The outline of the mountains surrounding the Bangsal harbor are blurring as the rain becomes more intense, a haze seems to dissolve the landscape. Under a thick cap of clouds the small boat departure from the big island to the Gilis, a group of three very small islands located on the northwest coast of Lombok.
The closest and the smallest one is Gili Air, next is distance and size is Gili Meno, and then is Gili Trawangan, the biggest and further island of the Gili group, and the most famous for its nightlife and party lifestyle… attracting the majority of the visitors as also the local population.
The first stop was the Gili Air. This small piece of sand with less than 5 square kilometers have more than 200 accommodation, and almost all the land is already occupied, without almost any rural activity, and with just a few empty spaces. The beach is all around the island (except the pier area that is a bit dump) with more or less 5 kilometers long, but is an always a narrow stretch of sand.
Is a nice place to stay a couple of days, away from urban agitation, is a place without cars or motorbikes, and where the most common way of moving around is by cimodo, the local name for horse carts… or just walk or cycle, as the distances are quite small.
How strange is to be at a beach that has the convex shape?!?!? Usually, the beaches forms a bay or are along a straight coast line, but here, with such a small island the beach always ends behind the bend… looks like the beach is inside out 🙂
Where to sleep in Gili Air:
As usually everything is more expensive on the island, a rule that you can apply worldwide, I think! And Gilis are not an exception.
There a hundred of accommodations in Gili Air, most of them Bungalows, but also resorts, homestays and hostels… but I couldn’t find a place to sleep for less than 130.000 Rp… in low season and after a bargain and without breakfast.
I stayed at Dwi Inn on the north part of the island. A nice place with some rooms around a garden, located inland about 5 minutes walking from the beach… but without atmosphere!!
Where to eat local food at with a cheap price at Gili Air:
Near the pier the WR Bunda, a local grocery shop and eatery, sell nasi campur, in a pack, for 15.000 Rp.
Along the “main” road that goes from the pier to the north of the island you can find small groceries shops that sell fruit and sometimes food. There are small warungs along the many streets, sometimes quite hidden and without a sign, that are more focus on local population but that will be glad to serve you an unpretentious meal.
If you want to go for a treat, I strongly recommend the Warung Padang Sumatra, on the “main” road… white (10.000 Rp) or brown rice (20.000 Rp), and then you add vegetables, tempeh or tofu (10.000 Rp each portion), eggs (15.000 Rp) or meat, fish or prawns. Depending on your appetite, a meal will cost you around 50.000 to 60.000 Rp… three times more that the local masakan padang eateries but very delicious food!
How to move around in Gili Air:
The island is small enough to be done on foot, but renting a bicycle is very popular.
There are no motor vehicles in the island, so if you travel with heavy luggage you can rent the service of the horse cart, locally called cimodos, and are parked nearby the pier.
How to go from Gili Air to Gili Meno:
They’re a hopping island service boat, from the public company (Koperasi Angkutan Laut Karya Bahari) that links the three Gilis.
From Gili Air to Gili Meno the ticket cost you 35.000 Rp, and there are boats at 8.30 and another at 15.00. The trip from Gili Air to Gili Meno takes about 10 minutes.
If you are on a very short budget and have plenty of time, you can take the boat back to Bangsal (12.000 Rp) and then another boat to Gili Meno (14.000 Rp + 2.500 Rp). I didn’t try this option that just saves you 6.500 Rp and maybe it will take you all day 🙂
How to go from Gili Air to Bangsal:
There are public boats all day that departure when are full (40 passengers)… the ticket is 12.000 Rp and the trip takes about 15 minutes.