Any traveler I’ve met who’s been through Indonesia has uttered the word “Gilis” with a touch of nostalgia in their voice and longing in their eyes. The three small islands sit off the northwest coast of Lombok and are easily accessible from Bali courtesy of a vast fleet of speedboats competing for tourist dollars.
We decided to check out Gili Air since it had exactly what we were looking for: handful of dive shops, good restaurants, and enough of a nightlife to attract other young travelers. If Gili Trawangan is the crazy party island and Gili Meno is the sleepy beach island, Gili Air is Goldilocks’ “just right” destination.
Each island has a distinct flavour but the basic ingredients are simple: white sand beaches, rustic bungalows, no cars or motorcycles, countless loungers, and plenty of “chillaxing.”
We bargained our ferry tickets down to half price since it was low season, arrived on the island around noon, found a trustworthy dive shop by one, and started our advanced certification by two. So efficient that I barely had time to shave before our first dive, leading me to sport an Amish beard for a day.
We spent the next three days diving in the bathtub temperature waters surrounded by turtles and the professional crew from Manta Dive. When we weren’t underwater, we spent our surface intervals on pristine beaches and funky restaurants.
We celebrated our advanced certification by booking ourselves into a beachside bungalow, doing some bamboo yoga, partying with some fellow Canadians who just complete their open water, and buying onwards tickets to Raja Ampat, famous for its diving and boasting the title of “the most biodiverse place in the world.”