OUR GILI AIR ADVENTURE!
A few weeks a go we headed to Gili Air for a short birthday break & Bali escape, yes we need to escape Bali sometimes. We decided to use Patagonia Xpress a new fast boat service to the Gilis, we bought the tickets from their office in Dewi Sri for about $70 Aud return per person, the boat was large ,clean & offered snacks (for a price), movies & free wifi. For an extra $5 Aud we were picked up & returned to our accommodation in Legian. The boat left from Benoa Harbour (next to the airport) and only a short drive from Legian/Kuta. After a fairly long wait in Benoa waiting for others to arrive, we skipped the first stop at Padangbai as no passengers were boarding the boat from there, then we stopped at Gili T to drop off & pickup, again a long wait before we headed to Bangsal Lombok (the island opposite Gili Air) .From there we had to catch a local boat as many large boats aren't allowed to dock at Gili Air due to works on their jetty at the moment. That was an adventure in its self ,getting off the large boat you walk down the long jetty to the beach. Once you get to the beach the locals want to carry your bags ten steps to the boat, which is fine but expect to pay them. The local boat is old & full of local people, kids, push bikes etc but thankfully only took about 15 minutes. I would suggest if you are not up to climbing on to the boat from the beach dragging your luggage or if you have an issue with rough weather & a small boat then maybe find an alternative. The whole trip took around 4.5 hours with all the waiting time included, not the fastest but it was easy & comfortable (mostly) & an adventure.
When we docked on the beach on Gili Air we were slightly disappointed at the beach & surrounding area, it was dirty & full of rubbish. However don't be put off because the island is generally very beautiful & clean. Lined up on the street ready to take you to your accommodation are horse & carriages as motor bikes (except a few electric ones) & cars are not allowed on the island. We decided not to book accommodation as we knew due to Mt Agung's rumblings everywhere on Bali & the surrounding islands would be quiet & getting accommodation would be easy. We grabbed our bags & headed down the dirt road, checking out a few hotels along the way.
After about ten minutes we arrived at The Ombak Paradise a reasonably new hotel, with the most amazing pool! (A pool is a necessity for us) We were able to bargain for a room around the pool at $60 Aud per night & then upgraded for a few nights to an upstairs rooms with spectacular ocean views, definitely worth it , for $75 Aud per night. All the rooms were clean, large & had all we needed. The price included breakfast, for a few days due to the hotels low bookings we had A la Carte menu & the servings were ridiculously huge!!! The other days a buffet was provided with everything you could want for breakfast. The staff were friendly & always willing to help. I would definitely recommend this beautiful hotel.
Across the road on the beach is the hotels restaurant/bar which played movies every night for free.
We found the bar a bit expensive & on a recommendation from a girl on the ferry headed to Mowie's bar just a few minutes walk away. Mowie's offers a great atmosphere, good priced drinks & food. We spent many nights there enjoying the most amazing sunsets (& the longest) we have ever seen.
Being adventurous we hired push bikes from the hotel for $5 Aud for 24 hours & attempted to ride around the island, now it has been quite a few years since I have been on a bike & found I had to spend all my time avoiding pot holes & sand mounds & couldn't enjoy the scenery, so eventually I chose to walk for my safety & because Im always snapping away with my camera. Who said it's as easy as riding a bike!!
To walk around the island takes under two hours, following the road/path decorated with colourful bars, cafes & places to stay. Sadly most were empty due to the time of year (two weeks before Christmas) & Mt Agung's activities.
For $15 Aud per person we booked a day snorkelling trip around all three Gili Islands & saw huge turtles, colour fish & coral gardens. The price included the hire of snorkel gear, great guides who jumped in the water & found the turtles for us to view. With lunch time spent in a gorgeous restaurant on Gili Memo overlooking the ocean.
We spend the days wandering around the island, swimming in the massive pool , relaxing & enjoying the perfect weather. The locals on Gili Air were friendly & welcoming & always ready for a chat.
I would definitely recommend it & we will be back.
It was everything & more you would expect from a tropical island.