1/ Chill Out
From the moment you step off the boat onto the coral sand of Gili Trawangan you'll be on 'island time'. There are no cars, or petrol powered motorised transport of any kind on the Gilis so you'll have to slow down. Chidomo pony carts are the taxis of Gili T & will take you & your luggage to Gili Pearl Villa; chidomos have set rates. Once you've settled in go for walk & have a look around. You may like to hire a bike; expect to pay about 50,000 rupiah a day (approx $5) for bike hire. Walking, Biking & Chidomo, that's it. Now go lay down by the Gili Pearl Villa pool for a while with a Bintang & a book for company. Ahhh...
2/ Diving & Snorkeling
People come from all over the world to dive around the Gili islands. The first large resort on Gili T was the Vila Ombak Diving Academy. Manta Dive, Ombak & other international PADI accredited dive operators can give you scuba diving lessons to attain your diving licence.
However you don't have to be a scuba diver to enjoy the waters surrounding Gili T. Hire flippers, mask & a snorkel & you'll soon be marvelling at the brightly coloured fish & coral just a few metres off shore from the Eastern Beach. A trip on a glass bottomed boat is good for spotting the large sea turtles that swim in the channels between the islands.
3/ Around The Island In 90 Mins
Gili Trawangan is only about 5 kms in circumference and the main road follows the shoreline all the way around. The East Coast has the most accommodation & facilities as well as the widest beach & easily swimmable waters. There is less development on the West Coast partly because the beach opens onto a shallow wide coral reef less suitable for swimming & snorkeling. The best time to circumnavigate the island on foot or bike is early in the morning before breakfast when it is cooler. If walking allow about 90 minutes for the round trip. Take a bottle of water & a hat as it can get pretty hot.
4/ Beach Life
After breakfast head for the beach. North East has the widest, longest stretch of sand, beachside bars & deck chairs but South East has some lovely more concealed stretches with overhanging local Sentiggi tea-tree as well as a surf break that comes good from time to time. There is less development here & the Sentiggi trees are sacred & protected as they stop erosion on the beachfront. Surf Bar at Rainbow Beach near Kokomo and The Trawangan will hire you a board if the waves are up; they give lessons too.
About an hour before sunset its time to start heading to the Southern tip of Gili T where you'll find the Paradise Sunset Bar. Beer, cocktails, snacks and funky music set up the vibe along the coral beach lined with bamboo tables and chairs positioned to take in the often spectacular sunset. On most days the distant silhouette of Bali's Mount Agung volcano provides the backdrop. They keep the action going after dark with fire twirling displays. A little further on is another funky sunset location The Exile which often has live local percussionists providing atmosphere at sundown.
On Gili Trawangan you can get a meal for as little as $2.50 at a lunchtime warung or night market stall or feast at an upmarket restaurant with white linen & full service at prices you are used to at home. A wide variety of international cuisine is available. The local seafood, poultry, vegetables & fruit are excellent. Dining on Gili T will become one of your main activities.
Imported wine & spirits are available but attract heavy excise for both religious & political reasons. However the local beer is excellent & cheap while Balinese wines (Two Islands, Hatten, Plagã) are relatively affordable & improving in quality. Wine lovers can grab a couple of bottles of their favourites on the way through duty free at the airport.
6/ Climb The Hill
Inland towards the Southern end of Gili T's village, not far from Gili Pearl Villa, is the large hill that you see from the main bedroom's balcony. Ascending the concrete steps leading to the top provides a strenuous workout. Make sure you take bottled water with you. Enjoy the view then look for little signs pointing to the "Japanese Cave", an excavation made by the Japanese military during WW2 to house soldiers keeping lookout for boat movements in the area. This modest war relic gave the island its name; Trawangan is a variation of the local word for 'tunnel'. The downward climb on the far side is a bit more tricky but the path is well defined. At the bottom turn left & you'll eventually find yourself close to home.
7/ Night Life & Special Events
If you've got any energy left after dinner you can explore the beachside bars & clubs. The DJ scene rolls on to different clubs throughout the week & there's a live music scene too. Sama Sama has a resident reggae band & a friendly vibe. Fortuna & Ombak both have good bands while club DJs lean toward chillout downtempo & Eurodisco. Bottom line: you'll discover there is plenty going on late into the evening.
Surf Bar (mentioned above) is also the site of the Full Moon & Dark Moon Parties that have come into vogue in the last few years. Dance music & laser lights plus various refreshments make these events very popular unless you're next door trying to sleep; but keep in mind that its run by locals, its their island & their beach - get into it! On these nights they are licenced to go til 3am. All parties, events & bar DJ nights must have permits from the Gili Indah Village Council. Such events are restricted to the beachside commercial precinct and are not permitted in the village area; this includes Gili Pearl Villa (no loud or late night partying).
New Years Eve is also huge with a cacophany of competing sounds from live bands & pumping disco music topped off with fireworks at midnight. Many make the trip from Bali & Lombok to spend New Years Eve on Gili T.
8/ Island Hopping
The two neighbouring islands Gili Meno & Gili Air are well worth visiting. Meno is the quietest & is gaining a reputation as 'honeymoon island' due to its small but luxurious resorts, white sand beaches & great dive sites. Air is undergoing rapid development along the lines of Trawangan. A day trip with beachside lunch at Scallywags Air restaurant is a fine way to spend an afternoon.
Our staff can help you book excursions to Lombok with experienced English speaking Guides who can introduce you to the rich heritage of the Region. Perhaps a day-trip to Autore’s Pearl Farm and Café, where the history of Lombok’s famous pearls and the pearl farming industry can be experienced first-hand and the world famous Autore Pearls can be purchased. Also worth seeing is the beautiful Waterfall at Senaru an hour or so drive away from Teluk Kodek harbour on the mainland.
10/ Fishing & Horse Riding
Line fishing, fishing trips and charters can be arranged through the Lakshmi staff by booking 24 hours in advance. Boats have experienced captains & fishermen who know where the fish are. You may have to get up early.
The Stud Stables at the less populated Southern end of Gili T have well trained horses for hire & space to ride the quiet road & beach. There are no cars to worry about.
Diving the Gili Islands