The Gili islands are located off the northwest coast of Lombok, but are easily accessible from both Bali and Lombok. The islands are surrounded by white-sand beaches and palm trees, and there are no cars or asphalt roads. Rather, you get around by foot, horse cart or bicycle.
I chose to spend my time on Gili Air, but which Gili you choose really is dependent on what you are looking to do on the island — whether that’s party backpacker style, have a romantic getaway or chill out and dive.
For me, it was all about diving. Aside from diving, I literally made one trip around the island and that was mostly by accident — I went for a short stroll, and when I looked at the map, realized I was already half way around the island, so I continued!
Other than that, I slept a ton — perhaps I’ve needed to catch up on all the sleep deprivation caused by my NYC life, or I was jet lagged. But the island is also really quiet and dark, making it just a sleepy place around 8-9pm.
The rest of my time was under the water, diving. I decided to complete my Advanced Diving course with Manta Dive, and I couldn’t be happier with the choice. My dive course consisted of a five dives: drift, peak performance buoyancy, deep, underwater navigation, and night. While the content is similar no matter where you take the course, Manta Dive and Chris specifically were just fantastic – both during the dive and for the debrief post-dive. I am now a much better diver, both in terms of confidence and technique. I’ve reduced my weight belt by 3-4 kilos and my air consumption by 25%.
Other than the skills, the highlights of the dive are a toss up between Marlin Hill, which was filled with turtles and the night dive at Gili Air Harbour. For the night dive, Chris & I biked down to the harbour with gear in hand, and got into the water just before sunset. We timed it perfectly to catch the beautiful mandarin fish that only come at this time, and we also managed to see lots of other special sea creatures — from squid and octopus to a tiny red frogfish.