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Complete Guide to Lombok Pristine Islands - 10 things to do in Gili Islands


Amazing view of Gili Trawangan - Travel Tips - Turtle Dive, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok, Indonesia Backpacking, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok
Photo by Andres Abogabir on Unsplash

Since the tremendous influx of tourists has been thumping hard on Bali for quite some time now, island hoppers have started searching for more secluded areas to relish more laid-back moments around the largest island nation. In Lombok, there are three little islands still enfolding tiny fragments of untouched beauty within the Sasak traditions. The islands' size is relatively small but way more than enough to satisfy your avid wanderlust spirits.


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Gili Islands (simply means "small island" in Sasak) is a cluster of three little islands on the northwest coast of Lombok, namely Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno. Here on the triplets, backpackers amicably co-exist with the islanders who have called this place home for generations. Over the years, Lombok has been steadily keeping up with tourists' massive forthcoming, making the island a new emerging holiday destination in Indonesia. Indeed, that is one good reason to plan a visit to this island before it gets overrun by massive tourism.


Unlike Bali, where the main religions are Hinduism and Buddhism, Lombok's dominant religion is Islam. Just like anywhere else in the world, the classic rule of traveling is also applied here. Tourists are expected to maintain good respect for local culture and beliefs. But afraid not, Gili Islands is a tourist-friendly destination. As mentioned, no one will stop you from wearing your lovely beach outfit while enjoying the unlimited refill of vitamin sea. Still, I will recommend you to put on one of those pareos when walking in any local Village ( just because being sexy can wait! :)

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Photo by Tom Bixler on Unsplash

Once you set foot on the lovely tropical islands, you will notice right away the tranquility and pristine blue water surrounds them. At this moment, you will forget the unappealing state of Kuta beach in Bali.


Amazing view of Gili Trawangan - Travel Tips - Turtle Dive, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok, Indonesia Backpacking, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok, pier in Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan Lombok Picturesque Island.

There are two ways to reach the island, either travel by sea or air. If you are planning to enter by air, the nearest airport will be Mataram international airport in mainland Lombok or if you are coming from Bali, head to Padang Bai and hit one of those speedboats. Expect a 2 hours journey on a high-speed motorboat and 5 hours for the slow one.





How many days do you need to spend on the Gili islands?


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Photo by Jesse Hammer on Unsplash

Five days could be a decent amount of time to explore the Gili Islands. Spend three days on Gili Trawangan, get down to some amazing island vibes, and tick all the itineraries with all the possible activities. Spare another two days for Gili Meno and Gili Air. The thing is, you can make a day trip to these two islands, but to experience the tranquility at its best, consider staying at least one night on each island. Gili Air and Gili Meno are all about relaxing, taking it slow, and enjoying nature, which is a bit tricky to ingest if you have a limited stay.


The high travel season is June through September, and the best time to visit with fewer crowds while getting ideal weather conditions is January through February and October through November.




How much money do you need to spend on

Gili Trawangan Lombok Picturesque Island.

According to budgetyourtrip.com, budget travelers should plan to spend around $20 - $30 per day on Gili Trawangan Island. On average, past travelers spent $7 on meals for one day and $5 on bike rental.



 


Done with intros (drop it!), it's time to jump on the next boat all the way to the beautiful Gili Islands.




Gili Trawangan

Lombok Picturesque Island

Amazing view of Gili Trawangan - Travel Tips - Turtle Dive, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok, Indonesia Backpacking, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok

The largest island among the three Gilis, but don't be fooled by the word "largest" because the size of the island is approximately 15 km², and it takes only 2 hours of walking to complete a circle around it. You won't notice the distance of walking, as the view from Jalan Pantai is perfect for morning and evening strolls.


Once a super rustic backpacker's haven before all the upscale villas and resorts went into placement. The island has undergone looming development since 2005, and today all those establishments are far from an end. Any visitor to Trawangan should be prepared for a real deal of mishmash offers. Some will settle in unashamedly Bali-style villas for $300 per night, while others are quite happy to rest their crusty dreadlocks in a cheap hostel after a long day on the magic mushrooms.


