Lombok's most popular tourist destination, the Gili Islands (or just the Gilis) came to the attention of the wider world as a backpacker mecca in the 1980s and 1990s. This is still true to some extent, and the islands are still a fixture on the Banana Pancake Trail. But times are changing, and there are now a range of glamour options on the islands, especially so on Gili Trawangan. The islands are very relaxed and laid-back, with countless little beachside cafes still playing reggae and serving up questionable "energy" drinks, but also at the other end of the scale, elaborate seafood buffets, fresh salads and good quality western and Asian food. Best of all, there are no cars or motorbikes to disturb the peace.
There are increasing numbers of westerners living on the Gilis, and operating businesses ranging from dive companies to resorts. There is a strong environmental focus as the reefs have been very damaged in the past. While once people came to dive, snorkel and party, a more upmarket tourist is showing up now. It is still all about the beach, there are many more options to wine and dine or hang out and meet new friends.
Strictly speaking, the name "Gili Islands" is rather redundant as gili simply means "small island" in Sasak, but the name has stuck and is universally used and understood in Lombok.
There are also some other islands off Lombok called Gili Something, eg. Gili Nanggu and Gili Gede, but these are located to the southwest near Lembar, quite a distance from the "main" Gilis.
The Gilis are noticeably drier and hotter than Lombok, but evenings can still be cool and refreshing. The rainy season is roughly from November to April, but it rains much less than on Bali. The peak tourist seasons are July-August and December-January.
|Gili Trawangan (340 hectares) |
The largest and most visited of the three islands. Known as the party island.
|Gili Air (188 hectares) |
The closest of the three islands to Lombok, and the one with a well developed local community.
|Gili Meno (150 hectares) |
Sandwiched between the other two better known islands, Gili Meno is very laid back indeed.
Bandara Internasional Lombok (LOP IATA) is in south central Lombok and a taxi to Bangsal or Teluk Nare will take around 1 hr 40 min-2 hr. Cost by taxi meter will be around Rp 250,000-270-000 depending upon the route used and occasional congestion that may sometimes arising from a wedding or funeral procession on the main road. It is an easy, and quite pleasantly scenic trip by road, indeed a lot of the route is the same as that travelled on many sightseeing day-trips. Any taxi carrying passengers from the airport is subject to an Airport Taxi Service charge. To any destination on the island outside the Central Lombok administrative zone the set fee is Rp 17,500, payable at the Airport Taxi Service counter in the centre of the terminal building. Aim to arrive at Teluk Nare or Bangsal no later than 16:00 for an uncomplicated crossing. Night time crossings are possible but not reccommended. Gili island transfer services by private car and speed boat are available from the airport to each of the Gili Islands. These can be pre-booked online, see "From Lombok" below.
The Bali-Lombok route is operated by Garuda, Wings (code shared with Lion Air), and TransNusa.
From elsewhere in Indonesia, Lombok International Airport is served by flights from Jakarta, Surabaya and Makasar. These are provided by Citilink, Garuda, LionAir, Wings (LionAir regional). Eastward of Lombok Sumbawa is serviced by Trans Nusa, and Bima by Garuda. International flights are available from Singapore with Silk Air and Scoot Tigerair, from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia with AirAsia, and Jetstar (Australia) from Perth.
- Used mainly by locals, freight and diehard backpackers, there is an hourly public ferry service from Padang Bai (East Bali) to Lembar Harbour (Southwest Lombok), running 24 hours a day. The crossing takes 4-6 hours (plus sometimes considerable waiting around for loading and unloading). This is extremely cheap but the on-board conditions are very basic to say the least, and the journey is very slow. Tickets are available from the harbors and cost Rp 40,000 adult fare. After arriving in Lombok it will then take another 2-hr transfer to get to the Gili Islands via road and local boat from Bangsal harbor. For more info, see the main Lombok page.
