You can’t go from Lombok to Bali and not stop in the famous Gili island! We learnt that all small islands in Lombok are called Gili’s but these are so well known that the name has become synonymous with these three islands. And yes, they also belong to Lombok, not Bali. The Gilis are – Gili Tranwangan with is reputation as a party island, Gili Meno as a couples retreat and Gili Air with its laid back atmosphere. Being very keen on diving and liking the idea of chilling we chose the latter.
Getting to Gili Air from Lombok is really simple, just take a ferry across from the port town of Bangsal on the North West of Lombok. We took a local boat which cost us 39000 IDR for both of us. You can take a private speed boat for a lot more but why? It’s only about 1.5km away. Getting a ticket is rather easy too, the office is a small hut at the far right end of the ‘harbour’, don’t get fooled by locals offering to sell direct or buying a fast boat ticket by mistake. Just ask – LOCAL boat?
Arriving on the island we were slightly shocked by the number of people. Coming from secluded Lombok we were a bit overwhelmed. This is of course relative, coming from Kuta in Bali you would think that you have arrived in your own island paradise! Finding accommodation is pretty easy! We arrived a day earlier than planned and within five minutes found a nice homestay. The main road is a busy place. There are no cars and scooters on the island but plenty of bicycles and horse drawn carts. Yes, there are shops, cafes, restaurants and travel agencies a plenty too. Nevertheless we settled in and went exploring in search of a dive centre.
Scuba diving is definitely the big attraction on the Gilis. For such a small island there are loads to choose from. We picked one of the smaller centers called Gili Divers On Air and couldn’t have been happier with them. We had an early morning dive on a sight called Turtle Heaven, and it certainly delivered. There was only four of us on the dive and for a popular sight they timed it that we had it to ourselves ( sometimes there can be up to 40 divers on this site ). The coral around the islands aren’t great but efforts are being made to rehabilitate it and control overfishing.
The quiet side of the island turned out to be where our next accommodation was. We spend two amaaazing nights at Vyaana Resort. So much can be said about this place, from its idyllic setting on the beach, to the chic design of their bungalows. It’s unobtrusive luxury. For us who don’t enjoy crowds it really influenced our perception of Gili. We felt like we had our own private piece of paradise and spent most of our time in the comforts of our quiet bungalow, the pool and the beach in front.
With bikes supplied by them we took to cycling around the island. This, or walking it, is a must do. It takes about an hour to cycle around Gili Air and you get to see and experience the micro worlds of the small island. For us the central west side leading up to the north beach was the best. There are roads all through the islands so shortcuts can be taking to anywhere.
Food is easy to come by. Being a small island things tend to cost slighly more but not by much. We ate at the famous Scallywags and weren’t let down. With a great setting and good BBQ options (fish and meat). We can also recommend Island View on the western side, similar menu and very relaxing. Of course there are local restaurants, warungs, to choose from as well.
With a lot of chilling to do on the Gili’s much time is spent in the sun! Please be carful as the sun is strong and the breeze can trick your senses into thinking that you’re not roasting – but you are. There’s snorkelling and also plenty swings in the water to get that prefect unposed, spontaneous holiday pic 😉
And don’t forget to see how it all looked on our YouTube video!