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Published: November 19th 2010
Couldn't get enough o' these...haha...
After much discussion in Ubud as to what our next destination would be we found an inexpensive bus-boat combo to get us to the Gili Islands, so Gili Trawangan it was! We heard and read so much about these islands off the northwest coast of Lombok; no motorized vehicles are allowed on any of the three islands, the snorkeling is supposed to be fantastic and it's a real laid back vibe, all of which would be proven true with a five day hang on Gili T.!
Our pickup was late in the morning, and then it was a mad scramble to get to Padang Bai where we were to catch our boat but managed to make it in the nick of time...fast boat to the Gili's is the way to go, certainly more expensive but only took about an hour and a half. After an uneventful cruise we pulled up to the beach on Gili T., hopped in the water, waded to the beach and waited for the crew to unload our gear before deciding what to do next; hmmm, lunch! We hadn't made any reservations ahead of time so developed a system where we would arrive at a destination,
Self portrait number...
...I forget...on the boat to Gili Trawangan
head for the nearest restaurant/bar, relax over a bite to eat and pint, wait for the masses to clear out and then go searching for accommodations...very civil! So after a snack of burritos and Bintangs (burritos were strangely some of the best I've ever had!) we poked along the main drag looking at places to stay and settled on this really cool A-frame hut with open air bathroom directly across from the beach, fantastic! We were warned that accommodation on the Gili's can book up well in advance but with it being a bit of a low season at the time we had the pick of any accommodation, restaurant and activity which was great...
Settled into our simple yet funky cottage at the Good Heart Bungalows and set out to get our bearings; first stop the beach of course! Beautiful, with great views of Gili Meno directly across and Lombok in the distance, quite the sight to wake up to every morning as well (the beach could be seen from bed...sweet....). Most of the settlements on the island are on the Western side, so we took a stroll up and down the main road and checked out the restaurants,
So long Padang Bai
Leaving the harbour en route to Gili T.
cafés, bars and dive shops with the of course obligatory Bintang or two thrown in for good measure...haha...we were to discover that the laid back vibe of this island would turn us into the laziest and most relaxed bums we had ever been, something we rather enjoyed actually!
Late afternoon we rented some snorkel gear on the beach and waded out into the water to check out the coral and marine life. A lot of the coral was dead unfortunately, read something about dynamite fishing that had occurred a while back that killed most of it (and has been subsequently banned) but the coral is starting to come back. Beautiful nonetheless, and as we swam out the variety of fish we encountered was incredible...about twenty or thirty yards out the coral all of a sudden drops off into the deeps, and it was here where we saw our first sea turtles! Oh man, beautiful creatures, to see them gracefully swimming along is quite the sight to behold...and on the day before we left another snorkeler yelled over to us about a turtle sighting, only to swim over and see the biggest sea turtle I had ever seen munching on
the coral about 15 feet away from us, spectacular! It truly looked like something from the age of dinosaurs, and one of the highlights of the trip...
The next morning we got up, had our breaky on the beach and then set off to explore the rest of the island. There's a road that runs along the entire coast and it was about a two to three hour walk to get around, but we stopped in a few places to get out of the blazing sun so it turned into a good half day hike. The term road is a little misleading as well as it's mostly sand on the eastern side of the island, and we were certainly glad we walked as some people rent bikes to do the tour and it didn't look like a lot of fun watching them struggle in the sand...haha... It was great seeing the rest of the island; there are some resorts on the north side that are removed from the busier part of the island and seemed extremely quiet and relaxed. Found a great wood oven pizza place as well with fun huts overlooking the beach that we hit a couple
Our funky home on Gili T.
of times, pizzas were amazing! Beyond that not a whole lot of development on the eastern side which was interesting, and as we came around the southern portion we found some of the more upscale accommodations and restaurants on the island...they looked nice but frankly I thought our A-frame hut was far cooler!
The next day we jumped on a snorkeling boat tour, turned out be another highlight of the trip. It was a half day tour, included three different snorkeling stops and winding up with lunch on Gili Air. What to say, amazing; the coral was absolutely stunning, we saw tons of marine life and it was a great chance to get out and see the other two Gili islands. Great views from the boat of Lombok and Bali in the distance, as well as the locals going about their daily fishing routines in outrigger boats that to me are the coolest...
As mentioned general laziness overcame us very early on in our stay on the island...managed to hike up the lone hill/mountain (on what seemed to be the hottest day yet) to catch some fantastic 360 degree views but most of the time was spent chilling
...in front of our cabin with the wonderful view of the water...(KC)
on the beach, doing some snorkeling or just wandering around and having a pint...tough life and really missing it now!
(Some photos copyright of Karen C., denoted by (KC)...used with kind permission)
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