Gili islands are the most popular tourist destination in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara. The popularity of the Gilis began in the 1980s and 1990s. During the time, the Gilis in Lombok are established and now they provide an array of glamour options. Today, some Gilis, especially the popular ones, are very relaxed and laid-back. They have so many beachside cafes, bars and restaurants with various menus, from local to international. Read more
The Gili Islands are an archipelago of the three small islands which are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, located just off the northwest coast of Lombok Island, Indonesia.
The islands are popular destination for tourists looking for a remote island experience. Each island has several small resorts, usually consisting of a collection of huts for tourists, a small pool and restaurant. Most local inhabitants live on Trawangan in a township stretching along its east side just inland (which is also where most recent development is taking place). Automobiles and motorised traffic is prohibited on the islands by local ordinance, so the preferred method of transportation is by foot and bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage called a cidomo. Diving in and around the Gilis is also popular due to the abundance of marine life and attractive coral formations.
The name of “Gili Islands” is a misnomer, because Gili simply means “small island” in Sasak. As a result most of the islands around the coast of Lombok have Gili in their names, although confusion is averted by referring (in English) to the other Gilis around the Lombok coast by their proper names only.
There is no motorised transport on the Islands. The short distances on land are traversed on foot, by bicycle or Cidomo. The Islands can only be reached by sea, and are frequented by a variety of fast boats operating various routes from Bali. Fast boat services are the quickest and most direct way to travel to the Gili Islands from Bali. There are now numerous direct boat services from Bali to the Gili Islands, all of which continue onto the main island of Lombok, and a few of which also pass by Nusa Lembongan en-route. Established daily services depart from Benoa and Serangan Island in South Bali and from Padangbai and Amed (Bali) in East Bali. Benoa Harbour and Serangan are around 25 min by car, (dependent upon traffic) from the South Bali tourist hub. Padang Bai about another half hour by road. Public ferries and private charters also sail to the Islands from Bangsal harbour on the Lombok mainland, speedboat charters operate from Teluk Nare, south of Bangsal. Lombok International Airport (IATA: LOP) in the south of Lombok is the closest airport to the Gilis. Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport (IATA: DPS), is larger and serves more international routes. Connecting Fast boat services on towards the islands from Bali are frequent and take approximately 90 minutes or more, the aircraft services connecting to Bali have a flight duration of around 30 minutes.
Gili Air is the most easterly of the three Gili Islands of Lombok. Gili Air is the second smallest of the islands and the closest to mainland Lombok, making it popular with honeymoon couples and travellers seeking a quiet retreat. It has a population of about 1,800. The island offers excellent snorkelling and scuba diving off its east coast, and turtles can be seen along the coral reef. Other water sports such as Standup Paddleboarding and Kite surfing are also now available.
Traditionally, Gili Air was seen as the domain of families and couples wanting a quiet, off-the-beaten-path escape, while the rowdier hoardes had their fun on Gili Trawangan. With Trawangan now upscaling so obviously, more and more backpackers seem to be chosing Gili Air as their primary option. This island has more of a rural, established feeling than the other two, and it is no surprise that many of the local Gili Islanders seem to prefer living on Gili Air. Read more
Gili Meno is the middle of Lombok’s three northwest coast Gilis. With a population about 500,Gili Meno is the mellowest of the three islands, and certainly the most in-tune with a desert island ethic. The beaches are much nicer than you will find on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.
Gili Meno mainly concentrated on the centre of the island. The main income comes from tourism, coconut plantation and fishing. On the west side of the island there is a small shallow lake that produces salt in the dry season. Until a few years ago there was also a small production of seaweed on the reef at the north end of the island. Gili Meno has swimming beaches all around the island, and a bird sanctuary. A coastal path leads all the way around the island, and can be covered at a very leisurely pace in 90 minutes. Most of the tourist facilities, including the boat arrival and departure point, are on the southern part of the east coast. Read more
Gili Trawangan is the largest of Lombok’s Gili Islands and the only one to rise significantly (60 m) above sea level. Measuring 3 km long and 2 km wide, it has a population of around 1500. The name of Trawangan originates from the Indonesian word Terowongan (Tunnel) due to the presence of a cave tunnel built there during Japanese occupation in World War 2. Gili Trawangan is the most developed and geared towards tourism. The main concentration of settlement, recreation, accommodation and diving business is situated on the eastern side of the island. A local pub, Tîr na Nôg claims that Trawangan is the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub. It was previously administered under Lombok Barat Regencyalong with Senggigi until 2010, Gili islands came under the jurisdiction of the new North Lombok Regency (Kabupaten Lombok Utara). Read more