If you’re backpacking in Bali and you want to escape the chaotic traffic and motorbikes, the Gili Islands offer the perfect island escape. Located just off the island of Lombok to the east of Bali, the Gili Islands boast white sandy beaches and some incredible snorkelling opportunities. For information on how to get to the Gili Islands, see my previous post ‘Getting to the Gili Islands‘.
The most popular island in the Gilis is Gili Trewangan, which is definitely the more ‘happening’ of the islands. Stepping onto Gili Trewangan is like going back in time; since there is no motorized transport on the island, you’ll see horses pulling carts and children riding bicycles. You can rent a bike for the day, take a horse and cart ride or simply do the 2 hour walk around the circumference of the island.
Gili Trewangan has one main street with restaurants, bars and accommodation ranging from small boutique hotels to budget homestays. It is possible to rock-up without a booking and negotiate a price for accommodation in one of the homestays. It’s a little more expensive than Bali, but you can still get some great budget accommodation.
Days on Gili Trawangan are spent lounging on the white sandy beaches and doing nothing. You can also rent a snorkel and go swimming over the coral reef to spot some colourful fish and sea turtles.
If it’s not a sunny day, or you’re too hungover to lie in the sun, I highly recommend watching a movie at ‘Beautiful Life’. It seriously is the best thing ever- you get to lie on a bed on the beach and choose a movie from their collection. They give you a ‘menu’ of movies, you pick one and they put it on your TV for you. You can order food and drink as well, so you literally never have to leave the bed.
By night there are lots of great restaurants serving delicious seafood and the bars get really lively, so it’s easy to stay out till 4am drinking beers and meeting other backpackers. Gili Trawangan is definitely the ‘party’ island out of the three Gili islands, so if you want somewhere with lots going on, this is the one to visit.