Get Away From It All On Gili Trawangan
Bali is a destination of choice for travellers from all over the globe, keen to experience the laid-back lifestyle, immerse themselves in Indonesian culture and enjoy the pleasures of relaxing on some of the world’s most beautiful palm-fringed beaches. The problem with visiting somewhere so popular, however, is that you are not alone. It may be beautiful, but Bali is also very, very busy, so why not head somewhere the crowds have not yet discovered instead?
The Gili archipelago is a trio of three small islands nestled in the Bali Sea, just off the coastline of neighbouring Lombok. Known as Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan, the latter is the largest of the three and provides the perfect mix of beach, watersports and parties until dawn.
With all forms of motorized transport banned from the roads in favour of bicycles and the odd horse and cart, stepping onto the islands is like stepping back in time – with the benefits of some 21st-century mod cons of course. Travelling on foot is no hardship however, with each island stretching just a mile or two from one sandy shoreline to the other.
Dive enthusiasts will delight in Gili Trawangan, which boasts a myriad of marine life from white-tip sharks and eagle rays to a whole host of brightly coloured tropical fish species. There are several PADI accredited dive schools on the island offering courses at very competitive rates for all levels of diver, from beginner to master. The many shore dives make this the perfect place to find your dive legs, while boats provide access to a wide range of sites off shore, with drift dives a unique speciality of the area. If you prefer to enjoy your days out of the water, charter a boat and sunbathe on deck as you go island hopping for the day between the archipelago, or simply stay put and relax on the powder white sands and watch the world drift slowly by.
Gili Trawangan may be laid back by day, but it certainly comes alive at night. It earned itself a reputation as something of a party island as long ago as 1980, and while its night scene has become conspicuously more sophisticated in recent years, this is not at the expense of its simple tropical island charms. Much of the entertainment is centred around the many beach cafes and bars. Here you can enjoy Indonesian favourites alongside more international fare before turning up the tempo and dancing the night away until dawn.
Of the three islands in the archipelago, Gili Trawangan offers the most choice when it comes to accommodation. Advance booking is advised, especially in high season, but with some forward planning it is possible to find something for every budget, from backpacker to luxury. High season on the islands is generally from April to October, but the like many parts of South East Asia, the Indonesian islands enjoy a moderate climate that make them a sunny alternative to the not-so-Great British weather just about any day of the year.