This issue’s travel blog is slightly more exotic. After a month-long travel writing internship in Bali, one particular weekend trip really sticks with me: our time on Gili Air, one of the Gili Islands off the coast of Bali. Not only does it boast picture-perfect views and honeymoon suites in every direction, it’s also surprisingly accessible for a tiny island! Hopefully this post will give anyone going, be it for a romantic break, party time or genuine traveller’s paradise, advice on the best places to go for an inclusive experience.
Getting There: The Tough Part
Whatever is said about the generally great accessibility on Gili Air, unfortunately you’ve got to get there first… by boat. A speed boat for 70 people that is not coupled with a jetty, just tied to a wooden platform with rope! Whilst the said boat swings in and out with the waves (a beautiful sight if you didn’t have to get involved), customers must lunge onto a tiny walkway at the side of the boat and hope for the best. Not so easy if you’re a wheelchair user, but not impossible. Expect to crawl, be lifted, pulled about and possibly even hit your head, as I did. The men who run this transport joint are friendly but are not the most patient, so I suggest that making friends with a couple of burly strangers should be your Gili Island Mission, alongside watching sweet sunsets and drinking all the cocktails you can muster, of course.
Where to Stay: 7 SEAS Cottages
Getting There: At the south-easterly point of Gili Air, 7 SEAS can’t be missed. Just head to your right after disembarking the boat and look for the gorgeous pointed roofs a 5 minute walk on your left.
Cost: Not the cheapest, an accessible deluxe bungalow is approximately Rp 850k per night, for two people.
Highlight: The white sand and turquoise waters are right on your doorstep
Want to wake up to the sound of the waves hitting the beach, and the sun creeping through the window? You’ll get all this and more at 7 SEAS, with a pool and ocean-side café at your disposal, with free breakfast included. Perfect for a romantic getaway, or chilled weekend with like-minded friends. The Reception staff could not be more helpful, and their friendliness really does add to that ‘paradise-island’ feeling.
Accessibility: 7 SEAS are wonderfully accessible. They even celebrate inclusion on their checking-in forms! Aside from a high gradient ramp to Reception (which can be avoided by the staff assisting you at ground level) the bungalows and bathrooms are fully accessible, with space for transfers and a shower bench!
Where to Drink: The Garden Café
Getting There: Directly opposite 7 SEAS Cottages, on the south-easterly point of Gili Air.
Cost: Expect to pay Rp 50k for a baguette, burger or curry. Milkshakes and lassies are Rp 30k.
Highlight: Laying on colourful cushions to watch the sunset. With one of the best views on the whole of Gili Air, the sun sets directly opposite the Garden Café’s tables. 2-for-1 cocktails in the early evening make this a great place to relax after a hard day’s snorkelling or exploring, and breakfast is here too for 7 SEAS residents. The garlic bread and Bailey’s cocktails are highly recommended, but the pasta dishes can be a little bland.
Accessibility: Almost as accessible as the cottages themselves, the Garden Café’s outdoor seating is on grass and sand, so be prepared to push a little harder! FreeWheels may be good for manual chair users, and there is one moderate step to sit on the restaurant’s undercover decking.
Where to Eat: Raja Restaurant
Getting There: Next to the Bel Air Resort on the east side of the Island, Raja has a red ambience and romantic sofas next to the sea.
Cost: 120k will get you a pizza or Mexican dish and a cocktail (or two if you visit during happy hour!)
Highlight: A varied menu with something for everyone. With an extensive menu, but little for fans of Indonesian cuisine, Raja is the place to go if you need a night off from spices and wish to tame the Bali Belly. Right on the seafront with the option to sit and watch the waves, this is a lovely place to come in the evening for a drink, especially on Sundays when the local rock band plays at the bar next door!
Accessibility: There’s one moderate step up to the restaurant, and the terrain is sandy throughout, making this restaurant possible to visit independently, but easier with assistance. The bathrooms are less accessible, especially for those who cannot walk unaided or transfer with ease.