THE GILI ISLANDS
Three perfect coral islands, fringe with white sands and swaying palm trees, lay in the sparkling ocean just off the north-west coast of Lombok. For many years the Gilis have attracted visitors from around the world for their pristine waters, great diving and snorkeling opportunities, and laid-back charm.
The word « Gili » actually means « small island » and so these islands have come to be known « the Gilis » by travelers, who long considered to be at least equal to the appeal of Thailand’s and India’s south-coasts.
The Gilis have sparse vegetation and rainfall, and it can seem much hotter than on the mainland. This means there is sunshine most days of the year , even when it’s raining in Lombok or Bali. Water is mainly drawn from wells or shipped from the mainland, so there is a need for conservation to preserve the limited resources. Be prepared for salty showers in most of the small hotels and home-stays, although the larger hotels and villas provide fresh water.
There are no cars or motorbikes on the islands, and the main form of transport, apart from walking, is by horse and cart ( locally called « Cidomo » ), or by bicycle.
There is a good selection of restaurants, bars and accommodation on all three islands.
Telephone and internet facilities are available, and most of the normal tourists amenities, 9 ATMs are located on Gili Trawangan and most of the Dive Operators and larger hotels accept credit cards. Moneychangers exchange at a slightly lower rate than the mainland, so it’s wise to change your money before coming.
The islands provide ample opportunities for visitors to swim, sunbathe, snorkel or scuba dive. Dive companies on the island are owned and operated by westerners with PADI qualifications, and professional standards of safety and environmental awareness.
Snorkeling is easy in the calm waters directly off the beach sand, although a part of the coral has been destroyed in the shallow waters, it’s still enjoyable with plenty of fish and the numerous turtles living there.
At greater depths and at dive locations around the three islands the pristine water are home to an abundant variety of coral , aquatic life and thousands of species of tropical fishes, at least comparable to the top dive destinations in Thailand.
All three islands have developed independently and at different paces, giving each a different personality or style, and catering to different types of holiday makers and travelers.
Gili Air is closest to the mainland and the most quickly accessed of the 3 Gilis. This island as the largest local population of the three and combines the charm of tropical island, with access to the people and the local culture that Lombok so special. That’s where we are located. There is excellent snorkeling in front of our dive center accessible from the shore.
The south of the island has some good surf, in the right conditions.
Gili Meno is the smallest and the middle island , with the lowest population, it is not as developed as Gili AIr or Trawangan, but has its own special tranquil style. The pace is a much slower, with the laid-back charm of a true castaway tropical island experience. Small hotel and basic beach-side huts provide accommodation for those seeking a peaceful place in the sun, with unpopulated beaches, clean waters and quiet walks under the star-filled sky at night.
Gili Trawangan is the largest island and the furthest from the mainland, but easily reached in less than an hour by local boat. This is the most developed and crowded of the 3 islands with a reputation of party island that attracts the Part birds from all over the world.