Island Life with Plenty of Sand, Turquoise Surf, and lots of Boats
Round 4 on the amazingly beautiful, slightly crazy, epic party fest called Gili Trawangan.
If you're into crystal clear water, welcoming locals, wild foreigners, and an island vibe that'll leave you breathless, you *need* to check this place out. The Gili Islands are renowned for their amazing surf, mind-bending dive, mouth-watering seafood, and unreal scenery. Gili Trawangan is often regarded as the party scene, while Gili Air is relaxation central, and Gili Meno is the peaceful, silent getaway island that a lot of people tend to miss.
The most memorable moment from my time on the islands was not the consistently perfect weather, the bikini clad babes, the delicious food, or even the electrifying energy - it was the welcoming locals.
I feel a bitter sweet connection to the island, and I find it difficult to explain why. On one hand, I love that the locals are able to build businesses that cater to the thousands of visitors who come through their islands. On the other hand, it's heart breaking that those same services that locals are offering to visitors, are sometimes out of reach for their own community. The Gili Islands are undergoing a whole lot of development, and becoming more and more of a luxury resort destination rather than the chilled out, minimalist island vibe I experienced during my first few visits. Regardless, there are still lots of ways to enjoy the islands for everything they are while supporting the locals who help make it all possible.
Work Hard, Play Harder
The islands are slightly more expensive than what you'll come to expect from Bali, Lombok, and Java, but holy shit is it ever a wild ride. Seafood everywhere, along with smoothies, smiling faces, amazing energy, and an overture of gently crashing waves. Contrary to what I thought, I found it incredibly encouraging to be productive because I loved the environment. There were distractions all over the place but I made it work, and I was proud of myself for being able to enjoy such a beautiful place while maintaining a (mostly) respectable level of productivity. By the time I finished up what I needed to, it was play time, and what a great place to play it is.
Looking to surf? Great, because you'll love it. The water was active without being vicious, so as a beginner, I was able to ride the waves without feeling like I was out of my league. In speaking with more experienced surfers, they often said it wasn't the best spot to surf but that they loved being out on the water.
Next up, diving. Go beyond the surface and explore the ocean's wildlife - it's incredibly eye-opening to witness some of the sea's most amazing creatures. Massive schools of fish, awesome turtles, friendly(ish) looking sharks, awe-inspiring mantas, and the infinite depth of the ocean are all in the spotlight. The night dives are a showcase of an entirely different side of the ocean, and let's say that seeing is believing. There's something even more alien about the ocean at night, and the creatures that come out play are so amazingly weird, unique, and interesting that it's hard to believe. I still find myself in complete shock at the thought that there is a whole other world in our ocean, and while I was certainly aware of it before, experiencing it changed my perspective entirely.
For anyone less comfortable with diving, you owe it to yourself to try out snorkeling. Jump in with a life vest and get a taste for what's so amazing about the ocean, and enjoy some pretty cool underwater statues too.
For more on the Gili Islands, stay tuned - I'll share more soon.