The largest of the three islands, Gili Trawangan attracts the majority of visitors, it is around thirty minutes boat ride from the northwest mainland of Lombok and regular daily fast boats depart Bali directly to Trawangan island and all boats stop off at Teluk Nare on mainland Lombok as part of the return journey.
The beaches of the Gilis are still powdery white, the water a beautiful clear blue and they are positioned perfectly for sunsets over Bali’s Mt Agung and sunrise over Lombok’s Mt Rinjani. Thirty years ago the Gili islands were uninhabited and only discovered by the seafaring Bugis people from Sulawesi. It was only a matter of time before the more adventurous backpacker types discovered the islands and developed Trawangan into a hippy party paradise destination.
Gili Trawangan now identifies itself as a great holiday destination suitable for families of all ages. Various new hotels, luxury villas, and boutique bungalows now cater to children and offer good value. Some have baby-sitting services, and with lots of activities on the islands families are sure to enjoy their beach holidays to the full.
Unique to the Gilis all forms of motorised transport are still not allowed – meaning the only way to get around is on foot, by bicycle and in pony carts known as Cidomos.
One sign of change is the recent introduction four ATM machines on the three Gili Trawangan to be found at Hotel Vila Ombak and Coral Beach.
It’s possible to follow the beach around the perimeter of the island in around two hours on foot. The most popular stretches of beaches are `Goodheart’ (the main stretch) and `North Beach’ where the best snorkelling is to be found.
All dive centres and many shack operations lining the beaches rent snorkelling equipment for around IDR 50,000 for half a day.
Hawkers are not so much of an issue on Gili Trawangan as in Bali; you’re likely to attract afriendly conversation from the locals rather than a hardcore sales pitch.
Beware of strong currents and do not attempt to swim between any of the islands.
With over twenty-five dive sites surrounding all three islands there are opportunities to dive any of the Gilis regardless of where you base yourself.
Most visitors stay on Gili Trawangan for the facilities and make the short hop out to the dive sites. Each dive school has its own fleet of traditional outrigger boats that ferry divers offshore to the walls and reefs where the best diving is to be found.
Aside from the obvious lure of snorkelling and diving, sunbathing and bar-hopping, Gili Trawangan has a fair amount of distractions to keep visitors both amused and entertained throughout the course of their stay.
Fishing trips and charters can be made with the local outrigger fishing boats who offer day trips with line fishing and trawling.
The Bio Rock is an environmental initiative set up by the Gili Eco Trust that over the last six years has hosted an annual Bio Rock workshop on Gili Trawangan. The artificial metal reef cages are fed a constant voltage of electricity to encourage coral regeneration and are a natural attraction for all forms of marine life. There are now thirty three individual projects in the Gilis and it’s possible to snorkel or dive around them and there’s even a PADI specialty course tailored to educate and involve a wider community.
THINGS TO DO –
Golf Trips to mainland Lombok and the very picturesque Lombok Kosaido Golf and Country Club are highly recommended. Suitable for all abilities this trip is a must as golfers arrive at hole four by speedboat where they are collected by a buggy and driven to the clubhouse prior to tee off. The course structure and landscaping makes for a relaxed golfing experience, neither too challenging nor too demanding.
Next door to the golf course is Hotel Tugu Lombok, perfect for a post-golf round of drinks before heading back to the islands by boat.
Horse Riding with the boys at the Stud Stables, is a great way to see the whole of the island. The perimeter of
Gili Trawangan can be walked along the beach and Stud Stables have experienced and professional guides. Even though the routes are very relaxed and not at all challenging the horse rides are suited to more practiced riders.
Karma Kayak is the perfect way to combine sports with nature. Full training and a practice session with a qualified NKB/BCU instructor is given prior to embarking on a paddle across the channel to neighbouring Gili Meno for a picnic lunch.
A good way to round off a beach day is to catch sunset at `North Beach’ with jugs of Sangria and fresh Tapas and BBQs.