Indonesian Island Hopping – Part 1 – Gili Trawangan

Quest: Can I reach Gili T from Lombok Airport at 7PM?

When arriving in Indonesia, my first concern was whether I could reach Gili Trawangan when I land at 7PM to Lombok airport. The public boats stop about 4PM. I had a phone number of a private boat captain but wasn’t sure what do I say. It was pouring rain when we landed.

I was considering staying in Lombok for the night despite my hotel being booked since I wasn’t sure if I could get to Gili T. I was roaming around the airport arrivals hall when a taxi driver approached me offering his services. His English was good, and he promised he could get me to Gili T because he has a friend who is a boat captain. After a bit of price negotiation and hesitation, I’ve entered his car. We’ve agreed upon 600,000IDR ($45) for the entire trip – which I later found out was a reasonable price in these conditions.

The pier was located about 1.5 drive from the airport. We arrived around 9PM, and stopped near something I could not identify – looking like huts or garages. 2 other guys were there and I handed them the money, hoping that’s the only thing I’ll hand them.

We boarded the boat… Which was a bit of a challenge because it was parked to another boat, parked to another and another and another boat. That means walking from boat to boat, in the rain. Thankfully, the guys helped me with the luggage.

The sea was really rough and bumpy, which I enjoyed like a kid. They dropped me off in the middle of the island, and to the surprise of the hotel manager, I arrived about 10PM.

Gili Trawangan – First Impressions

Gili T is a very small island with just over 6km circumference and can be walked around within over the hour. The main Gili road is full of bars, restaurants, shops and hotels. ATMs are plentiful too.

Mopeds are not allowed on the island and horse carriages along with bicycles are used as a primary means of transportation. My hotel (Island Beach Bungalow, I can recommend it!) has kindly provided me with a free bicycle and having combined it with a head torch (this is a necessity on poorly lit streets) and a complete lack of navigations skills, I could get lost quicker.

The northern part of the island is owned by the government and has no hotels. The beach is covered with less posh bars where one can have a beer, some cocktails or something.

People are very friendly and chatty. At my hotel, the manager took care that I’m eating properly, enquired about my plans for the day, and met my requests. One day, I’ve lost the lock from the bicycle and they told me not to worry, issuing a new one with no questions asked.

On the last night, I went to a local reggae bar. There were 4 or so tourists and the rest of the guys were local. They’d leave a bucket of beer on the table and one would pay in the end, which is very convenient. I’ve enjoyed that bar, playing guitars and percussion and singing.

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Diving and Snorkelling at Gili T

I’ve tried snorkelling in the northern part of the island, and it was really nice! I saw several sea turtles, a swordfish, a moray eel and many ‘usual’ tropical fish. The water is beautiful and very clear.

Gili T has a lot of dive shops – I’ve heard it’s around 70. The price of a fun dive is 490K ($36), compared to about a 1000Baht ($30) in Thailand. I walked around a few schools and chose the one that was very relaxed, getting a private dive. Myself, 2 instructors and some boat crew boarded the boat, and we went to the location I’ve chosen (Coral Fan Garden). The diving experience itself was much more relaxing than in Thailand. I could go in front or behind the instructors, they didn’t mind stopping or going faster. The dive lasted almost an hour despite going to 29meters. We saw some sharks and several turtles. The boat has been following us and picked us up where we surfaced, with no need of a surface swim. I really enjoyed it and will do this again.

 

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