Access by fast boat between Bali and Lombok, as well as between Lombok and the three Gilis, has been suspended as the sea around the islands have been considered unsafe due to high and heavy waves.
In a statement from news website Viva.co.id, Dwikorita Karnawati, head of the Indonesian Meteorological, Climatological, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG), said that the high waves were a likely cause of the long lunar eclipse. BMKG has further cautioned that the peak of the high wave will occur on July 27.
As such, Padangbay Bali Port Authority has closed the pier until July 29. Similarly, the Port Authority of Bangsal and Lembar in Lombok have also ceased port activities as of two days ago.
Andi Ananto, general manager of Mola Mola Resort Gili Air Lombok, said the suspension of fast boats from Bali to the Gilis has resulted in an occupancy drop of 40 per cent.
“This is not just happening in our hotel. Cancellations are also happening at all hotels in Gili Air. The situation in Gili Trawangan is probably worse because there is greater impact of the wave there,” he said.
According to Andi, every July or August, the waves are usually large and high, but they have never lasted this long until the harbour has to close, which in turn has led to a drop in the number of visitors to Gili Air. Fast boat from Bali to Gili is one of the most popular means of transport, apart from air.
To reduce the impact of high waves, Awan Aswinabawa, managing director of A&T Holidays, has diverted his clients elsewhere.
Awan said: “We advise clients, especially for those who have arrived in Lombok, not to visit Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. Instead, we give them alternative package tours in the city of Mataram and other beaches in Lombok.”
Even though Awan said he did not receive many cancellations, he admitted it was quite challenging to organise transport for his clients, especially those who have been stranded in the three Gilis, and those who must leave Lombok soon.
He explained: “In the absence of sea access, air transportation becomes the main choice. But because it is high season and the number of flights are very limited, many guests have trouble getting tickets home. Plus, the price of air tickets continue to climb.”
For such travellers, Awan had arranged for them take a flight to Surabaya and connect to Jakarta or Bali, in order to catch their flight to their home countries. This route also applies to guests going to Lombok.
“For the stranded guests in the Gilis, I arrange for them to board a ferry (to Bali), or large boats run by fishermen’s cooperatives (to Lombok),” Awan added.
Meanwhile, Mola Mola Resort Gili Air Lombok, in partnership with other hotels in the Gili Air area, are providing large fishing vessel charters to transport guests to and from Gili Air. According to Andi, the shipping activity can only be done after permission is obtained from the harbourmaster.
Andi shared: “Usually, they allow large ships to sail in the morning, when the waves are not too big. But for July 27 and 28, we encourage guests to stay in the hotels.”
For guests who are forced to extend their trip due to weather and high waves, Mola Mola Resorts Gili Air Lombok will be providing discounts of up to 50 per cent. They have also added a complimentary shuttle facility from the airport to the port.