Indonesia – Gili Trawangan, Gili Air & Gili Meno
Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno
Yeah!! Finally I went to Gili Islands, Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat. Gili islands consists of 3 main islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The famous and the biggest on is Gili Trawangan and tourist called it Party Island. While the others island are more decent and quite. This time my adventure was with the editor of this blog, Miss Utiek Narotomo. We decided to spend 4 days and 3 nights in Gili Trawangan. While other friends was telling that it’s going to be bored if spent such a long day in Gili Trawangan, but for me, I never bored if we talk about beach and beach 😀 and I definitely will go there again!
A glimpse about Gili Trawangan – the magic mushroom & Party Island
After reading lots of blog, I never read or no one ever mentions that you can buy magic mushroom easily and sort of “legal” activity to buy in this island. Well, we had never interested on buying the mushroom, even though some locals offered us in the middle of the street or bar. We could spot easily who sell the mushroom, the bars or street vendors put signages mentioning that they’re selling the mushroom. The hotel’s staff said that the mushroom comes from Lombok island and the price is surprisingly very cheap.
Trawangan is famous as a Party island. The party itself won’t be held every day and only in certain days with different organizers. The famous organizers are Blue Marlin (diving school – I don’t why a diving school held a party, maybe it’s just a strategy to attract more tourist to use their services?), Tir Na Nog (a restaurant and bar) and Rudy’s pub (restaurant and a bar also). When we were there, it was time for Blue Marlin to organize the party, but we didn’t go to party (not in a party mood). However, at the last night we went to Rudy’s pub, where the place is not very fancy like Tir Na Nog but they’re playing new and top 40 songs (we love it!). We kinda sick to hear reggae music that were played by lots of restaurants and bars (Do I forget to mention that Lombok also famous for Reggae island? *sigh!).
Gili Trawangan nowadays is very crowded with tourists. If you ever go to Phi-Phi Don in Thailand, well, Gili Trawangan’s crowd is quite similar. The big difference is, major part of this island is not full for hotels, bars or restaurants. It is not like Phi-Phi Don where I think that every inch of that island is full of hotel. The hotels, bars & restaurants are mostly built along the coastline. However, the local said that the island is developing very fast in the last 10 years when the tourists are keep coming to the island and hotels or restaurants are being built rapidly to accommodate the visitors. Surprisingly, we found only a few of local tourists came to this island, it might be that they don’t stay in this island and only have short visit. So, most tourists are foreigners. The island’s transportation only bicycle and horse-drawn carriage or called cidomo.
Bicycling around the island
Yes we can ride our bike around the island! The Wikipedia said that the island only 3 km long and 2 km wide and we took around 2 hours for us to go around the island. When we just arrived in Gili Trawangan, we hired the bike from the hotel which cost us IDR 50,000 per day. If you want to rent at a short time, the bike price is IDR 15,000/hour. Hotels, bars & restaurants are most often located near or around the jetty. Getting away from the jetty, it is less populated. The road in here is beach sand, sometimes it is difficult to ride your bike in those sand. However, make sure that you bring enough drink or snacks, because we were very hungry and exhausted in the middle of nowhere, where there were no restaurants around us and it was 12 noon and very hot! We chose our route from the right side of the jetty and noticed that the further your hotel from the jetty and the crowd, the more expensive it is. Mostly those hotels are having a very great view of beach and nice interior and of course the price are also very expensive 😀
It said that the best snorkeling spot in the island is in the front of the lighthouse, where is it quite far from the crowd. However, I noticed that there is a snorkeling & hoping island tour to 3 Gilis with the price of IDR 75,000. But I’m not sure if the tour will take you to the best spot of the island (which is far from the beach/in the ocean) or they just drop you to the island and you just snorkel around the islands. Well, we have snorkeled several times and we believed that the best snorkeling place is must be not around the beach (except when you go to Karimun Jawa). So, we decided to go with the Dream Divers’s group with 10 person amateur and professional divers and only just two of us who were having snorkeling. Well, at that time, I thought we were the lamest person in the group hahahahaha. But we didn’t care as long as we got the best spots 😀
First we went to the ocean in front of the lighthouse in Trawangan island. To bad, the corals are dead. But there are still lots of fish and there are many types of it. Next, we went around to Gili Meno and luckily the corals in here were still alive and we could find several soft corals. If you get lucky, you can swim with turtles like the divers said.
Sunbath & sunset
We found our hidden beach where we can sunbath and play in the beach with very less number of tourists. Mostly, the tourists will sun bath around the left side of the jetty. Lots of them! The hidden beach is located next to The Trawangan Resort (right side of the jetty), you won’t see the beach from a roadside, so it is hidden in the high sand pile. I hope you can find it :).
