Lebaran was over and the crowds had returned home so it was an ideal time to get out of Jakarta for a few days of chilling out and to celebrate my better half’s birthday.
As my wife and I are not so fond of Bali and we wanted to find an alternative. Both of us are avid divers and prefer to spend less on lodging and nightlife so we could spend more on our SCUBA habits.
We searched for a place that is reasonably priced, relatively easy to get to, clean/comfortable facilities, nice beaches, good snorkeling and of course good diving. We got lucky on our search and found an ideal spot for a long weekend. South Lombok.
South West Sekotong’s Gili Asahan to be exact. The dive sites exceeded our expectations but it was the resort where we stayed that made the trip exceptional.
We flew Lion Air to Mataram and met up with the driver for a comfortable hour car ride to the southwest coast of Lombok, and them we took a short 45 minute boat ride through the beautiful island filled coast line to Gili Asahan.
Gili Asahan is a tiny island that has one small local village and a small operational pearl farm. The only other facility on the island is the Resort. There are only 4 bungalows and is managed by a wonderful Belgium lady named Martine, and her husband, George, manages the diving operations.
The bungalows were finished earlier this summer and still had that “new” smell to them. They offer spacious accommodations that include an in-suite garden bathroom for great hot showers after a day of diving. At night, one can open the windows on each side of the room and enjoy a relaxing sleep on the soft queen size bed. There is no air conditioning but the ceiling fan and the ocean breeze usually keep it cool enough to enjoy a good night’s rest.
Rising early, one can catch a spectacular sunrise over the neighboring islands and then in the evening, take a short hike to the top of a small hill and catch an equally spectacular sunset.
The diving exceeded our expectations. Prior to going, I had heard some horror stories about Lombok diving but I am pleased to say there were no indications of coral bleaching and happily no signs of damages caused by dynamiting or cyanide fishing. All the reefs we visited were healthy and thriving.
We did 9 dives over 4 days and it seemed each dive was better than the previous one. We were fortunate to have two British PADI Dive Instructors as our “dive masters” that knew the sites well. The marine life was good as we saw a variety of colorful nudibranchs, turtles on almost every dive and the typical array of coral reef fish. However it was the size and abundance of corals that will draw us back. There were huge fan corals 4-5 meters long and 2-3 meters high sitting along with some astounding barrel corals over 2 meters wide. The soft corals were brilliant and brimming with the typical colorful marine life that one expects of healthy reefs.
We spent five nights and thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed, quiet ambiance of the place. However there was one surprise left. Knowing it was my wife’s birthday but lacking a baking oven, our hostess Martine, struggled with how to have a birthday cake. She came up with a perfect solution of delicious Belgium pancakes stacked to resemble a cake. It was topped with fresh fruit and a candle. To end the evening and the trip, there was a roaring bonfire on the beach with plenty of cold brews and native fruit juices. Our laughter bounced across the gentle waves as we reminisced of the previous days.
I recommend this experience to anyone looking for a relaxing, tranquil holiday. Perhaps those with kids or those that prefer a lively nightlife, this is not a good fit. However, it is ideal for couples, honeymooners and those that just like to get away from it all for a few days and chill.