(Indonesia) Gili Air >>> Ocean >>> Labuan Bajo
6/11- Snorkel Trip through the Gili Islands!
6/12- Scuba Diving and Pedicures!
6/13- Last Day of R&R in The Gili’s!
6/14- Transfer to Lombok and Day 1 of our 4 Day Boat Journey to Flores
6/15- Exploring Waterfalls and Sailing the Seas!
6/16- Snorkeling, Hiking, Frisbee, Football, and Beach Time!
6/17- Hunting Komodo Dragons and arriving to Flores
Snorkel Trip through the Gili Islands!
+ We met up with Vi in the morning and had breakfast together at the resort restaurant. Then we headed over to the booking office for our snorkeling trip!
+ After a short wait, we boarded the glass bottom boat and had prime seats to view the sea life below on the way to the snorkel site.
+ The snorkel trip visited 2 different sites off of Gili Trawangan and while the snorkeling was decent, we’d actually preferred the location right off of Gili Air we did ourselves.
+ Next, we stopped at Gili Meno to eat some lunch. When we finished, Corey walked around exploring the island a little bit while the girls lounged on the beach.
+ Our final two snorkel stops were off of Meno and Air and were better in terms or coral diversity and fish life. Overall we saw a bunch of turtles and various fish, but no bigger creatures.
+ Once we finished the tour around 3, we all went to the Munchies place again for cheap lassies, aka smoothies. For some reason they were less than half the price of the ones on the rest of the island and still just as delicious!
+ From there it was a long walk to the west side of the island where we returned to our favorite sunset spot and enjoyed some beers.
+ Then it was all the way back to the east side for some authentic wood fired pizza. Although it was rather disappointing in the end.
+ On the walk back to our rooms, Corey haggled for a cheap bike to use for the next 48 hours. Then we went back to the room where Liz promptly passed right out!
Scuba Diving and Pedicures!
+ Corey woke up early and after a quick breakfast he rode his bike to the Northeast corner of the island to the 3W Dive center.
+ Got geared up and set off on the boat to the Western side of Gili Trawangan. Went diving at Shark Point with his own private dive master!
+ First we visited a wreck and then drifted with the current for about 45 minutes. Saw a bunch of sea turtles, both green and hawksbill. One of the turtles was absolutely humongous! The biggest he’d ever seen, bigger than him!
+ Also saw an octopus, blue-spotted stingray, eel, angel fish and sweet lips, the biggest Humphead Wrasse he’d ever seen, a couple mantis shrimp, and a big puffer fish. A bunch of stuff!
+ Now, any other time this would be considered an amazing dive. And it was, don’t get us wrong. It just became very clear to Corey he was getting a little fatigued from diving and snorkeling. He’d seen so many of these cool creatures already the past few days (and weeks) they were starting to become mundane and less impressive each time. Plus the 2 creatures he wanted to see most (Sharks and manta rays) eluded him again. So it was hard not to be disappointed, especially because that’s why he picked this company and this dive site (and early dive time) specifically to better his chances.
+ During the boat ride back, he relaxed in the sun deck on top of the boat and then once he was ashore, he rode his bike back to the resort pool that was attached to the homestay we were staying. We were allowed free access since it was the same company and this is where Liz and Vi had been hanging out sipping on coconuts.
+ While Corey had been diving, they went and got pedicures at a nearby spa and were now looking marvelous!
+ After relaxing together at the pool for only about half an hour, we had to quickly run away as the rain started coming down! The three of us escaped back to our rooms just in time and sat out the brief afternoon downpour.
+ Then we headed out to a Warung that had been recommended. The food was decent but not the tastiest so on our way back to the room Liz got a Dragon fruit smoothie which tasted more like a banana one but was a bright purple color!
+ The rain started pouring down again so we hung out in the room doing research and then took a nap that ended up lasting until just after sunset. Then we ventured out for dinner.
+ Our choice tonight was Chill Out Bar and Corey got the BBQ steak option with a salad buffet while Liz ordered a burger. Yay for western food!
+ Back in our room, we started to do work and book things and were disappointed to find the wifi was worse than it had been in days. So what should’ve taken 90 minutes took double that but we eventually managed to book accommodation, multiple flights, and an experience at an Elephant nature park in Thailand! Exciting!
+ Before falling asleep, we watched a couple episodes of Brooklyn 99.
Last Day of R&R in The Gili’s!
+ Another yummy breakfast buffet in the morning next to the waves and then we headed to Garden Cafe to meet up with Vi.
+ There, we relaxed next to the shore listening to the waves breaking while we read our books and worked on the blog.
