No, I’m not talking about the mushroom islands of Palau and the magical underwater. It’s the sort of mushroom that is said to guarantee a ticket to heaven, or moon, or jail if you get caught with it. It’s a tiny ex-hippy island in Bali Sea that I’m talking about, Gili Trawangan.
Gili Islands, Air, Meno and Trawangan are located between Lombok and Bali. Trawangan is the most popular of them all. Its permanent population is around 800, most of the workforce comes from Lombok and other islands. Gili Trawangan used to be a back packer haven back in the 80ies with it’s cheap accomodation, beautiful beaches and the ease of access to numerous illegal drugs. Despite Indonesia’s strict rules about drugs, absence of a police force on these islands lead Trawangan become famous as a tropical junkie holiday destination. After 90’ies, bigger and more luxurious accomodation options came into the scene which brought some balance.
Gili Trawangan is a tiny, little island literally. There are no motorized vehicles and the only means of transportation are horse carts and bicycles. And you can always walk of course. It takes around 2 hours to walk around the island.
Most of the hotels and restaurants are located on the east-west of the island. There are lots of options from high quality restaurants to local food stalls. All of them offer delicious, fresh, scrumptious seafood. It’s wonderful to be able to sink your toes into white, tropical sand, eat great food and listen to live music at the same time.
We saw lots of dive centers on the island, more than magic mushroom sellers, which shows that the main attraction has become water sports rather than drugs now. Turqoise, clear waters are ideal for snorkelling, surfing and scuba diving.
Coral reefs have been severely destroyed in the past by illegal fishing. However, with the increasing focus on tourism, they’ve realised the importance of protecting their seas. Gili Eco Trust is a non-governmnental local organisation founded in 2000 and takes an active role in protecting the reefs, educating the locals, recycling garbage and a lot more on sustainable tourism.
Underwater life has not fully recovered from the damage yet, the reef life is not impressive compared to other parts of Indonesia. However, tropical waters are always full of surprises. We were fortunate enough to have some nice dives and a few good shots. And although there are better places for diving, we love the laid back, peaceful atmosphere of Gili Trawangan.