SHE took a side trip after our latest Bali adventure to the beautiful Gili Islands. This tiny little dot in the ocean between Bali and Lombok is about as laid back as you could hope for. SHE visited the islands almost 12 months ago, loved it and decided to sneak back for 4 days in April. SHE was once again reminded of a tropical island when life was much simpler...not unlike 'Gillligan's Island' in fact. It's everything you hope to find when you escape for a few days to a deserted island...it's just not deserted! And somehow, that's a good thing. SHE's pleased to report nothing much has changed here - there are still no cars, no motorbikes, no taxis beeping their horns. The only traffic jam SHE encountered was the horse and carts waiting to transfer arriving visitors and their luggage to the hotels. After a week in Bali, all this was a very welcome change! Transport to the island is via fast ferry services departing Bali, speedboat from Lombok (a 10 minute dash across the ocean), or mix it up with the locals and take one of the ferries that shuttle anything and everything across the water each day (also departing Lombok and not for the faint hearted! ). SHE took the Gili Cat from Padang Bai on the east coast of Bali and once again found it comfortable, safe and reliable.
Accommodation options abound on Gili Trawangan, or 'Gili T' as its affectionately known. It's a backpackers' paradise - rooms can be found from $20 a night with the basics (really basic, minus hot water, often salt water). There are a heap of options around $80 - $100 a night, but do check for the fresh water option (and a swimming pool does come in handy!). At the 'business class' end of the island there are a number of upmarket hotels for those who left the backpacking days well behind. SHE decided to splash out and treat the ladies to arguably one of the best options - kokomo. SHE snapped up a 2 bedroom villa at kokomo for well under the price of a 5 star hotel room in Bali's fashionable Seminyak. Lovely large bedrooms with their own ensuites, an open plan living area dividing the bedrooms, and a perfectly sized plunge pool with a day bed tucked away in the corner for an afternoon snooze. It was quiet, beautifully appointed with the bonus option of either 24 hour room service or meals served in the restaurant on the beach.
And what a view from that restaurant! SHE had leisurely breakfasts here each morning, with the bonus of very good coffee. There were just the right number of lounges to accommodate the guests, lined up within a few steps of the very white beach and azure blue ocean. Seriously stunning.
If snorkelling or scuba diving is your thing - get yourself to the Gili Islands quick smart. Masks and fins are for hire along the beach for around $5 a day - get your gear on, leave your lounge chair behind, and snorkel straight off the beach. Visibility is excellent, and the underwater world is still alive and well. Diving is first rate so SHE's told by her diving mates: the reputable Manta Dive was a favourite.
At the end of a long lazy day SHE headed for the Beach House restaurant - the freshest seafood on display each night sourced locally. SHE was spoilt for choice - snapper, tuna, maybe prawns, calamari or lobster - it's cooked and accompanied by a simple salad bar. SHE loved it so much SHE was there every night!
If it's some nightlife you're after - and let's face it, there's only so many quiet nights you want on a holiday - head straight for the Irish Bar. Wednesdays is the night to party here - SHE found stools at the bar and was happily entertained by the local bartenders and their cocktail making skills. Manta Dive claims another weeknight - maybe an 80's disco or even a rave party. There's no curfews, no neighbours to wreck the party; you can go all night if that's your thing! Maybe sleep it off by the pool the next day...
SHE loves this glimpse at how simple life can be, should be, or maybe could be. Its a reminder about the way we live our lives and what's ultimately important to us. If you want to escape - truly - then Gilligan's Island is a serious option. And the tips: pack light, book a room before you get there, and get there before the word gets out!