After a couple too many vacations in Bali and feeling a bit jaded of its traffic, the next destination was still in Indonesia, and only a stones throw from Bali, Gili Trawangan, or ‘Gili T’
Getting there is pretty simple from Malaysia, we went via Lombok, rather than some peoples preferred route via Bali and the option of getting to enjoy a few days on both islands.
There are 3 small islands in between the much bigger islands of Lombok and Bali, with Gili T being the largest of the 3.
Its reputation as an island paradise is spreading globally, and now ranks with Bali and Borobudur as one of Indonesia’s best known destinations, and once on the island its easy to understand why.
Getting across from Lombok past the other 2 Gili Islands to Gili T only takes 20 mins, and once on the Jetty, you have a decision to make, which is the mode of transport to get you to the place your staying. As we were staying 2 nights towards the north east tip of the island, and 2 nights towards the south east and had a few bags, our only option had to be horse and cart, the other choices being, walk or by bicycle.
It's a small island and a lot of exploring can be done on foot, but to really enjoy the island its best to rent a bike and use pedal power to get around (full circumference on bike at an easy pace takes approx 20-30 mins).
The best way to describe the island is to split it into a few sectors. On the East side, this is dominated by the main ‘drag’ full of trendy bars, restaurants and dive centres competing for your attention. Then at either end of the main drag to the north and the south it gets a lot more quiet and relaxed and has some of the more upscale and relaxing accommodation, and the west side is renowned for its sunsets over the island of Bali with super chilled beach bars making full use of the view.
Our first 2 nights was to be spent at Wilsons Resort, which was a great introduction to Gili T, as we were after peace, quiet and relaxation, but also enjoy some of the nightlife.
Our first night was memorable as we were a little tired and didn't want to wander too far and walked into an Italian beach fronted restaurant called Danima. Not only was the food good, but the Indonesian head waiter had also been taught to speak Italian by the owner. This is a small island..off another island, and the quality of the food was really good, somebody please get some of the restaurant/hotel/bar owners from the Malaysian east coast islands and show them how to you do it.
Needless to say day 2 was spent on a bike exploring the island. We’d been told that the sundown on the west side of the island is fantastic and to make sure that we’re sitting comfortably with a cocktail or beer in one of the many beach bars dotted along the sand by 6pm.
After a days cycling and exploring (and drinking and eating on the main drag) we did end up as advised, cocktail in hand as the sun went down to a backdrop of drumming, all adding up to a pretty cool and bohemian vide, perfect to chill out too.
Our choice for the first 2 nights was wonderful, but just that little bit too far away to walk down to the main hive of activity, and an unsteady cycle back in the dark was hilarious and more than a little haphazard.
So off we went to stay at the Trawangan Resort at the southern end of the main street, probably 500 metres away from where the first of the many bars and restaurants start, so it was far enough for zero noise, but close enough to not try and ride the bikes which by 1am in the morning seemed to develop square and bent wheels and a mind of their own.
Once again, no faulting the accommodation, but the closer proximity of the nightlife made it just that little better of a choice for us.
One quick mention for the Casa Vintage Caribbean, situated on the west side of the island, it has everything we wanted all in one place, great food, great drinks and an even better chilled out atmosphere which makes you really feel like you’ve found 'that' island paradise, and it warranted 2 sunset visits and on the last night a much longer stay.
I’ve not mentioned the nightlife yet, and as it was a Saturday and we were staying within staggering distance, it was time to head off to see Gili T at its partying best, and to be very honest, it was a blast, even for an old fart like me. Some really cool bars, some really hyper bars and some excellent live music bars and what feels like a truly genuine friendly ‘vibe’ that I’ve rarely experienced, and that’s probably down to the real mix of ages, backgrounds of the people who go to Gili T.
I’m not a diver or water-sports enthusiast, but I have it on good authority that the North of the island is pretty good for diving and snorkelling, and judging by the amount of ‘large’ dive shops around the island, I guess it most be good.
There’s something for everyone in Gili T and we did quite a few, from the hand in hand sunset stroll along awesome beaches, wine and dine in very good restaurants, chilling out with cold beers and cocktails sitting on a bean bag listening to the reggae music and sound of the waves, celebrating my birthday in style in Gili T’s main party street zig-zagging barefoot back to high quality accommodation and waking to the hang over the next day and eating breakfast on the beach to get rid of it.
Do I have any negative thing to say….for once, no, and if you follow me on Trip Advisor you’ll find that hard to believe.