Gili Trawangan, which makes up one of the three islands known as the ‘Gili Islands’ off the coast of Lombok, the others being Gili Air and Gili Meno, feels like what Bali must have been like 20 years ago. The island operates at a slower pace, transport is only by bicycle and donkey cart and the island can be circumnavigated in only minutes. Gili T feels like a little slice of Lombok paradise!
An 1.5 hour ferry ride from Bali, or 30 minutes from Lombok, will get you to Gili T, the beautiful island I would be spending my 30th birthday on.
After managing to wave down a donkey and cart, the only transportation on the island, we were soon on our way to our villa.
Our first night of accomodation was at arguably the best place on the island – Kalyedo Villas. We had our own one bedroom villa with a pool, enjoyed in- room massages and marveled at our cute villa. The Villas aim to maintain an accommodation feel that sits naturally with its surrounds. The pool itself is worth a visit in itself! Service was impeccable, bikes could be rented for free and they even helped to arrange a romantic dinner for my 30th birthday.
That night, we ate at ‘Scallywags’ on the water. A wide array of fish is on display for you to handpick and have served the way you want, grilled, steamed or BBQ’ed. We went for the huge prawns, tuna and squid, topped with all you can eat from the salad bar and a few sneaky cocktails.
The next day we joined a snorkeling trip on a public boat for around 80,000 IDR each. For 4 hours, we were taken to the popular Wreck Point near Mentigi Beach and enjoyed lunch on the beach at Gili Air. Visibility was OK and there were lots of beautiful fish to swim with, however, joining a public boat meant we were sharing the water with 20 other tourists and was quite squishy. Also, be careful to make sure you are back on the boat if you make an island stops, the boat took off with out us on Gili Air and we had to make our own way back to Gili T.
Unfortunately, we were only able to secure accommodation at Kalyedo Villas for one night, so it was onto our second accommodation – The Pearl of Trawangan. The Pearl has beautiful waterfront on Gili T for an easy dip in the sea and its own pool in the cool shade of its resort grounds. The resort is also centrally located and close to many restaurants.
That evening we headed to many of the beachside bars that boast great vantage points of sunset over the water. We rented some bikes from The Pearl (unfortunately not for free) and biked down to the Sundowner Bar for some beers and a cool down in their famous swing.
For our third day in Gili T we would be celebrating my 30th birthday. We had missed out on seeing any turtles on our first snorkeling trip, so we set out to pay a bit extra to get our own private boat to take us out. It was definitely more expensive (400,000 IDR for two of us), but it was worth it to be able to choose where we went and to swim un-disturbed.
Our boat captain took us to Turtle Point, off Gili Meno. We spotted one huge turtle that started to swim up from the bottom, however, was quickly scared off my some other private snorkelling tourists at my annoyance. However, our guide also knew some more spots and took us a bit further up to a long reef along Gili Meno, bursting with colours, fish and of course, turtles! So amazing to swim with these rare beauties!
That night, my boyfriend and I enjoyed our own romantic dinner on the beach courtesy of the Hotel Villa Ombak. The food was OK but it was all about the occasion and the setting. I couldn’t think of a better way to bring in my 30’s!
If you are looking for a break away from the hustle and bustle of Bali, you need to check out Gili Trawangan. The slower pace and beauty of this island will leave you coming back for more.