There is no literal division of the island on any map. To make things easy for tourists, locals usually note the island in two parts: the eastern and the western side of Gili Trawangan.



The Eastern Part of Gili Trawangan


It doesn't matter if you're coming from Mataram International Airport or Padang Bai in Bali; this is the place where you get dumped off the boat, the main pier location. The east coast is the "little town" of Gili Trawangan. Expect to see many kinds of daily activities happening around this area.




In the daytime, the white sandy beach gets busy with many beach bums enjoying their everyday vitamin sea. Water activities, such as snorkeling, diving, and jet skiing, are also everywhere to be seen.


The marketplace near the shoreline will transform into gastronomy heaven after sunset. A handful of food stalls pop-out every evening to satisfy all your cravings for freshly caught plates of seafood. Near to the market are pubs and clubs that are pretty lit and ready to cater to late-night actions.


Besides that, the east coast of Gili Trawangan also offers a plethora of budget-friendly accommodations, including mini-mart, warung, mid-range restaurants, crafts stores, and apparel boutiques. Besides that, ATMs, dive centers, a clinic, and information counters are also available for an extended list of amenities.




The Western Part of Gili Trawangan


The west coast nestled some of the most upscale villas and freakish resorts in Gili Trawangan. For anyone willing to splurge on a vacation, this place will ensure a definite hideaway away from all the hectic tourists.


Fancy bars serve cocktails on the beach along with upbeat music to enliven your sun tanning session. If you are tired of local food, restaurants here are more than happy to satisfy your tangy taste buds with a wide selection of international cuisines.



The perfect place for honeymooners and newlywed couples to spend their quality time together. Resorts here are also known to provide kids-friendly accommodation, which is famous among family vacationers.


Every waking moment on this western side of Gili Trawangan is full of inspiration. Savour the moment of the most romantic sunset view from a table for two.




Where to stay?



Budget :

MAD MONKEY (SUPERB)

GILI MANSION (FABULOUS)


Mid Range :

Manta Dive Resort (⭐⭐⭐)

Blu d'aMare (⭐⭐⭐)

Little Coco (⭐⭐)


Splurge :

Pearl of Trawangan (⭐⭐⭐⭐)

Sunset Palms Resort (⭐⭐⭐⭐)

Jambuluwuk Oceano (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)



 


10 Things to do in Gili Trawangan




1. Break Sweat Hike to the peak of Gili Trawangan


A brief from WW2, Japanese troops used this island as a naval base. Two of the most notable ruins of that time include a famous dive site shipwreck near the coast of Gili Air and the remnant piece of a machine-gun bunker on the hill of Gili Trawangan.


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View from the Japanese Bunker

It takes about 20 minutes of jungle trekking with barely harsh terrain mostly covered by a dense canopy, providing much-needed shelter from the blistering tropical heat. Before reaching the top, you will notice a Balinese-like shrine and a burial site with no visible inscriptions. Somewhat eerie, most haven't dared to climb up the hill themselves to find out if you ask the locals.


Upon reaching the summit, you will see a beautiful view of the island's east coast with a backdrop of the picturesque Rinjani mountain range. The best time to visit is during sunset (leave the place before its dark, ghost emoticon, incase you don't know, reread the second paragraph)




2. Discover the underwater Insta-worthy sculpture in Gili Meno


A stone thrown away from the Gili Meno coastline is a collection of underwater sculptures depicting a circle of 48 life-size human figures standing together and curled up on the ground that is slowly turning into a coral reef.

Underwater statue Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, Amazing view of Gili Trawangan - Travel Tips - Turtle Dive, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok, Indonesia Backpacking, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok
Photo by Madmonkey Hostel

You can visit this stone masterpiece by arranging a boat trip from Gili Trawangan or stay overnight at Gili Meno and swim a few meters away from the beach.


