Travel Story | The Gili islands: paradise!

by Flip Flop Wanderers
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Last updated on February 27th, 2020

Hi hi,

After our adventures in Bali and Lombok, our trip through Indonesia was still not over yet. We have also been to the Gili islands, three mini islands just to the west of Lombok. We had 9 days for these islands, which is pretty long, but we chose that on purpose. We were so curious about these paradise islands and were really looking forward to only chill for a long week, to snorkel a bit and to enjoy the lovely beaches. And where can you do that better than on the Gili islands?! We have been to all three Gili islands, so we have been able to fill those 9 days perfectly! And wow, we enjoyed it so much here. For us this was truly paradise!

Looks like paradise right?!

After our night in Bangsal at the 15th of September, we went looking for a public boat to take us to our first Gili island: Gili Trawangan. We left by horse and carriage to the harbour (you see many of them driving around here), but there they told us that the public boat wouldn’t leave until it was full, and that could take a few hours. We didn’t feel like waiting so we took a fast boat. It was quite expensive and we were in doubt if we were being scammed again… Anyway, we had a boat heading for Gili Trawangan. The boat bumped over the waves, but fortunately we arrived save!

We booked a very nice hotel on the other side of the island. There are no cars or scooters (so peaceful!), only bicycles and horses with carriages. It was really warm, and it was quite a walk with our heavy backpacks, so we decided to take a horse and carriage over the island.

The hotel, Le Pirate Beach Club, looked so lovely! It are all tiny houses with balconies and 2 swimming pools! The cabin itself is quite small, you can just walk around the bed, but the little house is so wonderful! There also was a small outdoor shower! We decided to chill at the pool this afternoon. So lovely with this weather!

Towards the evening we hired some bikes to look for a nice place to watch the sunset. We found one at Serene Sunset Beach. There are a few nice swings, chairs and hammocks hanging in the tree.

Afterwards we had a look at the beach. Just in time, because even though when it seemed that the sun wasn’t down yet, suddenly a volcano appeared where the sun was about to hide behind. The sun sets right behind Mount Agung of Bali. It’s hard to see during the day, but when the sky turns orange and the sun is almost down, you can see it clearly! This resulted in the most beautiful photos. Now we know what everyone means with the beautiful sunsets here!

We also had some dinner at this beach, and cycled back in the dark. The light of the bicycle wasn’t working really well, and lampposts do not exist here, so it was quite a challenge, especially through the loose sand everywhere! Every night at our hotel there is a movie screening at the beach, so we went over to have a look. So lovely on the beach with a beanbag!

Next morning we first made some nice photos in front of our little hut. It all looks so nice over here!

Afterwards, we went cycling around the island with our bikes. Cycling really is the best way to get around here, although it ain’t easy everywhere. The inland roads are fine, but along the beach there is sometimes a lot of loose sand so you often walk next to your bike. But well, you have the time here 😉

Cycling at the Gili islands

Gili Trawangan is, just like the other Gili islands, pretty small (3 square kilometers), so you can cycle it around in no-time. But there are so many photo opportunities over here that you will take much more time. We for example immediately came across a coconut plantation. This was so beautiful with all the palm trees!

Close to here there’s also Gili Frame, some nice benches and full of great decorations!

Afterwards we arrived on the east side of the island, where it’s a bit more crowded. Gili T is known as a party island, but you fortunately barely notice that on the west side (where we stay). It’s also known that there is a lot of trade in magic mushrooms at the Gili islands, and that while drugs are strictly prohibited in Indonesia. But there isn’t any police on the Gili islands, so apparently it doesn’t matter. You will see signs with ‘magic mushrooms’ and such everywhere on the islands. So funny!

Now we cycled via the south towards the west side again and we passed many beautiful spots again, like a beautiful white beach with a nice swing.

Swings are everywhere over here at the Gili islands, which we think is genius! It creates such nice photo moments and it makes the view even a bit better! Even so at The Exile, where a swing is located in the water, hanging on a frame of old trees, and that same frame also has a hammock. It looks so lovely!

We came along Vintage beach/Serene Sunset beach again, now during daylight. We had a drink over here, because you really need it in this hot weather! Back at the hotel we had a fresh plunge in the pool.

That Sunday we decided to cycle to the north of the island. Or well, cycle, we had to walk quite a bit because the path was full of loose sand, and because of that there were even parts of the road missing. Once we arrived in the north we went snorkelling. Manon spotted some cute turtles! It’s always so special to see those animals!

It was really hot so afterwards, we decided to go back to our pool.

We stayed there until we went on a sunset-hunt again. We went back to the swing and hammock in the sea, where we made stunning photos!

When it was dark we cycled to the east side of the island to visit the Night Market. You can have a pretty cheap meal and drinks here, and it looks very cosy. There are many stalls with barbecues and you can put your own plate together.

The day after we rose early to pack our stuff again and go back to the harbour. On our way to Gili Meno, wherefore we caught the public boat. You will be at this next island within 15 minutes, which is the middle and most peaceful island. We loved that peace!

We stayed in the Two Brothers Resort, where they only have 4 bungalows and a restaurant. So nice and small! We could go in the room already to drop off our luggage, even though we arrived early.

The hotel is directly at the beach, where Bram went snorkeling. There are even tours from the other islands that snorkel here, so the location was perfect! The coral is beautiful and there are many fish and even some turtles!

The beach at the hotel

Halfway the afternoon we hired some bikes to walk around the island. It almost did look like that, since the roads around the island were not the best to cycle on. Only loose sand! The inland roads are a bit better fortunately. Via an inland salt water lake we cycled to the dive club which we are going to dive with tomorrow.

Afterwards we just went further around the island. There are several nice beaches, and there isn’t a lot else to see. So nice and quiet! Something else you can visit is a Turtle Sanctuary. Here they take care of baby turtles and send them free when they have a bigger chance to survive (till 8 months). When you donate you can release one. The sea was too rough now, but maybe tomorrow or the day after.

The stunning beaches of Gili Meno

When we continued our way we came along Art Shop Botol, a little hut full of souvenirs and art,

and then we were nearly around. The sun was slowly setting so we stopped by a nice little beach to see it disappear behind Gili T and the Balinese volcano.

In the evening we went to Diana Café to have some dinner. It took a long time before we finally had our menu, and the food and drinks lasted a long time too, but after all, you’re on a tropical mini island, where they have never been in a hurry! The food wasn’t special, but it’s like that almost everywhere over here. After all, it is cheap as!

Cycling at Gili Trawangan

The next morning we were up early and it was time to go diving! We had 2 dives planned for today. The first one was at Shark Point, where we spotted a turtle, 2 octopuses, a stingray and also 2 white tip sharks. A very fun dive!

The second one was directly in front of the dive shop at Maya Slope. There were many more corals and fishes to see which made the dive very beautiful! We saw a couple of turtles, even a few very big ones! It was also special to spot a cuttlefish, and there were many more fishes to see!

We ate something in the Sasak Café and had not seen enough water just yet, so we went looking for a few underwater statues which we heard of to snorkel around. They have plans to build a mega-resort, BASK, here in a couple of years but they didn’t really start yet. At this moment there is only a fence and a sign and that’s it. What they did do a couple of months ago is placing some statues in front of the future resort in the water as a snorkeling attraction. We would love to see those and we found them! It was a shame though that many snorkeling tours also found this place, but as soon as they were gone we had the chance to make some awesome underwater shots!

During the sunset, we made some stunning photos again and ate something at our hotel as a conclusion of a beautiful day!

A nice breakfast in the morning was the start of the next day. We cycled inland and, just like at Gili T, ended up at a beautiful coconut plantation.

Then we went back to the Turtle Sanctuary. The weather was good en we were allowed to release a small turtle! Really fun! After hesitating briefly, he sprinted into the water and floop, he was gone! Good journey Paddie!

Next to the turtle sanctuary was a beautiful beach where we went to chill for a bit! We even went into the shadow, which is quite rare for us. It was so hot again today, but you won’t hear us complain!

Bibi’s cafe is highly recommended for some food, they have delicious pizzas! The rest of the afternoon consisted of chilling until the sun went down again. During sunset we sat in a romantic corner at the Diana café on the beach, enjoying the setting sun! The service today was also much better than the previous time here.

After a night’s sleep it was time to leave Gili Meno and catch the boat to Gili Air. Here we slept in the beautiful hotel Captain Coconuts. You have a nice swimming pool here surrounded by a few nice houses and a large dorm room, which is even luxurious. We had one of the cute cabins. The cabins all have old reused doors and windows, which gives a very nice effect!

Also inside were these beautiful windows and doors. Something really funny was that there were shutters between the bathroom and the bedroom. Handy if you’re in the shower and feel like having a chat 😛

Today we went chilling at the pool, and even our flip flop floatie came out of the bag!

Towards the evening we went looking for a nice little cafe and we found one at Lucky Bar. The sun went down again and we couldn’t resist making some pictures at the swing here first, and also from the hammock a bit further down. They are just there for it 😉

When we sat down at the cafe we got the menu after asking, but that was only for drinks. After 10 minutes there was still nobody that looked at us so we went to the neighbours: Krishna Sunset. The service was much better and the food was delicious!

Manon was a bit sick that night and the next morning, Bali Belly or something. That’s why we took things a bit slower and towards the afternoon we went to cycle/walk around. The west side is actually hard to do by bike because of the loose sand. But that won’t stop us! We stopped at a nice little bar with swings as bar stools where we went for a drink. You will totally feel like a kid again at these islands with all those swings everywhere!

In the north of the island the road was finally passable again by bicycle. There was not so much to see on this island so we finished the loop quickly.

It was a bit more cloudy during sunset today, but it’s still fun to capture those. We also read in the news that the volcano at Bali, which you can see beautifully from here during sunset, is about to erupt! Many people around it have been evacuated. However, we should not be afraid of it. The volcano has a reach of 10km, and the port where we will go the day after tomorrow is 25km away. The airport at 75km. Of course flights can get problems with ash clouds, but then they will fly from Lombok or something.

We went for dinner in the east of the island, where we ended up at Biba Beach. A cafe with really yummy food, and lots of choice!

Sunset moments

That Saturday we ordered breakfast in bed, which was possible at this hotel! Isn’t it lovely!

After this we went on our way to go snorkeling. We first passed a beach where a giant reed egg hangs above the water, where you can lie down in and chill. Of course we had to! It also made some funny moments because it was high tide and the egg went all over the place 😛

We passed the office of the boat with which we are going back tomorrow and decided to pop in to check what time we should be there tomorrow. That was a good idea because boats in the afternoon were canceled so we have to be there in the morning already. It’s a shame, but there is nothing to do about it. Further up north we arrived at Sandy Bar, from where you can snorkel well. We almost immediately spotted a turtle, who really liked it with us because he stayed close to us, for a period of 3 hours (oops, we really couldn’t get out of the water;)).

As we continued our bike ride it started to rain and we went back to the hotel. After a quick lunch it was dry again and we went looking for some beaches. They were not very spectacular, although we were a bit upside down about it.

Since it rained now and then, we went back to the hotel again. There the pool was empty now because of the rain, so we could make some beautiful photos of it!

This evening it was our last sunset at the Gili’s, and that had to be closed off with, of course, even more swings!

We ate something at Zipp Sunset, which was very cozy and the food was delicious. You could order from the BBQ, so that’s what Bram did.

With one of the delicious smoothies of the Captain Coconuts Resort

And that’s how our holiday almost came to an end, since the next morning we went back to Bali by boat. Once we arrived there at the port it was one big chaos of crowds and taxi drivers again. We ate and drank something at a store and it was one big propaganda for overpriced drivers over there. Eventually we had found a driver, and the lady from the supermarket wanted us to make a deposit with her. We did not let her fool us again, we only pay upon arrival! After a two hour drive we arrived at a hotel near the airport. Cheap as, but very neat! To round up the holiday we went out for a romantic dinner at the Mac.

The public boat between the Gili islands

At Monday the 25th of September it was time to fly back to Perth. In the middle of the night we had to get out to go to the airport. We arrived in Perth in the morning, where it was still fully winter. 12 degrees and rain… brrrr. We have to get used to that again…

And that was our more than 3 week holiday through Indonesia. Man man man, what have we enjoyed it! This has seriously been one of our best holidays in a long time and we think back to this with great pleasure. We have lost our hearts to Indonesia. To the beautiful culture on the islands, to the most friendly people you can imagine, to the paradisiacal islands and especially the beautiful beaches, to the overwhelming nature and especially to the tropical feeling that we have at this awesome place. Because tropical destinations, yes that’s really our thing. We felt so great here, that we really want to go back to Indonesia after New Zealand and Australia. Because now we are still in this part of the world, and when we will go towards South America, we just go further away… Hmm, maybe we will first make a detour to Asia before we head to the side of America! Anyway, we will see how it goes by that time!

That we will walk around like this in the future is for sure 😉

For now we are almost a month in New Zeeland already, where in the beginning, after a year Australia, it took some time getting used to, mainly because we had a big fat jetlag the first week (5 hours time difference!) and because the temperatures are a bit more chilly than we are used to, but we are also very excited! The first 2 weeks we had arranged all kind of things, like a bank account, and we bought a van. An empty one that we will completely convert into a true campervan. After the necessary administrations and things we left the city as quickly as possible because as you know, we really do not like that. We then made a road trip of 1,5 weeks through Northland, the northernmost part of NZ, and afterwards we ended in Hot Water Beach. In this place, we had found a job already in hour first week in NZ! At this moment we are working there as cleaners for 2 weeks already at the Top 10 campground and we clean the various cabins every day. We also live at the campsite in our van, which saves us some money. The plan is to stay here for about 3 months to save money and then continue our travels. But more about our NZ adventures next time!

Soon another story about our last weeks in Australia.

See ya mate!

I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list

~

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1 comment

Mario December 8, 2017 - 12:29 pm

Mooi verhaal weer, die vulkaan staat echt op uitbarsten en het vliegverkeer kan er dus wel echt last van hebben.
Leuk dat jullie weer in New Zeeland zijn en ook aan het werk. Veel succes en plezier daar!

Groetjes,
Papa

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