I saw one of the best sunset in this island. If you go to the right side of the jetty and keep driving your bike, you will find an abandon bar/restaurant with wood interior. It was called a Sunset bar. The local said that after the opening night of the bar, the owner was dead and after that no one took care of the bar. It was so bad, because you could see the great sunset over there with Mount Rinjani as a sunset background. Make sure that you go to this place at sunset and don’t worry there are lots of people that keep coming to this place and some locals that sell beer.
Well, I think Trawangan is the best place to stay if you want to explore the others Gili in one day. The boat from the official harbor (in front of Horizontal restaurant) is leaving at 9.30am, first stop is Gili Meno and then Gili Air. The same boat will go again to Trawangan from Gili Air at 3 pm then go to Gili Meno to take passengers and then heading to Trawangan. I’m not sure if there is any boat from Gili Air/Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan in the morning and then go back again in the afternoon. At that time, we decided to go to Gili Air, because we got an information that the best place to snorkel is in there (well, at the end only Utiek who went to snorkel). To go to Gili Air we pay IDR 46,000 return.
When we first arrived in this island, we instantly can spot a very big difference with Trawangan. It is more quite….even we rarely to see the tourists in this island. At first we intended to explore the island, but it was a very hot day and we just want to lay back on the beach. So we went to the left side of island (from the jetty), walked and found a hotel where we asked a permission to have a sunbath in their lazy chair 😀 The hotels and restaurants are mostly located in the right of the jetty, so after 1 – 15.hour laid back on the lazy chair, it was time for us to have a lunch and we found a nice restaurant in there. It was Tami’s restaurant. The staff is very friendly and the restaurant is directly facing the beach, and it said that it is one of the best spot to snorkel around. He said that in the morning, a group of kids were snorkeling with the turtles. To bad Utiek didn’t spot any turtles in there.
Too bad we didn’t have enough time to go to Gili Meno, because it said that the best beach is in there 😦
We left on the fourth day. I was so sad to leave such a great island. Hope to go there again someday.
How to get there
The Gilis can be reached from Bali by boat or flight or direct flight from Jakarta. However, if you take a flight, you need to take other transportation. We decided to take direct flight from Jakarta to Mataram. From the airport we went to Senggigi and stayed one night in there (because our flight arrived at 10.30pm). The next morning, we took a Dream Divers boat to Gili Trawangan. It only cost us USD 15 return per person and they will pick you up from the hotel or you just go directly to their office which is still in Senggigi area. They will go at 8 am and from Trawangan is around 4 to 4.30 pm. The price is quite cheap compare to the others tour or diving school that I called which they asked for IDR 200.000 to 350.000 one way!! I noticed, around Senggigi there are lots of tour and travel that give a price of IDR 75,000 one way to Trawangan. It you want to go to Trawangan in a cheaper price (the boat price only cost IDR 10,000) you can go to Bangsal Harbor, which is 30 minutes from Senggigi. You can hire taxi from Senggigi to Bangsal or take a public transportation.
When we were going back from Trawangan, we decided to take public transportation. But we need to be careful when we arrive at Bangsal, because there are lots of scam over there. Just walk in a very confidence way and pretend that you are familiar with the area and ignore them and go to the official ticket office. Well, at that time we hired a car from one of the scam, they asked IDR 150,000 to Senggigi. I read in one of the blog, that the normal price around IDR 100,000, then I was bargaining at that price and surprisingly they took the offer instantly (now I think it was overprice, however, if we took a taxi from there, the meter maybe around IDR 70,000 – 30 minutes from Bangsal to Senggigi). If you are a solo traveler, you can take a motorcycle taxi as we saw one of the foreigners chose that transportation.
Btw, the boat from Bangsal to Trawangan/Gili/Meno or vice versa will go until the boat is in a full capacity (25 person). From Trawangan, the earliest boat is 7.30am and the latest is 5pm. It only took around 40 minute to Trawangan by public boat while 20 minute for Dream Divers boat.
Where to stay
At Senggigi we stayed at Elen Hotel. It was a decent hotel with fan and western toilet. It only cost IDR 150,000 per night including breakfast. However, the worst part was, there was no water in the morning and it said that we need to wait other visitors that were using the water to take a bath. Ehm……
While in Gili Trawangan we stayed at Pesona Resort (next to Dream Divers). The price is IDR 300,000 – with fan, including breakfast and tax. The price is valid for low season only. It was a nice place with a huge room and pool in front of the hotel…very nice if you just hang out at the pool in the afternoon J Pesona resort is on the edge of the beach.
However, if you want cheaper place, there were lots of them. Unfortunately, almost all of them are cannot be booked through Internet or even you cannot called the place. The best way is you just go there directly to the hotel and asked for the price.
In the mean time, don’t worry if you have extra money, lots of hotel are very great. Mostly fancy hotels are managed by foreigners and only Vila Ombak that is managed by local and it was a very greatttt hotel (we can only drooling to see the hotel :D)