Ray of sunlight shower your whole body. The touch of soft wind bathing your skin. A
After safely landed in Lombok International Airport, you will be overwhelmed by hundreds of locals offering taxi, transportation, and travel packages. They will most likely to approach you especially when you are obviously non-local there. Some offers are good and some are not. Go through several offers that are given to you and does research to avoid being scammed. Since the offer I got was good, I choose one of the transportations to go to Bangsal Harbour (Pelabuhan Bangsal) from Lombok Airport. The base price you should look is around IDR250K to IDR300k for the whole van or car. A one-way trip will take you around 1 ½ hour to 2 hours.
While on your way to Bangsal Harbour, please do not forget to turn on your Google Maps to know your location since the driver who supposed to take me to Bangsal Harbor purposely drop me at another harbor and ask me to take a speedboat. My guess is that the driver might get a commission if you take this speedboat. The reason I want to skip speedboat is that the price ranges differently. Speedboat cost around IDR85k per person while public ferry at Bangsal Harbour cost you only IDR15k per person to Gili Trawangan.
The difference between them; speedboat is faster and leaves on time while the public ferry is a little slower and leave only when it is full. However, I found out that the public ferry fills up very quickly. Although I have to squeeze in with the locals, I like it as it is part of the experience. I also know many reviews said to avoid Bangsal Harbour as it fills with scams. But, my advice is to buy tickets from the office and pay no advance to anyone. Just give a simple smile and walk away.
Oh, and before I forget, Gili Islands are divided into three separate islands;
- Gili Trawangan
The largest and the most visited islands between the three islands. Popular as a party island since most of the tourists come and stay here.
- Gili Air
The closest islands between the three islands from Bangsal Harbour. The scene on this island is quite laid back with its local community.
- Gili Meno
The middle island between Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. This island is the most peaceful between the three other islands. It is popular among couples to relax and have a perfect time together.
And so, choose wisely on which island suits your taste.
During my time in Lombok, I choose to stay in Gili Trawangan. You can just walk-in to any hotels or you can book in advance before your arrival. Getting around in this island is easy as the island is actually not that big. Main transportation here is either by Cidomo (horse cart) or bicycle. Or else you can just walk around the whole island which is not that difficult.
Gili Islands offers an attraction you can do. Some attractions are;
i) Swing above the ocean
Well, what else can I say? This is the most popular spot to take pictures during your stay in Gili Islands and it is popping in all social media. What you can imagine is to have a beautiful picture of you hanging just above the water with a perfect sunset as a background. But, to get this, expect a line to be queued as others are expecting to do the same too.
ii) Water / Land activities
There is quite a number of water or land activities you can choose to do here. If you love hiking, you can hike to Mount Rinjani as the mountain is nearby from Gili Islands. Water activities like surfing, horseback riding along the beach and all sort of watersports are all available in the Gili Islands. If you like to explore all the three islands, you can also do an island hopping for either one whole day or half day. To do island hopping, you can choose a public ferry which will take you from one island to another. Or else, you can rent a private boat. This private boat will definitely recommend places they could bring you plus snorkeling at the best places which public ferry definitely cannot offer.
iii) Snorkeling / Diving
The water in the Gili Islands are much clearer and I can say is the best among the best. The coral, the water and the habitat living in the sea are among the best I had experienced if you compared it to Phuket, Krabi or Bali.
While I snorkel here in Gili Islands (since I don’t dive), hundreds of fish surround me as I feed them with bread. The best part is when I snorkel and getting occupied watching all the vibrant colors of coral reef, one big turtle pass by me casually. The encounter with this reptile is very fascinating. And I can tell you this encounter is not even rare when you are in the Gili Islands.
After spending a whole day doing island hopping, it always a great idea to have a full body massage. All your stress and sore muscles will suddenly go away after having this wonderful massage. Massage in Lombok is common although it is not as good as in Bali. Various massage does available here with price ranges with each shop.
Lombok or Gili Islands specifically is surely the best places to go if your ideas of vacation are to relax and to lay down surrounded with a beautiful view of a beach. Snorkeling or diving, while you are here, is also highly recommended as it is among the best. And I believe because the beauty of its island and their water, Lombok attracts thousands of tourists to come here every year.
[Update December 2018]
After major several earthquakes hit Lombok in August 2018, some places of attraction are badly affected. Lombok is still in a recovering state. Gili Islands are reported to be affected by it too. Please expect several infrastructure damages if you intend to visit Lombok.