We stayed in Ubud for 2-weeks and while planning the trip one of things that I wanted to do was a take a side trip to Lombok, the island just east of Bali. However we had limited time and we wanted to simply get a feel for the island life. A couple of friends recommended that we visit Gili Air, the smallest of the three islands northwest of Lombok. “Air” means “water” in Balinese.
There are a couple of good posts on what to do in the Gili Islands. But if you only had two days and one night is it really worth going? If you want a place to completely get away from the congested traffic, motorbikes and crowds of tourists in places like Ubud, Seminyak and Kuta during the summer; the Gilis are a good respite. But you really need more than just two days to allow yourself to unwind and enjoy some of the things the islands have to offer like cruising, diving, surfing and fishing.
Gili Air doesn’t permit gas powered motorized vehicles on their tiny roads. To get around you either walk, bike or a hire a donkey drawn wagon. Once you realize how small the island is you realize that the wagons are more of a tourist draw than anything but they are great for photos and for the share “check list” factor.
One of my favorite things about the Gilis are the colorful “spider” boats found through both Bali and Lombok. But due to it’s tiny size, the colorful boats of Gili Air are especially spectacular. We didn’t have time to hire one but we did swim around them as we shared the shallow reef while snorkeling with a number of tourist dive boats.
The snorkeling right off of the beach in Gili Air, especially behind and to the east of Smugglers Beach Club Cafe provides for some great diving that is easily accessible at depths of 3-5 meters. We witnessed a good selection South Pacific marine life. Interestingly we met a volunteers at the California , we were able to catch a glimpse of this ecosystem with our own two eyes.
We stayed at Smugglers Hideaway, which is made up of a small collection of motel rooms and a nice pool. While not right on the beach, it was a short walk from the beach and easily accessible to the beachfront cafes, bars and dive shops. “Easily” means 15 minutes that once you leave the Hideaway takes you between a couple of homesteads.
Interestingly, Buddhist chanting could be heard through the night over a loudspeaker that apparently was being emitted from the , seemingly random.
The statue to the left symbolized our state of mind in Gili Air. It’s a popular figure as we’ve seen variations of it throughout Bali but the rustic, sleepy and tranquil nature of Gili Air is embodied in the sleeping man.