Gili Islands: Lombok’s Archipelago Getaway
About 50 miles from Bali off the coast of Lombok lay three small, beautiful islands known as the Gili Islands, or “small islands,” in Bahasa Indonesia. Called Gili Air (the Indonesian word for water), Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan, all three possess a laid-back, slower pace of life than their larger neighbors, while each island is fringed by powdery, white sand and immaculately clear water.
From Bangsal Harbor in the northwest corner of Lombok, travelers can jump on a very inexpensive local boat to get to the islands. There is no set time for departure as this busy local ferry only leaves once passenger capacity is reached. Don’t be surprised to see some locals hauling sacks of goods on board from the market in Lombok, since this ferry is also the supply boat for all three islands.
It’s about a 30-minute boat ride to the biggest and farthest of the three islands, Trawangan. The ride is stunning with beautiful scenery in all directions, as you depart the harbor. Lombok’s spectacular coast and Indonesia’s second largest volcano, Mt. Rinjani, loom large behind you, while Bali and Mt. Agung dot the horizon, and the Gili Islands slowly emerge in distance. Below the boat, the crystal-clear water reveals a marine world with dazzling schools of fish and lively coral reefs.
Local ordinance on the Gili Islands has outlawed all motorized vehicles, which certainly adds to their quiet, serene, laid-back atmosphere. Other than walking, the best way for visitors to get around is either by bicycle or to hire a horse-drawn cart, known locally as a cidomo. The two-wheeled carts are typically brightly colored and comfortably seat up to four people. While these horse-drawn carts can cause traffic congestion in some urban parts of Indonesia, on the Gili Islands they fit in perfectly!
If your clients are looking for a place to truly “get away from it all,” then jumping on a local ferry in Lombok’s Bangsal Harbor and heading for the Gili Islands is just the beginning of your adventure.
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