Gili Trawangan is by far the most popular of the trio of tiny islands that make up the gorgeous Gilis located to the east of Bali in Indonesia.
An island famed for its lively, party atmosphere, chilled out vibe, sensational scuba spots and of course its crimson sunsets, its no surprise that Gili T remains the top of most peoples Indonesian itinerary and continues to attract travelers from far and wide.
There is nothing quite like the golden glow of a Gili sunset as the sun bathes the powdery sands and sweeps the shallow shores. Whether you are enjoying the day’s end from a beachfront BBQ restaurant, or from the comfort of a lounger, cold Bintang in hand overlooking the Java sea, the sunset is not to be missed.
While there are a number of ways to enjoy the sunsets on Gili Trawangan, the most famous has to be the Trawangan sea swings. Cast into the bedrock, rustic looking trunks of wood act as the perfect frame for both the swing and your photograph.
We’re all too familiar with the picture perfect Instagram shots strewn across our social media feeds of these exact spots, but being the adventurous souls we claim to be, we found ourselves on the hunt for another viewing point.
Having set foot back on the island having dived in the afternoon at the aptly named dive spot Shark Point, we couldn’t have timed it better to begin our search for sundown. Renting two bicycles in the late afternoon for around $3 each we chased the sunset to the West of the island.
Careering through the isle we were greeted by children as we passed through local communities, gawped at travelers and locals bonding over a game of football as we passed the football pitch and followed the beaten path past the burning rubbish heap, laden with livestock foraging for food. No doubt they were seeking out the waste from the catch of the day! Everyone on this path is heading for the same place, the sea swings, but as usual we weren’t content with following the crowd.
Just before you meet the main strip that runs parallel to the shore, you’ll notice on your right hand side a perimeter fence running around the islands lighthouse. Those with a particular sense of awareness will also notice that the gate is in fact open. If this isn’t an invitation to the best seats in the house for sunset then we don’t know what is, well that’s how we tend to look at it anyway. No need to RSVP here, we were in!
Staring toward the top of the platform, some 200 steps up we were about to embark on an adventure all in itself. As if diving with sharks wasn’t enough adrenaline for one day! Strapping a plastic bag of Bintang beers to our waists, we ditched the sandals and climbed the ladder rungs barefoot, only stopping at each podium for breath.
Access to the platform is easy and there is plenty of room to hoist yourself from the last step into the viewing deck. If you are not already breathless from the climb, you sure as hell will be from these heights and with these views!
From this point you are able to get a 360 degree, almost birds eye view of all three Gili islands for as far as the eye can see. Gazing over Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air toward Lombok in one direction and all the way to Mount Agung on Bali in the other, this view is something special.
We paced around the lighthouse deck for a good ten minutes, taking the views in from all directions and almost forgot we were here to be seated for the main attraction, the sunset.
Popping a beer and with a glint in our eyes as the sun downed, we sat on the platform and felt the sun soak our skin. In all of the chaos below, the chatter of friends, the clucking of animals, the beats from the beach clubs and the whaling of the mosque, it was so peaceful to watch island life unfold from up here. This is an observation deck after all! All was still, serene and sensational.
It is moments of perspective like this that brings us unrivalled joy in finding off the beaten path trails and landmarks, such as the one we experienced that night on Gili Trawangan.
As the island becomes ever more popular year upon year, it becomes increasingly difficult to find secret spots that are off the beaten path. So, go get those Instagram sea swing shots, go sip on a cocktail from the beach bars and watch the sun go down from a seafront restaurant, but whatever you do, don’t forget that you are only ever meters away from one of the best viewing platforms in Indonesia!
About the Authors: Charlie and Charlotte are the wanderlusting couple behind TheWanderLovers.com. They have swapped their city life in London for an action packed journey across the globe. Hand in hand, they’re taking on one country at a time and creating a life they don’t wish to escape from! Through their couple’s travel and lifestyle blog they hope to inspire future travellers that anything is possible if you just buy that one way ticket … One Life. One Love. Live. Follow the journey on Instagram, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube.