Published/Last edited or updated: 19th April, 2016
There are Crusoe-like islands and then there are Crusoe islands that almost have a Crusoe living on them. Gorgeous Gili Bedil falls firmly into the latter.
Save an islet in Fiji we once walked around in four minutes, Gili Bedil is the smallest island we have set foot on — it takes about ten minutes to walk around at a steady beach pace. Despite its tiny size, a Bajo couple live on it, acting as protectors of the island, and have done for more than 20 years. We say more than as when we asked the lovely couple how long they had been here, they couldn’t remember, but they thought 20-plus was in the right ballpark.
What do you do for 20-plus years on an island smaller than a postage stamp? Well they’ve got a veggie garden going and a small coconut grove. They work hard to keep the island clean — and despite some trash, it was a good deal cleaner than many other Indonesian islands we’ve seen.
Oh and they have 12 kids — and now grandkids. We guess that is what happens when you live on an island for 20-plus years!
There is decent off-the-beach snorkelling but there are some better stretches about halfway between the mainland and the island — your boatman will know where these are. Do keep an eye on the current if snorkelling a long way off the beach.
Gili Bedil is about 30 minutes by boat from the boat landing at Labuan Pade. To charter a boat just to Gili Bedil costs 250,000 rupiah, or 350,000 rupiah if you want to go to Gili Keramat as well. We’d recommend chartering over joining with others as then you can stop where you want. If you want to go in with others to save money, weekends, especially Sunday, are your best bet. On weekdays you may well be the only person at Labuan Pade.
To get to Gili Bedil you first need to get to Labuan Pade, which is about five kilometres down a turn-off from the main Sumbawa Besar-Poto Tano road. The turn-off is about 1.5 to 2 kilometres west of the town of Utan, itself about 30 kilometres west of Sumbawa Besar.
Any bus to Poto Tano will take you past the turn-off, where ojeks waiting under a group of trees can speed you to Labuan Pade. Here there is a recreational area (they’ll know where you are going) where you can organise a boat and buy a limited range of snacks and drinks. When you are finished, ojek back to the main road and jump on a east-bound bus for Sumbawa Besar.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.