Thinking back on our time in the Gili Islands, there is one word that immediately pops into our minds: turtles!
We had been trying to see sea turtles ever since our first snorkelling trip in Panama. Back then, when we boarded early morning to Coiba Island, there was a faint promise of turtles and whales in the air. But they were shy, and at the end of the day we were amazed by the beauty of the sea but sad to have missed them. In Bocas del Toro we sort of saw our first turtle, but it was being devoured by vultures so we marked it a near miss. Next on our “places to see turtles” list was the Great Barrier Reef, a place where they are a common place, but yet again we weren’t lucky: there were some amazing reefs, but no turtles . So we arrived to the Gili Islands with (very) high expectations.
The Gili are three tiny islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air) northwest of Lombok in Indonesia. Of the three, we made Gili Air our base and visited the other two during our snorkelling adventures.
Gili Air is a paradise on earth. With no motorized vehicles allowed, all the circulation is made on foot, by bicycle or donkey. With less than 4km2, it is pretty easy to walk all around the island and let yourself be amazed with the beautiful nearshore reefs, the unforgettable sunsets and the delicious food, and then allowing the stars and moonlight to pave your way home.
After a full day soaking up the sun as good beach bums, we went on a snorkelling trip around the three islands, with a cheerful group of French, Dutch and Czechs. The reefs were amazing and we got to see incredible colours and fish, but the unforgettable part of the day happened when we crossed our paths with a few very sociable turtles. It is an incredible experience to swim along them, watching their elegance and easiness in the water. We had finally seen turtles, and they were beautiful!
We said good bye to the Gilis with a mix of excitement and sadness. We were very excited with the next leg of our trip, India, with all its exotic promises, but sad to leave such a peaceful and beautiful place. These incredibly small islands totally hooked us, and we hope to come back again, to swim with our shelled friends.
Full speed ahead now to Mumbai, in India, where Verne has a full report of our first impressions, waiting for you!