Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore anywhere near as much of Indonesia as I would have liked, but this just gives me a great excuse to go back. I followed the typical backpacker trail to the wonderful Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok, and I followed two friends to the perfect Nusa Lembongan off the coast of Bali. Two destinations I would highly recommend.
This small archipelago of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air makes for the perfect getaway to that idyllic island paradise you see on the postcards. Gili Trawangan is the largest, measuring 3km long and 2km wide, and the one that most people chose to stay on. Gili Air, the second biggest, has amazing snorkeling and diving off its east coast. Gili Meno, the middle island but also the smallest, has the best swimming beaches.
I stayed at a place called Rudy’s on Gili T, my own bungalow and a horde of ants for a good price, but we ended up moving to a much nicer place called Pesona with fantastic free breakfast. There are plenty of options here depending on your budget, from cheap beach shacks to luxury resorts. The food is great and the nightlife is relaxed but can get out of hand on special occasions. The island is small enough to explore on foot in a short time, and the beaches are lovely.
It’s worth booking yourself a snorkeling or diving tour but shop around to see what you get for your money. Twenty of us were packed onto a small glass-bottom boat to snorkel at a few spots off the coast of Gili Air and we stopped there for lunch, which makes you wish you stayed there instead of Gili T.
If you only have time to visit one island, make it Nusa Lembongan. It was so much better than the Gili Islands. It was more beautiful, better food, a nicer atmosphere, killer surf breaks, and beautiful sunsets.
Getting here from Kuta is easy, simply catch a bus to Sanur and catch a boat to Jungkut Batu, the best place on the island for accommodation and restaurants. You can catch a sketchy local boat for the cheapest option, the more touristy “local” boat with Perama costs a bit more, or the fast boats – the most expensive but nicest/fastest/safest option, but where’s the fun in that? I would recommend the second option, it’s much cheaper, more fun, and only takes an hour.
We stayed at the lovely Pacific Inn, an adorable hotel right on the waterfront with a little garden for sunbathing. We always ate breakfast at a waterfront (everything is on the water here) cafe called Lindas, they do amazing milkshakes.
If you venture away from the beach you’ll find cheaper spots to eat including a little shack that did some amazing spicy rice and meat wrapped in a banana leaf. A great place for dinner is Puri Nusa, you can watch the sunset right from your table right above the beach.
You can rent snorkels for a day and swim in the pristine waters off the coast, but be careful at high tide, the waves are powerful enough to destroy the wall that runs around the island.
If you want to explore more of the island you can easily walk across the island to Dream Beach, or cross the bridge to Nusa Ceningan, stopping for lunch in one of the resorts along the way and catching a moto-taxi back.
The island also has some world-class surf spots, such as the aptly named reef break of Lacerations. Ouch…
You can view the full album here.