The Gili Island’s are all about relaxation. Apart from the occasional foray into the deep on a diving trip, most of your time on the islands will be spent on the powdery white sand beaches. Gili Meno is regarded as having the best and most unspoilt beaches and another advantage of the Meno beaches is that they are quieter and more secluded than the beaches on Trawangan and Air. The best beaches on Meno are along the eastern coast where most of the accommodation is located. At the north-west corner is another great swimming and snorkelling spot with a few small restaurants nearby where you can grab a simple but tasty bite to eat. Be aware that the currents along this part of the island can be unpredictable so care should be taken not to stray out too far from the shore. The good news is that the water is shallow here so staying within your depth is easy.
On Trawangan there are a few great swimming and snorkelling spots. The most popular spot is along the northern stretch of the east coast close to the turtle hatchery. There is wonderful snorkelling here with some nice coral and an almost guaranteed opportunity to spot turtles while swimming and snorkelling. There is a drop off a few metres out from the shore known as the Trawangan Wall and there is a sizeable population of marine life around here. Around the north-eastern bend is another good snorkelling spot but the water is more shallow here and currents are stronger here. The western shoreline is very secluded but as it is open to the open sea, the water here is not as safe for swimming and the beaches are littered with driftwood and debris.
In my opinion the beaches on Gili Air are the least appealing of the three islands but there are some nice snorkelling spots along the sheltered east coast.
There’s not too much to do on Gili Meno and therein lies its charm. The smallest of the three islands lies between Trawangan and Air and as the little brother of the islands is protected from the more raucous and ‘adult’ behaviour of the other two! Labelled as the quietest of the islands, Gili Meno doesn’t seem to mind being stuck with the ‘dry’ title and is the perfect escape for a bit of R&R or at the very least as a hideaway while nursing a Gili T hangover :) The island is regarded as having the best beaches of the three especially along the east and north coasts. There is only a permanent population of around 400 people on the island with a scattering of huts along the east and through the central plantations. In the centre of the island is an aviary and apparently there is a komodo dragon kept somewhere on the island but we couldn’t find it!
Accommodation options are more expensive than the other Gilis and are not as plentiful, but you do have the option of just visiting Gili Meno as a day trip from one of the other islands. To be honest unless you’re on honeymoon or looking for total isolation, you will probably prefer to visit as a day-trip because at night Gili Meno shuts up shop and it can be very hard to even find something to eat or have a drink. Best to come and enjoy the beaches and waters of Meno for a day and head back to Trawangan or Air for the night.
Gili Air is the closest island to mainland Lombok and is the most populous of the three islands. While not as well set up to cater for tourists than Gili Trawangan, Gili Air does have a good range of accommodation options mainly catering for budget to mid-range travellers. The nightlife here isn’t as lively as Trawangan either but there is a sizeable strip of bars and restaurants especially along the north-east corner. Regarded as being a good mix between spirited Trawangan and placid Meno, Gili Air is a good choice for travellers wishing to skip the party atmosphere of Gili T without becoming a hermit on Gili Air!!! Without the same choice as Gili T, Gili Air does have a number of dive companies which offer reasonable dive trips into the clear turquoise waters around the islands. The beaches here are clean and safe for swimming but the reef is in varying states of disrepair card should be taken to avoid further damaging the coral. Attempts are underway to promote the growth of the reef and there are positive signs that the once healthy coral is beginning to re-develop.
Furthest from the mainland is Gili Trawangan, the largest island in the chain. Gili Trawangan is the most popular island for visitors as it offers the biggest range of accommodation and dining/nightlife options and during the high season can be quite busy for a small island. It has a reputation for being a party island but to be honest we didn’t really get that impression when we visited in January/February 2010. There is a lively nightlife here with different pubs/restaurants hosting party nights on set days but it’s not as if the whole island is hopping all day and all night. During the day the island is relaxed and laid back while at night, away from the main strip the island is still a quiet and peaceful place to be. Put simply, the late night parties are there if you want to have a bit of fun but are easily avoidable if you want simply want some down time.
