After learning about the Gili Islands from our handy Lonely Planet guidebook, we knew we had to take a trip there. It was just a short (fast) boat ride away from Bali and sounded like it was well worth the visit. Turns out it was so impressive, we extended our stay!
Since arriving in Indonesia, we have learned to “fly by the seat of our pants” and not plan out every future stop in advance. We arrived in Bali with a hotel booked until March 8th and that was it. We knew we wanted to go to Gili Islands after that, so we spent some time researching fast boats to take us that direction. The day before leaving Bali, we booked our round trip (aka return) tickets with Gili Getaways. They would take us to Gili Trawangan, or more widely known as Gili T (the largest of the Gili Islands, and also the furthest west) and drop us there. We just had to find a place to stay.
We opted to stay at Le Pirate, a cute hotel on the northwest coast of Gili T. The photos and Tripadvisor reviews won us over. We would have our own little “beach box” on the property, complete with outdoor bathroom. We decided to stay 4 nights and see what this island was all about.
Researching Gili T in more detail taught us that the island had great snorkeling, amazing beaches, a big party scene and fantastic food… all at a very reasonable rate. While we are not (late night) party people, the rest certainly appealed to us. Luckily, Le Pirate was on the quiet side of the island and would be an ideal fit for our early-ish bedtimes.
Gili Getaways provided us with a fantastic trip between Bali and Gili T (with a few small sunburns on Kerry) and safely dropped us off a the main part of the island. We grabbed lunch, some cash and also snorkels. We already owned masks for scuba diving, but decided to invest in our own snorkels so we could swim out from the shore anytime we wanted. Little did we know, this was a great investment and they would come in very handy.
We flagged down a cidomo (aka horse and cart) and hopped on for a ride to our hotel. It was a bumpy, friendly experience where we laughed, waved to locals, wondered if our bags would get horse poop on them and also held on tight. It was quite the experience and yet probably one of the safest transportation methods that we would see for a while, knowing where all we are headed to in the coming months!
The staff at Le Pirate greeted us with smiling faces and showed us to our room, complete with AC and an oscillating fan. Jackpot! We settled in, snapped some photos of the adorable room and then started to scope out the property. The grounds of this place are super cute and brightly colored, with a great restaurant on site and even better beach. We were so beat from the long boat ride in the heat that we took a long nap before dinner, then made big plans for the next morning!
The next few days were spent with the following routine:
- Sleep in (until around 7am)
- Work out (thanks to a quick routine we downloaded a couple of years ago)
- Free breakfast
- Sunscreen application
- 2-3 hour self-guided (aka FREE) snorkeling trip
- More sunscreen
- Beach time
- Lunch on the beach
- Nap/quiet/research time
- Bintangs & sunset
It didn’t take us long to realize we needed to extend our stay. Gili Getaways easily changed our return trip to Bali and Le Pirate happily moved us to another room so we could stay longer. A 4 night stay on Gili T was successfully extended to 6 nights! We would like to give a huge shout out to Le Pirate Beach Club for being an incredible home for us on this adorable island. We may be partial, but we think the location, staff, accommodation and proximity to incredible free snorkeling (a quick 100 meter swim out to the reef), makes this place a no-brainer when deciding where to stay on Gili Trawangan.
We have to take a moment to try to explain how incredible the snorkeling is on Gili T. We originally hoped to snorkel (because we had researched that it was great here and we knew we could do it for free right near our hotel), but also had thought about scuba diving here if the snorkeling wasn’t allowing us to see incredible sea life.
Our very first snorkel outing had us pinching ourselves and coming up out of the water every few minutes with sheer excitement on our faces and talking to each other about how this was without a doubt the coolest snorkeling either of us had ever done! We would then stick our heads back in the water and see more amazing sights. We have seen more fish than we even thought possible, and every single kind imaginable. Every color of fish under the sun, small fish, GIGANTIC fish (like, we seriously saw the largest fish that we had ever seen…easily larger than one of us for sure!!), long skinny fish with beaks, Nemo fish, clownfish, the list goes on and on.
We were also blessed to be able to see lots of sea turtles! We had heard that the spot just north of the Le Pirate beach was good for seeing turtles, and it did NOT disappoint. We saw a turtle or 2 or 3 pretty much every time we went out. They also seemed to (for the most part) like the attention we were giving them. If we spotted them on the bottom of the sea floor (sometimes 10-15 meters depth), we would just follow along in the direction they were swimming and they would eventually come up and surface right near us. We were able to get some incredible shots with the GoPro when this happened. We coined the term #turtlestalking after our first turtle and never turned back. We apparently are great at stalking because nearly every snorkeling trip was successful!
On our second day, we were even blessed enough to get a glimpse of a shark!! It was a day with less visibility in the water and when we spotted the shark, it was about 30 meters away from us (or so) and we immediately squealed above the surface out of excitement! By the time we put our heads back down into the water to get another view, we had only a few more seconds to see it, as the shark had decided that it was time to get away from us crazy humans, and swam off into the depths of the ocean floor and faded out of view.
Another time, we were swimming along near a large group of snorkelers (that had paid for their outing) and noticed a turtle coming up from the bottom right after the slew of people. We had a laugh that the other snorkelers had no idea, as none of them were looking around as they swam, they just had their heads down and were following in a line. We swam along with the turtle for a while, when low and behold, the turtle led us right to a HUGE moray eel!! We saw a similar eel while scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, but only the top half of that one was visible since it was in some coral. This one was swimming around on the bottom of the sea and it was gigantic and it was awesome!! We are totally grossed out by eels, yet SO excited and intrigued every time we luck into seeing one. And of course we like to compare them to Ursala’s eels from The Little Mermaid…one of our favorite Disney films of all time.
We have had such a great time on this beautiful island. We have enjoyed spectacular sunsets, scenic snorkeling sessions, worked on our tans, and discovered some scrumptious food during our stay here on Gili T. We are sad to move on from here, but REALLY excited for this coming week…epic adventures await us!
~Kerry & Jenny