gives to a relaxed take on time and activities. With us both recovering for the beast that is Rinjani, we are thankful for the beautiful Waterfront resort, part of the manta dive resort complex. With the exterior shower and toilet it has the island vibe down to a tee. 
Well because of the Rinjani cold I now have developed, we will unfortunately have to postpone the advanced diving until later in the week, as responsible divers rule number 5 is "Don't dive when you are sick". This is mainly for the reason you are 20 metres underwater and when things go wrong underwater, They usually don't end well. Plus pressure equalization is very tricky, and often painful with packed sinuses. Anyways we can still snorkel, we headed to the nearest rental and acquired a sweet setup. We then asked where the best place on Gili air to snorkel is, the man looked at us blankly, pointed over Kim's shoulder at the beach behind and said "how about there". Kim and i laughed and made our way to the beach. 
The water of the Bali sea is warm and crystal clear, we put on the fins and started right from shore. The aquatic life even that close was astonishing. There are roughly 4000 species of tropical fish around the Gili islands,  Not to mention corals (hard and soft), turtles, and other sea creatures. We were amazed at the plethora of activity in front of our goggles. We watched as schooling clouds of sardines darted as they tried to avoid blue fin tuna, saw scorpion fish, shrimp, and even rainbow angel fish. We even saw a unicorn fish, that Kim shocking knew the name of; either my nerdy wildlife knowledge is wearing off, or she got lucky as the fish had a large point coming from its head, this is also the girl that was once asked in an interview to become a city park ranger what fish live in the north Saskatchewan and could only name koi and salmon. Both incorrect. 
We spend about 2 hours the first afternoon floating about 30 feet from shore on the edge of the sea shelf that separates the shallow from deep water finishing only cause we started to loos light. The next day we ventured down the beach a bit and spend another 3 hours at the end of the snorkel straw riding a gentle current down the beach seeing a whole new world of stunning ocean life. I guess what I am trying to say is snorkelling Gili air is mind blowing. 
Saidly, my Rinjani cold or possible Bali Belly took a turn for the gross with a couple days of toilet time. Most likely unrelated to the actual hike, but definitely picked up a slight intestinal virus, though fortunately less aggressive then Kim's Vietnamese invasion, but unfortunately will stop us from completing our advanced diving certification as planned, it could even stop me from diving all together. Kim missed signing up for a dive by a couple hours, so she decided to walk around the island and found a quiet secluded beach on the windier west side, but still stunning.
The laid back attitude of Gili air was a welcome extra that truly paid off for a illness, as the feeling of beach bum hammock swinging and shady tree siestas has taken over. Even with a hotel switch due to an extended stay this could not change the laid back feel. 
Fortunately, the second last day I felt much better, so we opted to do a fun dive before leaving this oasis, as really who can come to the Gilis with a diving certification and not dive even once. So I maned up and we headed out on the grasshopper like pontoon boat to the dive site. We were Lucky enough to have the dive master to ourselves which was awesome. The underwater world takes on a whole different look when you view it from under the waves. The perspective of just how many fish there really are in a given area seems to change when they are all between you and the delicious oxygen of the surface. We dove Hans reef which is a standard for the dive team, especially the last few days as the ocean has been a bit to rough to venture to far out. The briefing report went through the route around a couple large coral beds, around Hans reef and finishing just down current. The dive was easy, dive master easily guides to see a giant moray eel, rare shrimp, scorpion fish, lion fish, and most awesomely a green see turtle. It felt like home to be back under the waves for us both again, especially watching from the beach for the past couple days. Our dive master also told us a ton about Mozambique and South Africa, which are both amazing dive spots and hiking areas. Hmmm, a stop off in the future maybe...
Well with a dive under the belt I felt invincible. While enjoying a large spicy meal to celebrate our last night we both were a bit over zealous. Kim still has some sensitivity to things from Vietnam and I just developed sensitivities with this last illness. The night was rough and an instant mistake. Sadly, our hotel hut had the bathroom downstairs, but luckily there is a mosquito net covered bed. 
We decided it was better to leave a half day early as our flight was mid day tomorrow and only a 1 scenic hour by boat from Bali. Sadly the sea was unkind today, 8-10 foot waves often breaking to whitecaps. The barracuda like ship was long, but narrow leaving us to question it's stability on the high seas. We boarded the vessel to find it packed, standing room only. Sigh. Luckily there is one more stop at Lombok before we head to Bali. We all got seats, but the air is stifling on the small boat, only fans try to circulate the thick air. The window are in operable as the waves are crashing over the roof of the ship causing water to run into the lightly sealed windows seams. The passengers start bowing heads one by one and with one particularly bad wave, a scream comes out of the swaying water covered vessel. Someone tossed their cookies in the front area. The boat comes to a stop and everyone braces while we float like a cork in the Bali sea. Once moving again the familiar quake of my belly awakens, I need some fresh air fast. Kim sits calmly breathing and in another world, she grabs my bag to protect the valuables inside from seawater leakage and returns to peaceful Kim land. I make my way to the back of the boat and sit outside the back door. The sea still washing over the boat is a refreshing yet constant surge, I am soaked within seconds. Luckily this settles the growing turbulence in my belly. Kim watches the passengers all slowly fighting the seas thrashing of their equilibrium. She figured close to 80% are now sick after just 45 mins. The scenic one hour fast boat trip takes 2 hours, luckily calming a bit once we hit land fall and hugged the calmer, yet still turbulent water to port. By a stroke of luck we both escaped unharmed, except for Kim's water soaked backpack from the luggage storage. But that boat ride was a scary, horrible experience that was easily the worst transportation issues of the trip.
 We are now in Denpasar for only one night after spending all of our time on the Gili air and Lombok, Bali looks amazing and we will surely have to return as we feel we need to see Bali and a few other Indo islands. You know what they say, there is only so much time and so many places you can go on one trip, someone says that I am sure. Our time in Gili air was awesome, got some Jacques Cousteau time in, some beach bum time and now some added info for Africa we could not be happier. 
We are now super pumped for Australia and a new challenge with road tripping across the country. 
Talk to you down under

 Much love

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