During the day, relaxing on the beautiful beaches is the name of the game on Trawangan but there is superb and affordable diving and snorkelling opportunities for those wanting to get a bit more active The short but enjoyable walk around the island is a pleasant break from the beach or pub and the walk up the hill at the western end of the island to enjoy the sunset views out towards Bali is an essential Trawangan experience. Swimming in the warm turquoise water is generally safe (be careful of currents at either end of the island) and you have a great chance of sharing the clear water with a few curious turtles and a sizeable population of colourful fish.
Well paved roads head east and west from Kuta along the coast of South Lombok. Both bicycles and motor bikes are available for hire at Mimpi Manis and other accommodation in Kuta. Spend an afternoon cycling east towards the Novatel where there is a beautiful beach. Cycling west is a little harder as there are some steep climbs, but the views and lush countryside on offer are well worth the effort.
Less than 10km west of Kuta in South Lombok along a road that traverses some beautiful countryside is Mawan beach. Here you can spend the afternoon just enjoying the tranquility of the surrounds and the warm waters of the majestic cove. Just behind the beach, you can often find a handful of locals selling traditional Lombok handicrafts and t-shirts. They are great to have a chat to, and while they want to sell, they don't hassle like the hawkers on some of the beaches in south Bali.
Everyone has heard of Kuta Beach in Bali, but for real relaxation, Kuta Beach in Lombok is the place to go. The village has a quiet charm, there is good surf, a beautiful clean beach, and none of the hassle of Kuta Bali. There is some good budget to mid-range accommodation, friendly locals and good food. It is not the easiest place to get to - if there are at least two paying customers, the Perama shuttle will take you. Much easier to get back, as one of the locals driving towards Mataram will take you for a small fare.
Situated 8km west of Kuta this is a stunning spotless white sand beach.
Mawun gets only a handful of visitors a day so you will possibly have the whole place to yourself. (except for a few sellers that don't hassle & are in now way aggressive)
At times this beach can have large waves but if they bother you the western corner stays calm. You could rent a boogie board back in Kuta & try some body boarding. The serious surf is further out.
This is my personal favourite beach on Lombok. (A place previously held by Tanjung Aan)
Get there from Kuta by motorbike (Rp30,000 per day) or Ojek (motorbike taxi) There is no need to charter a car for this short trip.
Parking is Rp2,000 for a motorbike & Rp5,000 for a car.
If you are not an experienced bike rider it maybe better not to drive yourself as there is a very steep hill on this route.
There over 20 villages surround Mt. Rinjani and there are many routes up the mountain,
but the main access is from Senaru in the north and Sembalun Lawang to the east. The challenging three-day Rinjani Trek route from Senaru to the crater rim (Plawangan), down to the stunning crater lake then on to Sembalun Lawang, is considered one of the best treks in South East Asia. Those heading for the summit usually prefer to start in Sembalun Lawang.
A model for Eco tourism in Indonesia, the community-based activities are focused on the Rinjani Trek Center in Senaru, the most popular starting point for the tough trek. Developed with New Zealand Government assistance since 1999, the Rinjani Trek Center embodies under one roof (satu atap) the unique partnership of the National Park, tourism industry and local communities that has been forged to manage and protect the Rinjani mountain environment.
Lombok Island has thousands of kilometers of beaches, and millions of square kilometers of water, making it a paradise for water sport enthusiasts of all the time. Pounding surf, still blue seas, unspoiled coral reefs, and deserted, unexplored islands create a superb environment for surfing, swimming, scuba diving, or just relaxing on the beach.
Lombok is still undiscovered paradise with lust tropical. Which will attract every heart with fascination. Some describe the island as only holiday resort where visitors may relax and recover. Plenty of glistening white sandy beaches are found on almost all of the entire island boundaries, but this is not all offer, the smaller island to the north namely Gili Air, Gili Meno, Gili Trawangan and to the southwest is Gili Nanggu, Gili Gede, Gili Genting and many others only some of which are inhabited, provide a tropical island holiday featuring sun, sand, sea marine beauty. Swimming, snorkeling, and diving would be the best, or fishing? You just get the idea and all requirements are available.
