After much research, we booked our trip from The Gili Islands to Bali via Bluewater express. Highly recommended on the Trip Advisor forum, Bluewater are a little pricier than their competitors, but their safety levels are apparently much stricter. Booking via their website was easy and cost 1,566,000 IDR (£90) for two tickets.
Due to depart Gili Air at 2.30pm, this left plenty of time to relax and enjoy our final morning in paradise. Meeting at Oceans 5 Dive Resort one hour before departure, check in was quick and efficient. We enjoyed an ‘energizer drink’ and quick bite to eat at nearby Coffee & Thyme cafe whilst we waited. I recommend the carrot cake! (30,000 IDR).
We were given a lanyard and were told to wait at the harbour until our boat arrived. Inside was small but comfortable and we were glad to see ample life jackets up front. A lot of boats in Asia are lacking in the safety department so this was reassuring.
For the first half hour we journeyed around the islands, picking up the rest of todays passengers. Getting around the islands was pleasant and everyone was in high spirits.
It was an extremely choppy ride. We were thrown around quite a bit. Informed by staff to close our windows due to the rough sea, a few nervous faces started to appear. A lady in the corner was suffering with a mega case of sea sickness and the people who had sat on the top of the boat were bought inside (soaking wet) for safety.
A lot of people were chatting nervously amongst themselves but staff on board were friendly and seemed to know exactly how to handle the large, crashing waves which was reassuring. Mints, a cold towel and beers were available to passengers throughout (extra charge for the beers at the end).
Due to a swell in the ocean between Lombok and Bali, boats had been unable to travel, only running again 5 days prior to our return to Bali. Personally, I am not convinced that it was completely safe to travel that stretch of water again. This has certainly had a negative impact on our experience, so please bear that in mind when making your decision on how to get to/from The Gili Islands. I don’t know if it is always this choppy. Have you made this crossing, how was your experience?
Our arrival time at Serangan harbour was 18:05 rather than the planned 17:15. After disembarking, we walked to a cafe in the harbour where we all stretched our legs. Minibuses were provided for everyone dependant on their final destination. We were heading to Seminyak and it took around 30 minutes to reach from the harbour.
It took around 5/6 hours to get from Gili Air, to our hotel in Seminyak. I would say getting from The Gili Islands to Bali via boat was alot more stressful than flying here. However, we would recommend the Gili Islands to anyone. Gili Air and Meno are two of the most fantastic places we have been. Realistically, you would want to spend no less than 4 nights here, as it takes so long to reach. (Read our experience travelling to the Gili Islands via plane here)