A string of tiny tropical islands, fringed in coral, dotted with palm-trees, and traveled only by horse cart and bicycle…the Gilis are a place of traveler legend. Our boat skidded onto the shore of Gili Trawangan, the biggest isle in Lombok’s six-mile-square archipelago. Three naked kids splashed around in the water, while their grandpa in his traditional kopiah cap watched over them. We rolled up our pants and walked through the surf to the main dirt road.
The street was lined with reggae bars, posh restaurants, beach discos, and scuba shops. Paradise had been found…not by us, but by backpackers in the 1980s who told their friends all over the world. Over the past thirty years Gili T has transformed from a quiet fishing island of a few Muslim families to one of Indonesia’s top resort destinations. You could tell the island’s head was spinning, and so was ours…
Gili Back Roads
Leaving the bustling eastside in a horse-drawn cart, we trotted through the coconut groves in the center of the island. We emerged on the north beaches, home of the serene Gili Eco Villas.
Gili Eco Villas
The family behind Gili Eco Villas, saw the island starting to buckle under its popularity, and decided to build a sustainable retreat. Using solar and wind energy generation, a bio-degradable waste-water treatment system, rubbish recycling, and organic gardening, they are leading the way for responsible tourism in the Gilis. We were escorted under the arches of bougainvillea to our Joglos-style home, with an open-air living room, fully-equipped kitchen, hammock-strung patio, and views to the water…and found the Gili T we were hoping for.
Lovely Lazy Days
Days here are about slowing down and kicking back. We’d bounce between the beach and the pool, with some snorkeling, noshing, and volleyball in between.
Biking Gili T
At only four-miles in circumference, we had to see what the whole of Gili T was about. Rounding the horn from the bohemian-posh eastside, we’re happy to still find lots of wild beaches, humble houses, and local life on the western half of the island.
When in Rome
When an island is made famous for partying, you need to rock out at least one night. Kicking it off at a beach bar made from an old fishing boat, we had a couple Bintang beers, then a street cart dinner of spicy soto ayam soup, and closed it out with a reggae jam session at the legendary Sama-Sama.
Snorkeling Gili Meno
The Gilis are surrounded by coral reef, with dive and snorkel trips aplenty. We took a boat towards Gili Meno and spotted sea turtles, lion fish, box fish, Nemos, and, local surfers tearing up a break between the islands.
The Main Island of Lombok
From Gili Meno, we passed Gili Air and one kilometer, we’re back to the main Indonesian island of Lombok. From beaches to lush jungles to the active Rinjani volcano (12,224 FASL!), Lombok is worthy of some further exploration. We docked at Bangsal ferry station and headed along the north coast to Medana Bay.
Ooo la la Oberoi
We were fortunate enough to review the Oberoi Lombok fab hotel for Honeymoons.com, and let us tell you honeymooners, anniversary celebrators, or anyone looking for a little romantic island luxury…this is your spot. Spanning 24 acres with manicured gardens, pools with palm-tree islands, and lavish villas decorated in the dreamy Indonesian style…it was quite the treat.
We took the kayaks out for a spin alongside local fisherman with the lengthy bamboo rods and painted conical hats. Between paddling, we’d hop out for a snorkel with tropical fishes and swaying grasses.
Lombok and the Gilis are classified as paradise by many…partiers, divers, volcano trekkers, luxe ladies, and backpackers alike. It’s all there in the eye of the beholder.
Gili Eco Villas and Oberoi Lombok invited us to be their guests; however, all opinions are our own.