Bali tourists warn of 'horrendous' boat trip: 'Didn't think I'd make it'

A video shared on social media shows what passengers travelling to the country's islands can expect when seas are rough.

Travellers to Bali are being warned to think twice before booking a fast boat to Indonesia's islands in the wet season after terrifying footage emerged showing a small vessel violently navigating through strong winds and rough seas.

The boat was travelling from Gilli Air, near the coast of northwest Lombok Island, back to Sanur on the mainland — a popular route among tourists — but one passenger said the three-hour journey was "absolutely horrendous" — and others agree.

The video, which was filmed last Tuesday and shared on social media on Wednesday, shows the passengers bouncing around as the Wijaya Buyuk boat ploughs through large waves during their journey across the sea. Water is seen gushing through a partially open window at the front of the vessel near the boat operator as the waves bash up against the other windows.

Scenes on board Wijaya Buyuk fast boat from Gili Air to Sanur show waves crashing against the windows.
Passengers on board a Wijaya Buyuk fast boat from Gili Air to Sanur, on the Bali mainland, experienced rough seas and strong winds. Source: Facebook

Boat journey leaves passengers 'screaming and vomiting'

The video shocked many who said they'd planned a boat trip on their next visit to Bali, but have been made to "think again" after watching the scary scenes. Others shared their own "terrifying" experience on board a boat to one of Indonesia's many islands.

"I was in a boat yesterday going to Gili and we thought we would not make it. Lots of people cried including me, and now we gotta return to Bali, I'm so scared," one said.

"I was on the last boat off Gili Air today. I was terrified," another wrote on Wednesday. "I thought we would capsize. I cried most of the way when I wasn't physically throwing up. My advice, don't do it. I thought we were going to die".

Others agreed it was the "worst trip ever" with one admitting her journey was filled with"terrifying screams and vomit from most on board". Others deemed it their "worst nightmare" saying they'd never do it again.

Warning against boat travel during wet season

Some said this is to be expected during the wet season which usually lasts from November to April. It's often called the "rainy season" or "monsoon season" due to its heavy storms and downpours. The monsoon season can bring "unexpected weather".

Its understood officials shut down boat services when wind speeds reach dangerous levels and the waves become too unpredictable to navigate, as reported by The Bali Sun. Many suggested taking a shorter trip to Lombok and flying from there to Bali instead or rescheduling altogether.

"Personally, I don't recommend travelling by sea when the seas are rough during the monsoon unless you are an experienced boat person," one warned.

According to the local news outlet, an extreme weather warning was issued the day after the video was shared with high wave alerts in place across Bali Province from March 14 to 16. Bali Denpasar Center for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics warned popular tourist beaches were facing tidal wave warnings with tourists urged not to enter the water until the weather calms down.

'Don't risk your life'

Meanwhile, another traveller took to Reddit to share their own terrifying ordeal. They said strong winds and rough waves caused the windows on their ferry to break while they were travelling from Bali to Lombok last week.

"After around 1.5 hours in rough waves, one of the windows suddenly burst in, and created a mess and panic among all people that were on the ferry," they said. Passengers arrived safely back at the harbour, he added.

"We decided to book some flight tickets back to Bali. And would suggest everyone else to do this. Don’t risk your life!"

Eka Jaya ferry from Lombok to Bali, pictured right. Left is an image showing smashed-in windows on the same trip.
Another passenger travelling on board a ferry from Bali to Lombok said the windows on the boat 'suddenly burst in'. Source: Reddit

Aussies often overlook water safety in Bali

In January, a fast boat carrying passengers from the island of Nusa Penida to the port of Sanur near Denpasar, appeared to sink with people seen jumping into the water. Strong waves caused by bad weather were reportedly to blame. It comes after a group of four Aussie surfers went missing when their wooden boat sank in bad weather last year.

Adjunct Professor Hera Oktadiana at James Cook University, an expert on Indonesian tourism, says Australians often overlook water safety when assessing the dangers of a holiday to Indonesia, and while water transport safety conditions had improved, the frequency of fatal incidents continued to tarnish its reputation.

"While weather factors contribute to water transport incidents, human error and technical complications stand as the primary catalysts. The absence of proper regulations, such as operating without a licence, improper navigation tools, and inadequate boat conditions, can exacerbate the likelihood of incidents," she previously told Yahoo News Australia.

Professor Oktadiana stressed it is "crucial" for Australian travellers to make their own enquiries about safety procedures before boarding any vessel. "Unfortunately, the enforcement of safety standards, especially for sea travel, is not robust."

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