+ A few hours later, we moved up the coast a few hundred meters to have some lunch at Zipp Bar and Liz got another delicious wrap while Corey enjoyed some more pizza.
+ From there it was back to the Western side of the island where we headed to the same bar we’d been to multiple times to just drink and enjoy sunset. Corey wanted to get a massage and tried 2 different places but it must have been a weird time because neither could take him at the time. So he just joined Liz and Vi on the beach to drink and enjoy sunset.
+ Thankfully low tide was at a later time today so we actually had some water covering all the green grass out in front of us to reflect the sunset. It made for much prettier pictures.
+ We enjoyed some beers and lassies for a few hours, and then headed back to Villa Karang to get some BBQ dinner. Corey wasn’t very hungry so he shared a dinner with Liz and then we all went back to our rooms.
+ Before bed, we finished a few last minute prep things we needed to do before our boat trip tomorrow. Then we passed out in bed to get a few hours of sleep.
Transfer to Lombok and Day 1 of our 4 Day Boat Journey to Flores
+ We had to wake up pretty early today (around 6:30) to make sure we were packed up and at breakfast by around 7. Then we quickly scarfed down our meal, checked out and hiked over to the booking office. The ticketing guy directed us back to the port actually and we hung out there waiting for the boat we needed to depart the island.
+ We said our final goodbyes to Vi, gave her big hugs, and wished her well for the rest of her time in Indonesia and then lugged our huge bags (in their duffels) onto the boat that was mostly filled with locals. We’re so glad we met Vi on the trip to Nusa Lembongan almost 2 weeks ago and that we had someone so fantastic to hang out with and talk to during our time in Gili Air. Hopefully we meet again one day!
+ The journey to Lombok wasn’t particularly long and once there we had the same struggle to get off the boat and keep everything dry that we had getting on. It was tricky because the boat only pulled up to the sand and then the passengers were forced to jump into knee/waist deep high water (depending on the waves) and get their belongings onto shore as dry as possible. Liz grabbed all the small bags and Corey was able to get the big ones eventually.
+ We didn’t feel like hauling our duffels for an unknown distance to the restaurant we needed to meet at so we finally gave in and paid for one of those horse-cart trolleys!
+ It turned out to be the right decision because it brought us to the place we thought we were supposed to go and we unloaded the bags. Then it turned out we needed to go somewhere else so the guy let us reload our stuff and took us to the next place and didn’t charge extra. We were glad to spend about $3/4 and not have to sweat up a storm.
+ While waiting around for the bus to pick us up, we went to a nearby supermarket and got some beer and snacks for the trip. It was cheaper to buy them from the supermarket (as opposed to on the boat) and we’d already confirmed it was ok via email with the company. However when we arrived back at the restaurant with our beer, they said we wouldn’t be allowed to put it in the ice unless we paid extra (they said the same to other groups who also did this). We argued for a bit but eventually other groups gave in and paid the $4 so we did the same. Not worth the headache in the end.
+ Eventually the bus showed up and everybody loaded up their bags and cases of drinks and we hit the road. It was about a 3 hour drive from the West side of Lombok to the East and along the way Liz slept while Corey worked on the blog and then watched a few episodes of Dragon Ball Super.
+ Once we arrived to the coast, we all loaded aboard the boat and set sail pretty much immediately without any sort of run down, introduction, or safety briefing whatsoever. We were worried about what this meant but in the end it was ok.
+ All the passengers eventually figured out we needed to go upstairs and claim our mattresses on the top deck of the boat. We had the option when we booked to pay extra for a private cabin or just do the cheaper deck with everyone else. We chose to save some $$$ and went with the deck and we were happy with our decision because of how cool and breezy it was, not to mention much more social.
+ Our beds were near the back (minimal bouncing) and close to a lesser used stairwell that got us down near the bathrooms (another plus). This also meant we’d have less people stepping all over our beds each day. The tarp hung only about 3-4 feet off the ground which meant everyone was really hunched over as they walked across and we ended up scraping our backs more than once because we failed to duck down enough.
+ For the next few hours, people mingled around the decks as we sailed East and eventually we all gathered down below for a very late lunch. Then we hung out drinking and socializing in a cove as people jumped in the water if they wanted to swim. Since it wasn’t a snorkeling spot, we chose to skip this one.
+ The rest of the day was just some Indonesian dinner served up and some sailing until we got to a little harbor area with minimal waves and everybody turned in relatively early for the night.
Exploring Waterfalls and Sailing the Seas!
