The Gili islands are 3 small coral cays a short distance off the north west corner of Lombok. Each island is different in character.
Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T) is the largest of the 3 islands and offers the most nightlife & action.
Gili Meno is completely laid back & most quiet, least developed and smallest of all 3 islands.
Gili Air is the most green and sophisticated of the 3 islands. It is a good compromise between the two and having the biggest local population. Gili Air gives some idea of local culture, although I would not go to the Gilis to experience Lombok culture.
Once the boat approached the dock and Gili T came into view, we both had a huge grin on our faces and immediately knew this was going to be a good place. The beaches were awesome and the island is so relaxed and quite different than many other SE Asian islands. Not a care in the world here. As previously mentioned, Gili T is the big party island of the 3 Gili islands and when I say party island, I really mean it. If you are in your 20’s or 30’s, it is an absolute must to experience this place. If you are older, you still need to experience this island at least for a few days just to witness the so very wacky and fun scene here. It’s like being on Giligan’s island with tons of people but no skipper in charge as there are seemingly no rules. It is basically very organized chaos. Someone told me there is absolutely no police presence on the island and everything runs quite smoothly probably due to the extreme laid back nature of both the locals and travelers. Everybody just gets along and I have not witnessed one beef…..just big smiles.
There are no cars or motorbikes on Gili Trawangan (or Meno and Air), which contributes to the general peaceful, getaway vibe in the air. I have discovered over the years the absolute best vacation getaways have been to places that no cars were needed to get around. Instead on the Gili islands, you can hire a cidomo, (horse and cart) to move you and any heavy baggage around upon arrival by ferry. It is a real trip watching these small horses roll down the alleyways with the drivers weaving through pedestrians on bicycle and foot. Once on the island, everybody rents bicycles to get around and you can bike the entire circumference of the island on the path that runs along the beach coast in about 45 minutes.
The other neat thing about the Gili Islands is the fact you do not even need to wear a shirt nor shoes while dining out. In Fast Times at Ridemont High, Spicoli was refused service for having no shirt or shoes. On the Gili Islands, It is NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, NO DICE. That is just the way they roll over here in the Gili’s.
As you may be well aware, Barbie is an animal lover to the extreme and turtles being one of her favs. The fact you can swim with the turtles right off the beach makes this island a paradise for Barbie. The first thing she did right off the ferry upon arrival is purchase a pair of turtle underwear. (see pix below) Now you tell me, how can any human being go on in life without a pair of turtle underwear? Turtle underwear is the future in fashion, I say.
The main activity here on Gili T, not hard to guess, is hanging out on the beach drinking frozen fruit drinks. You take your bicycle and ride to the beach area that peaks your interest with the best bean bags to cool out on. There are tons of young international travelers just looking to have a good time. I would compare it somewhat to Fire Island but Gili T blows it away in every category.
One of the popular food options on Gili T and all of Indonesia is visiting a local streetside warung. These are small carts with a variety of freshly cooked food you can choose from. (see pix attached) These street warungs are so cheap to eat at (you can get a full meal for about $2). You will see all the locals picking up their food at these warungs. Its best to get to them early in the day before they sell out of their home cooked stuff and also when the dishes are the freshest. Eating the local food is such an important part of traveling and to wimp out and only hit up the western food they prepare for tourists would be a huge mistake. I have been taking a regimen of probiotics to toughen up my stomach as a preventative measure and so far, I have had no issues to date. However, I am not going to fool myself as I am certain the Loose Stools Index will inevitably hit a 1 or a 2 in time and will get ugly.
Our time is up on Gili T and we will take the boat to experience the other Gili Island (Gili Air).
Restaurants: Scallywags, Kayu Cafe, Made’s Warung, Black Penny, Trattoria
BEACHES VISITED –
Gili T – 7 (would give it a 8 but lots of coral in sea to avoid and have to be cognizant of the tides). Bring your water shoes to Gili T. Various shades of blue water and spectacular views of Gili Meno and Lombok.
LOOSE STOOLS INDEX – 8 (as you can see, things are on the improve)