A group of three islands are located on the north west coast of Lombok. Those three islands are called the Gili Islands which has varieties for all sorts of tourists. A beautiful turquoise sea surrounds these islands with coral reefs and a calm environment. You will get the feels of island life from these simple locals and westerners who have settled there. Before you start planning your getaway, you can decide which island you want to reside in during your trip. You can stay in one island but travel to all of them using the fast boat. Download the app “The Gilis” which will let you know of the boat timings and the weather. If you want to know how to reach to any of the three islands or when to go, you can read about it in the “Ultimate guide to Gili Meno” as it is the same route. On the way to the island, you can take a detour and visit the active volcano, Mount Rinjani in Lombok.
Gili Air is the nearest to Lombok mainland and is small as you can travel around the whole island in a matter of one hour using bicycle. You can get bicycles for renting around the whole island as there are lots of shops that will provide for it. Gili Air also has a wide range of options for accommodation to suit various types of budget. There are cottages, chalets, bungalows that look picturesque with palm trees and the grassy plains. Regarding booking accommodation for any of these islands, you should check Airbnb or Booking.com.
It is best to carry as much cash as you can even though the island has an ATM which takes all usual cards Visa, Master, Maestro etc. Carry a torch as sometimes power outages happen which might make you fall in a difficult situation.
The swim around the island is shallow and is safe so you can just grab your snorkelling gear to see the coral reefs. You can rent snorkelling gear from local operators. If you want to know where to snorkel or dive, enquire the diving centres around the beach and they will show you some places for quite a marine adventure. You can learn diving at Manta Dive as the centre provides PADI and SSI courses for beginner to instructor level. The centre has various packages for you to choose from. Two of the popular sites to go to for diving is Haan’s Reef and Gili Air Wall. Haan’s Reef is in the east of the island and has a lot of dirt which attracts some strange sea creatures like frogfish. Gili Air Wall is a 24 metres vertical wall in the sea that has a lot of lionfish and scorpionfish. You will be surrounded with a school of fish now and then. A place named “Playgili” is a place known for surfing. Gili Air offers a nice surfing time even though it happens hardly. Some of the times in “Playgili” the waves are quite high and can be dangerous to surf.
Gili Air has plenty of bars around the whole island, among which many of them are facing the beach. You can enjoy drinks with the salty breeze while looking at the sea. The bars close around 11 pm. During the high season, you may come across psychedelic fluorescent “Goa Style” beach parties. The loud music beats let the rave continue for two to three days at times. If you want to avoid these wild parties for the concern of drugs, you can choose to visit in the mid-season.
Gili Meno is the quietest of the three island and mostly chosen by honeymooners or as yoga retreats. This island is also the smallest of the three and can be toured using a bicycle in 40 minutes. Civilisation has overlooked Gili Meno the most out of the three but is an exquisite island to relax. There is an article called “Ultimate Guide to Gili Meno” which can be a proper guidance for your tour. As there is already an article mentioning Gili Meno, I will not repeat it here.
Gili T/ Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan, more commonly known as Gili T, is the most civilised of these three islands. This island is the party haven and attracts a lot of tourists. Other than normal boat routes from and to Teluk Nara or Bangsal, there is also a daily fast boat from Bali to Gili T. Just like the other two Gili Islands, Gili T is a dreamy island with white sand beaches and tall palm trees. This island surrounded by clear turquoise and blue sea was not discovered long ago before being turned into a hippie party island by some party-loving backpackers.
As mentioned before, Gili T is quite civilized and there is a wide range of options for accommodation that would be able to suit everyone’s budget and needs. Luxury pool villas, garden bungalows and cottages are some of the options and some also have the facilities such as baby-sitting. There is more than one ATM machine on this island which you can find at Hotel Villa Ombak. You can travel around the whole island on foot or with bicycles that you can rent from the local shops or the pony carts. There is also horse riding which can be done as an activity, but it also is a great way to see the whole island.
Many diving centers and stalls that line the beach has posters of water activities with the price range. They also rent snorkeling equipment and show you where you can take a dip in the sea for an exquisite marine life. In the sea of “North Beach” stretch is the best snorkeling site even though it is hard to take a break from sunbathing on the beach. Just like Gili Air, the diving centers in Gili T provide you a variety of courses such as PADI for you to choose from. You can buy a diving package from the centers where they will take you on diving trips around the three islands for you to see coral reefs and turtles and what not. If you do not want to get in water, suit yourself to a glass bottomed boat to see the giant turtles swimming by.
One of the activities to do should also include going on a fishing trip. For this activity, you need to ask the local boat men who can take you for a day trip. You can spend your time line fishing and trawling that day. If you find it hard to communicate with some locals, you can ask some English-speaking people from the diving centers who would gladly help you.
You can rent a kayak for an hour and paddle to Gili Meno. But only if you have understood the technique of kayaking. Kayaking around is a fun thing to do but is very easy to mix the maneuvering to turn left or right. It gets tiring, so rest on your kayak but be sure to check the direction the sea is taking you.
You can book a golf trip which would take you to Lombok Mainland. Country Club has a charming scenery and is convenient for people with all sorts of capabilities. It is an amusing experience as the golfers reach at hole four by a speed boat. Then they ride the buggy. It will help you relax as the course is not challenging at all. After your golf session, you can hop by a hotel or restaurant. Grab a refreshing juice from there before heading back to your island.
The full-on party vibe on this island would make you want to go bar hopping. You can try to complete all the bars on Gili T. It can be challenging as there are plenty of bars around the whole island. But, you should definitely be on “North Beach” one day. Watch the beautiful sunset on Mount Agung while sipping on some fancy cocktail.