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Chill Trip to Gili Islands

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I had reached my limit with work.

That’s pretty much how I ended up going on this trip with my companion. By early November 2019, I hadn’t explored much of Indonesia, not even a centimetre of Bali. If anything, this trip was going to offer only the tiniest peek into what the country was like—on the touristy side.

But it didn’t matter. I just needed a break. It took me a while to realize that the break I needed was quite different from a days-long escapade. However, for this time, it certainly helped to divert my mind from those worries and let myself belong to what felt like paradise, even though I arrived with a cold.

The Gili Islands are a group of three islands so tiny that no vehicle is needed to get around. They are essentially holiday islands, perfect for chilling or partying. We spent three days on Gili Trawangan, or Gili T., the largest island among them.

Where we stayed

We chose Golden Villa as our retreat, a tranquil accommodation nestled away from the hustle and bustle of the island’s perimeter. Ideally located in the heart of Gili T., it offered easy accessibility to all corners of the island. The villa boasts a classic Balinese style, exquisitely furnished, and to top it off, a refreshing small pool for us to cool down. It was the epitome of a perfect accommodation, and I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

Getting around

The only means of transportation on the islands are bicycles, horse carriages, and the occasional electric bikes that locals whiz around on. Opting to avoid the horse carriages due to concerns about the poor treatment of the animals, we found cycling to be a much more humane and enjoyable alternative, especially when we didn’t fancy walking all day under the sun, despite the island’s relatively small size. Our accommodation provided free bicycles, although they were in need of some maintenance.

While exploring the island on our bicycles, we stumbled upon captivating sights, from the intricate wood sculptures in the northern part to a charming tiny local village nestled in the heart of it.

Snorkelling for the first time

Snorkelling is a must in a paradise like the Gili Islands. Without booking a package in advance, we found numerous guides on Gili T. offering snorkelling alongside diving packages. Despite my inability to swim (yes, I have a weakness for water), snorkelling seemed like the perfect way to experience the ocean. Lifejacket? Check!

A typical snorkelling itinerary usually includes visits to the underwater statues, Turtle Point, encounters with garden fishes, and sometimes exploring a shipwreck. Though we skipped the latter, which was supposed to be covered. It was unfortunate to witness the impact of over-tourism on the coral reef, leading to its deterioration. Nevertheless, it was still fascinating to witness a turtle gracefully approaching us. I couldn’t help but wish I had brought a GoPro.

Between snorkeling sessions, we made a pitstop at the island of Gili Air for lunch. Although we didn’t venture too far beyond the strip of shops and restaurants, it already felt like a refreshing change of scenery from Gili T. From Gili Air, we could also catch a glimpse of Lombok!

Serene waters

The sand and water at Gili were an incredible colour! It was amusing how shallow it remained no matter how far we ventured. Yet, for someone like me who couldn’t swim, it felt like a godsend.

A movie on the beach

Experiencing a movie on the beach seemed like a quintessential Gili T activity that we couldn’t miss. We discovered three spots on the western side of the island where a large screen was set up, featuring selected movies projected in the evening after sunset. The cost of admission? At least one (expensive) drink. Opting for a less popular movie near the northern side of the island, we found ourselves the sole audience for the night. Ironically, the movie we ended up watching was ‘The Beach’—a classic Southeast Asian beach movie: check!

Despite the enchanting setting, we had to cover up with our beach towels as the mosquitoes were relentless. Even then, we weren’t spared a few bites, as expected in tropical places, even on a faraway island.


Once again, the western side of Gili T. proved renowned for its sunset. It’s also notably quieter than the lively eastern side. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to catch the sunset due to cloudy weather or arriving too late to see even a glimpse of the sun. Nevertheless, the emerging stars painted a beautiful night sky. It was a refreshing change for me, accustomed to city life devoid of stars due to light pollution.

The true vacation

This trip was initially planned to soothe my work-stressed soul, and three days and two nights on this island proved to be just the remedy. Most of our time was spent relaxing on the serene beach during the day. In the evening, we lay on our beach towels, gazing at the star-filled sky, and listening to the gentle waves. In my opinion, this laid-back vacation surpassed any hourly-filled itinerary, and I can confidently say I got the break I needed. It’s a true vacation, something I believe every working adult deserves.

Behind the trip

I’m Angie, a traveller, web developer and blogger behind A Head Full of Travel. I’m here to document my adventures through words and photography, kindling a love for life. You can trust that all content and advice shared here is genuine and from my own experiences.


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