Non-stop Party Island, mushroom and bikini festive. That was what I heard about this small island on the northwestern tip of Lombok. So some parts of the stories is true and some are beyond it.
For decades, Gili Trawangan has its own popularity as a 'Party Island.' Being the biggest island of three Gili Island; the others are Gili Air and Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan offers a place to party hard and getaway from all the chaotic senses of tourist destination.
It is quite easy to get into Gili Trawangan, no wonder it is so crowded during the high season. You can get fast boat from Bali or the slow boat from Padangbai and Senggigi. From other parts of Lombok you can cross from Bangsal or Nare Harbour.
The first thing you will spot on this island is there are no car at all. Take a bike and you can get around this Island in less than an hour. But if you don't like pedalling then there are more relaxing way to get from one place to another, which is cidomo - a small horsedrawn carriage.
The local government forbids all motor vehicles, that's the main reason you will never find noisy motorized vehicles here. Whats more interesting is that even for Cidomo, there are some rules even though rules are made to be broken - so does some might said. No more than 4 passengers for one cidomo and no more than 33 cidomo in Gili Trawangan, I don't have time and will to count it anyway.
The other unique thing about Gili Trawangan is also there are no police at all. If some problem occurs, local village head will take care of the problems. But actually the only problem mostly happening here is headache due to mixed up alcohol on those never ending party.
Gili Trawangan is developing fast in the last 10 years. New hotels, resorts and bars are popping out like mushrooms during rainy days. This fast growing tourist accomodation also gives the local money earning opportunity. Local people in Gili Trawangan is about a thousand and tourist came during high season can be about four times the number of the locals every month.
But the crowd in Gili is in a different sense with Bali. Since Gili is so small, we will find ourself going around and meet the same people and going back to the same place before we even realize it. With no motorized vehicles, I find myself having fun pedaling bicycle around the beach even though it is quite a hard work on thick sands texture on some tracks. Bike rentals are everywhere so no worries that you will not get it, and it is safe to put your bike on the side of the streets, since nobody will took it outside the island.
Besides feeling like you're between the middle age with horse-drawn carriage everywhere but bars and pubs are easily found and party calling every day, Gili Trawangan has two options, on budget and on your choices of vacation.
If you're not the budget traveler and want to have stylish accommodation, there are some villas on the other side of the island. Of course you will have to take cidomo because it will spent around 20 minutes to get to the more serene zone of Gili Trawangan, away from the collections of groovy beach bars and tourist crowds.
I found myself on Queen Villa, which is filled with honeymoon lovebirds. Private white sandy beach and serene atmosphere. Here tourist can have more spaces, I even feel like there is nobody else, and then realize there are, only during breakfast and dinner.
|Spa by the beach|
My favourite relaxing moment and I'm sure most honeymoon couples love it too is the Balinese Spa. They don't usualy provide spa right on the beach but I managed to convince them to provide it and it worth the persistence of my request. The key of massage and spa is the relax, serene and tranquil moments and I always feels like it is best when you can see the blue sea, hear the waves and feel the wind breezing.
But don't spend time only on the beach. Gili also famous for its well-known friendly sea turtles, so grab your diving suit and pack your fins. My diving guide promised that 99,9 percent I will meet the sea turtles, and it became 100 percent since I met more than five friendly turtles down the blue sea.
|I get so close with the sea turtle :)|
|You can swim next to the sea turtle but don't touch them|
I am so excited seeing the first turtle came. I saw this sea turtle swimming right to me before actually switching direction in front of me, seems like since they met human everyday so they don't really get annoyed or scare to human. You can really chase them, moving and swimming right next to the sea turtle and amazed on how close you can get with them.
But sea turle is not the only thing you can get. My diving trip starts from coral fan garden, which is on the northern part of Gili Trawangan, then going to the western part to the shark point. The spot from Jackfish point to shark point is home for some moray eel. I saw three moray eel, from a size of a bottle until about more than two meters long. My advice, better don't get too close with them, I saw their sharp nasty teeth which can actually harm you if they felt threatened by our sudden movement and also if we get too close. But seeing this creature is always fascinating, how a moray eel moves, gliding on the tip of the corals are like seeing National Geographic live on the sea itself.
One more fascinating under sea creature I encountered is the most graceful cephalopoda, the octopus. With their two eyes and four pairs of arms, moving under water for an octopus is like flying with no gravity involved on their movements. Octopus actually have jet propulsion mechanism, they can make water passing their body so the movement is always head first with arms trailing behind. You can see the video here:
Seeing the octopus changing colors and textures are also make your eyes widen and you don't even wanna miss a blink since they are moving fast and easily away from our sight when they hide into the hard corals. There are also more options for diving around Gili Meno and Gili Air, and the best thing is you don't have to spend a lot of time on the boat. These three Gili islands are so close to each other and small so it only need less than 15 minutes if you want to dive in the southern part of Gili Air.
If you just wanna wander around Gili Trawangan, you can get from slope, coral fan garden, jackfish and even if you have the divers lucky gene, you might find some blacktip shark during your dive, and don't worry since they are quite friendly too.
For a newbie sea explorer, diving courses are everywhere on this small island. You can find it both on the resorts or just around the crowded zone near the entrance dock. On my five minutes of walking on those areas, at least I can found two dive centre which offers a lot of diving courses, from discover dive for the very beginner sea explorer, until specialized skills for divers.
So Gili Trawangan is an option other than Bali, or maybe after your Bali visit. I've done the more serene and private vacation and planning to invite my friends to do the party option later next time. One thing for sure, whatever your vacation option on Gili Trawangan, don't miss the diving moment.
@marischkaprue - will come back to Gili for fun!
As published on Bali & Beyond magazine, September 2012.
As published on Bali & Beyond magazine, September 2012.
- Queen Villa Gili Trawangan
- Bee diver Gili Trawangan