In the good old days it used to be pretty hellish getting from Bali to the trio of beautiful Gili islands, just off the west coast of Lombok.
Sure you could fly to Mataram’s Selaparang Airport on mainland Lombok but you still needed to take a long taxi ride from the airport to Bangsal - probably one of the most miserable little harbors that you can find in the whole of Indonesia – before taking a small and always overcrowded boat across to the Gili’s.
And as for the slow ferry from Padangbai?
Well don’t even mention it!
Unless, of course, you are a sucker for punishment and enjoy melting away in what is effectively just a huge rust bucket which moves (but slowly; very very slowly).
But those were the old days and they are long gone.
Because now it’s possible to get a fast speedboat directly to the Gili’s from South Bali!
Admittedly it’s not cheap, but then again, the prices are not prohibitive either.
Here are some of the deals worth checking out:
1) Bluewater Safaris. Daily departure (8.00am) from Benoa Harbour on the BlueWater Express. Hotel tranfers to and from Kuta, Legian, Sanur, Tanjung Benoa and Nusa Dua are included free of charge. Also included: Passenger insurance, use of facilities at Bali International Marina, tea. Price: Rp690,000 one way; Rp1.3 million return.
2) 'Mahi Mahi'. Purpose built 12m aluminum motor yacht has twin V6, 250hp engines, and with a cruising speed of 32 knots it takes 2.5 hours to reach Gili Trawangan from Bali's SERANGAN HARBOUR. Boarding time at 07.00am; Departure time 07.30am. PRICE Rp. 550,000 O/W per person.
3) The Black Pearl. Nice name and a nice boat. Departs from Bali’s Serangan Harbor (Turtle Island), Departure time 9am. Price Rp 680.000; although discounts available online.
Enjoy your trip. But please remember: the seas can get choppy, so take anti sickness pills if necessary. Otherwise it might turn out to be a journey that you’ll never be able to forget – but for all the wrong reasons! Pass the sick bag please…