Gili Air, Indonesia

The Magical Gili Islands.

So, there is a wonderful little island just east of Bali called Lombok. There are now companies that fly there daily but one of the best ways to access these islands east of Bali is by “Fast Boat” from Bali’s south-eastern coastline. Just west of Lombok’s beautiful beaches are a cluster of Islands known as ‘The Gili Islands’.

Now, when they say “Fast Boat” really what they are giving you is an average size ferry powered by 6 very large outboard motors. If you are prone to sea-sickness or have a fear of fast boats, there is also a larger “slow boat”. The faster version takes about 2.5 hours where the slower takes around 6.

If it is a remote tropical paradise with a laid-back vibe that you desire, then Gili Air is the place. Gili Air is the quieter choice of the islands, as it’s ‘sister’ island next-door is a one-stop-party-shop, home to night clubs and bars that provide fun around the clock. Gili Meno is the smallest of the islands and is mostly a national park and is not as built up as all the others. Visitors are welcome to explore its wonderful reefs and coconut groves though accommodation lacks variety.

For my partner and I (who were exhausted from connecting flights from Sumatra during the June volcano eruption) we looked no further than Gili Air. Greeted by plenty of horse-drawn carts acting as taxis (there are no cars on the islands), smiling local children playing among the fishing boats and some cute bamboo restaurants serving up local eats, Gili Air made a delightful first impression. Sunset walks on the beach, morning snorkeling sessions, coffees by the coconut groves, the sound of horse hoofs clip-clopping on the sandy roads; it was magical to say the least.

We would circumnavigate the island each day either walking or riding our hired bicycles (to complete the rotation would take us around one hour) and on our journey we would stop at many local restaurants and bars dotted along the shores to talk with the locals who ran them. The G Island people are wonderfully laid back, a merging of the rastafarian and the ancient fishing culture of the island has given the locals an even ‘hipper’ edge to their already-relaxed way of life.

One of the highlights of the trip was the evening open-air cinema on the beach at The Beach Club www.thebeachclublombok.com; if you bought at least one drink you could stay and watch a movie or two from the comfort of your bean-bag on the sand, such a great luxury! Secondly a groovy little spot where the ferry’s pull up is a cafe called Coffee and Thyme – best coffee and smoothies on the island. Last but not least, don’t forget to hire some bikes to see the island, it is a pleasant way to travel as horse and cart rides are a $10 set price.

All in all, a wonderful little experience. Remember to pack your snorkeling gear!

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