After our unexpected camping trip in Amed my friend and I were so excited to take a fast boat to Gili Trawangan and enjoy a more tropical paradise escape in accommodations that included air conditioning and hot showers. The Gili islands are known to have clear turquoise waters and great snorkeling. Many from around the world come to these islands on holiday to swim and, what I soon found out in Gili Trawangan, party. I did not know the latter of the two until we arrived. The Gili islands are tiny islands located off the coast of Lombok. Lombok is a predominantly Muslim country so it was a bit of a surprise to me to find out that drugs on the Gili islands are legal. As I’m sure you’ve put two and two together now, many people on holiday choose these tropical islands for that reason.
We took an island taxi, which is a horse and carriage to our stay in a quaint little cottage style bed and breakfast. It was very cute and private with great flora around it and a pool. When I got into the room it had to be close to 100 degrees F. It was insanely hot as it is hot and humid on the islands. I came to soon discover the air-conditioning was broken. I talked with the guy in charge of the place and he had someone come out to fix it, thank goodness. It was fixed by the evening. That evening after exploring the island a bit I came back to my now cool room to take a hot shower and wash all the sweat off me after a long hot, humid day. As I waited and waited for the shower to get hot I realize there just in no hot water. Cold showers for the next couple of nights it is. Late one night as my friend and I were returning from a late night out I put the key in the gate to enter into our cottage area. “The locks are changed.” I look at her and say. She didn’t believe me and thought I was just having trouble with the door. I explained to her again “No, you don’t understand it’s a different lock. This is not the lock for this key.” She tried the key as well but still wasn’t comprehending the someone really did change the locks on us. A neighbor came over and tried. She came to the same conclusion. We walked around the perimeter of the building, calling with no good way in, calling out our property managers name. Finally, his wife came to the gate and let us in. I said to her someone changed the locks. She giggled and confirmed her husband did in fact change the locks while we were out. Like I said, drugs on these islands are legal and shrooms are the drug of choice. Needless to say, we stayed at a different place just a block down the road for the rest of our trip. These experiences make for unforgettable memorable moments.
The Gili islands are nice but a short stay will suffice. Gili Trawongan is by far the most crowded and touristy of the three. It is small enough that you can go for an easy bike ride around the whole island. There is a small part you do have to walk your bike through sand. Gili Meno and Gili Air are smaller and much less populated but also go to them very aware that there are going to be limited things to do there. There are a few places to eat and mostly just fun more secluded places to relax, enjoy a beach and snorkel or swim. You can also take a boat between these islands which is what I did. After 5 days in the Gili islands we were ready to move on… to Nusa Lembongan.
Only a few short days on Nusa Lembongan was just not enough. This island is more known for its surf breaks, it is a bit less touristy and a bit more outdoorsy. With the help from a newly made friend in Uluwatu I got a beachfront room with a hot shower. My first hot shower in a while and I was over the moon. We had a great view from our balcony of the popular surf breaks and were steps away from the beach. It was paradise and I wish I would’ve planned to stay on this island longer. The breaks a pretty far out so it’s perfect for stand-up paddling which I did. And we also took a canoe down a quiet very still river which was relaxing and picturesque. However, my favorite moment on my entire journey thus far was taking a boat from Nusa Lembongan to the coast of Nusa Penida and swimming in the deep sea with giant manta rays. I have never had an underwater experience so exhilarating. The boat captain didn’t make us wear life jackets or hold onto a raft and stay on top of the water and just look, he let us loose. I put on my fins and mask and dove in. It was at first terrifying to see such huge creatures gliding by doing circles around me. There were dozens of these creatures in the water and they ranged from 10 to 16ft wide. They were huge! As soon as I got used to seeing the size of them I was able to enjoy the magic of what was happening. Every time I turn around I would see another one gracefully glide by. I was sure not to touch them because though they are docile animals they are still wild animals and I would not want one to think it had to protect itself in any way.
After swimming with the mantas, we took the boat to Crystal Bay and Mangrove Bay, other areas off the coast of the Nusa islands. I have been snorkeling in and all over Hawaii for 7 years now and I have never seen the untouched variety of coral and fish that I saw in Crystal Bay. It is still so alive and flourishing. I saw fish in colors I have never seen on fish before and the coral was like something I had only before seen in pictures and on the discovery channel. Beautiful doesn’t justice to how immensely invigorating and exotic this small piece of God’s great creation really is. I want to come back to the Nusa islands and do this all again. I have a feeling it would be a new a different experience every time.