Lombok and The Gilis
The Three Small island in Lombok ” Gili Trawangan, Meno, Air “
The three Gilis Island are a small-scale backpacker, most popular tourist destination. The islands are very relaxed and laid-back, with countless little beachside cafes playing reggae and serving up banana pancakes, and no cars or motorbikes to disturb the peace. The beaches are without a doubt better than anywhere on Bali or Lombok. The flip side of the coin is that as they exist solely to cater for travelers, they’re also rather anonymous (you might as well be at anywhere) and, aside from snorkeling and diving, there’s little if anything to do. Note that there are no ATMs on the islands, so bring plenty of cash with you. From west to east, the islands are:* Gili Trawangan, or “Gili T” is by far the most developed with plenty of backpacker options and one swanky resort. There are no dogs on the island but according to one local, there are more cats here than people. The local population is around 800. There is no police on the island and all problems are usually settled by the local “council”.
* Gili Meno, the smallest and quietest, low-key with some simple places to stay.
* Gili Air, closest to the mainland and with the largest local population.Strictly speaking, the name “Gili Islands” is rather redundant as gili simply means “small island” in Sasak, but the name has stuck and is universally used and understood in Lombok.
Are regular shuttle services from Bangsal on the main island of Lombok, stopping at all islands. The trip takes about 15 minutes to Air, 30 min to Meno and 45 min to Trawangan.
Alternatively, the Gilis can be visited on a day trip from Senggigi, in which case you’ll get your own boat and crew to take you around. The trip across take 1,5 hours each way and is quite scenic, if a little bumpy when the waves are high. Available from any travel agent, figure on Rp400,000 for a tour for two.
Note that the sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the afternoon, well before dark.
In a rare display of foresight, all forms of motorized transport are banned from the islands: your only choice is horse-drawn carts, known as cidomo, which are used even to shuttle around diving gear. However, as the islands are only a few km in diameter, it’s entirely possible to just walk instead.
There are no sights as such on the islands themselves, but the excellent snorkeling and diving all around is a major draw. Sea turtles are also common, especially around Turtle Point just north of Gili Meno. You can rent masks and fins off the beach, or contact any of the numerous dive shops to arrange snorkeling or diving at choice spots nearby.
There are regular party nights on Gili Trawangan – the various bars take it in turn to host the late night gig (up to 4.00am), to ensure that everyone gets together in one place rather than being spread around. Ask around for where the party is going on on any given night.
Small but annoying jellyfish are common in the waters around the Gilis, so wearing a full-length wetsuit or surf skin in the water is advisable.
Tap water is not potable. Bottled water is widely available and some cafes will fill up bottles for a nominal charge,
Mobile phone towers ensure you’re never out of touch, and there are several Internet cafes on Trawangan for feeding your Internet addiction. Printing is possible in a few internet café’s and you can even hook up your laptop in some.
“…The expedition is exhausting, no doubt, but the sheer size and beauty be seen to be believed. This was definitely a life altering experience …”
Gerrard Neve, Rinjani 2004