The Gili Islands is an archipelago of 3 tiny islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air located in a Southeast Asian country, Indonesia. It is near the coast of northwest Lombok Island. Characterized by sandy beaches fringed with palm trees, they’re known for their coral reefs just offshore. In the local Sasak language, “Gili” means “island”. In the Indonesian language, the plural is denoted by repeating a noun. So “Gili Gili” literally means Islands.
The islands are a popular tourist destination. Each island has several resorts that mostly consist of a collection of huts for tourists, a small pool and a restaurant. Most of the locals live in Trawangan, a township stretching along its east side, where most recent developments are taking place. Automobiles and other motorized vehicles are prohibited on the islands according to their local ordinance, and the preferred method of transportation is by foot, bicycle or through horse-drawn carriage called a Cidomo. Scuba diving and free diving within Gilis are popular due to the abundance of their marine life and attractive coral formations. Most of its famous diving spots are Shark Point, Manta Point, and Simon’s Reef.
The beaches in Gilis has powdery white sand with perfectly blue clear water and was positioned for an overlooking sunset over Bali’s Mt. Agung and sunrise over Lombok’s Mt. Rijani. This island was only discovered by the seafaring Bugis people from Sulawesi. Eventually, this was also located by more adventurous backpackers and developed Trawangan into a party paradise.
The islands are located in the Lombok Strait, to the immediate northwest of Lombok. They extended outward from a tiny peninsula called Sire near to the village of Tanjung on Lombok. Bali lies about 35 km to the west of Gili Trawangan, the island’s most westerly member. Both Bali and Lombok are easily visible from the Gilis in clear weather. Mount Rinjani, Indonesia’s second-highest volcano is close by on neighboring Lombok, and dominates the views towards the east.
Like the islands in the Philippines, Gilis also has a tropical climate. Due to its close proximity to the Equator, the islands have a warm climate with dry and wet seasons. With Mount Rinjani on the immediate east on Lombok, and Mount Agung to the west of Bali, The Gilis are somewhat sheltered and has a slightly drier microclimate when compared to the surrounding archipelago. Dry Season may be experienced from May until October, with monsoon season starting November until April. Its temperatures ranges between 22 degrees Celsius to 34 degrees Celsius, with an average annual temperature of around 28 degrees Celsius.
Let’s get to know more of Gili’s three islands:
Gili Trawangan is the largest and most popular among the three islands which commonly attracts the majority of its guests. You can reach this island through a 30-minute boat ride from the northwest mainland of Lombok and fast boats departing regularly from Bali directly to Trawangan Island. As part of your return journey from Gili Trawangan, boats stop at Teluk Nare on mainland Lombok. This large island has a vibrant nightlife to keep you entertained once the sun goes down.
It identifies itself as a good place for family vacations. With its various newly built hotels, luxury villas, and boutique bungalows that also cater to children offers a good value for the money that you are spending. Some of the establishments offer services like babysitting which will give young couples a private time together while their toddler is being well-taken care of. Families may also enjoy a wide range of activities that will surely make their trip momentous and fun.
This islands visitors may enjoy snorkeling with turtles, swimming in a crystal clear water, scuba diving, enjoy food on all the different cafes & restaurants, feast on fresh, tasty and cheap food on its night market, join the bandwagon of its booze cruise, a bike ride around the island, movie nights on the beach, learn some of Indonesia’s finest cuisine, or just simply enjoy its most glorious sunsets during your entire stay.
Gili Meno is the smallest among the three islands which is only two kilometers long and one wide, it is by far the most peaceful and underdeveloped island of Gilis. A guest can finish exploring the entire island along the beach or paths in less than two hours.
You will be lured by this small island’s total escapism which makes it a popular honeymoon destination for couples and the adventurous castaway types. Lazing around in a hammock with a good book to read or play along with its friendly local may be included on your list of the itinerary.
How to reach Gili Meno
To get into this small island, people usually hop on a connecting island hopper boat at 9:03 am in Gili Trawangan for a 15-minute trip up to your destination. If the guest is coming from Gili Air, the boat departs at 8:30 am for a 20-minute ride to Gili Meno. Returning boats coming from Gili Meno up to Trawangan leaves at 4:00 pm daily while those who are coming back to Gili Air, their boat leaves at 3:00 pm.
Gili Meno is inhabited by an estimated 400 residents. Most of their population lives around roads that connect one part of the island to another. The electricity on this island is rare and there are only a few people and villas that have generators, its locals still use candles or torches as their source of light and firewood for cooking. Accommodations and foods are slightly more expensive in this part of the island compared to other Gilis and luxury food is not available here but a haven for seafood lovers.
Upon arriving on this island you can enjoy doing a list of activities upon exploring. A tourist can walk and explore the whole island, watch birds at Gili Meno Bird Park, Visit Asin Lake Mangrove Forest, me-time at the beach, visit the turtle captivity, scuba diving, snorkeling, or enjoy the view of sunrise and sunset.
Gili Air directly translates to “water island” and is located in just the coast of Lombok. This tiny island is surrounded by white sand, turquoise water, and great underwater life and has the most balanced among the three Gilis, it is calmer than Gili Trawangan and has a bit more going on than the quiet Gili Meno. A tourist can enjoy and easily explore this island for a 30-minute bike ride.
Island visitors can choose among its wide range of activities like taking the island’s local cooking class, snorkeling at the sculptures, have fun with the live music on the beach, join a beach cleanup, learn to free dive, biking around the island, swing at the beach, relax on their spa services, snorkel with turtles, witness the sunset on the west side, or maneuver like a manta ray through the underwater world while a boat is pulling you through the water through Subwing-ing.
How to reach Gili Air
You can reach this island by both public and private boat transfers that are available daily from early in the morning until late afternoon. If you are taking the public boat, the boats immediately leave when full and stop its operations at 5 pm. Boats leave more frequently during peak season while tourists have to wait for a while during off-peak. If you are taking a private boat where companies have fixed schedules, you have to take note that a fee is charged for luggage carrying services.
There are few departure points from Bali to Gili Air. The most popular port is Pandang Bai, a shuttle ride away from the popular Kuta. The fast boats depart between 9 am-9:30 am, tourists should be able to arrive at Gili Air within a 2-hour journey. From the southwest, Serangan Harbor also offers daily transfers to Gili Air. Amed is another departure point located in Northern Bali and Sanur in down south. All of the fast boats make a stop at Lombok before heading to Gili Islands.
Indonesia is not just about Gili Islands, to look more into the beauty of this magical country, click HERE!