Gili Islands – Turquoise monsoon Paradise

Paradise scenery, white lovely beaches, turquoise tempered waters, Nemo underwater world, free WiFi, tasty food and the best cocktail’s money can buy.

Walking along the beaches surrounding Gili Trawangan on day one I was amazed to find miles of empty beach bars, all beautifully designed and build from eco- friendly bamboo. The beaches in front of the bars were drizzled with sun seekers wedging on beanbags under colorful umbrellas. I got the answer to why the bars was huge and empty after hearing some rumble in the distance. Suddenly clouds rolled in and shower from above-sprayed everybody as they ran for cover in the giant bamboo roofed bar. From nowhere 20 waiters appeared, serving the 72 seats full house (yes, I counted the seats). Lunch and drinks were served to everyone seeking shelter from the monsoon. 30 minutes later the rain stopped and the sun was back, drying the ground within 10 minutes. Everybody went back to the beach and the bar made a nice profit from the natural phenomena called monsoon.

I decided to have a cosmopolitan and open my computer at the Oval Beach Bar. The WiFi was free, a bit slow, but working. Blogging from paradise sometimes includes a refreshing monsoon shower, obviously. I decided to stick around for the sunset.

The Gili Islands arches of the north- west coast of Lombok Indonesia. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three Islands and 30 years ago the seafarers from Sulawesi was the only ones visiting the Islands. Today Trawangan is the party Island, attracting hordes of backpackers and world travelers for happy hour around the clock. Every other bar has live music and you can find food from all the world’s kitchens. Trawangan has a night market packed with Indonesian street food that tastes lovely and is a must try when visiting the Island.

The two other- more quiet Islands are called Gilli Air and Gilli Meno. No type of motorized transport is allowed on the Gillis so bicycles and horse and carriage called Cidomos is the main transportation around the islands if you don’t like using your feet. This is a lovely break from the craziness of driving in Bali.

The Gilis is also the turtle capital of the world, and whether you desire to get the PADI dive certificate or just want to snorkel the coral reefs around the Islands, you will see the turtles, along with hordes of beautiful coloured fish, white and black nosed sharks and mantas as you nose down in the clear turquoise tempered waters.

I tried a snorkel around all three Islands on a one-day trip that they sell at every activity agent on the East Coast of Gili Trawangan. I have snorkeled the Caribbean and the Red Sea, but that doesn’t come close to this underwater world. Really a colorful tempered once in a lifetime experience to see the giant turtles in their natural environment.

If you are in the Gilis and decide to stay on one island (recommended if you carry a suitcase instead of a backpack), you need to do a day or two of island hopping with a daypack. I recommend a stay in Gili Trawangan to have yoga in the sunset on the beach and super evenings in the lively bars and restaurants, but spend a day snorkeling and visiting the two other islands on a three island in one- day trip, like I did. You will pay 150.000 Rupiah if you buy directly or 200.000 if you by through one of the agents.

If you want more time on every Island, head to Gili Meno for snorkeling, and to visit the turtle sanctuary. There you can buy and release a turtle baby ready to grow up in its right element. The sanctuary uses the money for food, care, and vaccines to make sure the sea turtles don’t go extinct. Meno means lake in the Indonesian language. This Island got its name because of the lake on the island that attracts migratory birds and is home to tropical feathered creatures and the giant monitor lizard. I was hoping to see the lizards but no luck this time. The public boats leave for Meno at about 9:30 in the morning and is the budget alternative, costing you about Rp23 000 one way. They don’t leave very often so if you are a group of people you could be better of chartering a boat for about 190 000 Rupiah one way. There is a lot of travel agents charging the commission for the ferries but if you buy your ticket at the harbor office there is no commission fee.

Gili Air is a more quiet and smaller version of Trawangan and you can walk around it in one hour. Air means water in Indonesia, and the Island got this name because there is fresh water surfacing on the Island.

The average temperature in the waters is between 27 and 30 degrees celsius, and the air temperature averages between 27 – 35 C. Today the water and the air was about 30 degrees celsius, but a bit windy. Cooling off today means a dip in the ocean and let the wind cool your wet body, then dip again.

During my stay, I tried different coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. They all had free WiFi that worked, but a little slow. I ended up using the computer for writing and checking mail, and my cell – with Indonesian sim card to surf. The combination worked perfectly. They sell Indonesian sim- cards several places on Gili Trawangan. A 4 GB sim is Rp100.000, that is about 62,-NOK or 8 USD or 7 Euro. My 4 GB lasted 3 weeks of extensive use. The friendly staff in the store will set it up for you.


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