Ringed by perfect beaches, clear waters and coral reefs, these three tiny islands off northwest Lombok have come to define the perfect holiday escape.
Throughout the 1980s and1990s the deep water coral reefs, miles of white-sand beaches and slow pace oflife attracted backpackers to the three Gili Islands. Today, the islandsfeature stylish resorts as well as the original backpacker accommodations. Thearea has matured into a world-class destination while still managing tomaintain innocence and simplicity.
The three islands thatmake up the Gili archipelago are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.Although they are very close to each other, each has developed its owndistinctive characteristics.
The island closest toLombok is Gili Air. Pull on a face mask and fins and simply swim out from thebeach here to explore fabulous coral reefs. Visibility is often excellent andthere is a vast array of marine life to see including reef sharks, manta raysand barracudas. Back on land, say hello to the local chickens, goats and cows.Gili Air is popular for its quaint rural atmosphere.
The middle island, GiliMeno, is the smallest and quietest. Visit turtle sanctuaries where green andloggerhead turtle eggs are hatched and nurtured for several months before beingreleased into the ocean.
Gili Trawangan is thefarthest from the mainland and known as the party island for its lively barscene and all-night beach parties. It does, however, have its quieter side toowith several luxury hotels and villas.
All three Gilis offer goodsnorkelling and diving opportunities. Find dive operators on any of the islandsto rent equipment or arrange a guide. There are no motorized vehicles on any ofthe islands. Your options for getting around are bicycles, horse-drawn cartsknown as cidomos and walking. Gili means “small islands”. A leisurely walkaround any of the islands takes no more than two hours.
To get to the Gili Islandsfrom Lombok you can charter a boat from Bangsal Harbour or Senggigi. Fast speedboats also run directly from Bali.