I had never heard of the ‘Gili Islands‘ until Abhishek mentioned them.When I looked them up on Google, I saw a group of three small islands, one of which is just a kilometer in width. This is a view of the three islands from my plane window -Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. (See those three small islands? Who knew that this is a thriving tourist destination?). The experiences which the island gave us was incredible. Most importantly, this is where all seven of us friends met, after a whole year.
Gili Trawangan is the party island and the biggest of the three islands. These islands do not have any motorized vehicles and hence the only way to move around is by renting bicycles or in a horse carriage. The place in and around the harbor region is the most developed with a lot of yoga, massage centers, cafes and backpacker rooms. It may not be an appealing place in day time but by night, the entire place is lit up with yellow lights, candles, live music and good food and drinks.
We stayed a little further away from the harbor, around 30 minutes by cycle. This was an excellent choice as we had a view of the sunset right from our villa door and an entire private beach for ourselves. There are a lot of villas and resorts in this area and we chose ‘Villa Sunset Beach’. I must recommend this place to everyone. Tymberlee has done a beautiful job in maintaining this house The island is excellent for Scuba diving and since the beauty and the experience i gained cannot be expressed in one post, i intend to write a whole post dedicated to the underwater beauty.
We took a speedboat and went to Gilli Meno as well and visited the bird park and walked around the island. This is a quieter place with no ATMs and hardly any people. The bird park was excellent and a must visit. I have only seen such colorful birds on TV before and in pictures of Papua Guinea. The rest of the island is pretty much filled with coconut trees and local stays.
– There are stories of alcohol poisoning in these islands and hence we avoided local alcohol in most of the places we went.
– Please check the ferry timing before you book your flight from Bali or Lombok to your onward destinations. These ferry timings are fixed and hence can mess with your itinerary. Also, chose a highly reviewed speed boat (Eka Jaya) as they are on time and don’t break down in the middle of the ocean like some others (Marina Srikhandi– long story; some other time).
– Book a place slightly away from the harbor as this place is crowded and dirty during the day time. Tourists destroy the natural beauty, I must say.
– This is a Muslim island. People religiously pray 5 times a day and nude sunbathing is not allowed.
– Internet speed will be slow and most of the restaurants have a dicey WiFi connection. You can use internet cafes as well to be in touch with the world.
We spent almost 4 days at Gili T and enjoyed every minute of it. Diving, snorkeling, watching the sunset, swimming in the ocean, dining by the beach and so on. This may be a usual beach side vacation for some people but I have not seen such calmness in any of the beaches I have visited before. Indonesia has around 18,000 islands and if just these three islands promised me 4 whole days of peace, I am indeed curious to know what the other islands have to showcase.