How much the island has changed in 10 years. When I first set foot on Gili Trawangan, it was 2008 and I was at the beginning of a big adventure, travelling throughout all of Southeast Asia and Africa. There was little on the island for tourists, and that was probably the appeal for many. Back then the island experience was very spartan. The only cash machine never worked, the only internet cafe had 2 computers that were so slow and you had to patiently wait to check your hotmail, sometimes only to find you had no emails. There were only a handful of dive centres, getting good coffee was near impossible, as was getting decent western food. Luxury accommodation was not available. The path around the island was entirely dirt or sand. It was so peaceful, maybe a little too isolated for me though.
I’ve come back to visit a few times, I love to dive in the area as there is a wonderful thriving dive community here.
Fast forward to 2019 and this island has developed so much so that it now offers something for everyone. Motorised transport is still non-existent, the main mode of transport is walking, cycling or taking a ride in a Chidomo (traditional horse & cart).
The party scene in the evenings on the east coast does not reflect the mood of the entire island. Cycle or walk just a couple streets inland and you have beautiful tranquility, which is what I love the island for.
Gili Trawangan is now one of the most instagram-able holiday destinations.
Follow me at @christine.wehrmeier to see daily life on the island.
A visit to to the island now includes all the luxuries we’ve become accustomed to in the west and you can literally pick and mix the experience you would like to have. There are plenty of cash machines, free WIFI is available widely, 4G phone signals are excellent, there are several medical centres, lots of spas where you can get a good massage, coffee options now include artisanal selections, there are several yoga centres, accommodation ranges from budget hostels to luxury resorts and the food choice is excellent. In fact, the longer I stay here, the more vegetarian I become, simply because the vegan selections are so tasty. But you can also get authentic Italian, Indian, Sunday Roasts, Thai food, local Indonesian street food and everything in between.
This island also now has a large selection of dive centres, most of whom belong to the Gili Indah Dive Alliance, who by their own definition “are committed to ensuring safe diving practices and quality service in the Gilis, while promoting environmental and social sustainability.”
This is possibly one of the best places to learn to scuba dive, because you have a great selection of professional dive schools, a diverse range of dive sites where you can see marine life such as turtles, sharks and tropical fish. And the best thing is that you can combine it with a great lifestyle.
My tip if you decide to visit it to give yourself plenty of time here. Spend a week and not less. So many people come for a quick few days and leave in a rush, not having had the relaxed island experience at all. And really do be ready to relax, because that’s what this island does best.