See an incredible underwater sculpture in Indonesia
A new underwater sculpture in Indonesia will take divers to an amazingly beautiful place below the surface, where human figures will gradually become a coral reef.
Marking a circle of 48 life-sized figures standing together and curled up on the ground, the piece is expected to become covered in coral, allowing divers to explore the coast of the small island of Gili Meno between Bali and Lombok.
The piece was created by Jason deCair Taylor, a renowned underwater sculptor. His sculptures can be found in places such as the Caribbean Sea, the Canary Islands and even in the Thames in his native country of Britain. The artificial reef was installed in shallow water off a beach in Indonesia – and within walking distance of the beach club, soon to be completed at BASK Gili Meno. BASK is a luxury resort to be completed in 2019 that will have 87 villas.
The island, with a permanent population of only 500, is known for its turtle population and its ecosystem. With its delicate environment, the sculpture is made of pH-neutral, eco-friendly concrete and is based on casts of real people. It is designed to be a home for coral, and according to a statement, in a year the ocean will turn it into a reef and grow over time.
“First and foremost, Nest is an ecological space. The figures are arranged in a circular formation like echoes of the circle of life, and they are soon teeming with life. Soft corals and sponges should flourish quickly, paving the way for gentle hard corals and a fully rooted reef,” de Caires Taylor said in a statement.
“But the Nest is also a bridge between the human and marine worlds. It’s accessible to all and is just a short walk from the beach, open to all. I hope people will visit it both as a work of art and as an entry point into the underwater world.” He also notes that 40% of the world’s coral reefs have been lost in recent decades, and hopes this piece will remind people of the fragility of incredible life forms. But this isn’t the only place where DeCair Taylor’s underwater work is on display; his amazing statues also make up Europe’s first underwater museum.
Where is Europe’s first underwater museum?
Museo Atlantico, Europe’s first underwater museum, was completed in Lanzarote, Spain, in 2017. It consists of more than 300 works created by de Cairo Taylor, and their works can be studied by divers or viewed from glass-bottomed boats. Visitors to the site will learn about marine life and the effects of climate change. One of the most stunning exhibits is the Human Gyre, a 200 life-size figure in a circle that also creates a reef to form marine life, reminding viewers that we are all connected through our oceans.
Where can travelers and divers explore the underwater attractions?
Europe isn’t the only place to get a new underwater attraction, the first underwater museum to open in the U.S. in 2018. An underwater art museum has opened in Florida’s Gulf of Mexico, allowing divers to see incredible installations designed to help local marine life. Admission to the museum is free, but there is a fee to visit Grayton Beach State Park, and visitors to the museum require a scuba diving certificate. In California, Lake Tahoe has launched the state’s first underwater trail, where divers can explore more than a dozen shipwrecks, and in Europe, a new dive trail has been launched around the Maltese archipelago, one of the best dive sites in the world,
The Gili Islands – Explained in detail
If you are traveling in Indonesia, stopped on the island of Bali and after a while got a little tired of it, or you live there for some time, everything is familiar and not very interesting – there is a great opportunity to unwind and gain new impressions: to relax in the Gili Islands. They offer the opportunity to both immerse yourself in the nightlife, and spend a few blissful days in complete relaxation, in a hammock or on a beach chair.
Location and climate
The archipelago of Gili, or Tiga Gili (literally “Three Gili”) in Indonesian, is located in the Balinese Sea very close to the large island of Lombok. But the sea connection to Bali is much more developed than to Lombok. This is not surprising, because the Gili Islands are visited by tourists from Bali much more often than locals from Lombok. That said, administratively, the Gili Islands belong to the province of West Nusa Tenggara, not Bali.
The island of Bali is 35 kilometers west of Gili Trawangan. From the islands of Gili you can clearly see in clear weather both large neighbors Bali and Lombok. On Bali, the volcanoes and mountains are clearly visible. In addition, the huge active volcano Rinjani, which is the second highest in all of Indonesia, is very visible on the island of Lombok. The volcano erupts very frequently, most recently in 2015.
Despite its proximity to the larger islands of Bali and Lombok, the weather on Gili is almost always different for the better (even during the rainy season). We were in Gili in January, during the peak of the rainy season, when Bali was flooded daily with torrential rains. At the same time, Gili had clear, sunny weather during our entire stay. The high mountains on the neighboring southern islands of Bali and Lombok prevent the clouds from passing through and protect Gili from the rains.
The islands also have a rainy season and last from October through May. The average annual temperature is 28 degrees.
The islands of Gili
We will describe only three of them, which are more or less civilized: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. They have a lot in common, but there are also differences. The first is the largest, it has the strongest infrastructure with hotels and inexpensive gestas (bungalows or 1-2 storey buildings), restaurants, bars with live music, travel agencies, massage, discos. Large selection of ATMs of different Thai banks. In the evenings there are fire shows on the beach. Gili Meno – the quietest of the three, no discos and just a couple dozen hotels of bungalow type. The third island is something in between the first and the second.
