Lombok is an Indonesian Island is known for its surfing spots and beaches, located east of another popular vacationing place, Bali. Though, Lombok is so much more than just a spot for surfers. You can go trekking along the popular Gunung Rinjani, spend a quiet day fishing, or join the party scene in Gili Trawangan. Though all that aside, today we’ll be talking about the Gili Islands, specifically snorkeling in Gili Islands. If you’re backpacking across Lombok, this particular activity is a must, but if you’re still unsure, fear not as we’ll be telling you five things to know before you go snorkeling in the Gili Islands. Commonly referred to as the Gilis, the Gili Islands are divided into three islands namely, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Known for diving as well as beautiful beaches, motor transportation is prohibited so the way to get around is by horses, bicycle or foot which is perfect for taking in all the sights as you pass, especially if you’re backpacking across Lombok. Now, that we’ve talked a bit about the Gilis, let’s move on to the five things to know before snorkeling in Gili Islands.
Snorkeling is an activity that you can go about alone. People want to travel and discover the underwater world on their own and share the experience with a friend or family member or keep it to themselves. No doubt it is a charming experience and there’s a certain satisfaction of spotting things on your own. But going with a tour doesn’t fall short either. While the internet can give you hoards of information, a lot of it can be misinformed or not fitting your exact arrangement which can leave you in a sticky situation. Tour guides, on the other hand, can tell you exactly what you need and how to use them. There’s no risk of them telling you to do something wrong as they have hands-on experience. The tours in Gili are no different. Though you can find tours for beaches in a lot of places, the beaches in Gili Island have unique sights and are brimming with marine life, if you know where to look for it. Not only will they give you time to experience places on your own; they will guide you on what you will find while snorkeling and where you might find the many fishes and turtles. If you decide to go with a tour, you’ll see the best way of snorkeling in Gili.
While many people suggest jumping into the water from wherever you want, it’s not the best idea if you want to snorkel to see specific sights. If you go randomly, you’ll have to keep going in hopes that you’ll spot some turtles or pretty fish. But if you know where to go, how to get there and to spot what, it will be so much more memorable. Especially if you’re just visiting or backpacking across Lombok. For example, if you enter the spot called Nemo City, you’ll find easy access to the coral and the turtles are said to be spotted here more frequently. Then there’s Hans Reef where you can find a wide variety of fish here, each more beautiful than the last. But be careful, it’s not all just fishes and water, sea lice litter on the surface of the water and are unavoidable. Though the stings are light at first, soon they make it impossible to swim. It is recommended to swim away from where you feel the stings, rest for a while and head for a different and deeper direction.
KEEP TIDES IN MIND
Much like the location, selecting a random time to go snorkeling in Gili can ruin the experience or at least lower the fun factor. The difference between low and high tides can be a 100 meters which is a very important detail. High tides are best for snorkeling and it can be enjoyed thoroughly though there’s nothing saying that you can’t go during a low tide either. But, if you do decide to go snorkeling during a low tide you will spot many sea urchins that though are easy to spot, can catch you off guard. But if you’re not a very good swimmer or just aren’t in a mood for it then you’ll enjoy the low tides. So because the tides change from high to low, you’ll find a different sight in the morning and in the afternoon. Keep an eye out or observe the tides for a few days before deciding to go for your snorkeling trip.
TIMING & WEATHER IS KEY
You might be coming back from trekking or partying it up in the sun after a few days of backpacking in Lombok and decide to give your body a little break by going snorkeling because what’s wrong with magical sights underwater, colorful coral and beautiful fish? Coming out of the water in a few hours with a bad case of sunburn, that’s what. Many people are under the delusion that the sun can’t touch you because you’re safe under the water but they’re very wrong. This is where the timing/weather comes in. If you decide to go snorkeling in Gili beaches around 11 to 2: 00 PM you’re in for a bad day. If you still decide to go in the heat, take your sunscreen with you but remember that many of the fishes don’t come out to play because of the sun either. The best time to go is in the early morning when the water is clear as well and the fishes are much livelier, you have more of a chance to spot a turtle that way as well. But if that’s too early for you, you can head out around 4 or 5 PM and find the same atmosphere, more or less.
When you’re snorkeling, after a while you begin to think you’re seeing much of the same, in this case, it’s best to go where you spot boats. Though taking the tour itself is peak Gili Island experience, if you’ve decided to ditch and go by yourself, you can simply swim closer to where the boats are and snorkel there. As the people are professionals and know by heart where you can find the most life, there’s a strong possibility you’ll find more variety there. Patience is also key, it’s easy to get frustrated when you’ve been at it a while and you can’t spot anything new but you have to stay calm and enjoy every bit of it, though it will take time for you to come across what you’re looking for, snorkeling itself is a wonderful experience and should be enjoyed to the fullest.