Gili Island

Gili Islands

Gili Islands – Among the top vacation spots in Lombok for tourists to travel is certainly Gili Islands, these types of faraway islands provide tourists the opportunity to enjoy the quiet car free roads and see an abundance of local marine life. These three islands have acquired their name through the mistranslated of western people Gili, in Sasak literally means ‘small island’, because of this the majority of small islands around Lombok have Fili inside the name, although to avoid confusion to tourists another islands have become only called by their main name, taking out the word Gili.

Gili Islands can be found to your northwest of Lombok, inside the Lombok Strait, extending outwards coming from a tiny peninsula called Sire. Sire is located near the village of Tanjung on Lombok. Ideally located for short visits, Gili Trawangon lays just 35kms west of Bali. During clear days sightseers can clearly see both Bali and Lombok from Gili Islands, additionally it is very easy to see Indonesias second largest volcano Mount Rinjani to the east on Lombok.
Because of their sheltered location between Mount Rinjani on Lombok to the east in order to the west Mount Agung on Bali, Gili Islands benefit from a slightly milder, direr micro climate than surrounding areas. Located near to the equator, these tropical islands are warm and experience a wet and dry season. Monsoon season is from October till April, while the dry weather lasts from May till September. The average temperature is around 28 degrees centigrade although it can vary between 22 and 34 degrees centigrade .

Visiting Gili Islands provides unique experience of enjoying life without cars. Travel around the islands is limited to foot, bicycle or a ride in a Cidomo, a neighborhood horse drawn carriage. Boats are used to get between the islands.  Gilli Islands are a truly fascinating place to visit with sufficient to explore, each island has its own unique, small resorts open to tourists. Typically they offer accommodation, generally in huts, an expensive restaurant plus a pool each and every. Very popular with divers, Gilli Islands are where you can amazing coral formations and there is a good amount of marine life waiting to be discovered. The most populated and developed area is Gili Trawangon, almost all of locals live on this island in a township stretching throughout the east side. The only island from the three to possess subterranean fresh water is Fili Air (AH-yer) named after the Indonesian word for water, although this supply is not limitless so resorts still have to depend on water shipped from your mainland.

The History of Gili Islands

Due to its recent settlement these islands are relatively untouched by human activity and record keeping is sporadic however some history is know about the islands more recent past.
Until the 1970’s except from a brief period during world war two when the Japanese them for a lookout point and POW camp, Gili Islands were an unspoilt area teaming with wildlife. Used only by Bugis fishermen looking for a place to stop off.

In 1971 Wasita Kusama, the governor of Lombok decided to establish plantations to grow coconuts and give land rights to private companies with a view to making the islands become profitable. 350 Mataram prisoners were sent to Gili Islands over five years to help with the harvesting, many of whom decided to settle. Due to crop failures the private companies abandoned their efforts and left the land. Over time the population grew and began to build homes and businesses on the privately held land. This has sparked a legal dispute that still carries on today.
During the 1980s Bali experienced a tourism boom, resulting in many backpackers discovering the islands. As the economic benefits of tourism were recognised the islands began to cater to the needs of travellers, beginning with Gili Air due to its infrastructure, however Gili Trawangon quickly became the more developed and popular island due to the attraction of its abundance of diving locations.

Tourism went from strength to strength throughout the late 1980s and 1990s as the reputation of the islands grew the Government and private investors began to regain interest in the land they had abandoned. During this time many evictions were served and buildings demolished but the locals remained on the land and rebuilt each time as the land remained undeveloped. As the islands had no police force due to the low population drugs were available freely during the late 1980s and 1990s, this led to Fili Trawangon developing a reputation as a party island, with travellers’ going to dance and take drugs.

Throughout the 1990s, as the diving industry grew the Fili Islands started to build a reputation as having world class diving opportunities and instruction. This helped tourism throughout the islands grow, and funded development of more accommodation and facilities that were able to cater to a wider range of clients.
Gili Ecotrust was founded in 2000 with the objective of preserving the Gili Islands Coral Reefs and in improve the education of environmental issues face by the islands. This not-for profit organisation was set up as a joint initiative between the dive shops of Gili Trawangon and influential members of the local community (known as Satgas). Many conservation projects have been carried out by Gili Ecotrust including education, work to preserve and repair coral reef, waste management improvement and work due to erosion issues. A lot of work has also been done to help stop unsustainable fishing.

  • In 2005 Bluewater Express launch the first fast boat services between the Gili Islands and Bali. Nowadays several operators offer fast boats services between the islands and different locations within Bali and Nusa Lembongun.
  • In 2012 the Gili Islands remained in land disputes with the locals and tourism continued to grow. As the islands thrived efforts were made to make sure they kept there unique identity and culture distinct from that of Bali.

Reaching Gili Islands From Bali

The easiest and most popular method of reaching Gili Islands from Bali is the fast boat service, there are many different services operating directly between them, also stopping at Lombok and sometimes, Nusa Lembongan along the way. Regular daily services operate within easy reach of Kuta and the main south Bali tourist area, around 25 minutes drive away in southern Bali there are both Benoa and Serangan Harbours, to the East there is Padang Bai and Northeast Amed, sll offering fast boat services to Gili Islands.
Prices vary widely, as do levels of service this depends on locality, length of journey and level of comfort among other things.

Public Ferries are available hourly to Lembar (Southwest Lombok) taking an average of four to five hours from Padang Bai. Following a two hour taxi ride it is possible to get a ride on a local boat in Bangsal Harbour to take you on the roughly half hour sail to the Gili Islands.

It is possible to take a forty minute flight from Ngurah Rai Airport in Bali to Lombok International Airport. From there it is a two hour taxi ride to reach Bangsal Harbour where a local boat awaits

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