The general features are as follows: complete absence of motorized transport (everyone moves on horse-drawn carts, bicycles and on foot), unspoiled nature, beautiful beaches (almost all deserted), amazing sunsets, the clearest transparent sea. There are no police, water activities (scooters, skis), shopping malls and large stores.
The island is 3×2,5 km and is the westernmost and largest of the three. You can walk around in 1.5 hours (2-2.5 hours if you don’t hurry and stop for photos).
This is the most popular and crowded island of all. It has the most well-developed infrastructure, with hotels of different price categories, restaurants, bars, ATMs, currency exchange, massage parlors, travel agencies, discos. Only here you can find budget accommodation for 80,000 rupees (about $ 7), while the choice is very large (several dozen proposals). Popular entertainment is horseback riding and kayak boats.
All the partying is on the east side, the same place where the pier is. If you need some action, it’s better to stay there. The rest of the coast is almost no people or hotels, and if you settle in, you will be in a real “bounty” among almost wild nature.
On Gili Trawangan live quite a lot of Indonesians (in the center of the island). They fish, raise chickens, goats and cows.
Not far from the southern tip there is a hill, which offers panoramic views of all the other islands of Gili, as well as Lombok.
Read more about Gili Trawangan.
This is the closest to Lombok. It is smaller and has simpler infrastructure. There are less people and entertainment at Gili Air too, there are several open-air discos (east of the pier). In the center of the island you can stay for 100,000 rupees a day ($ 9) and 1,500,000 a month (about $ 140).
There is some movement after sunset only on the east side of Gili Air near the pier. You can exchange currency there, take money off the card, there are a couple of massage parlors and an Internet cafe (10 minutes costs 400 rupees – $0.3). The rest of the beach is quiet day and night.
This is the central island. Has about the same area as the previous one. You can walk around in an hour. There are not many budget hotels on Gili Meno. There is no action, no discos and other entertainment, only bungalow hotels and restaurants on the beach.
Gili Meno is just perfect for a wild holiday. We can guarantee that you won’t see more than a few people on most beaches, especially during the low season from December to March. At night, you can feel like you’re on a desert island if you come to the beaches where there are no hotels.
Gili’s past is not as eventful as that of the neighboring islands. History begins with World War II, when the Japanese used the islands as a prisoner of war camp and lookout point (on a hill on Trawangan). Now there is nothing reminiscent of it except a sunken patrol boat south of Gili Air.
The lack of ancient settlements here came from the fact that there are no sources of fresh water – rivers, lakes. The first villages began to appear only in the 70s of the 20th century. In the beginning, the inhabitants were engaged in fishing, and then they began to plant coconuts.
The turning point in history begins in the 1980s, when the first tourists arrived here. They were hippies from neighboring Bali. At first Gili Air began to be developed, but then the palm took over Trawangan, as it was closer to the dive sites. The first mini-hotel there appeared in 1982 and was called Pak Majid. In 2007 it became the Pesona Resort and Restaurant.
At the turn of 80-90’s the government decided to develop tourism here, for which some funds were allocated. There was also private investment. The number of hotels, restaurants, dive centers and other infrastructure increased.
By the early 2000s, these were established independent resorts, where you can not only go on a day trip, but stay for the entire vacation. In 2005, the company Blue Water Express organized the first high-speed boats from Bali (travel time not more than an hour and a half). Currently, there are about a dozen such companies.
You can buy the most profitable tickets by using special search engines, which collect data from all airlines.
More useful information about the Gili Islands
Planes to Lombok – you can fly to Lombok airport from almost any major airport in Indonesia, from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
Google Map of the Gili Islands
Gili Islands – Google Map
Hotels on Trawangan Island.
Which island to choose for your vacation?
Choosing one of the “triplets” depends on what you expect from a Gili vacation. There is a joke: “Travangan – for social personalities, Eyre – for the tired of Travangan, Meno – for honeymooners, pensioners and hermits. Is this true? Partly. You can get away on Eir as well, and on Meno you can relax with your family and children.
And do not forget the main thing – if the chosen island disappoints you, you can easily get a local boat to another – it takes half an hour and costs pennies. You can also live on one island and visit other islands for exploring and for fun.
The most popular of the islands is Gili Trawangan. There is a variety of hotels, from five-star to bungalows and small houses in the local village and a vibrant tourist life (compared to the other two islands, that’s for sure). Of course, there are more places and catering in all their variety (if you do not like seafood and not imbued with the local cuisine, you can always eat at least a pizza, at least a great steak), and entertainment, as the infrastructure is ground for the flow of tourists.
