Three word for Gili islands: Beach, Snorkeling and Diving!!!
My first time visited Gili islands have been more than 10 years ago. It is soo different now with back then when I snorkeled there. The changes so far still tolerable that make me still coming back every now and then when I visit Indonesia. It is such a tiny beautiful island with no cars, scooter or whatsoever with machine. The only vehicles to get around the island is either you walk, get a bike or with cidomo (its like a carriage but the modest version ;)). There are 3 islands nearby, each call Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. You can get around from one to another with boat and take you less than minute and you will be at the other islands. Some people have attempted swimming to other island and they made it if the wave is not strong enough. Ask the dive center around if you tempt to swim, or maybe have your friend nearby you with their canoe in case the hard current around. We did it once and all went well 🙂
How to get to Gili Island?
Gili island can be reach from Bali and from Lombok. From Lombok: once you are landing or somewhere in Lombok. You can get as close as to Bangsal then take the public boat there. Get to Bangsal before 4pm with taxi from the airport will cost you around 7USD, then the boat around 1USD to Gili Trawangan. This is the cheapest option, otherwise you can take private charter from Teluk Nare. You can also ask people around in Mataram airport if they can arrange you way to Gili island straight from the airport. We did it once and cost us around 40USD for 4 of us. From Bali: you can fly to Lombok and do everything mention before or just take the speedboat directly get to Gili Trawangan island, for about 90minutes from Padang Bai. There are several boat operators, my favourite is ocean star, I take ocean star everytime I go to Gili and cost us 35USD one way, which is a good bargain if you see their publish rate. There is new operator that I havent tried it, they said, it costs cheaper, 25USD directly to Gili Trawangan from Padang Bai with Wahana Gili Ocean. Call them in advance and ask them to put your name on and get a bargain until the price that I mentioned above, I did get the price and same goes to some other travelers. Otherway and most painful but maybe adventurous way is taking ferry from Padang Bai harbor to Lembar harbor. Ferry from Padang Bai to Lembar Harbour costs around 2USD then taxi to Bangsal around 10USD, then do everything all over like how to get from Lombok. I have done all of them. My favorite is taking the speedboat from Bali as this is hassle free and sometime I ve got chance to see school of dolphin.
What to do in Gili island?
Basically is treating yourself. Yeah, it’s true. First thing I do after settling down with accommodation, I go for lunch. Then reading my favourite book just in front of our favourite accommodation, Villa Almarik until I got bored (which almost never), then I swim and snorkelling in front of the ocean. If you are lucky enough, you can swim with the three musketeers turtles, the citizen of that beach 😉 .
Just around 4pm or a lil later, you can start your way to walk the whole island. See the infamous sunset at the sunset point with the amazing view of Mount Agung if the sky clear enough. It was very beautiful. In the evening, you can strall youself to walk to the ‘city’ part of the island, enjoying some great seafood dinner at Scallywags, the beach house or some pizzeria. Hehehhe.
The next days usually I do diving from one spot to another spot, visiting other islands by renting a boat for around 35USD for whole day. You can share with your travel buddies, the more people the cheaper. There are some nice snorkelling spot at Gili Meno and Gili Air. Diving, these last three visits I stick with Ganga Dive at Villa Almarik. I personally like to dive here as there is not many people dive together that makes my dive more enjoyable and relax. The ideal lenght for me to stay in Gili Island is around 5 days 4 nite, I get to dive, swim, sun bathing, relaxing and it was really worth the effort to get there. You can do as well a day trip here from Lombok, but surely it really depends on your preference.