You’ve probably heard about Lombok’s three famous Gili Islands – Trawangan, Meno and Gili Air. Did you know that Gili means island and Lombok has 26 of them? Southwest Lombok is now on the rise, so there has never been a better time to visit this unspoiled paradise.
- Keep calm.
The water surrounding the beautiful little islands of Southwest Lombok is still, clear and absolutely beautiful for swimming, snorkeling or diving. The natural environment is still largely untouched. Local fishermen drift lazily on the still water, local boats trawl for coral and seaweed and the islands dot the water like little green jewels.
- Stay put.
There are a limited number of accommodations on the Southern gilis but what is there offers a great choice for budget and more upmarket travellers. From little family-run mini resorts offering breakfast (and sometimes air conditioning and hot water), to more established resorts and a scattering of privately owned villas.
- Easy Access.
Getting to the Southern Gilis is easy, whether you go by boat or plane. Closer to Bali than its more famous cousins, there is a fast boat that takes you directly to Gili Gede from Serangan harbor in around two hours. The route is calm so even scaredy cats ( like me) will enjoy the ride. Alternatively getting there from the mainland of Lombok is also easy. Local boats will pick you up from the mainland and you’ll be transported to paradise in minutes.
- Eat out.
Unlike many remote parts of Indonesia, the Southern Gilis has just enough good food to satisfy. From little local restaurants offering Indonesian food and the local Sasak cuisine ( Lombok translates as chili and the locals like their food hot), to a smattering of international standard restaurants, (authentic Italian, steaks and salads, a little French influence perhaps ?), the Southern Gilis offer enough variety to keep most people happy. Self-catering is an option in the private villas and you’ll want to do the shopping before you arrive. (tip: bring any chocolate, alcohol or treats with you!).
Enjoy the peace, this is the perfect place to chill out. Long walks, swims, shady spots to read or spend the afternoon swinging in a hammock, the islands are still beautifully quiet. Perfect for the world weary traveller who just wants to take some time out to enjoy nature and a holiday for the soul. That isn’t to say, it’s boring. You’ll meet other travellers, enjoy days on the water, get a boat and check out some of the tiny islands with stunning beaches (take a picnic), snorkel, walk, check in ( you can usually get connected somewhere) and just enjoy days that begin with beautiful sunrises and end with glorious sunsets followed by brilliant starlit nights.
Where to stay:
Ko Ko Mo Gili Gede – a beautiful resort with wooden joglo-style accommodation on the front and private pool villas within. The restaurant is definitely the best on the Southern Gilis with a decent wine list to match. Pop in for lunch or dinner even if you are staying somewhere else. kokomogiligede.com
Gili Asahan Eco Lodge and Restaurant – Gili Asahan is glorious and the Eco Lodge offers simple yet beautiful accommodation, definitely island-style with an eye to the environment. Stay in beautifully appointed bales complete with white sheets and divine finishing, or opt for the little eco huts that offer more privacy and en suite bathrooms. Al are fan-cooled. I loved the restaurant here. Owned by Italians the cook has learned to make fresh pasta and a number of Italian specialities. If you want to order protein, you’ll need to order in advance as much of it is snap frozen to maintain freshness. Organic salads, a very reasonable wine list and great wifi also available. Set yourself up for the day or stay longer. http://giliasahan.com/
Matahari Luxury Villas – dive into your own private holiday villa directly on the beach front at Gili Asahan, four villas are beautifully decorated in island-style with details like a real home and good kitchens, including staff to help. European design is evident throughout and the coffee is as god as you’ll find anywhere. Bok individual villas or take the whole complex. The Eco lodge is right next door and a lovely wooden boat is on hand to discover more of the islands.
Budget accommodation: There are numerous local homestays and small family run resorts on the Gili islands including Gili Asahan, Gili Gede, Gili Nanggu and Gili Sudak.
How to get there:
Gili Getaway will deliver you to Gili Gede on the way to Gili Trawangan. This makes it easy to combine the two destinations if you’d like a little peace combined with a little liveliness.
Fly to Lombok and drive.
It’s only a 20 minute flight to Lombok from bali. There are plenty of helpful ( maybe a little too helpful!) tour operators and freelance drivers who can take you to the port where local or charter boats will transport you to your accommodation in now time.
Charter a boat from Bali.
It’s not as strange as it seems. Although the marine industry is still underdeveloped, the harbour at Gili Gede is perfect for mooring. Gili Asahan also has a few small moorings available and the water is so quiet, it’s easy to just drop anchor near your favourite beach. Big Kanu spends most of her downtime at Gili Asahan and is available for reasonably priced charters. http://www.bigkanu.com/