Off the Northwest coast of Lombok sits three tiny islands in the Java Sea. These three Gilis are a very popular destination for ocean lovers with Gili Trawangan offering underwater enthusiasts abundant opportunities for snorkeling, freediving and scuba. While in Bali, we HAD to go check it out.
The Gili T experience starts as soon as your boat lands on the white sand beach ferry terminal. Immediately, you are struck by the turquoise water below that deserves a place in the office “Tropical Paradise” screen saver. As your bags are unloaded off the speedboat from Bali, you start to feel the tourist system around you where at the same time every day travelers slowly begin to haul their backpacks and drag wheelie luggage through the hot sand to get to the main street. Here, touts wait patiently in the shade, offering horse and carriage rides to local accommodations.
The main street runs parallel to the beach and is home to countless shops, bars, restaurants, and dive shops. This one path is crammed full of moving bodies from all over the world in a full spectrum of dress, from full Muslim coverage to much, much less. At first glance, it was chaos. But, with a little pause and deep breath, there was a tangible rhythm. Since motorized vehicles are banned on the island, the horse and buggy is the preferred taxi and it always has the right of way as the driver weaves through the crowd with an expert hand on the reins. Next in the hierarchy comes bicycles that are armed with the common ringing bell as their own warning system. On the bottom of the ranks is the casual pedestrian, who is required to jump aside for the larger traffic. All of this moves in time along a hard-packed dirt road, with smaller alley-ways leading to neighborhoods hidden behind the main street.
It only took a few minutes on island for us to drop all of our stuff at the hostel, grab the fins and sprint towards the beach. Two spits of defog and we were free again!!!! The water in Gili ten feet off the beach is SO CLEAR and FULL of critters!! Snorkeling!!!Thirty seconds in the water and we were watching two octopus in a courting ritual while being surrounded by turtles and MASSIVE schools of silversides in every variation of size. It was mind-blowing! Our first afternoon was filled finding creatures that had both Christine and I scratching our heads in wonder of what they were. There was even an added bonus! The channel between Gili Trawangan and Gili Air is home to a ripping current that will carry you straight down the shore of Gili T (and to far off Lombok itself if you don’t watch it!) creating a great express lane to ride as you “drift snorkel” on the drop off of the shoreline. The drop-off is also perfect for freediving, letting the current carry you directly to what you want to see.
One of the benefits to having a dive shop every six steps on island is the chance to pick a shop that has staff and equipment that you feel good about—especially since the shops have a price agreement between dive centers. We got sold by an enthusiastic instructor at Dream Divers that was EXCITED to take us diving on her boat, even if she wasn’t going to lead us. Confident in her positive attitude and genuine pleasure at just chatting with us, we booked a morning dive that was pretty fantastic. The company extended professional courtesy and gave us a private Divemaster and we got to go drift dive just the three of us—you’ve got to like it when you don’t get put in a huge group! The dives were great as we played with scorpion fish, blue spotted stingrays, and black tip reef sharks.
This is how Christine and I passed four days on our mini island paradise: snorkeling and free diving with a few dives on scuba sprinkled in. The time in the water was easy–when the water becomes too cold, just come out, find a chair, and warm up on the sand with your choice of cold drinks. The options of cheap beach bars were nearly endless with lounging choices ranging from reclining chairs to sultan pedestals to beach bean bags. When the sand started to burn your feet, head back in to explore the reef. A great cycle of relaxation and exploration.
Two days in had Christine and I discussing where on the island to rent an apartment, what company to work for, and with which shop I should do my PADI Instructor Development Course. It was a perfect little island with anything we could really need and daily opportunities for great diving. By day four, the magic that had immediately settled on us started to lose its grip, a bit too much of the party party vibe for permanent residency. We realized it wasn’t so much the island we loved, though it was still amazing, but the chance to be back in the ocean every day. While getting back underwater in Gili Trawangan still holds a special place in my travel memory of a fantastic getaway, it was time to move on to the next adventure and see what else Indonesia had to offer!
Check out some of our other underwater adventures!
VIDEO OF US PLAYING UNDERWATER IN INDONESIA!Check out what you’ll find in Gili Trawangan!! It’s a great island getaway off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia and a fantastic place to get back underwater! Make sure to hit the HD button after it starts playing!!!!/
Posted by Fins to Spurs on Saturday, November 7, 2015