Gili Trawangan – anyone who has visited Indonesia will have heard of this island – is the largest of three Gili’s located just off the shore of North Lombok. The whole beach front is packed with a mixture of villas, hostels, restaurants, bars and dive centers. One of these dive centres – Bee Diver in fact – invited me to come to the Gili Trawangan for a free dive and a guided tour of the island. First however, I had to get to Gili Trawangan from where I was based, Kuta, at the far South of Lombok.
I thought it would take about two and a half hours to get from Kuta all of the way to the port where people catch the public boat from Lombok to Gili Trawangan, so we set off about 10. Unfortunately the journey turned out to be closer to four hours long, so we arrived just before the last boat was supposed to leave. What I didn’t know before I got on the boat was that the reason the boats stop operating so early is because the sea becomes really rough in the afternoon.
Our boat ride to Gili Trawangan was quite an adventure. As soon as the boat reached the open ocean the waves started crashing into the side of the boat and the wind started picking up. Almost immediately the boat started rocking so badly most people thought it was goung to capsize. The child sitting next to me turned a pale shade of white and started shaking violently. The woman opposite me started screaming and a couple further up the boat with a young child slowly started putting lifejackets – there were ten life jackets for 30 people – on themselves. Oh, and someone was sick in my eye (it was disgusting).
The boat journey lasted for at least 20 minutes and I wasn’t the only one relieved when we eventually found shelter in a calm area of coastline by the beaches of Gili Trawangan. As soon as it docked, everyone quickly disembarked off the boat and then normality struck; without the wind I could feel the warmth of the sun and the place was busy. Everywhere I looked people were smiling, crowds walked along the busy sandy road just behind the beach while others lay on the sand like lizards soaking up the sun. However, I couldn’t stand around like an idiot. I was seriously late and needed to get to the dive centre quickly.
Bee Diver has a boat that leaves from the far North of Gili Trawangan – the Office is actually located on the opposite side of the island – and is a fifteen minute walk from where the boat drops you off. I walked quickly and when I arrived I saw that the boat – full of paying customers – was already anchored offshore. As soon as I was onboard, the captain started the engine and we were off, but it turned out not that far.
The dive site, Coral Fan Point, in Gili Trawangan that we were visiting that day was located just 20 meters from the shore and the coral is at a depth of about 10 meters – which is perfect for beginner divers. After quickly suiting up, listening to a short intro of the dive site and doing the safety checks – the staff were all really professional – we entered the water.
I was really impressed by just how good the dive site was, – this probably had a lot to do with the fact that I ended up swimming for almost three minutes with a friendly turtle – there were lots of different types of fish swimming around and though some of the coral was damaged it was still colorful.
We spent just over an hour on our first – and only – dive in Gili Trawangan. The guides were amazingly helpful and were constantly pointing out the best sites – barracuda, lion fish, etc. It was a really great experience and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, especially trying my hand at underwater photography.
Unfortunately, because we arrived so late, we were forced to rush to get the last boat back to Lombok, which we almost missed – it was almost six by this time. Then once back on the island – luckily the sea wasn’t so bad on the return journey – we just had to make a three hour journey in the dark back to Kuta. It was a hell of a day!
Thanks again to Bee Diver for an amazing day.