Became such an in-trend spot for many influencers, arrive early to this location to get your fabulous mermaid-looking underwater photo without the uninvited photobombers.



3. Be a diver and go deep into the underwater world


The warm and Sunny tropical climate makes the Gili islands a diving haven all year round. May - September is the best time to dive, where the weather is hot and sunny, with high visibility. Although diving is still possible in December - January, heavy rainfall will reduce visibility to some extent.


Photo by Uber Scuba Gili | Adrian Jakob on Unsplash


Not very far from the west coast of Gili Trawangan, Shark Point is one of the best-known dive sites around the Gilis. Here you can observe larger marine species that include reef sharks, green turtles, moray eels, and occasional rays. Shark Point is also home to some of the best marine biodiversity around the islands.


If you are a Nitrox certified diver, discover the Japanese Wreck off the south coast of Gili Air. There is plenty of scorpionfish, lionfish, nudibranchs, and giant frogfish down on the sandy bottom.


Diving Safety

If you plan an upcoming dive trip to Gili Islands. Get your insurance here,

This diving insurance offers worldwide coverage, providing quality support, and reliable medical assistance for any related incidents during your trip.




4. Dip your Hair in Saltwater and Do Snorkeling


There are some great snorkeling spots around Gili Trawangan where you can see and swim along with the Green hawksbill turtles. Right in front of the villa, Almarik is one of the best places to do it.


Photo by Adrian Jakob | Ahmed Areef on Unsplash


Apart from turtles, you will also have a great chance to see many corals adorn with many species of bright color fish shoals such as Surgeonfish, Percula Clownfish, Butterflyfish, Sea Goldies, and a variety of Wrasse.




5. Embrace the Nightlife in Gili Style


Nightlife is far from hiding on this affable island. Hence, Gili T is slowly embracing the backpacker's party culture from Kuta and Seminyak. You will notice a smattering of beach pubs and bars near the main pier come to life every night, excluding the holy month of Ramadan.


Photo by My Mate's Place Hostel


Big hostel-like My Mate's Place is best-known for huge gatherings with many fun and so-called ice-breaking games after dinner. It is a great session to make some friends before crawling out to the nightlife. If you are not staying in this hostel, you are still welcome to blend in. ordering something from their kitchen doesn't make you an intruder. Do a pub crawl to some famous bars on the island like Sama Sama Reggae Bar, Jiggy Jig, and Irish bar.




6. Enjoy local dish the spice-rich Sasak Food


Nothing is more satisfying than getting yourself a good plate of local food after long hours of sunbathing. It is also an attempt to immerse yourself in the local culture every time you travel to foreign places. Who knows, that unique staple of a particular region can bring some joy to a hungry palate, eventually leave you craving for more.


Lombok boasts some of Indonesia's widely-known local dishes due to its bold, spicy and exotic flavors. Get down to some lists here:



Pelecing Kangkung, made from water spinach, beansprouts, and grated coconut drenched in a hot and sour dressing. Meanwhile, Ayam Taliwang is a sweet grilled chicken in fiery sambal flavor. Other tasty selections of Sasak cuisine include Sate Pusut Ayam, chicken skewers with peanut sauce. For vegetarians, there's Kelor soup or Beberuk Terong, aka eggplant salad.


For dessert, get a bite of Kue Celorot, a cone cake made of rice, flour, coconut milk, and palm sugar.



Can't make up your mind? Go for Nasi Campur

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Simply meaning "mixed rice," Nasi Campur is a bit of everything on one plate. It is usually served with meat or fish, vegetables, egg, peanuts, tofu, and tempeh. If you like to bring the heat, add some spicy sambal as the locals do.







7. Watch an Epic Sunset and Drown Deep


Check the daily twilight time and head to the west side early for an epic sunset. One of the best places to watch the sunset with fresh drinks is sunset Villa. Although this place can get a bit busy in the evening, you can always find a pleasant spot near the area. If you enjoy bike riding and not really into canapes and evening cocktails, park your bike anywhere near the shore and save yourself the most unreal sky with blue, purple, and pink hue away from crowds.


