Having expected Gili T to be a little more raucous than it was in reality, our plan for Gili Air was basically two nights of recovery. However, seen as though the party island hadn’t quite lived up to its reputation, we were buzzing with energy and on the lookout for some fun!
We arrived back on land around 10am after catching the fast boat from Gili T, skipping past ‘honeymoon island’ Gili Meno and setting foot on Gili Air early enough to drop our bags at the Gili Cemara Bungalows before heading out on our first adventure. Our welcome to the island was a little deceptive, with a crowd of travellers hanging outside the port’s coffee shop, I was thinking that perhaps Air might offer the lively atmosphere we’d somehow missed out on on Gili T, but it seems that the crowd were simply waiting for the boat back on to their next destination and the island was just as tranquil as we’d originally expected. Despite our cravings for some more beach party action, we couldn’t be too disappointed though and Gili Air was in fact one my favourite places visited on our trip.
After checking in to the bungalows, we hired out some bikes and ventured down to the beach. I kicked off my flipflops, instantly feeling at home with the sand between my toes. We wandered along the beach, discovering market stalls and beach swings as we strolled…
We headed north of our bungalows on the west side of the island – snorkel masks in beach bags, banging against our hips – to check out the underwater views and to see whether ‘turtle beach’ would in fact offer up what we were looking for. Cloudy, waist-deep waters greeted us but we stuck with it for a while, a mixture of shuffling and swimming out, trying to leave the shallow waters behind (which seemed to go on for miles) before eventually giving up, no turtles in sight, and retiring to our sun loungers in what was now the midday heat. It wasn’t long before I grew restless and managed to drag Sophie away from her book to escape the now oppressive midday heat at the beautifully decorated Mexican Kitchen.
It wasn’t just the Frida Kahlo murals that drew us in, the delicious looking food being served to guests in the wooden cabanas looked just as mouth-wateringly good as we eventually tasted for ourselves, and the fruit smoothies weren’t too bad either!
Hunger now sated, we decided to relax in the cabanas for a little while longer until the sun was at acceptable levels for us to venture back outside to find our bikes. We cycled back along the sandy streets, keeping our eyes out for the yoga studio we’d seen advertised on various lampposts and billboards on the way. We eventually found it and booked ourselves in for the candlelit class that evening. It was a quick race back to the bungalows to change out of our swimwear and into sportswear and then back to the studio to make it in time for the class to begin. Afterwards, we cycled back in the dark along the bumpy roads, taking a pit stop at our accommodation’s reception to book a snorkelling trip for the next day.
We ventured back out on the bikes that evening, stopping as the smell of a barbeque filtered into the streets from one of the seafront restaurants, Scallywags Beach Club. Naturally we were enticed in by the display of fresh fish but it was the steak that made our mouths water, despite having already filled up with several trips to the salad bar / buffet. Full to the brim, we nether-less hopped back on to the bikes in search of some nightlife. When it became apparent that there was nothing in sight, not on this side of the island at least, we opted to head back to our bungalow where our beds soon drew us into slumber.
We woke early the next day and I noticed that my face felt a little strange. I glanced in the mirror and sure enough, I’d been bitten on the cheek by a mosquito and had my usual allergic reaction causing my face to swell to Quasimodo-like proportions. There was no time for vanity though, so I swallowed an antihistamine along with breakfast and then we headed to the shore with our snorkel masks ready to be taken on a three-island turtle-spotting tour. We quickly made friends with a young Scottish girl and spent the rest of the day scouring the ocean for signs of the hard-shelled reptiles. I’ve actually been lucky enough to see several turtles close up in the wild on various snorkelling trips but the fascination with sea life never really wavers and so when we did eventually spot one close to land, I was keen to get a closer look.
The excitement soon turned to horror however as not just everyone on our boat, but everyone on the two or three boats which were also stopped in the same spot, all started to crowd around the creature. Of course, we all love to see wildlife up close but I felt that there were far too many people getting far too close to the turtle, no doubt scaring it and, feeling helpless to do anything, I instead swam away.
Thankfully, on our second snorkel stop, I ventured off on my own and saw just one other person from my boat out in front. He turned and made a signal to look down and sure enough, a few feet away was another turtle, swimming peacefully with us at a safe distance. We followed him for a while and then left him in peace to swim back to the boat.
By now, my mosquito reaction was getting worse and it was becoming uncomfortable to wear the mask, so I swam back to the boat and was thankful that there wasn’t long left until we’d be back on dry land and I could find a doctor. As we’d found with everything in Bali / Lombok, the pricing is always up for negotiation, even when it comes to medicine! So, when the doctor quoted an extortionate amount for what was effectively some strong antihistamines and anti inflammatories, I was glad to have the queen of haggling Sophie by my side.
Afterwards we had lunch with our new friend Isla and then headed our separate ways. We opted to explore the south of the island, where Isla had recommended some good spots for the sunset. And what a sunset it was…
We stayed for what felt like hours after the sun had actually gone down, watching the sky change from pink to orange in the most beautiful colour explosions. The uber-strong Cosmopolitans may also have added to the spectacle!
That evening we ventured to another beachfront restaurant for some local cuisine but the real treat was witnessing the full moon casting a magical glow on the water.
That moment truly made it all sink in how lucky we’d been to get to explore so much of Bali and Lombok in our limited time. I felt more relaxed and at peace than I had all year and I wanted to bottle that feeling of happiness to take back home with me.
The next day we headed back to the mainland on a very bumpy boat ride, (the less said about that the better) and headed to our final stop of the trip, Seminyak. We stayed at the Budhi Ayu Villas, dined on amazing food at SeaCircus and drank huge coconut cocktails in one of the bars. Sophie was due to leave the next evening but we still had one more pool bar to visit first…
And it seemed that we had saved the best until last (as well as our biggest bar bill!!) We arrived at Finn’s early, grabbed a prime spot for surfer watching and quickly got stuck in to the cocktail list. The real party began later in the afternoon though as the inflatables came out and the DJ came on. We hopped around the pool, watched the dancers perform and felt like continuing the party well into the evening but sadly Sophie had a flight to catch and so we headed back, bid adieu and the Balinese adventure was over. Until next time!