Gili's and Lombok Island
Did you know there are in fact 26 Gili islands
surrounding the mainland of Lombok
, on the northwest coast is of course the most famous and most developed, They are called -
, Gili Meno and Gili Air, they are the most famous Gili Islands which are in the North
On the southwest peninsula which is rapidly being developed on the mainland due to the expectation of the new airport and of course it's amazing natural beauty are another 12 Gili islands in the Sekotong Peninsula, West Lombok Regency. They are called - Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak, Gili Tangkong, (Where the super chic, Dharma Gili eco resort is planned), Gili Poh (the smallest by far) Gili Genting, Gili Lontar, Gili Layar, Gili Amben, Gili Gede, Gili Anyaran, Gili Layar and Gili Asahan. only 2 have accommodations, Gili Nanggu and Gili Gede.
The southwest coast of Lombok is one of the most spectacular areas in Indonesia and is still relatively undeveloped, offering a pristine natural region for travellers to explore. South of Lembar Harbour, the main port on West Lombok, the southwest coast features a series of stunning bays set against a backdrop of green hills and fields. There are also twelve small islands just off the coast, similar to the famous Gilis, but largely uninhabited.
The drive itself is a worthwhile trip, meandering through villages where life is untouched by tourism and where the people are involved in their day-to-day activities of farming, fish cultivation, boating and fishing, brick-making and other traditional pastimes. Along the roadsides you will see people building and repairing boats, laying out hand-made bricks to dry in the sun, working in the fields, and sometimes guiding primitive wooden ploughs harnessed to huge water buffalo as they prepare the fields for planting.
Heading towards Sekotong, on the left side of the road is a sealed road leading up the hill. Climbing steeply, the views back down the hill and across the fields are truly magnificent. The panorama stretches out across the clear waters, highlighting the white sand coastline and the many small islands dotted just off the coast. Some of these islands have simple accommodation for travellers and are great places to visit the Gilis of the future, no doubt!
A bit further along the main road is Taun, a peaceful village with friendly people, situated on a wide, placid bay. The ocean is sparkling turquoise and the dazzling white sand stretches in a wide sweep around the bay, while the hills behind form a perfect backdrop to an idyllic setting. Just out in the calm bay sit the three lovely islands of Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkong and Gili Sudat all easily accessible by local outrigger boats. A small sign in the nearby village will direct you to the local boat hire area, where you can arrange boat trips out to Gili Nanggu and the other small islands in the area, at reasonable rates.
A little further on, before the local marine culture complex (Balai Budaya Laut), there is a small dirt road leading off toward the beach. This road leads out onto a dazzling white peninsular of land that juts into beautiful blue waters. Gili Genting is a small hill in the ocean situated just off the point. At high tide it is separated from the mainland by a shallow stretch of water and at low tide it is possible to walk out to explore the island. The rock formations are ancient lava flows into which the sea has carved all sorts of interesting shapes, tunnels and caves; providing sheltered nooks and crannies of shade a perfect setting for a picnic lunch!
On the South West coast in the Lombok Regency
there are another 3 islands - Gili Solet, Gili Sarang Burung and Gili Kawu.
In the South east, in the East Lombok Regency is 3 more islands, Gili Indah, Gili Merengke and Gili Belek.
And the only other islands are in the very North East Lombok Regency, is Gili Lawang, Gili Sulat, Gili Pentangan, Gili Bidara (Pasaran) and Gili Lampu.
All have a few things in common, 75% are uninhabited, they all have crystal white sands, clear turquiose waters for
amazing snorkelling and diving
, and are unspoilt. This left us wondering how these islands can still be one of Lombok's best kept secrets, although I have heard through the grapevine people are catching on and plots are selling, which is not surprising when they have so much to offer, both to tourists and investors!
Slightly further south are Gili Genting and Gili Lontar, with Gili Poh forming a round white dot in the ocean slightly further offshore to the north of these two. Gili Genting sits just off the tip of a beautiful white-sand peninsular that juts into the ocean. At low tide, you can walk across the sandbar from the peninsular and explore this uninhabited island. Old volcanic rocks and stone carved from centuries of tides create small caves, providing shelter for picnics and interesting nooks and crannies to explore.
Gili Amben is just offshore, slightly to the south, while Gili Anyaran is further out, but easily accessible by local boat. Dominating them all, located between these two islands, is the big island of Gili Gede. So large and so close to shore that it is often mistaken as part of the mainland, Gili Gede is a picturesque and sprawling island with many small coves and pretty beaches along its coast and small hills running through the centre, which have wonderful views of the Southwest Gilis.
Secret Island Resort is located on a small hill at the southern tip of the island, providing simple and comfortable accommodation, as well as personalised snorkeling
and island tours
and fishing trips
on their 9m purpose-built boat, Scorpio. On the northern end of the island is another small resort, Via Vaccare, with octagonal shaped rooms on the beach, offering peaceful island breaks, and
and meditation sessions for those who wish to participate.
To the south of Gili Gede, the islands of Gili Renggit, Layar and Asahan
are lined up like secret treasures in the calm sea. Abundant coral reefs lay just below the surface waiting to be explored, filled with thousands of brightly coloured tropical fish, huge sprawling blue starfish and magical turtles gently gliding through the water. Deserted
white sand beaches
call visitors from the sea to picnic on the beach and swim in the clear turquoise waters. Many of the beaches are lined with shells washed up by the tide and the temptation to take home these pretty souvenirs is irresistible. A day spent playing in the water, snorkelling above the colourful coral and beachcombing the shores is a tonic for the soul in this magical and pristine environment.
Those who wish to explore the
further can join dive adventures with Dive Zone, the only diving company located in the area, on the beach at Sundancer Resort in Sekotong. Owner-operator, George, is only to happy to show visitors these exciting and totally unspoiled dive sites, abundant with hard and soft corals and all kinds of tropical fish species. Diving amongst schools of magnificent turtles is common, as these peaceful giant creatures live undisturbed in the waters of the Southwest Gilis and do not fear man as a hunterThere are at least four other small islands, barely dots in the ocean, as well as coral atolls raising out of the sparkling waters of the Southwest Gilis more delightful islands in the making. But for now, the secret islands of the southwest provide more than enough opportunities for those seeking truly unspoiled and deserted tropical island paradises
. With so much beauty on offer both above and below the sea, the Southwest Gilis can't remain a secret much longer!