White sandy beaches. Tropical coral reefs. Warm inviting waters. All this awaits you on the Gili islands. And with no cars, no motorbikes and no distractions other than beautiful tropical island scenery, the Gili islands off the northwest coast of Lombok are truly an ideal destination for a tropical getaway.
Offering spectacular reefs and ominous dive sites like Shark reef, the Gili islands are the perfect escape for anyone wanting to get away to beautiful, natural and relaxing surrounds. This is why these islands have become a popular destination for Western tourists looking for a remote island experience.
For divers and snorkelers, there are few places better than the Gili’s where you can get up close to all kinds of marine life including a green turtle (Chelonia mydas) in all its glory. Swim up and watch this graceful creature glide through the ocean. You should be able to spot these turtles at depths of 10-20 meter below sea level.
The Gilis consist of three islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. In local Sasak language, “Gili” means “island”. In the Indonesian language, plural is denoted by repeating a noun. So “Gili Gili” literally means “islands”.
Renowned for friendly locals and superb natural beauty, each of the island’s are well prepared for tourists. Gili Trawangan is the largest and most popular of the three islands. It has a vibrant nightlife to keep you entertained once the sun goes down. With a wide collection of restaurants and bars, you’ll never be short of entertainment here.
If you’re after a quiet getaway, try Gili Meno or Gili Air. Gili Air is closest to the mainland and is the most populated of the Gili’s. Gili Meno is the smallest island and, with only a few hundred permanent residents, it has the most remote feel to it.
The Gili islands are easily reached by speedboat from Senggigi, taking only some 20 minutes boat ride. Many tourists also travel direct to Gili Trawangan by ferry that leaves Bali daily from Serangan or Padang Bai.
Travel on the islands are only by bike or “cidomo” the small horse-drawn carts taking 3 persons per ride. No motorized vehicles are allowed here.
There are plenty of hotels and restaurants built in keeping with the island’s homely village atmosphere.
Among some of the restaurants and places to eat at Gili-Gili Islands, here is an alternative you can try:
Toto & Peppino (Italian Food)
Now that the three Gilis are internationally known for their underwater splendors and amazing ridge of rocks, there’ve been more lines of hotels, resorts and restaurants from the south to north of the Gili-Gili, Lombok. Cafés and bungalows also become easier to find.
Currently there are more than 100 accommodations situated in the area. Mostly at the northern part. Some are even international-scale hotels.Prices range from Rp 400,000 per room at the simpler hotels to Rp. 1,7 million per night for a cottage at the more upscale establishments.
Discover the beauty of underwater life and snorkel in the blue corals. This kind of coral can only be found in the Gili Islands and the Caribbean Sea. Explore Turtle Point on Gili Meno for your best chance of seeing a sea turtle. Snorkel equipment can be rented at any of the diving spots nearby or on the beach itself. Take the plunge and dive in Meno Wall’s diving spots at Gili Trawangan. At depths of 18-20 meter divers you’ll meet with white pit sharks, manta rays and turtles. The bright marine life and coral here will take your breath away. Explore Wreck Point, around 500 meters from Mentigi beach where, at 43 meters below the surface, you’ll discover the remains of sunken ship full of ridge of rocks.
Need a break from all that diving? Why not just relax on the beach and soak up some rays in the tropical Indonesian sun. Dance up a storm at a full moon party. These are held on the southern part of Gili Trawangan. Here DJ’s will spin tracks of house, dance and techno until dawn.
Cars and motorbikes are prohibited on the Gili’s giving each island a very peaceful atmosphere.
The best way to get around and explore the islands is by bike. You can rent a bike and take a ride and look at the spectacular views of the tropical landscape.
A horse-drawn carriage or cidomo is another popular way to get around for both locals and visitors. A tour around Gili Trawangan in a cidomo for three costs around Rp 150,000, taking around half an hour.
When you want to stretch your legs there’s nothing quite like taking a leisurely stroll around the island.
If you want to travel between the Gili’s you can also hire a motorized boat.
Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are easily reached by speedboat from Senggigi. Speedboats with a capacity for 10 passengers can be chartered at between Rp 800,000 to Rp 1 million two ways. Travel time is around 20 minutes. There are also regular passenger boats from Senggigi harbour, tickets cost Rp 10,000 per pax.
There are also regular fast ferries from Bali direct to Gili Trawangan, departing Serangan at 08.00 am and 10,00 am, and daily from Padang Bai, leaving at 11.15.
There are many tour and travel operators in Lombok.
Enjoying the beauty of the underwater world at the Gili’s is not always cheap so when you plan your holiday make sure you budget for the cost of hiring a diving instructor and equipment.
During peak season (June-August) the Gili’s are fully booked so it’s best to make your reservations at least four months in advance.