4 Nights on Gili Air
Jared and I chose Gili Air because it's accurately known for it's mixed atmosphere of chill days and a bit of night life. vs. the very small, very retired couple-y atmosphere of Gili Meno and the very party, party party atmosphere of Gili Terawagan.
We took a fast boat by Sindex which was really big and had lots of underneath sitting out of the sun with a movie playing, as well as some seating up top where they played music and served Bingtangs. Because of the breeze it felt super cool up top but put on sunscreen or you'll get absolutely torched like Jared did...and use your entire bottle of aloe in one night..like Jared did... On our way the Sindex boat first stopped at Gili T then for Gili Meno and Gili Air we had to transfer onto a smaller boat which took us into shore. The company organized everyone's bags by island so there was no problem keeping track of them. At the beach tons of horse and carriages lined up to take new arrivals to their hostels. These horses haven't been known to be in the best condition or treated well so try walking to your hostel! We checked into Gita Gili and loved our small villa with a queen bed, AC, and big outdoor concept bathroom (well covered but open ceiling to the fresh air). There was no Wifi in the rooms but is available at their beach bar and restaurant for no charge. They also have a free breakfast every day which comes with fruit salad, coffee/tea and your choice of toast and jam, toast and eggs (2 pieces, 2 eggs), omelette or pancake (banana, strawberry or chocolate).
Jared got signed up to start his 3 day SSI Diving Certification with Manta Diving, one of the oldest dive schools on the island. He researched multiple but was sold by their extensive knowledge and chill vibe when we got there. We ate at Manta's restaurant for lunch and enjoyed a chicken burger with fries and red curry. I love that lots of the menus here have a mix of western food (burgers, pizza and pasta) with Indonesian, Chinese and Thai dishes. For dinner that night we ate on the beach at Chill Out which seemed to have lower BBQ prices (Scallywags being on the expensive end) and a really great menu!
The next morning Jared started his diving at 9am. I rented a peddle bike from Gana which was just south of Gita Gili on the right hand side. I paid 40,000 for the day from (10am-6pm) and could've rented for overnight if desired. There's no cars on the island and only a few locals have motorized scooters. I rode around the Main Street checking things out and was seriously sweating even though it was a windy day.
During my travels I found a small stand where they hand carve jewelry from coconuts! We've been looking for a wood carver who could maybe make a Buddha necklace and new plugstyle earrings for myself. The young boy running the stand (maybe 18?) said he would make it, whatever we wanted, and I could come back later to buy it. Deal dude. He ended up making an awesome Buddha necklace for Jared which we later bought for 110,000rph - see Aray for custom work!
To kill time I got a much needed toe nail painting for 60,000 ($6cnd). Aloha Spa was quiet and clean and they were definite perfectionists about my (really ugly) feet.
For lunch - Gili Bliss. I had a beautiful smoothie bowl with actual frozen fruit!!! Most smoothies are made with air temperature fruit and if you're being weary and asking for no ice they aren't quiet like you might imagine. Try the Mango Magic Smoothie Bowl with frozen dragon fruit instead of spinach.
The South West side of the island is perfect to catch a beautiful sunset but it was a little too cloudy. You can still get a great silhouette photo on the wood swing though. Also note that there are 3 or 4 sets of these swings around the island not just one!
I spent the better part of Jared's second dive day at Coffee and Thyme, a cute, well serviced restaurant right near the harbour. They have a legit espresso machine and great coffee. After that I got a massage at Beach Spa and relaxed until Jared got off at 4.
Manta Dive allowed Jared to do three dives in one day because he was the only one training which shaved an entire day off his training, and a 10% discount. We spent our free day snorkelling (first time for me!). I was shit scared..of what I don't really know.. but it was really amazing and you don't have to go 20m off the beach to see hundreds of little brightly coloured fish and even sea turtles if you're lucky. Lots of stands rent masks and fins for 50,000-10,000 per day which you can take out to the beach and return when you're ready. We splurged a little and had lunch at Sunrise which is beautifully decorated in the naughtical navy and white and serves amazing tuna tartare (I love it with mango!)
It was Halloween so we went back to Chill Out for dinner which was one of the only advertised parties on the island. The staff were in makeup and costumes and they had live music. Then over to Gita Gilis bar for a nightcap.
The next day I caught the sunrise early - it lit up the mountains and volcano across the ocean in a gorgeous, slow, burnt orange way. It was nice to sit in the silence and hear the beginning sounds of the day, roosters, sweeping, and the odd horse going by.
It was our last day so we got the the harbour around 11am (as recommended) to wait for our boat to leave at 12:30pm. There is an open place to sit and wait for your boat - I'd recommend buying some snacks because you probably have 4-5 hours of travel ahead of you if you are going to Ubud.
The boat cost Madion and Dylan 700,000 Rupiah for a round trip with a private car from Ubud to the port and shuttle bus back to Ubud. Note: The drive there was about an hour but the drive back would have been three on the shuttle bus which had to make 5 stops..we ended up taking a cab to get back to Ubud faster for 100,000 each.
Gili Air was the perfect pace for us and 4 nights was definitely enough time! If you’re not diving don’t be intimidated, you can easily kill a couple days while your travel buddies take to the deep sea. Do some yoga, bike around the island, get a massage, drink a ton of smoothies coconut and coffee and check out all the menus so when your friends get off at 4 you’ll have the perfect dinner recommendation lined up