When Louise arrived on Gili Trawangan a couple of years ago, she said it was island porn. And when I arrived by fast boat and jumped out into the blue pristine water, I could hardly argue. Or could I?
Problems in Paradise
Over the last couple of years, many people have found out about the Gili Islands. Fast boats bring in tourists every few hours. And though the islands are still free of motorised transport, they have lost much of their charm. Gili T has become tourist packed and its main road is now filled with cheap BBQ restaurants and big sport bars. The locals refer to it as party island.
And you might wonder: ‘What’s wrong with a party island?’
The problem is that tourists are bringing in bigger problems.
If you cycle to the center of the island, you’ll find a huge garbage belt. Chances are that there are cows standing on top of it, looking for leftover food. And as tourism booms, the garbage belt just keeps growing and growing.
And then there’s the coral reef. A big part of it has been destroyed by boats or careless scuba divers. You now have to swim out quite far before you see beautiful corals or turtles.
So is there any paradise left in this former paradise?
Yes there is!
There are a few ecological alternatives that reduce the footprint you leave behind on the island.
One of them is the La Cocoteraie Ecolodge where you can go glamping and enjoy your stay in an ecological way but with the luxury and comfort of a boutique hotel.
La Cocoteraie supports the Gili Ecotrust foundation, who want to regenerate the coral reefs, and have a friendly local staff. The lodge has also been build with natural materials and respect for the environment.
I was given a luxuriously aircon equipped tent amidst a lavish flower garden. The tent had a big comfortable teak bed and an outside relax area with a bean bag. The bamboo open air bathroom only ran cold water but I found it really refreshing considering the temperatures here. There was also a large reservoir of drinking water installed in the room so we didn’t have to think about bringing along a bottle every night.
The ecolodge is located close to the sunset point of the island and far away from the party scene. Luckily they also rented out bicycles and provided for headlights so we could still find the place at night. Cycling back in the pitch dark was actually a lot of fun and a little exciting with all those coconut trees and cows along the way.
So for those who want to keep paradise a paradise: Head over to the Ecolodge!