Gili Air, Indonesia
Phew, we made it. Man, that ferry ride gave all my other horrible ferry experiences a new perspective. We took a fast boat and I am not sure if it was worse than the slow boat. Being a speed boat, it skimmed the surface of the water, rising with each wave then crashing back down. I’m talking about a powerful enough crash down that the boat rattled and felt like something was breaking. My nerves (and stomach) my have fared better on the slow boat’s up and down wave motions, especially with some motion-sickness meds on hand. But we made it in one piece!
The boat first stopped at Gili T. There were hordes of people waiting for boats – made us glad that we were heading to Gili Air. More than half our own boat disembarked at Gili T.
We had a full 6 days explore and experience Gili Air, which entailed at least some time on the beach and in the water everyday. Heaven!
We stayed in a little bungalow at Puri Air Beach Resort & Spa, which we absolutely loved. Everyone working was friendly, helpful and you could tell that they enjoyed their job.
I have included our arrival day as day 1 because we arrived in the early afternoon, giving us plenty of daylight. Once at Gili Air, you scale the side of the boat and hop down into the sand. The porters on board the boat are nice and carried our luggage up the beach a little, safely away from the water. I really enjoyed arriving on the island this way, made it feel more adventurous.
There are no cars or scooters on Gili Air, so the main mode of transportation, aside from your own two feet, is horse drawn buggies. Our accommodation was on the other side of the island, so we did opt for taking one of the buggies. The operator was not too keen on negotiating prices with us. We paid 100,000 IDR. Make sure you are firm on the price, he tried to get a little extra out of us mid-journey as a luggage fee, then a carrying fee. No dice.
Once at Puri Air Beach we changed into bathing suits and headed straight for the water, which was crystal clear and warm.
Our first full day on Gili Air! We decided it would be beneficial to get our bearings and to scope out snorkeling and dining locations around the island – so we circumnavigated it on foot. It took us about 3 hours, which includes us stopping for lunch, doing some shopping and taking photos. The southern part of the island is where the “harbour” is located and has the highest concentration of shops and restaurants; this is also where you are most likely to find diving and snorkeling information. The rest of the island’s beachfront is lined with accommodation and restaurants. I really don’t think you could go wrong choosing a location accommodation here, as the island is small enough to walk.
After our long and hot walk, we relaxed at our own beachfront.
Everyday was comprised of breakfast, beach or pool time, reading our books, a little walk, lunch, more beach or pool time, dinner and early to bed.
We went snorkeling right off the shore twice. The first time we were so fortunate to see a turtle. Sure enough, we found the turtle off the beach where the “turtle area” sign was located. The second time we went out a little farther and saw more colourful coral and fish.
I definitely recommend snorkeling as much as you can when the waters are calm. We headed out on one of our last days even though the waters were rougher. It got a little nerve-wracking in the water. The current was strong and the water levels changed dramatically between waves, causing us to come pretty darn close to some of the coral mounds. Not only did we not want to hurt ourselves on the coral, but we also didn’t want to damage the coral itself. There was enough coral washed up on the beaches already.
I will write more about snorkeling in Bali in another post.
We watched the sunset every night either from our own beachfront, or at a nearby restaurant. The sunsets were particularly amazing because you could see Mount Agung of Bali in the distance, often looming above the cloud line. The skies ranged from pink to orange and were never the same twice. The best place to watch the sunset is the west side of the island (which is where we happened to be staying). Many of the restaurants on this side of the island offer sunset specials on drinks.
Took some (aka many) awesome photos.
Shopped at some of the little market stalls that line the path ways. At these you can practice your bartering skills. The wares being sold were mostly beaded jewelry, straw hats and clothing. There were more fixed price shops near the ferry harbour selling just about everything you might need,
Basically we just had a relaxing and rejuvenating time where we didn’t have a schedule or a list of things to do or see. Just lived the island-life dream.
Gili Air truly is paradise, with some of the softest, white sand I’ve ever sank my toes into and a variety of blues between the sky and the ocean, like no other. Gili Air is the place for you if you are looking for a mellow destination, less crowded destination, while still having dining and activity options.
Other Activities on Gili Air
If you are looking for a little more to fill your days, these are some of the things we came across on the island.
- diving and/or snorkel trips around the other Gili islands
- day trip to Lombok
- stand-up paddle boarding
- possibly fishing trips
Today we said goodbye to the beautiful beaches and pristine waters. We completely changed our scenery from beach to lush rice terraces in the little town of Sidemen. We took BlueWater Express ferries from Gili Air to Padang Bai. Again, we were lucky with the ferry ticket including drop-off in Sidemen, which was a rare find; this was the only company to include Sidemen as a free drop-off location. Oh the perks of doing a little research and shopping around!
Expect my Sidemen post on September 2nd!
Tell me about your adventures on Gili Air, or the other Gili Islands in the comments below!
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