Pretty much as soon as we arrived in Bali, we decided to head off to some infamous islands off the East Coast of Bali, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. These islands are most famous for their diving and snorkelling opportunities.
How to get there:
The islands lie about 100 km (or 2.5 hours by fast boat) away from Bali. You can find fast boat tickets almost everywhere in Bali, or simply google it. Generally speaking, the fast boat should cost around $US60 each way. This will include return private transport from your hotel to Padang Bai Harbour. We stayed in Kuta initally, so the journey to the harbour took us around 2 hours.
We had chosen to start first in Gili Trawangan, the Western-most island, and largest of the three. Everyone has Gili T down as a party island, and once we arrived I can see why. There are hundreds of bars along the main street of Gili T, with the ferry/boat terminal being the centre of activity. There is a ring road that runs the entire circumference of the island, and you won’t have to go more than 50 feet at any one stage along it before finding another bar of some sort. You can walk around T in around 2 hours, depending on how many bars you stop at obviously!
Thankfully, we seem to have arrived in low season (or I guess, maybe shoulder season), as the locals are spending their time refreshing their businesses in time for the busy season which usually starts in around June. There is a lot of construction going on some of the restaurants seem to be closed for R&M.
The beaches here are beautiful – absolutely stunning. However, this is quite deceiving, as each of the islands are surrounded by a coral reef, which, as some pieces break off and the tide brings them in, it deposits sharp little nuggets of coral up and down the sand. It’s beautiful but bloody sore to stand on!
Obviously, there is a major up-side to this coral, and that’s the amazing snorkeling and diving that can be done from the islands. The PADI dive certificate is possible to achieve here, at cost though – around $IDR5,000,000 (which is around $NZD500). We decided to go for the cheaper snorkeling option – which mask, snorkel and fins can be hired at almost every beachside shack for around $IDR35,000 ($NZD3.50).
The food here is ridiculous also, pretty much all accommodation has breakfast included – and generally speaking this is a choice of eggs (scrambled or fried), or some sort of pancake (banana, pineapple, honey, chocolate, etc). Dinner was easy to find, as there is a bustling night market just south of the ferry terminal in Gili T, where you can choose ready-made delicious Indonesian cuisine, or choose freshly caught fish and the friendly stall owners coo it on the grill right in front of you. Satay (or Sate) is massive here also (basically meat on a stick), and you can pick and choose how many and which kinds you want. They also sell beers (small/large for $IDR25,000/$IDR30,000). My entire meal (large beer included!) worked out to be $NZD6.
There is an island hopping boat which you can grab for $IDR35,000 to skip between the islands, even if it’s just for a day trip. Gili T is the loud party island, Gili Meno is known to be quieter and “great for honeymooners”, and Gili Air is a small, upcoming version of Gili T. My favourite was Gili Meno, just for its slow pace, and beautiful scenery.