Under a deep blue sky, we glided along North Lombok’s strangely creamy and sparklingly azure waters. It was the first time we saw the real Indonesian sea after several days of touring around Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta. Yes, it was finally time to visit the beach and Lombok’s three famous islands; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, fitted our beaching needs to a perfect tee.
|THE VIEW EN ROUTE TO GILI ISLANDS|
From the Golden Tulip Hotel Mataram where we were staying, we boarded our tour bus early. A couple of hours of scenic ride later, we alighted at the Bangsal Harbor, the public jump off point for the Gili Islands. The fast boat fee is at IDR85,000.00 per person and IDR15,000.00 for the public boat. As I learned in Sasak Village Sade, Gili in Sasak means small island, so Gili Islands is really a misnomer, if you have to be a grammar nazi about it.
|BOARDING A SPEEDBOAT TO GILI TRAWANGAN|
Located along the Lombok Strait on the northwestern area of West Nusa Tenggara itself, these three islets have captured part of Bali’s tourist and party crowds; albeit on a lesser scale. The main island, Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, for the sassy backpacker, is where most people bed in when staying for a few days on the islands. It is the largest of the three and the presence of freshwater makes it the easiest place for resorts to build their nests upon.
|A STROLL ALONG GILI TRAWANGAN’S BEACH|
Approaching the island, we were greeted with its lovely aquamarine waters. I was actually surprised that it looked as clear as those back in the Philippines. We Filipinos tend to get very choosy with our beaches. Docking, we treaded on its fine white sand, and again, it took me by surprise; Indonesia’s beaches can actually go head to head with our very own!
|CHILLING OUT AT GILI T|
A few meters from the shoreline, blue-green parasols and rattan beach recliners dot the shoreline. A little bit inland, restaurants and resorts start to crowd in on each other. Its streets, or more like alleyways, are narrow and without any motorized vehicles. The only mode of transportation here are bicycles and cidomo, their variation of the horse-drawn carriage. The vibe reminds me so much of Thailand’s Koh Phi Phi and the Philippines’ Boracay.
|WE SNORKELLED ALONG THIS AREA|
After picking up some snorkeling gear in a dive shop near the beach, we proceeded to our first real destination, a sprawl of sea off the coast of Gili Air. There weren’t any platform to dock on, we anchored right by the water and jumped right in.
|SNORKELING ALONG GILI ISLANDS|
|THE CORALS BELOW|
The world transformed. Where there was once air, there was now water. We flew above the seabed, gliding with schools of colorful fishes, marveling at the rich profusion of table corals several feet below. We dived, our fins kicking hard, our breaths caught within our hearts, trying very hard to see these wonders up close.
I lost track of time. It was only when they shouted my name to board the boat back that I came to.
But it wasn’t over just yet. Our small wooden boat pushed on to the next island on our list, Gili Air. Air in Bahasa Indonesia means water. And we breathed it in like the air we all knew.
|GILI AIR, FROM OUR VANTAGE|
We docked along its sandy beach; while a few of our friends wandered inland, we ran back to the water with our snorkels and fins in hand. We basked under the midday sun, unmindful how scorched our skin would be right after; swimming and snorkeling just before the seabed deepened farther than our feet could reach.
|TIME TO JUMP OFF ONCE MORE|
|GILI ISLANDS’ WATERS ARE EXTREMELY CLEAR|
Then it was another excursion out into the open waters of Lombok Strait. Again, we all jumped off our boat and let Gili’s warm water envelop us. Underneath, the corals along the seabed exploded into a profusion of colors. It was much more beautiful than the last. We swam and dived until our arms ached and our bellies protested of hunger.
|BACK IN GILI TRAWANGAN|
|HAVING BINTANG BEERS WITH THIS VIEW|
Gili Trawangan was our first and last stop for the day. A buffet spread was waiting for us at one of the restaurants facing the sea. And with wet rashguards and shorts on, we attacked it with much gusto, replacing all the carbs we lost and adding a few more. We capped our Gili excursion with what we do best, lounging right by the beach, cold bottles of Bintang Beers in hand. Gili life, indeed.
~ THE INDONESIA MINISTRY OF TOURISM INVITED ME AS A PART OF THE TRIP OF WONDERS TOUR. VIEWS, OPINIONS & BIASES, ALL MINE.
Address: Gili Islands, North Lombok,
West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
Island Hopping Tour: Starts at IDR225,000.00
GPS Coordinates Map: -8.350352, 116.036249