What an amazing time we’ve had the past week on Gili Trawangan! Coming from an over crowded island with one of the highest population densities in the world to an island with no vehicles and no police has been a big change, for the better! We were finally able to catch up with the jet lag and get some good rest. From Bali we took a short 1 hour 40 min boat ride to Gili Trawangan. Upon arrival, we rammed the beach and jumped into the surf with bare feet (and all of our gear!).
From there it was a whole new story trying to find a room… After about 2 hours of walking around and bartering for the lowest price and nicest room, we settled on Creative Home Stay. Being neither a 5 star room or even creative for that matter, it did have A/C and was substantially cheaper than anywhere else. Come to find out, our toilet wouldn't flush without pulling a makeshift string coming out of the top. Even better, we had to fill a bucket with water to dump down the bowl, just to make it work half right. And then the Bali belly set in… Sparing you from the gory details, lets just say this experience was neither fun or easy. Once reaching the aftermath, it was a slow road to recovery with white rice and lots of bananas. After a couple days we were right as rain and had watched an entire season of Game of Thrones without leaving the room for fear of being too far from the bathroom.
On the brighter side of things, being cooped up for so long made us get a wild hair for adventure. Neither of us had been in the ocean for more than a 10 min period and what better way to get in touch with mother nature than to get SCUBA certified! After settling on a reputable company (Blue Marlin Dive) for fear of death, we got all the information and began the course the following day. Our instructor Daniel was AWESOME!!! and after getting all the boring pool drills and hours of DVD’s out of the way, we were eager to experience what we had paid for. Our first dive was to a site called Turtle Heaven and lets just say it made up any unfortunate experience that had happened on the trip. We both were in shock after making it to the 12 meter bottom depth. Not 20 seconds into the dive we were surrounded by turtles and more fish than we dared to count. The coral bottom was indescribable with vast pinnacles and every square inch of space taken up by some type of coral or animals. What an amazing way to get broken into diving in one of the most beautiful places one could dream of… and that was just the beginning.
Dive number two and three were in an area called Meno Slope (2nd dive) and Meno Wall (3rd dive). Meno Slope was another 12m dive and Meno Wall dropped off the side of the slope, to a vertical wall 18m down. While Meno Slope/Wall was beautiful, it didn’t offer as many fish or turtles but had a very special treat in store for us. It was a baby spotted eagle ray (1.5 ft wide), that was born to this specific dive site. While normally these creatures are known to be extremely skittish, divers are all this little guy has ever known. Watching it soar, not 10 feet from us, effortlessly through the water and dig his nose in the sand for a quick bite was something we will never forget.
Our 4th dive was the icing on the cake. Finally we were able to bring the GoPro to document the experience and were eager to make what would be our final dive (or so we thought!). Bounty Wreck was where we really got to enjoy ourselves and let loose, not thinking about procedures and the what ifs that once had crossed our minds. We got our first taste of diving in fast current (which is AWESOME). There is no need to use your fins because you simply drift along and enjoy the ride! After about 20 min we finally reached the wreck which used to be a transport vessel which brought people from island to island. Now it’s the centerpiece for an awesome artificial reef! There were also old sunken decrepit bicycles to add to the spectacle, which made for a good laugh. Watch the video and you can see what it was like for us!
Finally making it back to the shop we took our final exams and were officially certified open water divers! Just before our departure from the shop we decided to see what the schedule was for dives the next day and it just so happened they were going to be diving at our instructor’s favorite dive site. We immediately asked our instructor about the dive and were let down after hearing that it was 30 meters, which was way deeper than we were certified for (18 meters). We were in luck though, being that our Instructor could certify us for 30m in a Deep Water Adventure Dive to the site. What more could we do than to say yes! (for a nominal fee of course). We awoke the next morning bright and early for what would be the best day yet in the Gili’s. After breezing through a short quiz and discussion about the dive, we were off to the dive site, DEEP TURBO!
Deep Turbo was such an amazing experience for us! After leaving the boat and making our immediate decent to 30 meters we were completely blown away at what were were seeing. I will say right now that I see why people become addicted to diving. The only way to describe it would be to imagine pinnacles of coral reef the size of houses and not only that, but there were more fish than you could imagine. After 15 min or so of having our minds utterly blown we stumbled on a 6’ white tip reef shark which was so incredible to see in person! Then shortly after, a second one! They were fearless and more inquisitive of what we were than anything else. After one pass around us they had seen enough and were on their way. This concluded the dive and what better way than to be surrounded by sharks! We made our ascent and headed back to the island smiling ear to ear.
With our time coming to an end we are sad to leave the Gili’s, but we are glad to have met a group of 3 new friends to trek Mt. Rinjani (12,700ft) on Lombok. The trek will take us over 3 days! For now we say goodbye to SCUBA diving, but we are sure to be in the water soon enough!