Come to party and crave the nightlife? Settle on the east side of Trawangan, it’s always lively, with music, bars and restaurants full of visitors.
Check out the following places of interest:
- “Warung Indonesia”, a cafe with a variety of national dishes and beach beds. Yes, yes, here you can spend the whole day, trying this and that, and “fatten up” for the sum of $ 10. National dishes are prepared professionally: how not to try here buntut (soup from buffalo tails), meat redang, martabaki with nuts.
- “Ko Ko Mo” is a restaurant for true gourmets. Expensive, but very tasty and exquisite. True, the staff is very slow – but this is the rule rather than the exception in Indonesia. You will be served kindly but for a long time.
- “Tir Na Nog is a real Irish pub with lots of beers and huge monitors with sports broadcasts. The food is European, but in the evenings they cook seafood over an open fire. One day a week, Wednesdays, the pub is swept up in a huge wave of night partying, lasting from 22.00 to 04.00. Everybody is dancing!
Gili Air is the closest of the other two islands to Lombok. It is the smallest and greenest of the three and is home to most of the natives. “The amount of traffic is much less than on Travangan, and it’s all on the eastern side of the island. If you want to dance in an open-air disco, withdraw money from a card, change currency or visit a massage parlor – head to the east of the pier. There is an internet cafe, but guests of the island describe the local internet as “expensive and useless.”
There are few “pathos” hotels, but a lot of budget accommodation of bungalow type. The beaches are beautiful and the water is clean.
If your family and child (ren) travel to Gili, choose the island Meno, located between the other two. Compared to them, Meno is an oasis of peace and quiet, which is great for families with babies, older people, couples in love and just those who get tired of the noise. In low season, Meno is deserted and you can live as if you were on a desert island – the local villagers will not bother you, they have their own life.
There is lush nature, a nice lake in the center of the island, wonderful spacious beaches (you can find one where you will be all alone at all), quiet coastal waters that are great for swimming and snorkeling.
If you do not want to be disturbed by the night noise – choose housing on the shore, away from Gili Air, otherwise the nights will be forced to enjoy the sounds of disco and, worse, other people’s karaoke.
Why go to Gili
Gili is a place exclusively for relaxation and beach holidays in Indonesia. Accordingly, the island is not suitable for everyone, but only for those who want to forget about civilization and just enjoy nature. There are absolutely no sights – no waterfalls, no caves, no historical and architectural delights (only a modest mosque on Trawangan). No shopping either – only tents with mostly beachwear and shoes.
Who should go to Gili:
– This place is the best in Indonesia for lovers of semi-wild recreation (i.e. when the infrastructure is present, but only in a minimal amount: hotels, restaurants and bars). A lot of people only in the eastern part of Trawangan, on all other beaches God forbid it takes a dozen people. There are large parts of the coast, where there are no tourists, hotels and restaurants, only clean sea, sand and palm trees;
– It is worth going and lovers of diving and snorkeling. There are dive centers on Gili, which organize scuba diving. And for snorkeling and diving you do not even need to go anywhere – a lot of interesting fish swimming near the beaches. All equipment can be rented and bought on the spot, nothing to bring;
– A trip to Gili will be perfect for honeymooners and lovers who want to enjoy only the company of each other and who do not need anything else. A romantic dinner in a restaurant on the coast, beautiful sunsets on a deserted beach – what could be better;
– The sea on Gili is shallow (shallow entrance), so you can come here with children and do not fear for their safety in the water. Just do not take very young, as the island has no stores with baby food and diapers, pharmacies. There are some improvised clinics at Travangan hotels, but no hospitals and serious doctors. You will have to swim (and then take a few hours by cab) to Bali or to Lombok, the island’s capital;
– We recommend to go and those who want to just sunbathe and swim during the day, and in the evening to dance in discos. For them, it is better to settle on the east side of Trawangan, near the pier. It is also advisable to come in high season from April to November or New Year, as the rest of the time there are few people and hang out only a few people, less often a few dozen.
– The trip will please fans of hallucinogenic mushrooms, which are almost legal here and a portion costs $12-15. Even offered in some of the hostels at check-in, especially if the owners are Rastamans and hippies. There’s pot, too, but it’s talked about in whispers because it’s illegal.
Who shouldn’t go:
– Absolutely do not recommend Gili to lovers of civilized recreation, who are used to seeing in the resort a large selection of restaurants with various cuisines of the world, shopping centers, stores, supermarkets, bars, water activities, numerous temples and attractions, banks, available girls. None of this is here;
– couples with children of preschool age. We wrote about the reasons for this above;
– Surfers also here is nothing to catch, unlike neighboring Bali. There are almost no waves;
– The active youth, who can get bored after a couple of days, because of the lack of entertainment.