Bali off the Beaten Track
Images of desert islands, fringed by white-sandy beaches and coconut palms, floating in a turquoise sea are not at the forefront of your mind when contemplating Bali – but the Gili sister islands off the coast of Lombok mirror more exotic, exclusive and expensive places like the Maldives – without the hefty price tag.
The Gili islands have significant attraction in the current environment of travel adventures that are a little bit off the beaten track – and provide a more peaceful reprieve from some of the other touristy places in Bali. Here in lesser-known parts of Indonesia, there is a peacefulness that seems to eke from the mangroves and shallow turquoise waters. Infrastructure also seems to be developing at a slower pace with urban invasion more tasteful and less intrusive.
The three sister islands each has its own special character – Trawangan (universally known as Gili T) is the most cosmopolitan. With its upmarket accommodation and restaurants, it leans more to the chic tropical getaway.
Gili Air has more of a laid-back Asian holiday style. Gili Meno provides the idyllic desert-island sojourn in a truly rustic setting. Gili Trawangan ranks favourably alongside Bali and Borobudur as one of Indonesia’s top destinations. Trawangan’s main street consists of lots of bikes, tourists and a glitzy facade – but pull back the curtain and travel to the backstreets and discover authentic food stalls and relaxed live music retreats.
There are some larger-scale resorts beginning to emerge here but the majority of the island is still mostly pristine coastline – head just a little inland to discover peaceful, untouched villages. Gili T was ‘discovered’ about 50 years ago – with its white-sandy beaches and coral reefs, it was known as a tropical party island for a little while but diving seems to have emerged as this island’s major drawcard.
There is great snorkelling from anywhere on the island – even right from the ‘main strip’ – a narrow, sandy lane with a few bamboo bungalows and some little restaurants.
This post originally appeared on Flight Centre AU. Written by Tara Young.