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Leaving on a fast boat from Padangbai, Bali to the Gili islands, off Lombok, we were excited by the prospect of a few days of desert island living and snorkelling.

The crowded boat dropped passengers first at Gili Trewangen and we breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t stopping on what looked like a party island! Arriving at Gili Air, the third island in the chain after Trewangen and Meno, the turquoise water shimmered in the sunshine and looked just like the aerial photos you see of places like the Great Barrier Reef, with a clear view of the ocean bed and corals below.

Gili Air is a small island, with no roads, cars or motorbikes – yay! Easy to get around, we circuited the ‘ring’ track (good for early morning runs in the case of Jake and Tash!), where there are plenty of beach-side cafes and bars to chill out at as you listen to the gentle lapping of waves; we also delved into the centre of the island, where the locals live. Unlike the neighbouring islands, Gili Air has still retained a community feel.

Whilst we continued to practise our Balinese and Indonesian language skills with lessons from the locals, Lola and Albie also practised their currency conversion and negotiating skills at beach-side stalls.

Many of the cafes are plastered with kindness placards, a little twee but the sentiment illustrates the general positive vibe of the island and the friendliness of the people who work here, most of them ‘commuting’ from neighbouring Lombok each day.

Able to snorkel directly off the beach, right in front of where we were staying (Turtle Beach), we had no need to pay for boat trips, thus saving some budget!!

On our first snorkel, we were excited to unexpectedly spot turtles! The east coast provided quiet, easy and spectacular snorkelling: we couldn’t get enough of going out to find different sea creatures like moray eels, lobsters, cuttlefish, assortment of tropical fish in an array of colours and sizes. There were only ever one or two people out there with us, with fishing boats bobbing gently around.

Life at Turtle Beach in a joglo hut…

This unflatable structure was used endlessly by Lola and Albie, to play out our travelling adventures! It was primarily a boat, taking passengers to lands we’ve visited so far!

Love that these two are such good mates!

A walk to the north west of the island gifted us beautiful views of Agung back on Bali. From here, we were able to see the volcano’s second eruption of towering ash clouds.

From the east, you could also clearly see Mount Rinjani, the volcano on Lombok.

Sigh! It was hard to leave this place. Luckily, we had an extra day because our boat back was cancelled due to ongoing ash clouds.

Back on the boat to Bali, we wondered how Agung’s eruption had really affected the people (by now we are getting bored of a lot of the media’s exaggeration of events here!). Arriving into Padangbai, the majestic mountain looked splendid and so beautiful.

We were picked up at the port by a cousin of Nyoman (who we had earlier stayed with in Selat Duda). His name was confusingly also Nyoman (the Balinese name for the third child – see an earlier post for more detail)! We were happy to hear from him that everyone was perfectly safe, going about their usual business, there was no panic and it was still only the area immediately surrounding Agung that was affected. Take that international propagating media! Please spread some positive news to help the Balinese people, who are suffering from a lack of tourism.