This is a long overdue post and I feel like I should’ve published it earlier but I think it’s never too late and I should take the opportunity to tell my experience, and to make people realize why they should not be discouraged by the recent devastated event that took place in Lombok.
Lombok has always been in my bucket list after Bali and I’ve been to Bali three times (and fourth time next year for my wedding reception!) because of how much I love that place. I love Indonesia in general because of the food, the culture and the people. When traveling to Indonesia, there is without doubt a lot to discover.
Last February my husband and I decided to escape the Norwegian brutal and extended winter, so we flew to Malaysia to visit my family and friends. We also decided to take a week break just the two of us to a more tropical place and we chose Gili Trawangan because of how much we’ve heard of that island, and also from his friends’ recommendations.
I always book my trip with AirAsiaGo because of how easy and convenient it is, and usually cheaper than to book the flight and the accommodation separately. I’ve been using the website for my trips around Asia for many years now. You can get up to 10% discount with the coupon code if you use the app, so make sure to download the app before you purchase your holiday package.
Once we landed in Lombok, it took us another hour to reach the jetty. The view and scenery throughout the drive was so breathtaking; of mountains and paddy fields. We took the private speedboat to reach the island and it costed us Rp1mil (~USD60) per person for return ticket, it was a bit steep because we didn’t book beforehand and the taxi driver who drove us from the airport sort of made the decision for us. We didn’t tell him where exactly we wanted to go and we didn’t do a thorough research, we just mentioned jetty and he drove us to this private boat company. We were a bit tired and confused so we decided to just take the boat and leave immediately. So if you want to save more and take the public ferry, be sure to tell that to your driver or you can just book directly with your hotel, they usually have their own speedboat and will take your straight to the hotel but it will cost you more.
Have you ever visited a place that you loved so much you wish you never had to leave? Well, that was Gili Trawangan for me and immediately upon arriving I felt as if I was about to have an amazing experience, and I was so right. There are no cars or asphalt roads on the Gili islands, they use horses, bicycles or electric bikes to get around. Once we descended on the checkpoint, we took the cidomo (a small horse-drawn carriage) and paid Rp50,000 for a 5-min bumpy ride. It would take us around 10 minutes to walk, but we enjoyed taking the horse.
We stayed at Pearl of Trawangan because we were so fascinated by the ocean view room and it fulfilled any expectation I would have of the perfect beach escapade. The room had a gorgeous ocean view and the hotel is located near the central area but far enough from all the noises.
I love the beach but I’m not into swimming in one because I usually get allergic reactions, so the next best thing about this hotel is the swimming pool. It’s big and cozy, and perfect if you want to get away from the beach.
The beach is just across the street from where we stayed. We spent most of our afternoons sunbathing after a heavy lunch. The sea water is so blue and crystal clear, it looks so amazing. Gili Trawangan was rather quiet when we were there, it wasn’t too hectic and filled with tourists so it was very relaxing. There isn’t much to do other than cycling around the island which we did, and if you’re into diving then it’d be a perfect activity for you. Other than that, we just hung out by the beach, find places to eat and relaxed by the pool.
The fine, nearly white sand is free of litter – a huge contrast with beaches in Bali. Once you’re done with swimming or bored with tanning, it’s time to lounge around in one of the cool beach huts, enjoying a cool orange juice and some delicious seafood. Gili is also a heaven for people who love to take instagram worthy shots – The famous swing is commonly found along the beaches. The surrounding island is full of picturesque and idyllic locations for that perfect Instagram moment too.
The food in restaurants is a bit pricey, but there’s a night market if you’re keen to try the authentic Indonesian street food. The night market is a great, relaxed and a budget friendly place to eat. The nightly food market is located right off the main road in the middle of the eastern side of Gili Trawangan and it has stalls selling local and fresh seafood. They prepare it on the spot with rice and vegetables on the side for a fairly cheap price.
Sunset watching is also something you need to do while you’re in Gili. The sky has a different kind of vibe and beautiful hues during sunset. You should grab some drinks at one of the bars on the west side of the island, and enjoy the golden hour accompanied by the sound of the waves.
Gili Trawangan is also the mini party island that has bars that open until 3am. We weren’t into partying so we went to see the live music instead at Sama-Sama Raggae Bar. The band was fantastic and it was nice to wind down after a long day at the beach.
While I hugely enjoyed Gili Trawangan for the first time, it was more of a muted experience. I had expected it to be one because I knew it would not compare to the craziness of Bali, although I secretly wished it was a little bit but put Gili Trawangan on your travel list for the near future nonetheless. Everywhere you go in Asia you are assaulted by high volumes of traffic and chaos, but once you step out of the boat into the crystal clear water of Gili Trawangan, you’ll be so surprised and relieved at what you are about to discover. The whole island posses a sort of oozing magic about it, you are after all, in paradise.