Seventeen thousand islands. Many hundreds of stunning hostels. Lounges, meditation retreats, remote work hideouts. Indonesia is the experience you make it; it is your story to write. Let’s have a look at some chapters that cannot be left out:
The first thing that comes to mind when Indonesia is mentioned, is of course the wonderful island of Bali. There is something alluring about this traveler’s epicenter. Maybe it’s yoga, maybe the meditation, it could also be the throngs of young travelers banding together in search of adventure on these distant shores. There is no denying it, Bali is fun, the celebrations, the people, the food, the magical atmosphere, but just over the not so distant horizon, there is a set of triplet islands that cannot be missed: The Gili Islands. This group of islands is tropical, enchanting, and exciting. Each Gili has its own magic to offer and you will fall in love with these islands.
Easily accessed by ferry from Padang Bai Bali to Gili Trawangan Island Lombok, what awaits you on this gem are stunning beaches, incredible food right on the beach (the typical BBQ Seafood is to die for), reggae joints, snorkeling, and diving. Gili Trawangan is a slice of paradise in the middle of the ocean. Spread all over the island are cheap food stands where one can eat local cuisine, drink the famous Bintang beer (or the coconut water for the healthy lifestylers) and see firsthand how these incredible dishes are made. Sample the things you like in the day, but be ready for a big binge at the Trawangan Night Market as you barter with the friendly locals over the delicacies you have not yet tried.
Snorkeling and Diving need to be done in the “Turtle capital of the world,” so go for a sightseeing tour of the marine sights and wonders in these crystal-clear waters. Not everything on this island is eating and diving, beautiful sunsets on the beach are a daily feature and the atmospheric bars and lounges are an unbeatable way to end off a day in paradise.
A short boat trip from Gili Trawangan, Gili Air is the quieter version of Trawangan. There are just enough bars to make it interesting for those looking to go out and the perfect number of beautiful viewpoints and little restaurants for those in search of a quieter, more intimate stay.
Gili Air has incredible snorkeling and scuba diving conditions, but if you are done diving and snorkeling then definitely try out the local cooking classes. Indonesian food is tasty, delicious, and beautifully presented. After all those weeks of eating it, give a go at making it.
Your evenings in Gili Air should be spent on the beach enjoying the live music and mind-blowing sunset over the turquoise water. Most people come to Gili Air and end up staying longer than they intended to. If you have more time on your hands than you planned, take a bike and explore the beautiful island, every corner is picturesque and every landscape surreal. You literally want to get lost there.
Gili Meno is the baby of the three Gilis, nested in between the two other islands. Smallest in size, it is traditional and romantic, more frequented by the laid-back and quieter travelers. The shoreline is magnificent, the water sparkles and everything on this serene quiet island is magical. Most of the accommodation is strung out in a lazy line on the beach, allowing a fair amount of privacy and gives one the feeling that they are somehow lucky enough to be alone in this Garden of Eden.
Gili Meno has a salt lake and Mangrove forest in the central part of the island. This forest is inhabited by beautiful birds and it is definitely worthwhile to take a walk through the green trees and get in touch with nature’s peaceful silence.
Another attraction on the island is snorkeling in search of the green turtles. Since Gili Meno is less popular than the other two Gilis, the turtles here are more numerous and can be spotted all over the shoreline as you snorkel. One absolute highlight is BASK Nest, the famous underground sculptures designed by world renowned sculptor and environmentalist Jason Decaires Taylor are a sight to behold. You can’t miss them as they are just a short swim from the eastern coast of Meno. Sunset and sunrise are both exquisite on this island and neither should be missed.
The Gili islands are microscopic examples of how incredible Indonesia is. There is so much to see, so many places to discover and even more to get lost in. Get on the next plane and go watch the sunset in Indonesia. It is the best gift you can ever give yourself.