Backpacking in The Gili Islands, Lombok
On the north western tip of Lombok lies three spectacular tiny atolls that are the Gilis – Trawangan, Meno, and Air. These three tiny islands are a world away from any hassle of major resorts of Bali. Once there you will probably never want to leave as Island life can really take a hold of you and have you believe you are the next Robinson Crusoe.
The Gilis have been around for centuries yet it was only until the late eighties that backpackers discovered these jewels of Indonesia and decided it would be a great spot to swim, snorkel, relax and enjoy the spectacular views the islands have to offer.
Gili Trawangan is the biggest of the three islands and has in recent times had a reputation as a party island. This reputation today is still true yet with the addition of a few resorts and up market villas and hotels it has also become very popular with families.
Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and less developed than its sisters Trawangan and Air. It is two kilometers long and one wide making it a perfect getaway for honeymooners and wanna be Castaways. It has to be said that Meno with its untouched surroundings has the best beaches.
Gili Air is the closest to mainland Lombok only taking 20 minutes by boat to reach. It is not as developed as Trawangan thus attracting people with a desire for peace and relaxation. If you are traveling on a budget then Gili Air is very much the place as it has numerous yet basic bungalows. Remember to take enough cash with you as there is no ATM on Air.
The beautiful thing about the Gilis is that motorized transportation is not allowed on any of the islands and you will find yourself riding in a horse and cart (Cidomo) or taking advantage of the numerous bicycle rentals that are scattered around the islands. The islands themselves are so small you can easily walk full circle in around two hours. The west coast of Trawangan is the best place to watch the sun set over Bali’s Majestic Agung Volcano.
There are numerous ways to access the Gilis and just recently and fast boat operation has been serving Bali direct to Trawangan. Probably the most popular of all the services to the Gilis is the Gili Cat. This service will serve customers from all over Bali, they run from the harbour of Padang Bai and will pick you up from your hotel anywhere in Bali. The crossing usually takes around one and half hours depending on weather conditions. The great thing about the fast boat is that they drop you off on the beach and within seconds you start to feel the island atmosphere the Gilis offer.
Perama shuttle bus and boat is the other option to get you to the Gilis. This is a cheaper option than the fast boat yet only if you have the time to spare.
The Gili Cat service provides transport for customers all over Bali, they run from Padang Bai harbour (so great for people travelling from Ubud and north Bali) to Gili Trawangan and Lombok with two 16 m Australian built fibreglass catamarans that seat up to 28 passengers. With the shortest sea crossing time of 1.5 hours. In high season they operate afternoon departures.
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