+ Our 2nd day of this boat trip started out with a nice breakfast at 7 am. Everybody actually started waking up around 5 or 6 since the sun was coming up, and we each woke up briefly to view the beautiful sunrise before pulling our eye masks back down and going back to sleep.
+ One of the crew members introduced himself as “Harry” , “Harry Potter” he specified. He gave us a very brief rundown of the day’s activities each morning.
+ A short boat ride later and we arrived at Moyo Island and set off as a group to hike through the jungle to a waterfall. It wasn’t a long or difficult hike and the pretty falls were worth it. Corey and some of the other brave souls climbed up the rocks and vines to the top while everyone else swam around at the bottom.
+ Then it was a short putter over to Satonda Island where we all jumped in the ocean and snorkeled over to shore. Then we hiked inland just a bit to a salt water lake that wasn’t particularly nice to look at or swim in. So after a brief visit we all headed back to the beach and did some more snorkeling.
+ We discovered that 2 of the other passengers on the boat, Jake and Charlotte, were both avid snorkelers as well and infact knew more about the marine life than even Liz! This was because they had both worked in an aquarium in Bristol (UK) and had lots of knowledge about the different fish and invertebrates. So it was fun to go around with them and have them answer all our questions about what different things were called.
+ After lunch the rest of the day and night was non stop sailing (mainly motoring) on more open, rougher seas. This meant about 18 hours straight of bobbing up and down and rocking back and forth. The evening time around dinner was the worst of it with some people feeling too sea sick to even venture out of bed and downstairs for dinner. We made it through the day and night without feeling too ill thankfully and it was actually nice to just relax and read for the rest of the day.
+ While lying on our thin foam mats on the upstairs deck, Corey read his book “Prey” and Liz read her book “Chasing Harry Winston” and at night we watched a bunch of episodes of “Brooklyn 99” with Liz trying to avoid getting sick. Seriously, the boat was moving so much it was easiest just to stay in bed and not even try to go on the deck or really walk around at all!
Snorkeling, Hiking, Frisbee, Football, and Beach Time!
+ The boat finally came to a stop sometime around 6 am to the relief of everybody on board. That was to be our only big sailing day and it was nice to know the long haul portion of the journey was over. This 3rd day would be a much more enjoyable one!
+ We all clambored downstairs for breakfast and were happy to eat a meal on a still surface without being jostled around.
+ The first destination today was Kalong Island where we all hiked up a mountain to get amazing views of the surrounding coves, islands, and beaches. It was very pretty and worth the 20/30 minute hike. At the top we all took a bunch of group photos and then our other British friends Sidney and Kyle joined up with Jake, Charlotte, and us to hike a different route back to the bottom. It turned out to be quite the adventure with much steeper descents and a less defined path. Plus at the bottom Charlotte saw a Komodo dragon in the bushes which was a surprise since they weren’t supposed to be on this island!
+ Our second activity of the morning was snorkeling at Manta Point (seemingly every area of Indonesia had their own “Manta Point”). The boat dropped us off in a very poor spot where we were forced to swim a decent distance against the current to reach the edge of the coral reef where the Manta were cruising around.
+ Corey was the strongest swimmer on the boat and was able to see about 4 different Manta Rays. He even managed to swim with one that was cruising right up near the surface. Corey had to swim as fast as he could just to keep up with the Manta (who barely looked like he was trying) but he did manage to touch it’s wing!
+ Unfortunately he didn’t have the go pro with him to film it and Liz and most of the boat only saw 1 or 2 Manta Rays from a much further distance away.
+ Back on board again we relaxed for a little bit upstairs while the boat cruised to our next destination: Red Beach.
+ Here, we had to swim to shore because the boat was anchored away from the beach. Again, the boat was positioned poorly and many of the first people who attempted it couldn’t handle the strong current and were getting swept away. So eventually they used the little dingy boat to shuttle people to shore. We were boarding one when they decided it was full right before Corey was to get on. So as they started off, Corey instead jumped into the water and hung onto the side for half the ride, being pulled along through the water. A fun, albeit unsafe, experience for sure!
+ On the beach, Corey threw around the football and frisbee with a bunch of the other passengers. They were impressed by his frisbee skills and he helped them with their throwing techniques. Liz went snorkeling with Jake and Charlotte again and enjoyed checking out the different corals and fishes.
+ That afternoon we pulled into a calm harbour of Komodo National Park and tied up with another boat who was doing the same journey. Then everyone hung out and partied the night away. We drank most of the beers we had brought along with us and talked with pretty much everyone at some point during the night!
