Gili Air Plastic Free Indonesian Island!
I have traveled a lot and in many ways, but usually I try to make improvisation the way to go. I always move a lot by sensations, feeling , intuition … except in Indonesia. And it is that there our guide was the problem of garbage and all that this entails, which is why we would arrive at Gili Air, the chill out sister of the Gili archipelago .
The last time we spoke we had just spent a few days in silence and not so silence in Ubud, the heart of the island of Bali . Right there we were able to have direct contact with the serious problem posed by garbage in this country of 17 thousand islands, but also with those people who are doing everything they can to try to solve it. And it would be the story of one of these anonymous heroes that would take us to Gili Air . But, let us start at the beginning.
The Gili Islands Archipelago
Visiting the Gili Islands is one of those plans that could and should fit into any trip to the Asian country. And it is that these three tiny islands bordering Lombok have much to offer a tourist. Of course, despite its size and proximity to each other, I already tell you that each of the Gili offers a completely different plan , so make sure what you are looking for before opting for one or the other.
In short, I would tell you that Gili Trawangan is the most famous and developed of all, the one that offers the most accommodation options and the best for party tasters. Her neighbor, Gili Meno, is the quietest of the three, and Gili Air is somewhere in between .
In our case we stayed a couple of nights in Gili Air, but we did not get to visit the other two. Although if you want to do it, you should know that it is easy to move between the islands: you just have to catch a boat in the corresponding port. I take this point to tell you that this archipelago was greatly affected by the earthquake that occurred in Lombok in 2018 , although little by little they have been recovering normality.
How to go to the Gili Islands from Bali
Introducing the archipelago the question now is: how can I go to the Gili islands from Bali ? Well, easily, as in almost any fashionable tourist destination. As you go, you have to know is that your first stop has to be Padang Bai (if you are in the Ubud area) or Serangan (if you are in Kuta), the main ports of departure for boats to the Gili Islands.
If you go to Padang Bali, the cheapest way is to go by bus. The Perama Bus company offers this route for about 5 euros per trip. Once in the port you will have to get the ticket for the boat, the price of which varies if you make the journey on the public ferry or speedboat. Roughly speaking, I will tell you that the public ferry costs just over 2 euros each way (about 5 hours), compared to the 15 euros that the speedboat costs (1.5 hours).
Now, almost any tourist accommodation or agency offers transportation to Gili (picking you up at your accommodation), a tour that will take you about 3 hours and will cost you about 30 euros. If, on the other hand, you do everything by public transport, you will pay in total about 15 euros, but it will cost you about 7 hours. So it is a good time to decide if this trip is worth more your time or your money. In our case we decided to take the transfer directly from our hostel.
Leaving logistics aside, in the short time we were waiting in the port of Padang Bai, we were struck by the amount of garbage that was on the beach , and the little interest there was to remove it from there.
And while I was wandering aimlessly with the camera, Alberto and Javi gave me a nice lesson, taking advantage of their waiting time to leave that place a little less dirty . One more sample that this trip has deeply penetrated us, and a taste of what was to come.
Where to sleep in Gili Air
As I mentioned at the beginning, each island in the Gili archipelago offers different plans, so it has a different range of leisure and services. In the specific case of Gili Air there are quite a few lodging options, but due to its tiny size I recommend you bring something previously reserved if you travel in high season . Some suggestions:
- The perfect option to travel with your partner and not spend much is the Beranda Ecolodge, where you will pay 20 euros per night.
- If you want to make the most of your stay in paradise, check out the PinkCoco Gili Air. About 90 euros costs double in this hotel almost valued with a 10 in Booking.
- AirBnb also has a good accommodation offer on the three islands.
In our case we would stay at the facilities of the Manta Dive Gili Air , a diving center that includes its own accommodation. The reason for choosing this place was its coral regeneration project, which I will talk about a little later, but as a lodging it is also worth it.
Things to do in Gili Air
Okay, we’ve gotten there and we’re staying. But is there something to do on Gili Air? Is there something to do on that island of just 15 square kilometers ?
