Uncovering the “Secret Gili’s” through a visit to Gili Asahan Eco Lodge and Restaurant
In less than three hours from Bali, you can discover another kind of paradise. The cluster of thirteen islands located off the south west coast of Lombok is perhaps not as popular as its neighbouring sister, the Gili Trawangan. Yet, its natural beauty is clearly visible as soon as I step down from the boat on the tranquil shore of Gili Asahan. Deserted white sand beach, calm azure waters, and photogenic swaying palms are all part of the package of staying at one of the island’s accommodation, Gili Asahan Eco Lodge & Restaurant.
Located on the south side of Gili Asahan, the eco lodge was discovered by the owner 17 years ago as a holiday getaway for the family. The simplicity of sleeping in a bungalow, using open- air bathroom, fishing for dinner right from the ocean, and enjoying the simple things in life were theirs until the family decided to build a lodge and share the experience with others. The remains of that simple life are still visible in its current reincarnation as an eco-lodge. Built from recycled wood and driftwoods with grass roofing, the accommodations options are made of two choices: open air hut with bamboo blinds or sea view bungalows. The entire area is powered by solar panels and generator, but who needs electricity when you can gaze at the starry sky and dancing by the bonfire at night?
The fact that it is not an exclusive resort, entirely separated from the village life, is another thing that I find charming. Curious children, farmers, and fishermen are some of the highlights of my stay – even more so, when later, I find out that the delicious tuna that I ate for lunch was just recently caught nearby. A special warning about the dining option here: it is seriously good. It is so good until privately owned yachts from the surrounding area are constantly stopping by for lunch at Nautilus, the lodge’s restaurant. In a surprising twist, the rustic beachside restaurant serves authentic Italian cuisines. Its fridge is the entire ocean. Think freshly caught octopus for your carpaccio or a juicy lobster on your spaghetti all’aragosta. After stuffing myself silly, I bring my fins and snorkelling mask and just jump into the water right in the front of the lodge. The vibrant underwater life engulfs me with its stunning reefs and cute inhabitants. It feels a bit like I have the island for myself since there are so few people there. For the more adventurous soul, an island hopping, diving, or kayaking trip is available upon request. A renown surfing spot called Desert Point is nearby and a boat trip can be arranged to get there. Exploring the island on foot is also possible due to its small 5km circumference.
I spend the rest of the day doing, well, not very much. It is a holiday in the purest sense. Later on, I push myself to visit the yoga shala on top of the hill behind the lodge. Viewing the almost 360-degree vista of the neighbouring gilis and the deep blue sea is an experience that I will remember for a long time to come. Then, there is a seafood barbeque by the beach for dinner and afterwards, a bonfire is lit. Musical guests are shyly stepping forward and contribute their hidden talents to entertain the rest of us. Above us, the moon and the stars are glowing. If this is how it feels to be a castaway, then I do not mind the slightest bit.
Gili Asahan, Lombok,
Nusa Tenggara Barat
T: +62 813 3960 4779