The next stop on our Bali holiday was Gili Air, famed for its crystal clear waters and population of turtles.
Gili Air is one of the three Gili Isles, just off Lombok. Gili Trawangan is known as the party island whilst the quieter Gili Meno is a favourite for honeymooners. Gili Air seemed to be the perfect balance between the two.
The day started well when we saw dolphins swimming alongside our boat to Gili from Lembongan.
After a quick stop at Gili Trawangan, we arrived on Gili Air.
The Gilis are more rustic than Lembongan and utterly charming. As with Lembongan, there are no cars on the island. The island is so small that you can easily get around on foot, by bike or horse and cart. However, whilst they looked beautiful, I did feel very sorry for the horses. There is no hay, water or shade and they carry out hard work in the baking hot sun. A driver told us it would be a 20 minute walk to our accommodation but I just couldn’t bring myself to sit in the back of a carriage.
We decided to walk and fortunately it turned our our place was only 5 minutes down the road. We stayed in a bamboo hut at Gili Guest House, which I found on Airbnb. I really want one of these huts in my garden – wouldn’t it be great for guests and for parties!
After a couple of hours on the beach, we explored the island and found a bar for sunset.
We decided to try a local warung for dinner. The food was amazing and each dish cost, at most, a few pounds. The cocktails were cheap too and the locals are so friendly – we stayed up into the early hours sipping White Russians and playing music with the bar staff!
The next morning we headed to the beach and rented snorkels for the day. The water is so clear, it’s perfect for snorkelling. The coral starts really close to the shore so there is no need to swim far out to sea – great for scaredy cats like me!
We didn’t see any turtles but had fun watching the brightly coloured tropical fish.
There are so many amazing bars on Gili Air and I fell in love with the decor at Sunrise’s Circus bar.
Each morning the call to prayer starts at 4.45am and the cockerels start crowing shortly afterwards. Despite the incredibly early hour, it’s a really lovely way to be woken. Whilst Gaz would try to ignore the noise and go back to sleep, I would creep down to the beach to watch the sun rise and practice yoga – a beautifully tranquil way to start the day.
Afterwards I would take a morning stroll around the village as the locals set up shop.
One morning Gaz and I went for a walk around the circumference of the island which can be done in around 2 hours.
After stopping at Scooperific for an ice cream (coconut & Oreo, yum!) I persuaded Gaz to go for a jug of white wine sangria at Caballito del Mar, a swanky Ibizan style bar. However he nearly had a heart attack at the non-Indonesian prices. It was still cheaper than the UK but Gaz ushered me out of there before I could order a second jug!
We then wandered to a sunset bar for cheaper, local style cocktails and to watch the sun set.
That night we went to The Mexican Kitchen – a really fun restaurant that we spotted on our walk around the island. To get there we cut across the island in the pitch black, wandering down tiny pathways. However we didn’t feel unsafe at any point. The locals are so friendly and everyone you come cross says hello. The restaurant served really lovely vegetarian food and even had a huge raw food menu.
On our final morning we decided to go for a last snorkel before we had to check out. We headed to Turtle Beach in the hope of seeing a turtle, knowing it was unlikely at this time of year. After half hour, I headed back to the shore to start drying off, thinking we wouldn’t succeed. As soon as I had put my suncream on, Gaz started waving to me from the sea. I put my flippers on and swam out as fast as I could. When I got there Gaz said he saw a huge turtle but lost it and, typically, the battery on the underwater camera had just died. We had another look and spotted the turtle underneath us – I couldn’t believe it! We watched him for about 20 minutes, just chilling out on the seabed and going up for the occasional gasp of air. It was an amazing end to our time on Gili.
Next stop, Ubud!