Gili Trawangan: Lombok, Indonesia

We tossed going here back and forth for a while because of the ferry cost. While our kids were free we still wondered if it would be worth it to make the trek there for a short time. While we’ve heard amazing things about it, we decided to just go and see for ourselves. The Gili Islands are three small islands close together off the north west coast of Lombok, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Gili Meno is the smallest and quietest while Gili Trawangan is known as “the party island”. We were a bit hesitant to stay on Gili T but figured we would give it a go. We booked three nights at the Gili Turtle Hotel and within those three nights fell in love with this little gem. We ended up extending our stay but moved next door to the DeJa Vu hotel as it had a pool and fresh water showers. Yes, you heard right…. The island has two sources for water, the government water treatment plant or ground water. Some hotels use the ground water which in turn ends up mixed with the salt water from the sea.

All three of these islands do not have any motorized vehicles on them but are replaced by horse and carriage. There were also bicycles for rent everywhere you looked. Also, interesting fact is that there are no dogs here on the island, but more than enough cats. Indonesia being a predominately Muslim country, call to prayer is also played over a loud speaker five times a day starting just before dawn. It is loud and can be heard throughout the island including your hotel room.

Just a few minutes walk from the hotel landed us at the best beach in town. This stretch of sand is where tours bring day trip snorkelers from other islands in to swim with the turtles. Needless to say, we didn’t book any day trips with this right at our fingertips. The girls were in awe, so excited daily to go and swim with the turtles. Each morning we would hit the paved walkways around noon to find some beach loungers with table and umbrella right close to the ocean. The loungers were free of charge providing you order food or drinks from them, so we would have lunch there. To save a little we would casually bring our own drinks in our beach bag rather than buying there.

Each and every morning I would head out for my island jog running along the beach and taking in some amazing views. I even stumbled upon some cows right there relaxing in the sand and watching the waves roll in. Some mornings, post nightly rain, there were quite the puddles to avoid making some of the narrow sections impassible.

While we could have rented bicycles, we were lazy and just enjoyed our week relaxing on the beach and walking the streets in the evenings.

There were more than enough places to choose from to eat. One block off the beach boasted the most affordable selections, but even the beachfront BBQ seafood restaurants with live music and breathtaking views were relatively affordable. The biggest problem we found with stepping away from the main road was the amount of mosquitos around. We tried to eat at one restaurant, had ordered the food, but ended up getting it to take away as Bexley was getting eaten alive. Another bonus to eating beachfront was a place for the girls to play while we waited for our food.

The day prior to leaving both Tyson and I weren’t feeling well, most likely from something we ate. The next morning rolled around and I consumed every medication I needed to get me through the travel day. Between the Gravol, Imodium and sea sickness pill, I was still feeling quite rough. Mix in no readily available bathroom and hot and humid weather along with dragging two kids and luggage around made for quite the day. The ferry was running one hour late in which there was no place to sit down so I struggled through on my feet. Once on the ferry I tried to nap, and I believe all four of us ended up with our eyes closed for part or all of the two hour speed boat ride. The transfer was already arranged for once we arrived in Padang Bai, but of course this did not go smoothly. Someone met us at the boat when we were getting off and directed us over to where he proceeded to try and upsell us to take a private taxi for an extra 300,000 IDR. We politely said no and said we wanted to take the already prearranged shuttle. Well, this went back and forth for about 15 minutes where he finally said we now missed the shuttle and the private taxi was our only option. At this point both girls were crying cause they were hot and hungry while I was barely standing and feeling terrible. Tyson and I stood our ground. I then reached out to the person that booked our tickets and things got straightened out within minutes, but not before a woman came running out from the company yelling at me as to why did I call my friend? A few words were exchanged and next thing we knew we were in a private taxi at no extra cost.

While Gili Trawangan has the reputation of party island, I wouldn’t call it that at all, but keep in mind we were there in January/rainy season. There weren’t a ton of people and while the music was playing right along the beach it didn’t really carry back to the hotels. We did have our fair share of rain while there but it never ruined our beach or pool time.

Next up, we caught the speed boat to Sanur. Be sure to follow along.

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