A big advantage to staying in Lombok is it’s proximity to the Gilli islands. From Bali, you’re looking at a 2 hour ferry ride but from Lombok it’s only 15-20 minutes by boat. We were able to hire a speed boat through our hotel to take us over to the largest (and most developed) of the islands, Gili Trawangan, for the day. You know those famous Instagram shots of the swings out at sea? They live here. So, we climbed aboard and sped across the sea to see what Gili T had to offer.
As the largest of the all the Gili islands, Gili T was also the busiest. I was surprised to find a buzzing hub of backpackers, bars, dive centres, and other day trippers weaving in and out of the dozens of pony drawn carts. There are no cars on the island- you either cycle, walk or hop onto a pony cart.
I feel like this is against all notions of exploration, but we used Google Maps to find our way over to the sea swings. In the midday heat, I was dismayed to find that we had to walk across the entire island to reach it. But hey, ADVENTURE. So a very long, hot, dusty walk it was.
A good half hour later, just as I was about to declare that we were lost, we spotted the ocean ahead of us once again. Gone were the crowds from where we started our trek. A total contrast to when we jumped off our boat.
Even the sea looked bluer, if that was even possible.
Drawn to a shipwrecked boat, it was there that we spotted the first of many swings.
From one swing to the next, we walked along the shore. It wasn’t busy at all- probably more to do with the time of day and the blazing midday sun- but to dip my feet in the turquoise water was…wonderful.
Right. Call it holiday brain or whatever, but neither of us had packed water or a towel. Hanger and thirst kicked in. We had agreed to meet our boat skipper at 1 o clock and we hadn’t stopped for lunch yet. As we were a good half hour walk away at least, we had to jump into a pony cart to get take us back to the other side of the island.
A very bumpy ride later, we hopped out and grabbed lunch.
Just before we were due to leave, we spotted a sea turtle hatchery and asked if we could stay for another half hour. You can’t miss it- it’s on the main beach.
It was teeny tiny- nothing more than a big patio with three large water tanks. One for the hatchlings, one for when they reach 8 weeks and then a third for when they ready to be released.
Fishermen are encouraged to sell the turtle eggs to the hatchery instead of the market. I felt sad- it was so tiny, and relied on donations to keep ticking along. All of the Gili islands do their part to respect and preserve the sea turtles, so if you are around, consider a donation.
Then, it was back to the boat to take us over to Lombok again.
We arrived back at Lombok, where our skipper insisted on buying us ice creams before we returned back to Puri Mas.
If I had any tips for Gili T, it would be…
Pack a towel (and water!)
Hire a bike (they are everywhere)
Go snorkelling – the sea is so clear and blue here
There are loads of dive centres if you are staying longer
The main beach is very busy with bars, backpackers, hostels etc but if you are seeking peace and quiet- head to the other side of the island.
Gili T is developing at a rapid rate; there was a lot of construction when we were there. Old shacks were being ripped down to make way for newer, modern buildings and businesses. If you are after a more rustic vibe, stay on the smaller Gili islands instead.
Alternatively- stay in Lombok! It’s just a short boat trip away.
Our sleepy island stay was coming to an end and we were due to depart for Bali the next day. Next up- Seminyak!