On foot, by bicycle or by horse cart. Gili Air is one of those increasingly rare places in the world where time could be measured in naps and distance in strides .
No, there isn’t much to do on Gili Air, but that’s already a lot. Dare to wander aimlessly around the island. Calmly walk its main path and enjoy the sea and its beaches from the four cardinal points.
Or jump off this main road and wind through the roads that run through town .
See what life is like where tourists don’t usually go .
See what life is like in a place where the sun always says goodbye through the front door .
How could it be otherwise, Gili Air is a perfect corner to sit on the beach and enjoy one of the best works of nature: the sunset .
Well, on the beach or on a swing. Yes, there are no cars here, but Instagram has also arrived.
When the sun goes down, Gili paints her faces and goes out to dance. But calmly. Despite not being (luckily) the island of reference among lovers of revelry …
… Live music sweetens the island’s nights . And listening to it with your feet sunk on the beach is priceless. Well, yes, what it costs you to drink or eat or something in these places.
But what is on the surface is nothing if you compare it to the bottom of the sea.
Diving and snorkeling in the Gili islands
As I mentioned in our tour of the Komodo National Park , the sea and the seabed are one of the great attractions of Indonesia. There are many corners of this country where it is a good idea to put on your diving goggles and tube and go out and discover .
Well, or the bottle if you have a diver’s license. And it is that there are not few schools that offer underwater plans in this Indonesian archipelago .
Plans like those offered to us in the aforementioned Manta Dive Gili Air, with whom we did a recreational diving (snorkeling in my case) around the island. A dive that left me very touched. Please watch the following video.
As I mentioned, my adventure companions have a diving license , so while they were enjoying the depths of the earth to the fullest, I would have to “settle” for some snorkeling at sea level. In the beginning, it was all fish and marine species. But suddenly, I saw her. And since it appeared I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Garbage is here too .
Bottles, glasses and many plastic bags …
… They roamed, roamed and roamed at ease through the seas of Indonesia (and the world). And archipelagos like this one are especially affected. As I already told you in my article about the garbage problem in Indonesia , it is estimated that this is the second country that throws more plastics into the sea, although through the same means it receives plastic postcards from other parts of the world.
An environmental problem that is devastating the marine ecosystem, which cannot accept this new underwater “inhabitant”. Coral is one of the species that is suffering the most from the environmental impact caused by man, to the point that some investigations date its disappearance at 30 years .
Biorock – Regenerating the coral
Specifically, the coral was the main reason for our trip to Gili Air: we wanted to see up close the project that Manta Dive Gili Air is doing in the area to regenerate it .
Under the name of Biorock, since 2004 more than 120 underwater metallic structures have been placed, designed with ideal conditions for the replanting and growth of this living being . An initiative led by Gili Eco Trust in which other companies such as the aforementioned Manta Dive collaborate.
A beautiful and very ambitious work that we wanted to be part of , both with our own hands and recording it, photographing it and sharing it with our community.
And it is that we have not come to Indonesia to look for their problems and complain about them, but to also show the people who work every day to combat this situation. Sadly, there are many corners of this Asian nation where garbage is plentiful, but it was at Gili Air where we were able to see this problem more closely . Earth is getting tired of storing our shit. And if not, take a look at the documentary we prepared on garbage in Indonesia.
But I wouldn’t want to end this post by leaving a garbage aftertaste about Gili Air. On the contrary. This small Indonesian paradise is one more victim of the short-termism in which human beings live , but it would not be fair to blame it for anything.
Gili Air is 15 square kilometers of paradise in the middle of another great paradise. Gili Air is 15 square kilometers of beautiful beaches, sunsets, sea beds, corners, good living. 15 square kilometers that we have been staining for a long time, but that with a little of all we could recover. After all, Gili Air is nothing more than a 15 square kilometer example of what we are doing to the millions of square kilometers that make up the world: loading it up little by little . But we still have time to straighten the path. Shall we start? Meanwhile, let’s go to Yogyakarta.