Surf & Luxury in Lombok and the Gili Islands
Still trying to come to terms with the beauty I had just experienced in Raja Ampat, I reluctantly mentally removed myself from paradise and set my sights on the next destination on the Trip of Wonders: Lombok & the Gili Islands
These are perhaps some of the most well known of Indonesian destinations for backpackers and holidaymakers, next to their more popular sister, Bali.
Staying at the Novotel, Lombok, I can firmly say that my impression of Lombok as a backpacker island was turned on its head. With its own private rugged beach and well placed swimming pools to laze away the afternoon until sunset, I relaxed, thinking that this was the perfect place to wind down after an incredible trip….
But I wasn’t being let off the hook yet!
It was time to get stuck into arguably Lombok’s most famous export, surfing!
Surfing like a pro! (well, almost...)
With a dramatic backdrop of hills and a clouded sky, we received a private surfing lesson on Selong Belanak beach, before being let loose on the waves. I had been surfing a few times before in Australia and in the UK, but never managed more than a few seconds of standing up before flopping back into the sea.
This was my moment to shine!
As the instructor prepared me for the incoming wave I set my gaze on the horizon and paddled my heart out. Before I knew it I was standing, and not just for a seconds, all the way back to the shore! I punched the air with my fists triumphant that I could now call myself a surfer. Aside from my obvious natural ability (maybe an exaggeration), I put my success down to a very patient instructor and Lombok having perfect conditions for beginner surfers.
Returning to the hotel exhausted and satisfied I felt that I deserved that sundowner cocktail that day.
Gili Chill & Karaoke Boat Party
And then it was on to our final destination, a 15 minute boat ride from Lombok we arrived at Gili Trawangan, the largest of the Gili islands.
The Gilis, especially Gili T, has a reputation for being backpacker islands and you can see why. The main strip of bars and restaurants are similar to those you would find in backpacker hubs in Thailand and elsewhere in South East Asia. You can book snorkel trips, dive trips, go free diving and even party until 3am at an Irish bar if you want to.
There is still quiet beauty that can be found on this tiny island though, as a mere 15 minute walk away from the main strip and you’ll find yourself on a deserted beach with only the open sea as your view.
I had been to Gili T before as a backpacker staying in a basic room in the main busy budget area. This was a very different experience. Staying at Gili’s Vila Ombak resort, I lounged in the luxury of my deluxe room with its own outside bathroom the size of a small apartment!
If you want to indulge in a bit of pampering there are plenty of spas on the island from budget to high end. If I had been there longer I definitely would have treated myself to a massage or two!
For me though the last night of the trip involved a boat party (much classier than a booze cruise I assure you.) Myself and fellow travelers (now friends) watched the sun go down over the Gili islands from the comfort of our own private boat. Looking around me I couldn't think of a more perfect end to a once in a lifetime trip.
And then the karaoke started, and I considered abandoning ship...
The final, final (and saddest) day came as we all boarded the two hour journey back to Bali and the airport. The sadness was comforted slightly by spending a night in the ultra modern, new Hotel Novotel Bali Ngurah Rai where we could have one last swim, and say our goodbyes.
Saying goodbye to Indonesia afer 2 weeks I felt a mixture of sadness and warm gratitude. It's not often in life you have experiences like this, and I know that this one will stay with me for a very long time.
More about this trip can be found following #TripofWonders #WonderfulIndonesia on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.
Rooms at the Novotel Lombok start at £91 per night
Surfing at Selong Belanak costs 350,000 (£22) per person
Rooms at Vila Ombak start at £70 per night
Private boat parties can be booked with Samba Cruise (prices depend on party size)
Rooms at Novotel Bali Ngurah Rai start at £50 per night
Travel tip shared by Tayana for Travel Dudes
This post was brought to you as a result of a trip, organized by the tourism board of Indonesia. Like always, Travel Dudes maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.