By fast boat
If you are travelling from southern Bali resorts such as Kuta, Legian, or Nusa Dua, the closest ports are Serangan or Benoa. However, you can depart from Padang Bai if you want a shorter crossing, which is 1-2 hr from south Bali by road (so total travel time will be approximately the same). Also depart from Padang Bai if you are staying in or around Ubud (Rp 250,000 one-way or Rp 450,000 with an open-ended return, including hotel pickup. Book at any hotel or travel agency in town). Amed is only suitable if you are staying in or around Amed, Tulamben, Candidasa or North Coast locations such as Lovina or Pemuteran.
Fast boat operational safety
If you have legitimate concerns about either the vessel being used, the operator, overloading, or the prevailing weather conditions then do not board the boat, immediately seek a refund of your fare and make alternative arrangements. During periods of extreme weather the boats will not operate, this only happens once or twice a year. Flights across the Lombok Strait provide an alternative at similar cost and travel time.
The boats serving all routes are smaller high speed craft with light duty hull construction and are driven by petrol-fuelled outboard engines. Crew training, operational standards and safety equipment vary and some current services may be below the normal expectations of many foreign visitors.
No matter what port of departure you use, with the exception of those staying in Padang Bai or Amed, you will need to use a vehicle transfer for one portion of your journey. Take the weather into consideration when planning your voyage, shorter routes could reduce discomfort for those prone to motion sickness. Fast boat services from Amed and Padang Bai take around half as long to reach the Gilis as the routes from southern Bali. A shorter crossing amounts to extra road time on Bali, unless you are staying in Amed or Padang Bai already.
There are often significant differences in prices between operators on all the Gili Fastboat routes. There are also differences in the standard of the vessels, their operation, crew experience and certification. It is advisable to look at more than just price. As competition has increased, so has misinformation about availability of seats and operating schedules. Check the veracity of information directly with your chosen operator if told by a tour desk a vessel is "full" or "bankrupt - not operating" or has "spontaneously combusted." Ensure your ticket states the specific vessel requested. Stated trip times are often misleading and do not reflect the reality of the voyage nor previously achieved average crossing times.
If you want only to visit Gili Islands and Senggigi, a fastboat is more convenient than a plane, and you can then use taxis and boats for the Gili Islands. Most fast boats depart in the morning from Bali, while many flights to Lombok depart after noon.
Fast boat services offer a direct method of travel from neighbouring Bali across to Lombok's Gili islands. There are numerous direct boat services from Bali to the Gilis, all of which continue onto the main island of Lombok (usually Teluk Nare and/or Bangsal harbour), and a few of which also pass by Nusa Lembongan en-route. Some also stop at Lombok Senggigi. Daily services depart from Benoa and Serangan Island in South Bali and from Padang Bai and Amed in East Bali are also from Sanur. Benoa harbour and Serangan are around 25-45 min by car, (dependent upon traffic) from the South Bali tourist areas. Padang Bai is a lot further by road and that road is often subject to delays and congestion. It is however convenient for Ubud and Candidasa, or for those who prefer less time on the water.
You can contact the fast boat companies directly by phone or email, or book via one of the many local travel agents once you are in Bali. The most reliable way to compare live seat availability, up to date schedules and book e-tickets online is with Gilibookings for the most reputable fast boat services, or its sister site Gilitickets.com for some of the cheaper tickets on budget operators. You can view all routes, timetables and pricing for many of the most popular regional fast boat operators. Prices on Gilibookings range from US$50-70 one way, US$98-136 return depending upon departure point, the route and the carrier. Higher prices are somewhat offset by discount vouchers on food, drink and activities on the Islands. Fast boats are generally around 30% cheaper on Gilitickets. Most fast boat operators do complementary hotel transfers to/from most areas in Bali. Some operators allow for island hopping on their tickets.
