About the Gilis
Gili Trawangan [click here]
Gili Meno [click here]
Gili Air [click here]
Arcing away from the northwest corner of Lombok, the Gili Islands are three idyllic atolls where the sand is still powdery white, the water a clear sparkling turquoise, and the sunsets over Bali’s Agung in the west are simply spectacular.
Home to the largest Irish bar on the smallest island in the world, an authentic Japanese sushi restaurant, a turtle hatchery, ominous sounding dive sites like ‘Shark Point’ and miles and miles of white sandy beaches, Lombok’s Gilis, make a surprisingly ideal getaway destination. Getting there is easy and whichever way you chose, you will be guaranteed to see some of Bali and Lombok’s breathtaking scenery.
No motorised transport
Fortunately all three Gili Islands will not permit any type of motorised transport on them and therefore rely on bicycles or horse and carts, locally known as ‘Cidomos’. Bicycles can be rented from any of the kiosks and cost from around Rp20,000 an hour, or better value, ask for the daily rate. Cidomos (local horse and carts) are easily located all over the islands but tend to hang around the harbour and busy spots, arrangements can be made if you are staying in a more remote place on the island, for instance a late ride home…. Haggling is the norm, and always agree a price before your journey.
Although originally discovered by backpackers in the mid eighties, and with a reputation as a party destination, the Gilis now boasts themselves as a great destination suitable for families of all ages. Various new hotels, luxury villas, and boutique bungalows now cater for children and offer good value, some have baby sitting services, and with lots of activities on the islands families are sure to enjoy their holidays to the full.
Swimming and Snorkeling
The best places for snorkeling and swimming are along the main beach areas, Masks, fins and snorkels can be rented by the hour or day, from any of the many PADI and SSI dive centers or the kiosks in the street. Glass bottom boat trips around the three Gili islands are available and cost around 150,000rp per person. You can see all types of marine life just by snorkeling including many fishes and corals and of course lots of turtles, but please be careful not to touch the coral.
Please Note; Do not try to swim between any of the 3 Gili islands as the currents in the channel can be unpredictable and very strong.
There is now an ATM machine at Hotel Villa Ombak on Gili Trawangan open 24 hours, all the dive centers and bigger hotels accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards with an additional 3% bank charge, cash advances at 10% are available in many places. Money changers will cash traveler’s checks and currency but at a much lower reduced rate than on the mainland.
All three Gilis islands do now have their own PLN electric generating stations and in theory should have power 24 hours a day, however in the peak seasons this can be put under strain particularly late afternoon and early evening. A large number of businesses now have their own generators such as the larger hotels and restaurants so as to avoid the problem, and usually power cuts or ‘mati lampu’ only last a few hours, although sometimes can last up to a few days.
There are a number of internet cafes on Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili air all charging approximately the same, (around Rp500 per minute) although all operate at different speeds. For telephone calls the best place to use is the shops called Wartel, located next to the art market on Trawangan, at the Ozzy shop on Gili Air, and behind Villa Karang on Gili Air.
Crime, safety and health
Generally there is very little crime on the Gili islands, however no where is 100% free of petty crime. As with any where in the world you travel its best to leave your valuables in your room, and ideally in your hotel safe. If you do have any problems on the island report them to the Head of the Island (Kepala Desa) at the Satgas office, located opposite the Harbour. There is a new 24 hours clinic at Hotel Vila Ombak on Gili Trawangan that has a doctor and nurse on call that can deal with minor injuries and problems, and can also dispense certain prescription drugs.
Most businesses rely on well water for showers and bathrooms, some places are now importing fresh water from the mainland Lombok. Some hotels have the option of fresh water mandi after a well water shower. All fresh water is brought to the islands by small fishing boats from Lombok – in the unlikely event the water cannot timeously be delivered guests will need to use the well water. The delays can be due to the tides being to low and the delivery boat not being able to get over the reef or the seas being too rough.
So Please use the islands water resources sparingly!
If your holiday is planned and it is to revolve around fresh water & power please do not think about making a booking on any of the 3 islands as services are not guaranteed…the Gili islands are very much grass roots with really very little development……this just will not be your type of holiday…embrace simplicity as there are few places in this world that are easy to access, but where you can still have a remote experience.
The Wallace line
Sir Alfred Russel Wallace, the so-called father of animal geography, formulated his ideas on evolution by natural selection while observing and collecting wildlife in the islands of Southeast Asia. He was particularly impressed by the sudden difference in bird families he encountered when he sailed only twenty miles east of the island of Bali and landed on Lombok.
On Bali the birds were clearly related to those of the larger islands of Java and Sumatra and mainland Malaysia. On Lombok the birds were clearly related to those of New Guinea and Australia. He marked the channel between Bali and Lombok as the divide between two great zoo geographic regions, the Oriental and Australian.
In his honor this dividing line, which extends northwards between the islands of Borneo and Sulawesi, is still referred to today as Wallace’s Line.
The very first island of the Australasian region is Gili Trawangan.