Leave the cars and paved roads behind, and come to a place where horse carts and snorkeling fins are the best way to get around. Gili Trawangan is in a string of islands off of Lombok, Indonesia and a world away. To embrace its charms and create a true getaway for family and friends, the founders of Gili Eco Villas built seven sustainable houses tucked away on the sunset side of the isle. It offers all the amenities of a hotel (full-service restaurant, pool, concierge, etc.) and home (kitchen, multiple bedrooms, balconies, and utter privacy). We stayed here three nights soaking up the island life and are counting the days until our return.
Our horse cart left the port, cutting through the jungle and coconut groves, and emerged at Gili Eco Villas beach-side retreat. We were shown under the bougainvillea arches to our two-story Joglos-style home.
We entered our open-air living room, looking out to the gardens and sea, and felt completely at home. The mix of modern and Indonesian decor was perfect with comfy rattan sofas, a teak dining area, and a full kitchen (plus, room service to indulge our laziness.)
The Gili Islands are sunny and warm most of the year (best months to visit are April-November) and the villas are designed to embrace the outdoors. To get to the second floor, the staircase runs along the outside of the house and onto a sweeping patio with two more bedrooms. Though each of the seven villas are different so you can find the style and size that suits you.
Spoiled for choice, we had both the Gili Eco Villas private beach and a shaded pool for swimming and relaxing. The pool pump is actually one of the only things that uses outside energy at this eco-friendly resort. They use wind and solar power wherever possible for minimal environmental impact.
When we saw these charming tables set up along the beach, we had to book a sunset dinner for two. Grilled prawns, fish curry, jasmine rice, and home-grown vegetables were a culinary delight. The fish was caught by local fisherman and Gili Eco Villas grows their own organic vegetables either in their garden or greenhouse for a wider selection of produce.
The next day we took out bikes (the only other form of island transport after horse cart and boat) and cycled the four-mile circumference of this tiny island. “Downtown” is a lively place with a mix of posh restaurants, beach bars, adventure outfitters, and funky shops which quickly fades to pristine beaches, jungle, and local villages.
The Gilis are known for excellent scuba diving and snorkeling. We took a boat trip out to the neighboring isle of Gili Meno and spotted sea turtles, lion fish, box fish, Nemos, and more along the coral reef.
Any bed would have looked amazing after a full day of activity but the fragrant flower petals and ocean breeze wafting through our window made it a slice of heaven.
Gili T is an up-and-coming destination with more people discovering Indonesia’s best kept secret. As it gains popularity, sustainability is key and accommodations like Gili Eco Villas are the type of place you want to enjoy and support to protect paradise.
Anne and Mike Howard are creators of the around-the-world honeymoon blog HoneyTrek.com and Long Term Travel Coaches for anyone looking to travel the world safely, affordably and off the beaten path. You can follow @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Mike and Anne Howard left on their honeymoon in 2012 and have been traveling the world ever since. HoneyTrek.com chronicles their adventures across 7 continents, 44 countries, and counting! Their writing, photography, and the story of the “World’s Longest Honeymoon” can also be found on Condé Nast Traveler, BBC Travel, The Knot, Los Angeles Times, CBS, and dozens of other international publications. Connect with @HoneyTrek on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.