The Gili Islands are a Must-See
Yet to be touched by the curse of conglomerate hotels or even a MaccyD’s, the three tiny islands of the Gilis are what the term ‘off the grid’ was made for. Think Castaway meets The Beach and you’ll find a happy medium for the trio of quaint and tranquil islands that boast nothing but simplicity and all the nasi goreng you can eat.
Having swayed between sleep and sickness on the ferry from Lombok, arriving to these paradisiacal islands was a huge relief. No cars, little noise and the unexpected horse and carriages dotting the shoreline made for a pretty big contrast from a raucous few days in Bali. Gili Trawangan, aka Dragon Island, was to be my five day homage for sun-catching, yoga-stretching and pineapple-munching.
With very few tourists gracing the shores, Gili T is an insight into rustic, Indo island life. Hostels are run by wanna-be-your-best-friend families that take care of your every need. That means hot water, room service and a TV with apparently popular films from the ’80s – jackpot.
Accommodation down, my five-day Gili adventure could begin. It started with an abundance of banana pancakes and turtle watching on the aptly named Turtle Beach. It ended with a lot of booty-shaking around a beachside fire and somewhere in the middle there was an episode with a paddleboard, a few new friends and a whole lot of zen.
Day one held the disaster that was my attempt at paddle boarding. Splash, bang, wallop accurately describes my hour long session and, after providing many an onlooker with a chuckle after a bikini malfunction, all hopes at mastering the board were abandoned.
Day two and three were taken to recover from all that seaside exercise. However, it was still hard work catching those rays and even more strenuous lifting those beachside cocktails.
Day four involved that pretty essential lap of the island. From the harbour we wandered past the colourful bars and diving centres up to the luxury lodges and beach villas. About here is where the jealousy kicked in. Only metres away the more wealthy of holiday makers arrived on the island via private boats and not surprisingly they weren’t sporting that shade of green I had rocked up with from the boat ride. Deserted bays and yet more beautiful coastline lined our lap of Gili T and, despite the many turtles, no dragons were to be seen.
Day four we decided to up the ante and venture out to see those neighbouring islands. Gili Meno and Gili Air sit only minutes away from Gili T by boat and both offer another unique aspect of Gili life. Gili Meno is less developed than Gili T and offers a serene space for escapism. Gili Air is the more sophisticated of the islands appealing to the affluent crowds with an abundance of luxury villas and fanciful bars.
Coming back down to our almost earth on Gili T the highlight of our very strenuous week involved ‘lifting our hearts to the moon’ and doing that ‘downward facing dog.’ Yoga to a Gili T sunset was the epicentre of calm and iced our heavenly utopia to perfection.
It would seem that five days of serenity in these almost-forgotten islands are more than worth a bout of seasickness. So pack the wet wipes and make that epic journey to Indonesia’s hidden utopia.