Day 1, got picked up from the hotel at 5 o'clock in the morning, still very sleepy. it takes about 2 hours to get to Senaru, after having a light breakfast, we ride for another hour to Sembalun. For me personally i think, to start the trek from Sembalun rather than senaru, it's better. It;s your choice really? do you want shady tropical forest first or do you want barren grass land. i started from Sembalun. It;s hot, not so many trees for shade. Walk and Walk up the hill.
Day2. got woken up at 2.30 AM for climbing the peak and watched the sunrise, it 's too early, dark and cold. Midday the journey was easier, it was going down the hill, to get to the lake.
For me it;s the best part of the trip. Nice view of the lake, plus hot spring ( it;s nice sulphuric hot bath)
Day3. It;s going back trip, you can choose to get really early, and dont have to stay overnight near. But on the third day, it;s climbing up again, and i choosed to have another hot bath :). So left the lake during midday.
Day4. It;s the easiest part of the journey, basically walking up a little bit, through forest.
Let's face it, it's a bit of a dump Senggigi. People talk about 'charming' and 'scenic' and other nicey nicey words that they've been brainwashed into believing from their guidebook, but I can only assume that they got on the wrong bus and ended up somewhere else.
Senggigi main street at least is about as scenic as a rubbish dump - broken glass ground into the rubbish strewn ..........pavements? Can I even call them that? Dusty areas in front of run down shops would probably be a better description.
It's not a nice place. The beach is OK, the resorts that look after their own area outside are OK, but the main areas of town are best driven through on a fast bike.
I know people are having a hard time financially at the moment but it doesn't cost anything to tidy up the front of your shop and pick up the junk and it doesn't cost anything to sit by your stall or shop and smile at tourists while letting them browse at their own pace.
I'm sure that if the vendors in Senggigi put more energy into cleaning the place up and less into frightening off any potential customers, they'd have a higher success rate. The only shop I ever saw any tourists visiting was a wood carving shop where the owner sat outside (on a chair in his well-swept shopfront!) reading the newspaper and minding his own business.
we saw some excellent wildlife around Lombok. The first was when snorkelling and we saw turtles swimming along happily. Sitting on the upstairs balcony of our apartment one night while it was quiet I also saw a Binturong (bearcat) walking across the grass and then it disappeared up a tree when someone walked up the path towards it. Lastly we were out around the south (Tanjung Ann beach) and came across a sea snake curled up in a small rock pool waiting for the tide to come in (they're very venomous so I'm glad we saw it before we got any closer).
There are more than one group of Gilis (Gili, I believe, means 'island'), but the Gilis that most people go to are the ones in the north west of Lombok - Gili Air, Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno.
We went on a snorkelling trip with Blue Marlin who mainly do SCUBA diving but they take some snorkellers along too. We got taken from our resort in a car to Bangsai and got one of their boats from there. Most of the people on the boat were learning to dive but a few of us snorkelled and one of the guys from the boat came in with us and pointed out things like turtles and clown fish (all the 'must sees' of a snorkel trip!). None of us had ever seen turtles in the wild before so that was a real bonus.
We stopped on Gili Trawangan and had an hour or so to look around and have lunch somewhere. The Dive company were quite relaxed about what you did and a couple of people didn't enjoy the snorkelling (it was their first time) so they asked if they could stay on the island and have a look around instead of coming on the afternoon trip, which they did and we picked them up on the way back to Lombok.
The whole thing was only US$20 each so it was a real budget trip compared to some of these all day boat trips, but lunch and drinks weren't included so you'd need to take some water and some cash for lunch, but that worked well for us as there was lots of choice on the island and we weren't restricted to going to the same place as everyone else.
Unfortunately I haven't got any photos of the day as, like a plonker, I forgot to charge my camera battery!
At the south coast of Lombok, near Kuta village, you can still find the ideal beach: white sand, safe swimming in a bay, deserted except for a few villagers who for a small amount will serve you with a fresh coconut. The best beach in our opinion is near the Aan Peninsula (Tanjung Aan).
To get there, stay in one of several hotels at Kuta village, and hire a motorbike.