Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Three Gili's - Party Island on Lombok

three gili on lombok island

3 Gili
The Gili Islands (Indonesian:Tiga Gili [Three Gilis], Kepulauan Gili [Gili Islands]) are an archipelago of three small islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air — just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia..
The islands are a popular destination for Western tourists looking for a remote island experience. Each island has several small resorts, usually consisting of a small collection of huts for tourists, and a restaurant. Most local inhabitants live in the hilly interior of the island. Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on the islands by local ordinance, so the preferred method of transportation is bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage called a cidomo. Diving in and around the Gilis is also popular, although the prices are fairly high due to local cartel activities. The name “Gili Islands” is a bit of a misnomer, because Gili simply means “small island” in Sasak.
GILI TRAWANGAN
gili trawangan lombok island

Gili Trawangan is the largest of Lombok’s Gili Islands and is the only one to rise significantly above sea level. It is 3km long and 2km wide with a population of about 1000. Of the Gilis, Trawangan has the most tourist facilities; the pub Tîr na Nôg claims that Trawangan is the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub. The most crowded part of Trawangan lies on the eastern side.
On Gili Trawangan (as well as the other two Gilis), there are no motorized vehicles. The main means of transportation are bicycles (rented by locals to tourists) and cidomo (a small horsedrawn carriage). For traveling to and from each of the Gilis, locals usually use motorized boats and speedboats.
The Gili islands are renowned not only for their friendly inhabitants but the total tropical island paradise feeling that they have. The white coral beaches, the warm and inviting waters all invite to snorkeling, sun bathing and of course diving. The diversity of aquatic life is astounding and just off the shores you can find turtles, sting rays, reef sharks, baracudas, and a myriad of small and large fish.
Some of the first inhabitants of Gili Trawangan were from Sulawesi who are fishermen and farmers. Previously Gili Trawangan was covered in forest and deer lived on the island.
GILI MENO
Gili Meno is the middle of Lombok’s three Gilis. It has population of about 300, mainly concentrated on the center of the island. The main income of the population comes from tourism, coconut plantation and fishing. On the west side of the island there is a small shallow lake that produces salt in the dry season. Until a few years ago there was also a small production of seaweed on the reef at the north end of the island. It has swimming beaches all around the island, as well as an impressive bird sanctuary.
GILI AIR
Gili Air is the smallest of the Gilis and it’s closest to the Lombok mainland, making it popular with honeymoon couples and travelers seeking a quiet retreat. It has population of about 1,000 and administratively lies in the West Nusa Tenggara province. The island offers excellent snorkeling and SCUBA diving off its east coast, and turtles can be seen along the coral reef.
Gili Meno, the central island, is home to only a few hundred residents. The most quiet and least exploited island of the three, makes Gili Meno also the most attractive. Drinking water is brought in from Lombok. The sources of the island only bring in salt water which is hardly good enough to bath in. Just inland is a big salt lake, which is separated by small dykes for salt mining, which takes place in the dry season (May until October). The dry times are sometimes marked by cholera on the island. The rest of the year there are malaria musquitos; don’t forget tablets and a musquito net.
The hotels and bungalows are located along the southeastern coast. They offer a nice view over Gili Air and Gunung Rinjani in the east. The best place for snorkling is the northeastern coast, near the Blue Coral Bungalow, which has it’s name from the blue-colored corals just offshore. The reef offers a big variety of coral spiecies and small, colorfull fish.
How to Get There:
In the Gili Islands, there is no shortage of small local boats willing to transport you, from island to island and back to the mainland. None of boats has any kind of safety equipment and the waters around the Gili’s can be choppy. Regardless, they are a handy form of transport and make exploring the islands easy.
There are regular shuttle services from Bangsal on the main island of Lombok, stopping at all islands. The trip takes about 15 minutes to Air, 30 min to Meno and 45 min to Trawangan. Around Rp30-40,000 one-way, or Rp70,000 if including land transfer from Senggigi. Avoid traveling to Bangsal as captains will wait until the boat is full of passengers before setting off. Book a trip with Parama instead, which will travel to and from the islands no matter how many people they have.
Alternatively, the Gilis can be visited on a day trip from Senggigi, in which case you’ll get your own little boat and crew to take you around. The trip across take 1-2 hours each way and is quite scenic, if a little bumpy when the waves are high. Available from any travel agent, figure on Rp400,000 for a tour for two.

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