THE GILI ISLANDS
Located just off the coast of Lombok Barat, these three islands are ideal for snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing. Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan are famous for their blue coral. All three islands have pristine, white sandy beaches and can be easily reached by sea from the harbor of Bangsal Pemenang on Lombok.
The trip to Gili Air takes 20 minutes while journeys to Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan tke 30 minutes and 45 minutes, respectively. Accommodation is simple and in keeping with the natural surrounding. Local transport is equally simple, but nevertheless the Cidomo (cikar-dokar-motor) – a horse-drawn, two wheeled, wooden cart – is a unique way to tour these islands.
The Gili's (this means "island" in Lombok) located off Lombok offer all this and are a fantastic alternative if you want seclusion and a tropical island getaway.
While there are many islands dotted off the coast, only a few have any rooms available for visitors, and these have only sprung up quite recently so the islands are still quite simple and offer few facilities.
Besides Gili Nanggu in the south, it is Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air that are attracting travelers and offer a choice of styles of holiday depending on what you are looking for.
The islands are small (Gili Meno takes about one hour to stroll around) and the only transport is by Cidomo, so the pace is slow and relaxed.
You don't need to take much more than your bathers and a sarong (but mosquito repellent is worth packing. The only shopping is the occasional tee-shirt, hammock, or basic necessities. Most hotels on all the islands have restaurants, so there is a reasonable choice of places to eat and a good variety of meals to suit most tastes.
This was the first island to attract visitors, with very simple rooms being built to cater for the demand mainly from divers. The coral around these islands offers some great snorkeling and dive trips to some excellent sites in deeper water are popular. Today, Trawangan has a range of small "losmens" or basic rooms with restaurant attached offering cheap, very simple lodgings, dotted along the east coast. Trawangan also has a number of good dive shops, some run by expatriates living on the island, so this is still the favored island of divers, although the best snorkeling is found off the other islands. At night, Trawangan always has a party happening at one of the restaurant / bars to disrupt the tranquility. Generally this island attracts younger travelers and divers content with basic accommodation but still wanting some life.
This island has a beautiful white beach, excellent coral including rare blue coral just offshore, and is very peaceful. Recently a few good little hotels have sprung up alongside the original basic losmens, most looking out over the water towards the mainland, so now hot water, air-con and even.
Places to Eat - Terawangan
Most of the places to stay also serve food and room rates includes breakfast of tea, coffee and various toasted sandwiches, pancakes, jaffles and scrambled eggs. A few of the bigger restaurants on the tourists strip are sociable places and more like bar in the evening. A few show big screen video movie which do nothing for conviviality. Most have a tasty selection of inexpensive western and continental dishes and fresh grilled seafood can be excellent. During the day, there's a bunch of simple eateries by the beach just north of the boat landing.
- Desa Dunia Beda Restaurant typical Indonesian cuisine, fresh seafood, variety of French, Italian and International favorite dishes
- Villa Ombak Restaurant Offer International and Continental cuisine with elegant and 4 stars service.
- Cafe Wayan Bakery & Restaurant- Great sandwich, home made pastas and fresh deli with various kind of Balinese and Asian cuisine. Cafe Wayan is related to Cafe Wayan in Ubud and Senggigi.
- Borobudur Restaurant - Special for Indonesian cuisine and hot plate steaks. Inexpensive but high quality of food and very friendly service.
- Manta Cafe - International and Continental cuisine with large screen projector movies from DVD player.
- Tirnanog Restaurant - Fresh grilled fish and various kind of International and Continental cuisine, located right on the beach.
- Horizon Lounge - Modern facilities of lounge for relax and chill out.
- The Beach House Restaurant and Deli - More for up-market tourist.
- Dream Divers Restaurant - Fresh grilled fish and various kind of International and Continental cuisine.
- Blue Marlin Restaurant - Fresh grilled fish and various kind of International and Continental cuisine.
- Dive Indonesia Restaurant - International and Continental cuisine with large screen projector movies from DVD player.
- Living Room Restaurant - Great taste, great value with friendly service.
A swimming pool are available if desired. Gili Meno has little to offer besides the accommodation, snorkeling and diving, but that's what's so nice about it.
