Gili Islands

Photo © Mikey B

Travel Guide Lesser Sunda Islands Lombok Gili Islands

edit

Introduction

Lombok dawn

Lombok dawn

© All Rights Reserved Mikey B

The Gili Islands are a cluster of little pearls just off the coast of Lombok, far enough from Bali to have maintained their laid-back atmosphere, but close enough to combine a stay with your Bali trip. The beaches are white, the sea is blue, the people are relaxed and the fresh fish is roasting on the barbecue. There are no cars or any other motorised transport on the island. The local style horse and carriage function as the main means of transport along with bicycles. The diving here is fantastic all year round.

Top

edit

Geography

The largest of the Gili Islands is called Gili Trawangan. You can walk around the whole island in just over an hour. In the middle is Gili Meno, the smallest and least developed of the three, and closest to Lombok is Gili Air.

Top

edit

Sights and Activities

Scuba diving and snorkelling

Scuba diving and snorkelling are great around the Gili Islands. There are plenty of dive sites and operators to choose from, so no matter your skill level, there is a dive site that will suite you. Due to the islands efforts to preserve their sea turtles you are almost certain to spot one, even when snorkelling. A good place for turtle spotting is just off the beach, around 500 metres north of where the ferries arrive and take off.

Explore the islands

The islands can be explored on foot or you can rent a bike and ride a round the islands. Bikes can be rented almost everywhere, but if you have trouble finding one, ask at the place you stay. They will almost certainly be able to help you. A classic walk on Gili Trawangan is to the view point on the southern part of the island. From the summit you'll get a good view of the Gilis, Bali and Lombok. It is also a perfect spot for sunset watching.

Top

edit

Weather

The Gili Island have a warm tropical climate with humid conditions year-round and temperatures mostly around 30 °C during the day and still around 20 °C or more at night. The rainy season is roughly from November to April, but it rains much less than on Bali. The peak tourist seasons are July-August and December-January.

Top

edit

Getting There

By Boat

To get to the Gili Islands you can travel there from Senggigi or Bangsal. It is 15 minutes to Air, 30 to Meno and 45 to Trawangan.
There are now also some direct services from Bali as well, all of them either via Lombok, or continuing to Lombok after the Gili Islands:

Top

edit

Getting Around

There is no motorised transport on the islands. Your options are horse-drawn carts, known as cidomo's, or bicycles, which are available for rent all over the islands. The price for tourists is Rp 20,000-50,000 per head, depending on the length of the journey. To go all the way around the islands could cost up to Rp 150,000. However, as the islands are only a few km in diameter, it's entirely possible to just walk instead.

Travelling between the islands requires either catching the infrequent scheduled Koperasi Island hopping boats, or chartering one to take you across. To Lombok you can take one of the very cheap public boats that go back and forth at pretty random intervals (basically leaving whenever the boat is full), or again charter a vessel.

Tickets can be bought from the ticket offices on each island from where the boats depart. No need to pre-book, the approximate rates in Indonesian rupiah as of mid 2014 are as follows: Gili Trawangan to Lombok by Public boat is a mere IDR13,000 (not much more than a dollar). A charter (with 30 capacity) will set you back roughly IDR400,000; still quite affordable, especially if you split the bill with a group of other travellers. Island hopping between the Gili's costs roughly IDR25,000.

Booking through a travel agent usually just costs more, and you still need to change the reservation to an actual ticket at the very same counter. Some speedboat charters are available between Lombok and the islands, these do need booking shortly beforehand and usually can be arranged by your hotel locally.

The distances between the islands may seem swimmable, but do not attempt it - the currents are fierce and several visitors have died trying.

Top

edit

Eat

All the islands feature a myriad of restaurants and cafes concentrated on the beach fronts. The most activity is found on the east side of each island. There are an abundance of cafes and restaurants, both large and small, with the largest concentration on Gili Trawangan. As of late 2012, Gili Air has some new restaurants opening that offer western cuisine. Gili Meno remains limited to more basic food options like barbecued fish or pizza from a wood-fired oven.

Be careful with "fee and tax" especially in "luxury" restaurants, most will charge 21% tax and service, however it can be written in very small font at the bottom of the menu and be from 5 to 25% or more.

Top

edit

Drink

Gili Trawangan had a huge reputation in the late 90's as a backpacker party island. This has now developed into a nightlife for all tastes. There are bars playing live music, bars with DJ's, as well as quieter beach front places dotted around the islands. There is a varied choice of venues every night of the year.

Be careful to not leave drinks unattended, as spiking incidents have been known to occur. Be aware that there have been fatal cases (including as recent as new year 2012/13) involving locally distilled spirits when drunk in large quantities, due to non-standardised production methods. If you suspect that what you've been served is not what you ordered, take it back. Sticking to western owned and managed bars will reduce any risk.

Top

edit

Sleep

Demand often outstrips supply, so prices tend to be noticeably higher than on Bali or Lombok. During the peak seasons (Jul-Aug, Dec-Jan), it pays to make advance reservations, as the best places are often fully booked. Arrive early for better chances of getting accommodation without a reservation. Late arrivals need to be prepared to spend a night on the beach (it's perfectly safe though).

There are plenty of largely identical backpacker guesthouses on the islands. The price ranges depending on the season and island. Figure on Rp 100,000+ for a basic room with fan only. Air conditioned rooms are more in the Rp 300,000-400,000+ range. Gili Trawangan especially, has a rapidly increasing range of high end luxury accommodation with prices up to US$500 per night for a large private villa.

Always try to negotiate for the best price, and be clear about whether or not the quoted price includes taxes and breakfast. Most of the larger hotels and dive centres on Gili Trawangan feature fresh water for showering, while other smaller homestays may use salt water. On Gili Air it is best to check with the Hotel you plan to stay at, and on Gili Meno its mostly salinated.

If you want to sleep in a hotel/villa in front of the beach, you might want to avoid an area near a port because the sea water there is very oily.

Top

Contributors

as well as missindo (10%), Evi Julia (3%)

Gili Islands Travel Helpers

We don't currently have any Travel Helpers for Gili Islands

This is version 22. Last edited at 10:36 on Jan 12, 18 by Utrecht. 8 articles link to this page.

Creative Commons License
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License