The Gili islands: True desert-island life

The Gili islands: True desert-island life

The Gili islands: True desert-island life

The three Gili islands just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia are charming little slices of paradise in the midst of the waters east of Bali. They’re an absolute must for those who really want to get away from it all for a few days. Or even weeks. Or longer!

The three Gili Islands are home to some of the most charming, secluded environments in Southeast Asia.

The three Gili Islands are home to some of the most charming, secluded environments in Southeast Asia.

There are three main Gili islands in all, each slightly different from the next. They are:

Gili Trawangan

This stunning island is often ranked with Borobudur and Bali as must-see destinations in Indonesia, and for good reason. While it isn’t exactly your spectacularly isolated desert-island heaven – far from it, in fact, due to its “discovery” by Bali-frequenting backpackers in the 1980s and subsequent evolution into a major party destination – its vibrant, bustling environment remains flanked by white-sand beaches, colourful corals and easy living.

Gili Trawangan's amazing beaches are a major attraction for visitors who come here.

Gili Trawangan’s amazing beaches are a major attraction for visitors who come here.

With just 1,500 people in this small, three-kilometre-by-two-kilometre ocean oasis, there are no cars or trucks – just bicycles and cidomos (small horse-drawn carriages) to get around. The only noisy traffic you’ll hear here are the bustling people mingling on the main strip and the occasional motor sounds of speedboats and other motorized boats to transport people between the islands and Lombok.

Gili Trawangan as seen from a distance. Even though it doesn't look that hilly, it's in fact home to the highest altitudes of the three Gili islands.

Gili Trawangan as seen from a distance. Even though it doesn’t look that hilly, it’s in fact home to the highest altitudes of the three Gili islands.

Gili Air

A touch quieter than Trawangan’s bustling activity is Gili Air, which with a slightly larger local population of 1,800 has its own balance of nightlife and secluded paradise living. Like Trawangan, it also has sandy avenues on which visitors can walk barefoot en route to the bars and restaurants or to idyllic life on the beaches, which are considered the best of the bunch.

Gili Air offers some of the best snorkelling and other water sport activities in the area.

Gili Air offers some of the best snorkelling and other water sport activities in the area.

Visitors can enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding and kitesurfing here. Again, no motorized vehicles are allowed on this island which is considered perfect for those looking for a comfortable vacation between all-out seclusion and easy access to modern amenities.

Gili Meno

The true desert-island fantasy experience can be found on Gili Meno, the smallest of the three with a population of just 400-500. Guests on this island – which again has no vehicles – will find a truly away-from-it-all atmosphere with accommodation choices scattered just far enough from each other to create a genuine secluded feeling. Fresh water is brought in from the mainland, while electricity is supplied via underwater cables from nearby Lombok.

The true desert-island experience can be enjoyed on Gili Meno, the smallest of the three Gili islands with a population of less than 500.

The true desert-island experience can be enjoyed on Gili Meno, the smallest of the three Gili islands with a population of less than 500.

One can walk around the entirety of the island in just an hour and a half, and there are small coconut palm plantations, small farms and a salt-water lake in the interior. Go visit the west coast where you can watch amazing sunsets from a beach where you may even find yourself totally and truly on your own.

While the Gili Islands are charming and secluded, they are rapidly developing as the world discovers their appeal. There’s still time, though, to visit and make your desert-island dream come true on one of Nezasa’s Indonesia itineraries. Check them out and book your trip now!

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