So we as a family wanted to set apart one holiday exclusively for beaches, giving it a title, Beach Tour. We decided to put a check on our love affair with Bali for the time being and head to its cousin’s shores on Lombok.
The Gilis had always been on our list. The children in our group were so jubilant that they wouldn’t mind jumping down the landing plane right into the blue ocean!
We stayed in the Senggigi area which has plenty of restaurants and hotels, and has a lovely beach where taking a morning or evening stroll is a great experience. The place is calm and tourists flock here only during peak seasons. We had the whole beach to ourselves on our first morning. There was certainly this feeling of desertedness as we ran our eyes over the wide arch that is Senggigi beach. But soon it was happiness and our ululations of excitement which dominated our moods. There are beach restaurants here, attached to hotels, but they open for business in the afternoon. We wet our feet, then our bodies until the growing sun brightened things up.
We were on our way to Gili Trawangan on the second day and our guide took us to a nearby beach called Nipah, from where we would be ferried across. There was no plan to linger around or even take pictures at this “transit beach.” However, the blue water and a desolate state around it charmed our exploring minds. We delayed our ferry ride by at least half an hour. An abandoned wooden log on the beach and the only waiting ferry in the water with the background of hills in the distance was quite a stately setting for some DSLR moments depicting signs of sought-after loneliness; calmness. It was pure nature beckoning us to stop by on our quest to more enchanting destinations. We complied.
Then the Yamaha briefly sputtered smoke and the siren was sounded by the waiting boatman. We cruised along on the calm waters of early morning. The sun was still mild at 7:15am and we kept ourselves busy with cameras and binoculars.
A mile or two away, the pictures of a typical tropical island started to gain clarity. I loved watching a lanky, white man holding his huge surfboard and walking along the beach. The children pointed towards snorkellers popping out of water now and then – “See, like dolphins, hahahah.” We got busy preparing our things before we disembarked on the beautiful Gili Trawangan.
The guide took us to the tiny turtle sanctuary and then we put on our snorkelling gear. The fish were a bit shy at first, it seemed, but then they flowed in, in their dozens, of many hues. We spent a full hour under and above the water and finally took shelter in a beachside restaurant for brunch. The beach activities, the sunbathers, children designing sand castles were the entertainment while we savoured salad and macaroni. Nevertheless, our quest was for solitary beaches.
As we had had enough rest and were still itching to get more of the island, the guide came up with the idea of bicycling. We hired some of them to go around the tiny island. This was probably the best part of the island trip as we stopped by nearly ten spots on our way. Each spot had a different view of the beach, the mountains and the coral waters. We passed by outdoor lounges of star hotels, posh al-frescos, and souvenir and tattoo shops. After about five kilometres, the path became isolated.
This was when we started to randomly stop here and there. Horse carriages kept overtaking us. There were motorcycles, but I didn’t like the idea of using motorcycles here as noise doesn’t go well with the purity of idyllic silence. We parked our bicycles under some palm trees and checked out the shallow coral waters. At a distance is a mountain spread, as spread as the sea. It was sizzling hot, but that didn’t dampen our spirits to bicycle further and stop at another spot where we came across an empty traveller’s rest area. From here, the view revealed the end of the mountains. Beyond that point it is the Indian Ocean, all the way. The silence of the land was getting on our treasured list of favourites.
A full two hours was spent bicycling around, before getting back to the main beach area where the boatman was ready for the return journey. We hadn’t had enough.
We promised the children to hit yet another beach the next day. We were back in Senggigi, in our hotel in an hour and fifteen minutes. Tomorrow is Kuta beach, Lombok’s Kuta, not Bali’s.
Both are different entities. Bali’s Kuta is an active beach with a crowd that refuses to quit even during off-seasons. Its cousin here displays coral waters and a very calm scene where sunbathing and relaxation are the most ideal things to do. But we did sea walking! The shallow waters during low tide here stretch to nearly a kilometre into the ocean. As you walk along the sea you are connected to a cove with boulders and big coral rocks which hide a spectacular scene. It is totally calm now. There is no one here barring us.
Our love affair with beaches can’t get any better, especially when we have beaches to ourselves, in calm environments, with only the waves and the wind being accompaniments to a melodious rhythm. We just found that it is not necessary to get into very popular and crowded beaches to have that ultimate fun.