+ The sunset was beautiful once again although we didn’t see any of the Flying Foxes that we were told would be flying about. A really fun day!
Hunting Komodo Dragons and arriving to Flores
+ Today was our last day on the boat and it was hard to believe 4 days had gone by so quickly! We had another quick breakfast on the boat and then we all stepped off the boat onto the dock at Komodo Island to go on a search for the famous Komodo Dragons!
+ We were warned by our guides that we may not see any since it was mating season and the females tended to go into hiding, but to our delight we actually saw 4 different dragons on the island! The tour guides were pretty good at finding their hiding spots and we all took turns sneaking up to snap some pictures of the giant carnivorous lizards. We even saw 2 ones hanging out on the sandy beach that gave us unobstructed views up close!
+ Back on the boat, we sailed a couple of more hours over to Rinca Island, which also had a very healthy population of Komodo Dragons. Along the way, we each finished the books we’d been reading.
+ For some reason, our captain parked the boat out in the harbour instead of at the Rinca dock like all the other boats. So this meant we all had to ride the little dingy between our boat and the dock. The 2 crew people had to paddle (aka exert effort) which meant they wanted to make as few trips as possible. This meant they wanted to load up each boat as much as possible. So our boat was so fully loaded the sides were only an inch or two above the water which meant everyone stayed as perfectly still as possible and prayed we didn’t capsize into the water (which had a crocodile warning sign!). Luckily, we made it to the dock completely dry. Oh, the adventures!
+ On Rinca the Komodo Dragons were much more out in the open and could be seen just lounging about near some buildings or on the outskirts of the jungle. We did another hike like at Komodo Island, this time much longer and out in the open. While walking we saw some deer up close and some wild pigs far away, but no water buffalo. Just a whole bunch of their droppings which meant they were close by.
+ Once we’d finished with the hike and everyone had their fill of Komodo Dragons (we’d seen about 15 of them here!), we made the precarious crossing back to the boat (this time with the edges of the boat seemingly even closer to the water!). Then we set sail to Kelor Island.
+ We all ate our last meal on the boat, which was the exact same type of Indonesian food we’d had at practically every meal. It wasn’t awful but everybody was certainly ready for some nice Western Food once we got into port later.
+ At the island, most everybody else was content with jumping off the boat into the water over and over. Except us and our British friends who set about snorkeling around the reef in search of more aquatic life. This time the coral was worse but we did see a whole bunch of free swimming lion fish as well as a peacock Mantis Shrimp! Those things were so cool and we’d seen videos of them on TV before but this was the first time in real life! Awesome!
+ We were the last to board and then everybody hung out on deck as we sailed the remaining hour or two into port at Labuan Bajo. We’d made it!
+ Overall the boat trip had gone as well as we could have possibly hoped for! The weather was perfect all 4 days, the boat had a great mix of couples and single people, older and younger, and just the right amount of party without going too crazy. We were happy we met a bunch of new friends and were successful with seeing both Manta Rays and Komodo Dragons! Definitely a fun experience and money well spent.
+ Everybody said their temporary goodbyes as they disembarked with their luggage and set out to find their respective hostels in town. We all promised to meet up again that night at a restaurant called Burger Time for dinner.
+ We actually left all of our stuff on the boat for the time being and set out straight for the dive company we’d been in contact with back in Gili Air. We had to make it there by 5:30 to ensure our spots for the next day. Our friend Charlotte joined us and at Uber Scuba we all filled out the paperwork and paid the bunch of money to go diving the next day and the exorborant (relatively speaking) National Park fees as well ($18/person!).
+ After that was settled (we actually ended up storing our bags at the office for the night so we didn’t have to deal with them in the morning) we met up with Jake and Charlotte and walked to Burger Time. The restaurant clearly wasn’t expecting this many people and we actually weren’t able to order anything since they’d run out of buns and fries! So the 6 of us (Sidney and Kyle included) all went and found our own restaurant called Bajo Taco just down the road.
+ It ended up being cheaper and really delicious and we all hung out sipping on our slushies until after 10. Then we said our sad goodbyes to Sidney and Kyle as they fly back to the mainland tomorrow. Charlotte and Jake headed to their hostel while started our walk back to the boat. Getting back onto our ship proved to be much trickier since you had to climb over and through other boats to reach ours!
+ Although it wasn’t that comfortable and was in a very loud port (the boat next to us was doing construction until midnight!), it was FREE accommodation! We were 2 of about 8 people who decided to take advantage of the free night and spend the last night here (out of 26 passengers total) and we just watched some stuff on the tablet before shoving our earplugs into our ears.