Ah, the Gilis. So clean, so magical, and so blue! Crystal white sands, blinding blue skies, and turquoise sea waters define the Gilis. Ideally nestled in the northwest corner of Lombok, the three beautiful atolls are, without any doubt, the best getaway islands in Indonesia. Away from the bustling center of Bali, and connected to the verdant geography of Ubud, each Gili Island has its own personality.
The sad thing is that you won’t get to find a car, or a bike, or a bus here, as all sorts of motor-vehicles are prohibited. But the good thing is that you get to ride the “cidomo”. Yep! The cidomo horse cart is the prime mode of transportation here, and it makes one hell of a ride!
Gili Trawangan or Gili T, Gili Meno, and Gili Air makes the three Gilis, and each one is a different story all together. Let’s begin with the most dynamic one among the three, the big brother – Gili Trawangan, lovingly called the ‘T’.
If you’re a party-freak and are into socialising, Gili T is the perfect place for you. Popular for its power-packed beach parties held every week, party animals from all over the world pack their bags and flock to this island. But don’t get the impression that the place is only for the backpacker party-heads.
From snorkeling to sun bathing, you say it, and the island has it all. There are plenty of diving schools that teach you how to dive, and they are much safer and cheaper than anywhere else in the world. The northern block of Gili T has a fascinating biodiversity with a rich and colorful marine life, and also, turtles! There’s a reason why they call it the turtle capital of the world, you know.
Now, when it’s time to look for a stay, and if you don’t want to compromise on luxury, then turn your head to the eastern end of the island where you’ll find an endless array of plush hotels and home stays. Bungalows, resorts, hostels, internationally flavored restaurants, and what not, you’ll find it all here at Gili T.
This is the ultimate romantic haven for macro lovers. Laid-back and relaxed, the vibes in Meno are in exact contrast with that of the ‘T’. A brilliant place for young honeymooners, the island is the smallest among the three, and also the quietest. It’s so small that it takes only two hours to cover the entire length of the island.
Snorkel your way down to the seabed to witness what can be rightly called as the 8th wonder of the world – The Nest. It’s an underwater sculpture that has 48 life-sized human figures. Overtime, this sculpture will become home for a large variety of corals and sponges.
In contrast to its elder cousin, the Gili T, Meno is not as hyped up, but you can find lots of restaurants and resorts that radiate a more subtle ambiance – apt for the young lovers. Overall, if a peaceful escape is what you seek, Gili Meno is the place for you.
Far from the bustling streets of Bali, and closest to the dreamy mountains of Lombok, this tiny island is the ultimate chill-out spot in Indonesia. Compared to the other two, Gili Air is a bit behind when it comes to development. But it’s slowly catching up with the recent addition of ATM machines, and a budget friendly market that welcomes crowds of all kind.
An array of hotels and resorts decorate the northern and southern parts of the island, and the restaurants here serve some of the most delicious seafood you’ll ever eat. The bars and pubs come alive during the nights with lots of hippy music charging up the air.
Like the other two Gillis, the diving lessons are cheap and effective, and you ca even get a diver’s license from her if you want. The colorful corals off the east coast is rich with marine life and if you’re lucky, you would spot some turtles as well.
So there, you have the list. It’s up to you, now, to pick the one that matches you the most.