I’m certainly not a beach person. I don’t like the idea of spending (wasting) a day lying on the beach doing nothing, but I’m trying to learn the art of relaxation. Gili Air of the Gili Islands in Lombok was the perfect place to get used to it. Laid back island life, friendly locals, quiet beaches, but still a slew of restaurants and bars to check out. Swimming, snorkeling, diving, there was no way to do it all. I guess I’ll just have to come back.
After the Mt Rinjani trek, Sonja from our guesthouse in Senggigi came with her husband to pick us up from Senaru. We split the 300,000IDR fare between the three of us and I split up from the other guys. I headed to Bangsal harbour to head to Gili Air while the other guys went to Komodo.
Gili Air has the biggest local population out of the three islands and has villages in the centre. Gili T is the party island that’s the furthest out and Gili Meno is the least developed sitting in the middle of Gili T and Gili Air.
At Bangsal harbour the choices for getting to the islands are 85,000IDR for the overpriced boat or 12,000IDR for the public boat across the pond (a bit more for Gili Meno and Gili T). So you know what I did. I walked to the right of the harbour, bought my public boat ticket and ate lunch while waiting for it to fill up.
As I was finishing my meal I noticed a heap of people on the beach so I figured that was the queue. By the time I got there the boat was actually full. I had to wade out up to my waist to the middle of the boat to jump in. Amazingly it’s waterproof at least for that short period.
It barely took 15 mins to get to the island and I followed the crowd down the road in search of a place to stay. I found a hostel for 130,000IDR in a dorm with only a fan, but given it was swelteringly hot I shopped around. A friendly guy on a bicycle offered me a private room with A/C for 150,000IDR so I was sold. I just wish I knew how far the walk was.
His name was Adi and he was the owner of Agilea Guesthouse not far from the main beat. There are just two rooms in his guesthouse and so Adi was very helpful and attentive. Free Es Tea (iced tea with lemon) all day long and banana pancakes for breakfast!
In the afternoons it’s nice to head to the western shore which is lined with sunset bars and it’s much more chill than the more built up eastern side. They even had cider so I shared one with a fellow traveler. So refreshing after having no choice besides beer the whole time in Asia.
Bean bags and beach huts are the best way to soak up the view. There might not be as many restaurants, but you can still get a decent burger with your beverage.
I went for a jog around the island in the morning to explore. There’s a whole bunch of other more secluded little resorts and bars on the northern side of the island, but I could not find Ogi’s bar (one of the rastafarian locals we met in a bar in Senggigi). The sand gets very hot by 10am so take to the water for swimming, snorkeling or diving before your feet fry like mine did.
There’s a funky cafe in the middle of the island called Easy Gili Warung. The music is good and it was the best milkshake I’d had in a long while.
Seafood abounds, as do steaks and assorted BBQ that would be more familiar to westerners. There are still lots of little Indonesian warungs though. The burger I had on Gili Air was actually the first western meal I had in 2 weeks of travel in Indonesia. The food is here is just so good and varied.
The power can go out from time to time. It is an island after all.
Other than that, just enjoy! I hardly even took any photos I was so relaxed.
Getting off the islands
Numerous boat services run to Bangsal, Senggigi and Bali. For 300,000IDR I got a fast boat via Gili T back to Padangbai in Bali. Then from there I got a shuttle connection to Denpassar airport, but there are plenty of other connections to Ubud and other tourist destinations.
It took about 4.5 hours in total, but do still make sure you leave plenty of time for your flight. Indonesian traffic can be a bit unpredictable and congested.