Ah, the Gili’s. Three paradise islands in the midst of the Bali sea, around 60km speed boat ride from Bali. Each one of those islands are different: Gili Trawangan is a party island where mainly young people go to try magic mushrooms and drink beer in a nightly beach party. Then there is Gili Air, the “main” Gili island where families as well as young people designate their holiday. Last but not least, there is Gili Meno, the quiet island outside the mass tourism. I suggested Gili Islands to Joe after seeing pictures of absolutely amazing Gili beaches on Instagram. We chose to spend a fortnight on two out of three islands, leaving Gili T out (guess why…).
Gili Meno was gorgeous and quiet(er). We chose this island to be our first simply because we enjoy finding spots on the beach with a good distance to other people, haha! It was a tad busier than I thought it would be, but I still fell in love with it. As I’m a vegetarian and avoid spicy food, it was a pleasant surprise to find lots of vegetarian options in all of the few restaurants on the island. Another reason for our stay was the turtle sanctuary the locals had set up to save baby turtles by keeping them there for 1 year before releasing them in the sea. We went to see these babbies twice a day, and Joe even gave the sanctuary some donations towards their feeding ❤. Because of this sanctuary and general realisation that turtles are endangered has been a reason for some restaurants to stop serving plastic bottles and plastic straws on the island. A group called The Trash Heroes organises a weekly plastic clean up which we also attended. It’s vital to understand how bloody unnecessary throwing rubbish on the ground and the use of plastic (straws, especially) is, so my dear readers: DON’T THROW RUBBISH ON THE GROUND. Focus on your use of plastic. Please!
The beaches on Meno were great, though very corally (as on every Gili island) so we decided to buy some convenient sea sandals from the only local shop and they turned out to be great for snorkelling throughout our two weeks stay on the islands. And boy, did we snorkel! We saw thousands of tropical fish and a huge, beautiful old turtle nibbling some grass whilst we were floating in the peaceful sea. That is the best thing to do on any of the islands, snorkel or even learn to dive – if you got the guts!
Favourite restaurant: Biru Meno (vegetarian friendly)
Although Meno was superb, in the end I personally preferred Gili Air. Being bigger and busier, Gili Air offers a lot more to do. Instead of just a couple of places to eat, it has many beach bars and even some fine dining options right on the beach. I lost count on how many inviting restaurants we passed during our one week stay and so we didn’t even manage to go to all of them! What also made Air quite cool was that some restaurants on the beach did cinema nights, including a drink and some popcorn (just 6E per peson) and I absolutely loved it! I had so much fun on the buzzing island, snorkelling with more turtles and reading a good book in the shade. What also made it great was that I had a pizza almost every night because wood oven pizza is a huge thing on Air! I’m still full of all that delicious pizza!
Favourite restaurant: Biba (vegetarian friendly)
TO GET TO THE GILI’S
I’d rather not talk about this, I still get post-traumatic stress-waves… But I do want to share my experience so I have no other choice. In order to get to the Gili Islands you need to take a fast boat from Bali, which lasts about an hour and a half. Most of these boats are unsafe and overcrowded with people, and some of them have also sinked. We paid around 80E pp to get a safe boat there and back, the company we used is called Bluewater Express. I must say, the boat was great as well as the staff. What wasn’t that great though, was the sea. Imagine travelling via a small fast-boat on an open sea, where the waves are surf-like! It. Was. Horrendous. My travel sickness is worse than an average person has, and since backpacking I though I’d gotten pretty good with it. I can spend hours on a bus nowadays without feeling poorly at all, and so I didn’t even think travelling via boat would be bad. But my god, it was terrifying. The boat was nearly flying in the air, bouncing mentally from the waves. I ended up having a panic-attack and taking two strong tablets, provided by the Bluewater Express staff. When the tablets kicked in, I basically felt high because I was so phlegmatic. I asked for some more tablets for the ride back, and that’s how I survived it a little bit better. I will write a post about how to deal with travel sickness, because I want to help people like myself!