To counteract the disastrous effects of turtle poaching, a local initiative was set up in 1995 to protect the islands turtle population. Turtle meat and eggs are considered a delicacy in Bali and poaching of turtle eggs from the waters around the Gili Islands was wiping out the population to such an extent that the Gili Trawangan Turtle Hatchery was set up by a local restaurant owner to safeguard the turtles and cultivate the population of Hawksbill, Green and Loggerhead turtles. The turtle hatchlings are raised until they are about nine months old before they are released into the sea. Visitors to the island are free to have a peek at the turtle tanks at the hatchery and watch the thrice daily feeding where the hatchlings are fed chunks of fish.. While the project gets a small sponsorship from the Indonesian government donations towards this worthwhile project are very welcome and are the main source of funding for the project.
If you are not qualified or interested in diving, the good news is you still have great opportunities to explore the plentiful sea life of the Gilis. Armed with a snorkel and mask you can encounter all manner of sea life just a few metres out from the shoreline. The eastern coast of Gili T has great snorkelling spots where you won’t have to wait long to be immersed in a bewildering variety of marine life, including turtles, angel fish, clown fish and trumpet fish. I have never been anywhere else where this variety of fish and sea life is so accessible from the beach with out the need for scuba equipment. Generally the best points for snorkelling are along the northern stretch of the eastern shoreline of each island.
While not strictly a ‘Thing To Do’ but rather a ‘Thing To Be Aware Of’ the Gili Islands conservation efforts have become a high priority for the people of the Gili Islands. In 2002 the Gili Eco Trust was set up to protect and safeguard the island’s fragile eco systems. The project was initially set up to protect the reefs around the islands and to educate the local fishermen on the implications of using inappropriate fishing techniques such as dynamite fishing. Net, spear and line fishing were encouraged as better and safer methods of fishing.
In 2004 an innovative and promising Bio Rock Project was set up by the Vila Ombak Dive Academy to promote the growth and repair of the reef systems around the islands. The Bio Rock project uses low voltage electrodes panted along the seabed to stimulate the growth of the coral. The effects have proven positive and plans are afoot to extend the project. You can see the Bio Rock project for yourself at certain points around the island. While snorkelling or swimming, don’t be alarmed to see some of these metal rods and cages around the reef.
The Dive Schools on the island have made commendable efforts to protect the islands marine life and ecosystem too. Every diver who visits the island has to pay a reef tax of 40,000 Rupiah. This tax is used to pay the fishermen not to overfish the waters and also for beach clean-ups, eco projects and reef clean-ups. Some of the dive schools also train and employ locals as dive masters at the dive companies. Manta Dive is one such company who employs a number of locals as dive masters and boat operators.
Apart from the beautiful beaches, the Gili Islands other main draw is the spectacular, accessible and relatively easy dive sites scattered around the islands. Gili Trawangan has the best facilities and choice of dive companies but the other two islands also have dive schools who arrange dive trips for all levels.
While the reef around the islands has been badly damaged through inappropriate fishing techniques and the El Nino effect in 2000, recent efforts to conserve and repair the reef has had very positive results and the coral is now starting to develop again. (The situation had gotten so bad on the island that the dive companies had to pay the fishermen not to fish so that the reef and the marine life it supported would not be totally wiped out!)
Today the reefs support an amzing diversity of marine life including a great population of black and white tip reef sharks. Stingrays and Manta Rays, octopus, cuttlefish, moray eels, scorpion fish, lionfish, sea snakes , sea horse and a huge number of turtles...you are almost guaranteed to spot turtles!
All the dive companies on the Gilis offer great value fun dive packages and a range of PADI and SSI courses. We choose Manta Dive on Gili Trawangan for our fun dives. All the companies offer similar prices but we found the equipment and staff at Manta Dive to be of a very high standard. The staff here were very welcoming, considerate, safety orientated and flexible to our needs. We were made feel relaxed and comfortable from the moment we walked into the dive company and we used them A LOT during our stay on the island. Highly recommended, especially for novice divers like us :)
Lookout – Gili Trawangan
An essential Gili T experience is making the short walk up the hill at the southern end of the island. From the eastern side of the island there are several trails up the hill from behind the village. The best access point is along the trail leading up from the jetty but from further south you can still access the hill...if unsure locals will happily point out the way.
The best time of day to climb the hill is for sunrise or sunset when you can watch the sun rise and set. There are great views west towards Bali and you can watch the sun set behind Gunung Agung on Bali’s east coast...a quintessential Gili experience :) on the way up the hill there are also great views out over Gili T and the other two Gili Islands.
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.
Exploring the countryside of South Lombok
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.
- Budget Travel
Relax on Mawan beach, South Lombok
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.
- Budget Travel
Enjoying Kuta Beach in Lombok!
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.
- Budget Travel
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.
Mount Rinjani Trekking
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.
- Adventure Travel
- Mountain Climbing
- Hiking and Walking
Surfing,Diving or just Relaxing on the beach
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.
- Diving and Snorkeling
- Adventure Travel
- Plenty of choices
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