Photo by Federico Enni | Eirik Skarstein on unsplash


When the sky turns dark, take some time to wrap the day with some kind words (self-reflection). Finally, it's time for another mouth-watering dinner on the island. Cheers!




8. Do merry-go-round, Rent a bike, and cycle around the island


Walking or cycling are both fun activities to do on the island as it offers the best view from all corners of Gili Trawangan. Since motor vehicles are banned here, renting a bike is probably the best thing to do for sightseeing. Besides, you can also explore the inland area, see how locals live, and visit some of the island's best eateries.


The road is mostly paved on the east side, but you might have to get off your bike on the west side and push it for a bit to avoid hard pedaling on soft sands. It's time to put your riding skills to the test.




Bikinis or bare chests on the bike are gorgeously sexy, though it might not be appealing to the Muslim communities on the island. I recommend bringing some scarves or pareos before heading out for the silly biking adventure; these will also help protect your skin from the flaring sun.


If you happen to see any magic mushroom signboards along the way, pretend you don't save sanity or prepare to fly to the moon and back at no transportation cost! Sound good?




9. Obligatory Selfie on the trendy Gili Swings and Sea Hammocks


Picture taking is best when the tide is high as the swings will reflect on the water, giving such a floating mirage in the sea! To get on one of those swings, make your way to the western part of the island, and you will see a bunch of these sea hammocks and swings set on the shores.


Amazing view of Gili Trawangan - Travel Tips - Turtle Dive, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok, Indonesia Backpacking, Gili Islands - Guide to Lombok


The Swings at Ombak Sunset is quite popular and such a trendsetter of this "swing in the sea" photo op. Today, there are plenty of other beach clubs providing the same sea hammock and swings experience. Malibu Beach Club next door are also good options for photos. You don't have to be a guest or stayer in any of these places to access the swings. Just have to queue for your turn.




 


10. Three little side notes



Be Careful With Magic Mushrooms.

Gili Trawangan can be so open about Mushies. Thus, you will notice many signboards selling it openly along the beach. Even though there are no police on the island, it is good to remain careful just so you know what you put in your body.


Pack Your Meds Enough But Don't Go Crazy

I was at the local clinic on the island (eastern side). While waiting for my friend's wound treatment (moped accident in Bali), I saw two dudes come in a hurry looking for a Doctor. They went out pretty fast, and one lad cried a little with his hands trembling visibly. I asked him what happened, and his friends told me he needed a specific medication to control his looming anxiety. Not so lucky, the only way to get it is to take a boat to Lombok mainland hospital.


Something to consider, it's never a bad idea to pack extra meds if you plan for a long trip, especially if it requires a specific prescription from a specialist.


Bring Extra Cash. Atm Is Not Reliable.

The last thing you want to happen is to run out of money in a foreign land. Although plastic money can be a lifesaver, you can't deny the power of paper bills in making transactions straightforward. With a limited number of ATMs on the island, bringing extra cash is always a good thing to do, unless you can't control yourself from spending.


I got an experience where my card was rejected a few times on the ATM, and my bank back home blocked the transaction due to a suspicious overseas withdrawal. The worst thing that could happen was my card stuck inside the filthy machines, as reported by many travelers.





Almost There!



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Obligatory Selfie on Gili Trawangan

Gili is one of the few examples of how sustainable tourism can significantly impact traveling experiences (in the right way, perhaps). Besides promoting no-engine-operated public transport on the island, it also caps the number of tourists who can stay in one dorm to 3 individuals per room. Those actions help control the number of arrivals and prevent overuse of resources beyond the island's amplitude capacities. So anyone in the future can still enjoy the sweet little beauty of the Gili Islands.





Terima Kasih for Reading :)

see you in the next one!!



 

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