There’s More to See Than Bali: Gili Trawangan & Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

Gili T: Hedonistic & Hippy
The Nusas: Serene & almost-Unspoiled

These 2 islands off the coast of Bali couldn’t have been more different.

I thought I would prefer Gili Trawangan, and didn’t originally plan to go to the Nusas. But I’m so glad I ended up going.

I wanted to have a beach experience after Ubud, but didn’t want to overpay in the touristy Kuta or Seminyak areas (#brokebackpackerlife). Some teacher friends had recommended the Gilis (there are a few islands to choose from), particularly suggesting I go to Gili Trawangan for a good time. It was easily and cheaply done through a bus transfer from Ubud to Padangbai, then a fastboat to Gili T.

Interestingly, despite all the effort I went through to get to Gili T and Nusa L, my favorite beach in Indonesia was Blue Lagoon Beach in Padangbai. Oh well. 🙂

Gili T was a backpacker’s heaven: hostels, raging parties, and a population of almost exclusively tourists under 25. Problem being, I was on a backpacker’s budget, but am not really about that backpacker life lol. It was fun for a night, and I did get my party on, but it wasn’t really my vibe overall. I generally found it pretty grungy, and having been spoiled by Bangkok’s hostels I was seriously underwhelmed with the options on the island. It is also very small, so last-minute hotel rooms were not available.

Plus, the tides were dramatic–usually very far out–making the beaches beautiful, but too shallow and rocky to comfortably enjoy.

I did enjoy the small section of the island where locals lived, with small farms, livestock, and a communal open feel. When I ventured to that area (you could easily walk the whole island in an hour or two), I was always greeted warmly. Brown skinned tourists are rare, and I was often approached with friendly curiosity.

But overall, I wasn’t a fan! I barely took any photos I was so unimpressed lol. Ended up cutting my trip short at 3 days, and took another ferry to Nusa Lembongan.

Nusa Lembongan was the complete opposite of Gili T: resorts here and there, but primarily a fishing community with much less tourist disruption. Cars are few on the narrow and steep roads, so motorbikes get you from point A to point B and make for some memorable drives.

The vibe was slow and relaxed, which was much needed after my trip to Gili Trawangan.

And, the ocean was swimmable!

It’s the little things. 🙂


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