gili trawangan is the largest of three small and fairly undeveloped islands off the west coast of lombok. gili trawangan is the most developed of the gili islands and was made popular by all night beach parties. the island has no motorized vehicles so people get around by foot, bicycle or horse-cart; and you can pretty much get around the entire island in less than hour.
we stayed at an incredible villa called hari puri, at the southern end of the main strip of restaurants, bars and lodging. the perfect location really, close enough to the action, yet still quiet and not in the thick of it. the villa has 5 bedrooms, four open-air bathrooms, and easily sleeps 10-14 people. apart from the bedrooms the entire villa is open, with along deck lining side facing the beach. the deck has two sitting areas, plus a long table in the center. there are also three single room guesthouses behind the villas, perfect for a couple.
the groundskeeper, nans, is incredibly sweet. he had the fridge stocked with beer and drinks for us when we arrived. sets up an incredible breakfast spread with french press coffee, tea, fruit, and eggs or crepes to order. he did all the coordinating for us to go snorkeling, rent bikes, and horse-carts. and if you give him a day’s notice he’ll cook you grilled fish, satay, gado-gado and other indonesian staples for dinner.
at low tide the beach is quite rocky and full of coral but there are tons of hotels around the island that have pools. we stumbled upon the ombak sunset hotel, on the west side of the island, and spent hours in the pool enjoying happy hour and watching the sunset! the island also has a sea turtle hatchery where you can go look at the baby turtles.
you can get to the gilis easily from bali by fast boat. there is no shortage of companies, just be sure to do your research and make sure they’re not overfilling the boats and have life jackets for everyone. we went with an australian company called blue water express and had a great experience.
its my goal to get back here to celebrate my 30th!
i decided to do this hike the second i saw my brother’s photos from his trip. it should say something that the images alone convinced me. located in central bali, gunung batur is one of several active volcanoes on the island. the hike involves a 2am wake-up call to start the hike at 4am. you arrive at the top in time to watch the sunrise, above the clouds, with a view of another volcano (of course!)
hiking in the dark you have little sense of where you are, but once you clear the clouds you literally feel like you can touch the stars. halfway through the hike there is a temple where the guides make offerings and pray (its believed by the balinese to be a holy mountain). from there you can see a trail of flashlights up ahead, straight up the side of the volcano. no switchbacks here, its a scramble to the top.
the thing nobody mentions is that hiking up a volcano in the pitch black at 4am is slightly terrifying. the guides were holding our hands and practically dragging us up the mountain half the time (talk about an exercise in trust!) its all worth it though once you get to the top and see the view. it made me understand childbirth: you forget how horrible it is once its over. i’ve definitely never been happier to see daylight.
we took an alternate route back down and explored the different calderas and peaks of the volcano. definitely take your guide up on an offer to explore on your way down, there’s even monkey’s hanging around.
the hike takes two hours each way, with lots of breaks. we booked the trip from our hotel so they coordinated a car for us, booked our guide and took care of the fees. you can also book your own car and get a guide when you arrive at the base of the volcano, and they’ll usually have flashlights you can use. you’re kinda forced into using a guide, and after doing the hike i understand why. be sure to bring snacks, water and layers (its chilly at the top!) there are snacks and refreshments available at the top as well, and if you bring uncooked eggs the guides will cook them for you on the steam from the volcano.
this is one of those life changing experiences that is almost too incredible to explain. if ever you get this opportunity, take it (or go out of your way to make it happen!)
spent our last morning in bali rafting on the ayung river near ubud. its about a two hour trip down the river and there are spots to get out and swim, buy beers, sodas, coconuts. you can swim under a mini waterfall and stand under a huge waterfall. at one point there are beautiful stone carvings along a big length of river depicting the story of the ramayana. our guide said they’d been working on it for 15 years and it still isn’t finished. it wasn’t a super intense or extreme trip but definitely fun!
“a true balinese experience,” ayung river rafting
US$50 each, includes lunch, hotel pick-up/drop-off, and lunch. its mostly class 1 and 2+ rapids so a fun trip for anyone. our guide was awesome and there were even showers, changing rooms and towels at the end. (this is the river that runs at the base of the valley that alila ubud is perched atop)
padang padang beach is located in the south of bali on the bukit peninsula, near uluwatu. the small beach sits below a bridge, and is accessed by stairs carved into the cliff (its pretty incredible actually!) its known for surfing, but the surf is far enough out and the shore is protected by coral so the beach great for swimming. during low tide you can explore further down the beach around the rocks and into some of the fun little caves along the water.
there are several little warungs (small family owned restaurants/shops) on the beach and i had easily the best nasi goreng (fried rice) of the trip at one them. you can also get beers, jaffles (pressed sandwiches), rent beach umbrellas, surf boards, or buy a sarong.
we got lucky and missed the start of the annual rip curl surf competition by a day. overall its a peaceful beach and definitely worth checking out.
tables on the beach. fresh seafood – you pick it, they grill it. tons of bintang. sweet or spicy grilled corn. the biggest prawns you’ve ever seen. whole grilled fish. crab. and you leave smelling like a full on bonfire.
this has been our go-to spot on the packed restaurant lined beach front. food is always good and you can call to have them book a table for a big (read: 20 people) group. and no matter how much you eat and how much bintang you drink, its still cheap!
jl. four seasons hotel
muaya beach, jimbaran, bali
this place is always packed with indonesians, which seems like a good thing to me since its an indonesian restaurant. this is my go to place for solid indonesian food when i’m in bali. i always get the nasi campur special (rice with various meats, veggies and sauces) cause i get a little taste of everything and don’t have to pick just one dish! there’s also a vegetarian nasi campur that the gf greatly enjoyed. and of course, we can’t forget a bintang on the side to help cut some of that spice!
jl raya seminyak / jl. raya basangkasa