Location: Gili Aer, Indonesia
After our arrival at Gili Air the previous evening, we were greeted in the morning with a beautiful sunrise revealing an island paradise. Wakeup was at a relatively early 6:00 am, but for a good reason, as we had an action-packed day ahead of us. Our itinerary included two dives in the morning and shore time in the afternoon. After a breakfast of cereal, oatmeal, and coffee, everyone made their own sandwiches to eat later for lunch. Starting at 7:00, everyone was shuttled to the island in one of the dinghies to greet our dive boat. On the walk over to the dive shop, everyone had the chance to see the restaurants, cafes, and shops that bordered the shores of the small island. After everyone had assembled their BCDs, put on their wetsuits, and attached their tanks, we loaded our gear and set off to the first dive site, which was only a few minutes away. As our group contained about 30 people, everyone was split into smaller groups led by local guides.
The first dive reached a maximum depth of 60 feet and lasted approximately 45 minutes. In it, we explored a coral reef near the island and the marine life that inhabits it, including Red Lionfish, Green Turtles, Moray Eels, Clownfish, Sargent Majors, Moorish Idols, Parrotfish, and many other species.
After our first dive, we returned to land to refill the air tanks, eat lunch, and rest. After about an hour, everyone got back onto the dive boat for our second dive of the day. This time we would visit a coral pinnacle: a small hill of coral with a depth of about 60 feet at the bottom and 10 feet at the top. This area is of interest as it is the home and resting place for green and hawksbill turtles, of which we saw many. It was incredible to swim close to them in order to appreciate their large size. They were extremely calm and did not seem at all bothered by our presence. However, we were still sure to give them space and do not get to close. After about 45 minutes, we surfaced and returned to land.
After the dives, everyone was excited to explore the small island of Gili Air. People split themselves into groups, going to various restaurants and stores. At only about two miles around, walking around the island only took 30 minutes or so. All the roads were sand and bordered the beach, and there were no motor vehicles on the island. Transportation was limited to biking or a ride in a horse-drawn cart, however, most elected to walk. We had two and a half hours to enjoy the island and purchase clothes, souvenirs, and food. At 4:30, everyone gathered at a dock to be picked up and be brought back to Argo.
Upon return, we discovered that Ben and Carolyn had spent the day in the engine room disassembling and fixing the saltwater pump that we use for our deck showers. Fortunately, it was an easy fix. However, it was still very much appreciated. After dinner, all the students gathered in the salon for a scheduling meeting in which everyone got to discuss how to organize the next week of classes. People then chose to either sleep or stay up a little later and chat, discussing the incredible day they just had.