After an exhausting jaunt across Java, we were ready for some beachy downtime and some beers. Insert the Gilis, three islands just off the west coast of Lombok.
There is a Gili island for everyone. Gili Trewangan for the party hardy backpackers, Gili Meno for those looking to escape everything and everyone, and Gili Air for a little bit of both. We played eeny meeny miny mo and landed on Gili Air.
Lucky for us, Gili Air turned out to be the perfect sit-on-the-beach-and-do-nothing kind of place. We passed three days that consisted mainly of watching small waves crash beyond the clearest turquoise water we’ve ever seen, drunkenly singing out of tune by a bonfire with new friends, and snorkeling off the shore of our beautifully basic bungalow right on the beach. It was fabulous. I don’t know why we ever left.
Although we did a whole lot of nothing in the Gilis, there are definitely some activities for those who didn’t exhaust themselves trying to see all of Java in 4 days. Climbing Mt. Rinjani sounds challenging but awesome. If we had more time we definitely would have given that a go. There are also snorkeling trips that visit all three islands and were highly recommended by fellow travelers. And of course you can dive there as well, although we saved our diving for Komodo.
Everyone and their mother on Bali sells fast boat tickets to the Gilis. The rates are HIGHLY negotiable. I think the listed price online is $98USD one way and we ended up paying something like 600,000 NPR (~$50USD) each for a round trip ticket including transport from Lovina in North Bali to Amed and then from Amed to Kuta on the way back. Just bounce between two or three vendors until the others won’t go any lower. It’s actually a pretty hilarious process. Also, book the onward transport in advance if coming back to Bali. Usually we wouldn’t do this but they know how to milk tourists dollars in Bali and if you don’t book in advance the drivers in the small ports where the fast boats stop will take you to the cleaners.
Once you’re there, pick an island and enjoy. If you end up on Gili Air, we’d recommend staying on the sunset side – a bit cheaper, more spread out, and you’ll be more likely to have a strip of beach all to yourself. Try the arak (a local rice wine). And Sometimes (maybe not his birth name?) at Alibaba Hotel plays a mean guitar.