The Gili Islands in Lombok are gradually getting the crowds that flock Bali, thanks to their proximity between each other. But despite the increased tourism activity, much of it still wouldn’t measure up to Bali’s development—think Bali ten years ago, as one Indonesian friend would put it—and this is why many think it’s charming.
I was supposed to go to Lombok in August, but I had to cancel the trip due to personal circumstances. Fortunately, through Trip of Wonders, an initiative by the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism for bloggers and influencers, I had a day to explore the Gili Islands. Was it enough? Certainly not. I’m coming back for sure.
SNORKELING IN THE GILIS
The Gili Islands, with its plethora of scuba shops, are said to be among the most affordable places to go diving in the world. But is there much to see in the islands’ waters? Well, we didn’t exactly go diving, but we did go snorkeling near the islands, and we were impressed with what we discovered ourselves—from the healthy coral reefs to the schools of colorful fishes.
We did a brief stop at Gili Air, the nearest of the three Gili Islands from main island of Lombok. It does have the facilities of its biggest sister Gili Trawangan, yet it maintains a more peaceful ambiance, a slower pace, and a chill-out vibe all over. Some say that among the Gili Islands, Gili Air radiates the most authentic, local feel.
The largest among the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan, fondly called Gili T, has the notoriety of being the hedonistic party island, albeit to a lesser extent compared to Bali. Throughout the island is a cool convivial atmosphere and a feeling that everyone seems to know everyone.
We started our exploration of the island with an indulgent lunch at Hotel Vila Ombak, one of the few luxury resorts in the Gilis and all of Lombok.
Afterwards, I took a walk around the island, along its gleaming white sand beach. It did remind me somewhat of Boracay, although it had fewer people around. Compared to Bali, there aren’t too many resorts, bars, and restaurants either. And so being relatively less congested adds much to its charm.
THE ROEMAH SPA AT HOTEL VILA OMBAK
After walking around the Gili T, I went back to Hotel Vila Ombak to check out The Roemah Spa. It’s located near the beachside, making it accessible for non-staying guests like myself.
The Roemah Spa has private treatment rooms, and the one assigned to me was gorgeous—the design was locally-inspired, and the place felt classy altogether. I chose to indulge in one of their traditional massages priced at 300,000 IDR (~1,100 PHP) for an hour—which was a steal for a hotel spa as luxurious as that.
The massage was superb; the therapist clearly was an expert in her craft. It was the perfect way to end my day in the Gilis.
How to get there: Mainland Lombok can be accessed by flight from both Jakarta and Bali (Denpasar), where there are direct flights from Manila. The Gili Islands are off the coast of mainland Lombok, and be accessed by boat from both mainland Lombok and from Bali.
Underwater photos courtesy of Christian Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas.