We split up from Lou and Viks at the port on the east coast of Bali. With them taking the fast boat we knew that they’d get there well before us. We were slightly pissed off though when we received a text to say that they’d arrived while we hadn’t even left port. What happened next is best left forgotten. However, just in case anyone is reading this with a view of going to Gili Trawangan, we spent 5 hours on what is possibly the hottest and slowest boat on the planet. That was then followed by several bus journeys through Lombok with many unnecessary stops and then finally a local boat to Gili Trawangan. My advice: pay the extra and take the fast boat. Although the view certainly can’t be knocked….
Gili Trawangan is part of the “The Gili Islands” that people mention when they go to Bali. As far as I can tell “Gili” is actually indonesian for Island so technically it’s “The Island Islands”. Hmm. The Gili Islands are situated just of the north west coast of Lombok and comprise Gili Trawangan, the largest, furthest from the mainland and busiest island, Gili Air, the second in every way, and Gili Meno.
As with Bali we arrived on Trawangan smack bang in the middle of the peak season. Unfortunately this meant that the guesthouses could pretty much charge exactly what they wanted especially given that on one night the number of people on the island outnumbered the number of beds. With that in mind we checked in to a guesthouse that a prisoner would turn down. With just a mattress in the corner and no sheets or anything to be seen we regretfully handed over far too much money for our first night. The rest of the stay was much more pleasant; with an early start we were able to find a bungalow in a much nicer guesthouse.
To be honest we didn’t really do too much while on Gili Trawangan. There’s not really that much to do. For some R&R though it’s definitely up there with the best of them. There’s some great restaurants, some truly stunning sunsets and good, quiet beaches. On top of that there are the local spirits. Not entirely certain how good they are, and I don’t think they’re that strong, but at 60p for a spirit and mixer you really can’t complain! Regardless of this, if you want a decent cocktail then head, somewhat amusingly, to the Irish Bar. The guys there know their stuff; I had a mojito which barely touched the sides it was that good.
We pretty much stayed on the east coast of the island where most of the development has taken place and you have the majority of restaurants, bars and the cheaper accommodation. It’s also where the boat arrives on to the island so makes everything very easy. On our final night we changed it up a bit and walked to the north coast of the island, passing by a few cute bars on the beach, to a restaurant/cafe that has the best sunset view. They put tables and chairs out on the beach so that there’s nothing between you and the horizon but water. They do a selection of tapas but being early we went for a jug of sangria to share and some patatas bravas for a snack. The food was good, the drink was good, the company was good, and the staff were hilarious. Basically a bunch of locals in their early twenties trying out their language skills and, by the looks of it, trying to pull as many westerners as possible!
Another attraction with the east coast of Trawangan is the snorkelling that can be done just off shore. There are many little stalls along the beach which will lend snorkels, masks and fins for a tiny price and then you’ve got the day to go exploring the reef. There’s quite a current out there so it’s best to walk to the north end of the main beach and then simply drift your way back down the beach.