Gili Trawangan is probably the best known of the 3 largest Gili islands outlying Lombok Island. It takes about 1.5 hrs to get to Gili from Bali, and the islands Trawangan, Meno and Air offer a lot for different interests. I only visited the “party island”, known for it’s party boats, hallucinogen mushrooms and whatnot. To be honest, I was not the only one sceptic about surviving on the island for a week, but here I am, still alive and happy about going there in the first place. Of course traveling with friends made it easy to enjoy.
Now on high season the boat tickets cost 650,000 rupiah (43€), including pickup and transport with open return ticket, perhaps low season would be cheaper. One thing I learned when going to our already paid accommodation on the island: never pay for a week in advance before seeing the place. After changing to a more comfortable and reasonably priced bungalow, we were ready to experience the island with no cars or motorbikes, only horse carriage taxis.
After a day of wandering and wondering, I decided to face my fears from the past and do scuba diving license Open Water Diver. And so I did, starting on Christmas Eve (First Christmas underwater and having a seafront barbecue feast with few turtles popping to say hello)! My diving instructor was wonderful, encouraging and relaxed. He looked like a Jesus chilling still in 18m underwater. Mind you, it is not a piece of cake to stay still in the water.
I think the biggest companies offering OWD and other trainings are PADI and SSI. Mine was SSI (Scuba School International), though apparently there is not much difference between the two. If and when I decide to proceed to Advanced Open Diver, I can choose either PADI or SSI, so I didn’t really mind which one I did (though SSI video 2hrs, sounded way more appealing than 6hrs theory in PADI). On Christmas eve I did my first dive, going to a wreck site. The same afternoon I watched the theory video. Next day was practicing uncomfortable situations in the pool, followed by a dive in the afternoon. The third day consisted of 2 dives, first of which had some practice like sharing air and clearing the mask underwater and other scary stuff. The last one was pure pleasure dip to 19 meters, though the strong current gave it a little extra challenge.
(Insert a nice picture here with a better wifi :P)
The price for OWD is regulated
by the mafia in Gili, which makes choosing the school pretty random: there are most likely way more scuba schools than there are ATM machines in Gili. From my experience, I can very warmly recommend Mango Divers. Not just my instructor, but all of them seemed very nice and professional while being laid-back. I had my doubts of passing the final exam, but in the end I did well. If you are thinking of going diving, the cheapest place to do it would probably be Koh Tao in Thailand. In Bali there are several sites, and it is probably cheaper to do the licenses in Bali rather than one of the Gili’s. But if you are staying in Gili and wish to do something other than getting crazy or lying in the white sand beach, go snorkeling or scuba diving! The underwater world is amazing. I can’t wait to go again. And learn how not to move underwater. Perfect buoyancy, here I come!