Independence Day vs. Gili Ketapang Island, Snorkeling Time!


I have never felt the joy of Independence day since I was a kid. It was the time when I could join traditional competitions held by the local residents back in my hometown. At school, Independence Day is always full of ceremonials stuff, kinda boring.

Gili Ketapang Island it is!

Now, Independence Day means the chance for Traveling. So I set the destination and go with my former office mate. Gili Ketapang Island, I’m coming!

It is only a two hours motorbike ride from Surabaya City, heading east at the Probolinggo Regency. The boat that was gonna take us to Gili Ketapang Island will depart at 09.00 a.m. So we needed to go early at dawn.

Many people were already at the Dermaga Port, Probolinggo, waiting for their boat to depart. The weather was nice. Otherwise, there won’t be any boat leaving for Gili Ketapang Island.

It was such a short boat ride, less than an hour, compared to other boat rides to small islands like Gili Labak or Mandangin Island in Madura, which could take 1.5 to 2 hours boat ride, using the same boat type.

Wind stroked hard by the time we arrived at the Island. The scene looks, well, not bad. Crystal clear water, white sand, mini waves. It’s all typical a Tropical Island looks like. Only the dark sky where sometimes blocking the sun.

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Boats at Dermaga Port

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Boat near the Island

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Crystal Clear water at Gili Ketapang

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Colorful boats at the beach

The Base Camp and Coffee Time

The tour guide led us to the specific base camp, which was initially a local residence. Each of the houses on that corner of the Island built gazebos set made of bamboo, some even having a fancy looking restaurant.

They put their branding sign near the entrance so that each tour guide will not confuse with their own customers. The trip includes one meal, but not quite served yet. It will be after the snorkeling activity. So we had to buy our own lunch.

I, while waiting for the Friday Prayer to start, made my coffee specialty. I tried to make friends by delivering free coffees to other participants. And it worked, people started to talk to me and share a few of their stories. We become friends ever since.

Before the Prayer, I and my friend took a bit of a walk on the beach. To see how it looks. Well, a part of the beautiful white sand beach and the clear water, we saw a pile of trash on some points. This is one problem the local should fix in order to maintain the tourism to go on.

One thing I will always remember being here, I got lost my way back after the Friday Prayer. I thought I was in the right direction, and I was confident of it. Turned out I went to the other corner of the beach, which cost me a lot of energy.

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Coffee at the beach

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Independence Day with the Flag

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Get ready for snorkeling

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Snorkeling Time

They took us to the previous spot where we got our snorkeling gear. We then showed which boat we’re gonna take. It was not too far from the Island. But, I saw no coral reef. It was dark in the water. The water was more than 3 meters deep. It’s something that I didn’t expect.

So we were just swimming around and took underwater pictures our own. The tour guide then told us that we can take underwater photos at the Nemo spot where we can find soft coral “Alive” with some Clown Fishes around, twice.

They helped us to dive for a few seconds in front of the camera. One guy pushed our shoulders to go underwater, and the other took the photos.

I was wondering, so this is the main reason why we are here, to take underwater photos on a prepared spot. It even has written a sign on it, says “I’ve been to Gili Ketapang. Are you gonna come?” Of course, it’s in Bahasa Indonesia.

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At Nemo point

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Sunset time

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New friends

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Heading back to Java

Scarier than the Scary Movie

We spent like 2 hours doing that. Then we head back to the base camp for lunch. Not much, but Okay. By sunset, we are ready to leave Gili Ketapang Island. I guess our boat was the last one going back to Java.

The wind stroked us even harder. The boat has to keep in the balance as the wave become so dangerous. It swings our boat back and forth. So hard until we got our cloth wet from the water splash.

It was such a scary experience for a low price trip. It took a longer time to get back to Dermaga port in Probolinggo. We arrived when the sky was already dark.

One problem remained, How am I gonna go back with wet cloth like this? It’s not good for my physical condition, to continue the road trip with this condition.

Finally, I got an Idea, which was pretty crazy. I changed to a dry shirt and put a Sarung on. So I ride back with Sarung, all the way to Surabaya.

Again it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Also read our next travel story: Beach Holiday South Malang, Go Beaches!

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5 months ago

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