Whereas the accommodation on Gili Trawangan tends to be built behind the restaurants and away from the beach, some on Gili Meno have magnificent water views and are generally of superior standard, though some budget and basic bungalows are also available.
The closest island to Lombok and the smallest of the three, Gili Air is possibly the quietest and most undeveloped. Gili Air has some very good small hotels, similar to those on Gili Meno, and can cater to travelers still wanting comfort without being surrounded by other travelers.
The white beach around Gili Air is quiet and deserted, and a romantic stroll round the island will take less than 45 minutes. If you really want to find peace, seclusion, and relaxation, this is the island for you
The Natives & History
A few years ago, sailors from Bugis, Mandar and Makassar (Sulawesi) occupied Gili Air and establish coconuts plantation and expand the fishing activities.
As visitors started to visit Lombok and some came to the Gilis on day trips and then began to stay for longer periods in local homes. The islands have become enormously popular. Their popularity may be a problem, as numbers sometime exceed the available rooms and put pressure on the island environment, especially the supply of fresh water and the capacity of septic system to cope with waste and there is always pressure to build more and better facilities. Big business interests are trying to cash in on the popularity of the Gilis and the local government is keen to promote up-market tourist development.
Gili Air and Gili Meno retained much of their un-spoilt quality, but Gili Trawangan has become more touristy and pricy.
The islanders are majority Muslims and visitors should respect their sensibilities. In particular, topless or nude sunbathing is offensive to them, even though they won't say so directly. Away from the Beach, it is polite for women to cover their shoulders and thighs. Many visitors are appallingly insensitive to local standards and so many of them walk around in skimpy clothing and it's easy to get the impression that the local people don't mind anymore, but they do. The development for the last five years has changed the island's look, especially Gili Trawangan.
Gili Islands : Lombok :
Where to Eat on the Gili Islands
|While the island is busiest from May through August, the quieter off-season from January to April provides a better opportunity to enjoy all the island has to offer, with accommodation prices at their lowest level. To get around the only means of transport are Cidomos, horse drawn carriages. Bicycle rentals are available too. Expect higher prices for most things there since all food and goods must be brought over from the mainland.
Electricity and Communication
Electricity supply isnow available on all the three Gilis. The electrical voltage in Indonesia is 220 Volt, if you bring any devices which require lower voltages (110 Volt) bring an electrical converter plug or ask the hotel where you stay for a Stavolt. Money changers are available in most Tourist Information centers, but usually give you a lower rate than changing on the mainland of Lombok. Internet rental is available on all the islands. It is possible to make international phone calls on all islands.
Health and Medical
Sanitation has improved on the islands. There are two health centers on Gili Trawangan; located near the soccer fields for locals and the second located in Villa Ombak with better facilities for Tourists. Gili Meno also now has a health centre which is funded by local businesses. Gili Air has a health centre located near the main village. The health centre is known locally as "Puskesmas". To stay fit and healthy, always drink from bottled water or boiled water and avoid eating raw foods or salads from small non-reputable restaurants, as the water might not be sterilized.
There are no Police Stations or Military Posts on the islands, but there is a small police station in Bangsal harbor. The Islands fund a non-uniformed community policing group, SATGAS, which ensures visitor's security and safety. In the rare event of someone breaking the law or disturbing tourists, the culprits are handed over to the Police on Lombok and face banishment from the island for up to five years. For your own safety, deposit valuable items at the reception desk where you're staying. Carry only small amounts of cash and necessary items.
There are many options for an enjoyable holiday on the islands. You can rent snorkeling equipment, join a diving course, rent a kayak, go fishing, or take a glass bottom boat to see the magnificent coral reefs and fish.
There are lots of quality scuba diving operations on all the islands. The coral around the islands is good for snorkeling, which can be reach from the shore. See manta rays and giant clams. A must see: Turtles Point, Meno Wall, Shark (harmless) Point. Dive Schools are available on all the islands with many dive programs to choose from including beginners to advanced technical dives.
While divers are able to regularly swim with black tip, those who prefer to just drifts in the currents with a snorkel, fins and mask are never left disappointed by the more than 6,000 species of marine life living just off-shore.
Fishing is one of the highlight activities on the islands. Deep fishing remain the best on north west of Gili Trawangan. Carry your own equipment if you're not familiar with the traditional-style of fishing.