Gili Asahan Eco Lodge
Going to Bali or Lombok? Then you probably already googled the Gili islands and discovered that Gili Trawangan is the Ibiza of South-East Asia, Gili Meno is packed with newlyweds and yoga retreats, and Gili Air is a cross between Meno and magic mushrooms. But why visit the overpriced and touristy Gili islands in the north when there are plenty of secret ones in the southwest?
Gili simply means "island" in Indonesian
The Gilis used to be a mandatory visit in terms of picturesque white beaches and car-free island life. People still travel there in search of paradise but, unfortunately, return home with sad stories about run-down tropical islands tainted in trash just like Bali and animal cruelty.
After reading lots of negative reviews about the Gilis in the north, I almost gave up the search for a tropical getaway. My boyfriend and I were longing for an affordable eco-friendly resort on a trash-free and secluded white beach with untouched corals. One day I randomly typed "Gili" and "eco-friendly resort" in Google search box, and stumbled upon this amazing-looking lodge on a secret island. Before even looking around on the website, I jumped to the conclusion that we could by no means afford staying there. But this place is everything we had in mind; the white sand, the coral reefs, the seclusion, the eco-friendliness... and the rates turned out to fit our budget perfectly! Reviews of the lodge even applauded the kitchen for its incredible food. We were tempted to make a reservation and I am glad it went through.
So I guess Gili Asahan Eco Lodge, on the largely uninhabited Gili Asahan in the southwest of Lombok, is this kind of secret that people wouldn't share with others in case it would become too popular and touristy. It's even unknown to the locals. I, however, need to share it with the world because it is such an amazing paradise that deserves recognition.
We slept in a Bale for four days, which is a beautiful outdoors bed with a roof and rattan blinds for some privacy. Initially, we wanted to stay in a bungalow but they were unavailable for our dates. Truth be told, we have insectophobia so we were quite anxious about the critters situation. Anyway, I'm happy we ended up in a Bale because it was a lot more private than imagined – even the insects didn't make it to the sheets. It was as if we were sleeping in the nature and it was romantic as hell. I miss the comfortable bed and I miss waking up to the cheery rooster sounds.
Four days were the right amount of days. I didn't even get bored (trust me, I get bored too easily). We arrived on December 31st and didn't leave the area until our departure. We just slept, hung out on the beach, which is literally a stone's throw from the bed, read Sacks and Houellebecq, ate three fantastic meals a day, and watched the beautiful sunset. And repeat. Sometimes we also rented snorkeling gear and kayaks for free. And the wi-fi is only available in the dining area, which is nice if you prefer to be offline most of the day. Gili Asahan Eco Lodge also provides guests sarongs so you don't have to stuff your luggage with towels.
Our Bale had shared bathrooms but we didn't really see anyone else using the bathrooms during our stay. And they were so clean and cute. The water was cold and salty, just as expected on a secluded island. And oh my god, the food there is amazing and probably some of the best Italian eats I've ever had, which is not strange at all as the owner is Italian and her dad taught the kitchen staff all the best Italian recipes. You have to order your meals two hours in advance Gili Asahan is all about slow life. The complimentary drinking water comes in recyclable glass bottles. Even the straws are made out of glass so you can enjoy a young coconut without feeling guilty about the environment. I loved starting the day with the best fruit platter for breakfast and we didn't get food poisoning from eating fruits we didn't peel ourselves.
If the timing is perfect and you're lucky, you get to pick up new baby turtles which the lodge feed and take care of or release them when they're big enough. They also offer boat trips to other Gilis nearby for snorkelling and exploring but the coral reefs around the island is nice for first-timers like me.
Yani, who runs the Eco Lodge, took very good care of us before and during our stay. She helped us with all kinds of questions, concerns, and she booked the transportation with a speed boat company from Bali for us. The transportation to Gili Asahan was uncomplicated and comfortable (I usually get seasick but not this time). And it was nice to see that Yani and her family are living the island life full-time. Thank you Yani for the hospitality and for opening the lodge.
Gili Asahan was such a beautiful and unique experience – a place I would love to visit again for its food, scenery, and atmosphere. So luxurious yet affordable. But the best part of Gili Asahan Eco Lodge is all the stories you get to hear!