Tired of having a vacation of hard partying and crowded spots in Bali? Try to move a little on the east side of Bali Island and you will find Bali’s nearest neighbor, Lombok Island.
Hang on, now move a bit on the northwest coast of Lombok, and you will have three small islands known as Gili Islands to extend your vacation in these small paradise islands. Gili Islands consist of three islands namely Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, where the original inhabitants of these islands are Sasak people.
The largest of these three is Gili Trawangan, the most popular destination for tourists all around the world. Gili Islands has been famous for its natural beauty especially the white sandy beaches and the sea. For those beachgoers looking for snorkeling or diving spot, you will not have a lack of choices while you are here.
Its location is pretty close to the equator thus the islands have a warm tropical climate with the wet and dry seasons, just like the rest of the islands in Indonesia. However, the scenic view of Mount Rinjani at the east of Lombok and Mount Agung to the west on Bali, making Gili Islands somehow sheltered.
More exciting fact about Gili Islands is that motorized vehicle is forbidden. Therefore, the only way to travel around the island is by walking or by horse-drawn carriage known as Cidomo. The islands are relatively small that you can circle the biggest island by walking for only 3 hours!
How to Get to Gili Islands
Gili Islands are relatively easy to reach because its location is close to Lombok Island. By plane, you can land in the new Lombok International Airport. After arriving in Lombok, you can cross to Gili Islands by fast boat services or slow boats. There are also direct boat services from Bali to Gili Islands.
1. Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan is one of the Gili Islands and is the largest island, the most popular and the most populous island among the three. Gili Trawangan could be your landing point if this is your first time going to Gili Islands.
A range of resorts, hotels, restaurants, and bars are scattered around the island. If you look for a secluded and more peaceful ambiance, go to the western shore which is perfect for couples and for your honeymoon.
The main beach near the harbor where boasts of nightlife style – if that’s what you’re looking for. The water of Gili Trawangan has excellent crystal blue water and you can enjoy it to your heart’s content by diving and snorkeling. Prepare to see the wonderful underwater scenery of corals, fishes, and even turtles swimming freely.
Regarding accommodation, you will find that the resorts, hotels and/or guesthouses near the beach are generally more expensive than the ones in the center of the island.
Not to worry about the diving equipment because all dive shops are to be found around the island. You can rent the equipment for half a day with reasonable price depending on the shop and lunch usually is not included. Also, keep in mind that the currents could be strong sometimes.
2. Gili Meno
Gili Meno, set in the middle of the Gili Islands offer a different vibe from Gili Trawangan. Located only a kilometer away from Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno’s atmosphere is rather quiet and calm, away from the hustle and bustle of Gili Trawangan. Popular for its natural attractions, it is suitable for resting and relaxing.
However, it doesn’t mean that you will have nothing to do in Gili Meno. On the contrary, the nature of this island will mesmerize you with the green scenery, fresh air, and serenity. Gili Meno Saltwater Lake should be on your top list. Only 10 minutes from the main boat docks, you will have magnificent sightseeing of the lake, while surrounding the lake is mangrove forest as the home of various species roaming around freely.
The Gili Meno Saltwater Lake and the surrounding area is known as Kawasan Ekowisata Mangrove Gili Meno (Gili Meno Mangrove Ecotourism Area). A shelter is also provided for resting and bird watching.
3. Gili Air
Gili Air is the closest island to Lombok, although the development here isn’t as rapid as Gili Trawangan. Gili Air is somewhat in the middle of Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. In Gili Air, the tourists will still find a close-knit local community. Gili Air is also acclaimed for scuba and various watersports.
Scuba diving on the east coast to see coral reefs and turtles, stand-up paddle boarding and kitesurfing are only a few activities you can do on this island. The accommodations are growing in Gili Air thus new resorts, cottages, and cafes are available here.