We took the public boat (2 a day at 9.30am and 4pm) costing $2.70 to Gili Air after dropping passengers off at Gili Meno (the island in the middle of the three islands)
Gili Air is the island closest to the mainland of Lombok and the only island with some fresh water. This is running low so they also cart water over from the mainlan.
There are as on Gili Trawangan no cars or loud motorbikes on the island and it is a much quieter island so very tranquil especially in low season with fewer tourists.
Luckily (or rather on a recommendation) we chose a place to stay (the Chill Out bungalows) which had fresh and hot water showers although here you need very little or no hot water as it is much hotter and more humid than in Ubud. There was also a lovely yoga centre on the island 15minutes walk or a 5minute horse and cart ride inland from where we stayed so we went either at 10am or 5.30pm in the evening which was more comfortable as it was not so hot then. We had 5 sessions of yoga and the yoga masters were excellent.
There is an abundance of fish and shellfish on offer and the prices are very reasonable. A very large tuna and vegetable kebab including baked potato and two salads was only 45,000 rupiah or $4.30.
Breakfast which was included is very generous and consists of 3courses (if you want it all) with any combination of muesli, fruit, honey and yoghurt followed by two eggs any style and then a banana or pineapple pancake. We made do with two options.
The coffee is not espresso so we opted for ginger tea which was delicious.
Gili Air has a much more back to nature feel about it and most of the path around the island is sand. There are not so many “cidomos” horse drawn carts so it tends to be very much quieter around the island. The first bungalow had a very musty odour about it and after telling the friendly staff they obliged the next morning and we were given a much larger bungalow.
There are few tourists on Gili Air and most that visit the island are either diving or snorkelling during the day so the island feels almost deserted. The nice thing also about the island is that you are not constantly being asked if you want this that or the other all the time and even the few hawkers on the beach selling sarongs and jewellery were very polite and not insistent.
The water was crystal clear and a lovely refreshing temperature and even without a mask and snorkel you could see the fish and the ocassional turtle in the water. I spent a lot of time in the water while Maurice had a quick dip then stayed out of the sun so as not to get burnt.
We decided to try out the “Vista Mare” Italian restaurant which had been very well written up on trip advisor with glowing reports about the Italians running the place.
After missing the place after walking for an hour we had to retrace our steps and finally found it to be told that they had left four months previously and the new owner/chef was Balinese. Just our luck! Again we assured that the chef knew how to cook Italian food so we stayed, mainly because of the sunset which was beautiful but we were disappointed with the food.
After three efforts to eat other than Indonesian fare just for a change we decided to stick to the BBQ’D fish and local fare which was delicious.
We had a great meal at a new restaurant on Gili Air called “Caballito de Mar” which was excellent and another good meal at the “Waterfront” restaurant. All other meals we ate at our “Chill Out” restaurant which was so reasonably priced and excellent food and value. For 7main meals, 12 fresh juices,4 soda waters, 3 icecreams, 3lots of prawn crackers and a coffee the bill came to $74 for the week.
The weather was wonderful for the whole week with no rain and
having swims in the beautiful aqua water and seeing all sorts of tropical fish without even a snorkel was wonderful.
We just hope that this island does not get overdeveloped like Bali did and although only three small islands it could easily be ruined in time especially with the new airport on Lombok and direct flights from Perth to Lombok which are very reasonably priced. There was plenty of accommodation and many cafe/restaurants but very little else apart from a few small shops selling water and biscuits and a few clothes or otherwise dive shops with snorkels and masks and bicycles to rent. Most people seemed happy to walk around the island as we did. We found one of the many tours and travel booths selling tickets for transfers to and from the island. We didn’t want to leave on the public boat at 8.30am so we arranged to go by boat at 10am to Bangsal harbour and then by car to our hotel “Sunset House” in Senggigi on Lombok.
We arrived at the small harbour as arranged at 9.45am and by 10.30am there was no sign of a boat for us and after several phone calls, the chap we booked with turned up and said that we would have to get the public boat which leaves when it is full. I gave him a mouthful about not telling us the truth but it all turned out alright in the end with us going on the public boat about 15minutes later and a very nice trekking organiser from Lombok helped us to find our car when we stepped ashore. We were prepared and I wore my crocs as you get onto and off the boat and into the water. Our faith in human nature was restored!