Colton's Asia Experience

Under the Sea: The Gili Islands

By Colton Powell

The Gili Islands are an archipelago situated off the island of Lombok in southern Indonesia. Only accessible by boat, they are a secluded oasis home to crystal clear waters and soft white sand beaches. The three small islands consist of the largest called Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and the smallest Gili Air.

Gili Trawangan is the main island and became our home for 4 days as the next stop on our trip.

The island itself is made up of endless dive shops and small resorts. There is no motorized transport on the island due to its small size so instead horses and carriages roam the island offering a faster alternative. We decided to make the half-day trek as the area has become a diving mecca due to the pristine reefs that surround the islands.

Having grown up in BC I got my dive certification when I was still in highschool and was excited to finally venture into much warmer water than found back home.

Gili Island Diving
Sunset from the beach on Gili T
 
Bryan on the other hand had just snorkeled for the first time recently in the Philippines but decided he was ready to take on the challenge and embarked on getting his dive certification while we were there. We chose a dive company and signed up to make our way below the surface.
 
Gili Island Diving
The rough seas making our way out to the dive site
 
The next morning we met our respective dive masters, donned tanks, and headed out to the boat. The boat looked like a outrigger canoe on steroids with an engine strapped to the back. It was decorated with manta rays to match the dive company name and could carry around 20 people comfortably.
 
We headed out into the open water to a reef nicknamed Shark Point as the water lapped at the side of the boat.
 
The wind picked up as we ventured from the protection of the island and waves began to crash over the bow filling the boat with water. By the time we reached the site we were soaked and it felt like I had already been diving.

We entered the water and at 29 celcius it felt like a bathtub. As we made our descent the reef below slowly began to come into focus. I was instantly lost in the colors and the sea of fish that maneuvered and darted quickly through the maze of coral.

Gili Island Diving
Bryan (left) and Colton (right) on descent
 
We made our way through the reef spotting giant sea turtles, large bat fish, yellow and black angelfish and the rainbow coloured parrot fish. Under a large rock we discovered three large white tip reef sharks and a small baby shark taking a mid morning rest. We continued on as a group of spotted rays followed us, intrigued by the multitude of bubbles surrounding our heads.
 
The water was so clear your could see for hundreds of feet around you.

I was so excited by the sensory overload of the reef that I quickly chewed through my air and after a short 35 minutes it was time to return to the surface.

Gili Island Diving
We found two white tipped reef sharks hiding
 
Over the next three days I was able to dive another 4 times and saw the most sea life I have ever witnessed. I even got to see two small seahorses and a weird looking frog fish (look it up) I'm still confused on how they exist.
 
We headed back to the mainland with a new appreciation for seafood, refreshed, relaxed and ready to tackle the next stop on our adventure.

Click next to continue to Part 13 of Colton's Asia Experience

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