From cool Munduk in Bali, our driver headed for the coastal town of Amed. It was such a fun journey. For some reason he had a CD full of old boy band hits along with the entire Frozen soundtrack. As you can imagine, Miz was in her element going crazy in the back which the driver found absolutely hilarious. The heat in Amed was ridiculous as we walked along the baking volcanic sand. A delicious meal and a few cold beers later, we fell asleep in our guesthouse before the quick boat ride over to Gili Air in the morning.
The pier was basically a floating raft just off the shore, we were surrounded by locals trying to carry our bags to the boat for a small fee. It was hot, and I mean super hot and we couldn’t wait to arrive and jump into the turquoise waters that surround this trio of small Indonesian outposts. Gili Air, Gili T and Gili Meno are all different but all offer pristine beaches and good snorkelling. We chose Gili Air and enjoyed the peaceful vibe and great selection of cafes, bars and warungs. Perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sunsets. The island has only horse and carts or bicycles, so it’s perfect to escape the fumes and traffic noise of Asia’s hectic towns and cities. We spent a couple of days on Gili Air and thought it was pretty nice, without being as spectacular as a lot of people lead you to believe. I guess it simply comes down to personal opinion and we definitely preferred the rugged beauty of the Nusa Island’s.
From Gili Air we travelled onto the island of Lombok. The beaches along Lombok’s southern coast are amongst the best I’ve seen anywhere in the world. And yes, that includes the beauty of Surin in Thailand and Kapas in Malaysia. Words simply cannot describe the sheer beauty of these white, palm fringed pieces of paradise. Lombok is a huge island and one of the poorest in Indonesia. People make a living from farming which is pretty difficult as the island is rugged, volcanic and can go without rain for weeks. Tourism hasn’t caught on here as much as other places but this is certainly due to change in the near future. Numerous locals told us huge hotel chains had purchased land around a series of the beautiful beaches.
The town of Kuta was a great place to relax and use as a base to explore the surrounding beauty. We checked into our guesthouse which was run by a lovely guy who really looked after us during our stay. The room was modern, clean, spacious and for £10 a night including breakfast was a real bargain. The gardens were full of huge coconut trees which became pretty lethal when the breeze picked up and they decided to fall from a height of about twenty metres. We hired another death trap of a bike and followed the hilly, empty coastal road out to the first of several beaches we had been told to visit.
Mawun beach was special and extremely isolated, it had no tourist infrastructure and was empty. We swam in the warm waters before jumping on the ped and visiting a series of equally stunning beaches and view points. On the drive back, we stopped at a small bar high in the hills to grab a beer and take in the views. For some strange reason, Kuta was full of places to eat Pizza, the locals absolutely love it, which is fine by me as it’s one of my favourite foods in the world and made a change from Asian food, at least for a few days.
Nabil, a local Indonesian who became our friend took us, along with a couple from Switzerland and Macedonia on a day long snorkelling trip to some remote islands a couple of hours drive away. Nabil had amazing English and had the best sense of humour. It was such a fun day as we witnessed beautiful, untouched coral reefs and marine life. As our small fishing boat pulled into the pier, the heavens opened for the first time in weeks, you could see the relief on people’s faces.
Tanjung Aan was the jewel of Lombok’s beaches, with it’s huge never ending horseshoe of white, powdery sand, it was out of this world. It’s the only beach in the area with some sunbeds, along with a few local warungs to grab a snack and a cold drink. The best thing was you can use the sunbeds free of charge all day, as long as you buy food and drink there. Visually stunning, we spent the day here catching the rays and playing in the sea. If you ever visit this part of Indonesia, don’t expect the comfort, facilities and infrastructure of more developed resorts around the world, but truly magnificent, natural, scenic and quiet paradise beaches. For us, Tanjung Aan is the perfect beach and one we will never forget. At sunset, locals and travellers alike head to the headland overlooking Tanjung Aan to witness a spectacular sunset. We couldn’t leave and before we knew it, the surrounding area was pitch black, the ride home was nerve wracking to say the least as we navigated our way through terrible, rocky roads, avoiding cows and a barrage of flying creatures that seemed to take pride in flying straight into your eyes.
Sadly, our time in Indonesia was drawing to an end. It’s a country that will live long in the memory. Its people are welcoming and are genuinely happy to have you in their vast, diverse, jaw droppingly beautiful country. From the fertile lands of Java, tourist friendly Bali, the rugged Nusa’s and less travelled beach lovers Lombok, it’s a traveller’s bucket list rolled into one.