Fabulous Lombok and Gili Islands, Beach Vacation Indonesia

Our latest guest blogger, Mona, writes about her charming beach vacation to Lombok and Gili Islands in Indonesia:

The lovely Kuta beach in Lombok

The lovely Kuta beach in Lombok

So my husband and I finally went on our long-awaited Southeast Asian beach vacation! We chose Indonesia, mostly because of the picturesque beaches, but also because it’s quite cheap. We mainly toured southern Lombok and the famous Gili Islands. We arrived at Bali International airport and took a connecting flight to Lombok. When we arrived, Travablue arranged for a reliable chauffer to drive us to Kuta, our first Indonesian beach destination.

Kuta, Lombok should not be confused with Kuta, Bali. The only thing these two beaches have in common is the name. There were no tourist crowds hogging the long stretches of Lombok Kuta’s creamy-white sand, unlike in Bali Kuta. The locals were friendly, and, though there weren’t as many vendors as in Bali, some of them were really annoying.  Kuta, Lombok is probably what Bali was before the crass commercialization. Prices are much more affordable in Lombok. We stayed near the beach at a tropical chic resort that wasn’t overtly expensive.

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The sunset seen from the tranquil Mawun Beach

My husband and I spent most of our time walking and sunbathing on the beach. Kuta is really for surfing, not swimming. As neither of us are surfers, we actually had an excuse to be real beach bums. All we did was stroll along the feather-soft sandy stretch, stuff ourselves with unbelievably cheap food (a whole plate of rice, veggies and spit-roast pork can be purchased for less than a dollar) and enjoy the scenery, such as local farmers herding water buffalo. We also saw a local man washing a horse in the beautiful blue water—a scene that definitely made our day.

A craftswoman weaving in a traditional Sasak village

A craftswoman weaving in a traditional Sasak village

On our second day, we drove about 45 minutes to the Mawun Beach. Mawun is a gem of a beach hidden away from the main tourist areas that looks as if it appeared straight out of a postcard. The crescent-shaped bay is surrounded by panoramic mountain ranges. Pristine water flows into the bay through a gap between two verdant hillocks. The ivory-white beach sand was powder fine. I dipped my feet in the crystal-clear water not sure whether I was dreaming. I could tell my husband was happy; he didn’t waste much time before running towards the ocean for a long swim.

We must have swum for hours because it left us both really hungry. After a generous lunch of Nasi Goreng rice, our chauffer took us to tour a traditional village of the indigenous Sasak people. First thing we noticed when we arrived at the village were the houses that had elephant-grass roofs and walls made with intricately woven coconut leaves. Colorful textiles were hung on the sides of many of them. We met with several wonderful Sasaks (with our chauffer translating), who told us that their tribe’s been on Lombok for over 5,000 years. Wow!

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Our horse-drawn cidomo carriage that took us around Gili Trawangan

The following day, we were driven to Bangsal harbor for a boat ride to Gili Trawangan, one of the Gili Islands. There are three: Gili T, Gili Air and Gili Meno. The Gilis are a well-known spot on the Banana Pancake Trail we’ve wanted to visit since forever. Gili T is the largest of the islands and we were worried that it would be noisy, overcrowded and overtly commercialized. Surprisingly, that was not the case. Gili T is so small we walked around the whole island in like an hour. The island is promoting eco-tourism so we saw less of McDonalds and more of tranquil tropical beaches. Most of the infrastructure here are just small beach hotels and restaurants. The Gili islands have also banned all motor vehicles so we got the pleasure of traveling by a small, horse-drawn carriage called a cidomo.

We spent three days at Gili T in utter bliss. We went snorkeling through incredible coral reefs and saw unbelievably beautiful fish (some even glowed). We took a scuba diving lesson, something Gili T is quite famous for. My husband had never gone diving before, but after trying a beginner’s lesson at Gili T, now he’s training for an open water diving license! We swam a lot in the clear-blue water and sunbathed on the blindingly-white beaches. All in all, it was the paradise beach vacation we’ve always dreamt of.

A final snapshot of the captivating Kuta beach right before we left

A final snapshot of the captivating Kuta beach right before we left

We stopped by Kuta again on our way to Bali for the departure flight. We had about two days that we spent swimming some more, eating at seaside restaurants (chocolate salami!) and strolling even more along the beach.  Both of us were well tanned and completely happy when we boarded our departure flight. Well, thank you Indonesia for giving us such a cherished  Beach Vacation.