Cheaper tickets can also be found locally with other companies (cheapest one way US$25, return US$50 excluding pickup), but don't expect safety or service to be a priority with the lowest budget operators. Some of the eager Fast boat ticket vendors on Bali practice up-selling of the cheaper operators with higher ticket prices, so sussing out the right carrier for you may not be simply a matter of 'getting what you pay for'. Take a look at the vessel, its crew and visible safety features. Be critical. If the standard looks fishy, simply choose another operator or mode of transport.
A small selection of fast boat companies with a proven track record:
- BlueWater Express is one of the longer-running operators to the Gilis, starting in 2006. They depart from Serangan and Padang Bai.
- Gili Getaway Daily crossings from Serangan, consistent track record of high quality service.
- Freebird Express Services from Amed on the east coast of Bali. This is the shortest route over sea from Bali to the Gilis and Lombok.
- Gili Gili Operating routes from Serangan and Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan via Teluk Nare (Lombok) and Gili Air.
- Wahana Gili Ocean Daily services from Padang Bai - Gili T - Gili Meno and Bangsal (Lombok).
- Bali Eka Jaya [dead link] provide fast boat transfers among Bali (Serangan and Padangbai ports), Nusa Lembongan, Lombok (Teluk Nara port), Gili Air, and Gili Trawangan.
Please see the main Lombok article for more information on air and ferry services.
Options to get from Lombok to the Gilis are:
- A shuttle bus or taxi to Bangsal harbour (1 hr from Mataram), and a public boat from there (15/30/45 min to Air/Meno/Trawangan)
- A chartered boat from Bangsal harbour
- A chartered boat from the beach at Senggigi, or alternatives available 4 km north of the main township at Mangsit beach (1-2 hour travel time to the islands)
- A chartered speedboat from Teluk Nare (15-30 min).
The easiest way to get to the Gilis from Lombok's airport or Senggigi is to walk to the nearest travel agent, taxi desk or tout and book a package, or take a taxi northward to the departure points and deal with it yourself. If you wish to book online in advance, Gili island transfers by car and speedboat can be booked from the Airport as well as multiple other popular areas in Lombok such as Senggigi, Mataram, Kuta, Selong Belanak and Lembar. Make sure to use a reputable website such as Gili-islandtransfers.com.
The cheapest way is to take a bemo/taxi to the Bangsal carpark on the Pemenang-Bangsal access road, then walk or cidomo to the beach at Bangsal, then take the Public boat (ferry) from there. However, this may involve some waiting around and the sometimes irksome requirement of dealing with sometimes unpleasant and irritating hawkers and touts, so some people just figure it's not worth the hassle and they take the more expensive speedboats from Teluk Nare to the south of Bangsal, you drive through it on the coastal highway on the way to Pemenang.
If you want to travel at your own pace, you can charter a boat directly from Senggigi or Mangsit beach to take you across. It may be beneficial to charter it for the day and then use it to look around the 3 islands for the rest of the day, or go snorkelling or turtle watching. Ask any travel agent or simply head to the beach behind the Santosa Hotel in central Senggigi or on the beach at Mangsit at the northern end of Senggigi district. At Mangsit most of the charter boats are located between Qunci Villas and the Holiday Resort Lombok (ex Holiday Inn Resort). On either beach you're guaranteed to be solicited by boat operators and guides. The Senggigi article has more information on this. A charter of a regular outrigger (perahu) to any of the Gili Islands will likely cost Rp 500,000-600,000, but bargain hard. Some of these boats are pretty basic so make sure you check the safety equipment for yourself, especially if you cannot swim. The better guides at Mangsit beach will provide life vests of their own if the chartered boat does not have them. If there are three or less of you, it is much faster to arrange a speed boat pickup from Teluk Nare with one of the dive shops or your hotel on Gili Trawangan. A taxi to Teluk Nare from Senggigi will cost about Rp 60,000-65,000.
For organising your trip back to Bangsal, there is a public boat ticket office on each of the Gili islands.
The sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the late afternoon, and well before dark. During periods of southerly winds and in July and August especially, the swell can be a bit hairy and you are very likely to get wet on the crossing. It is advisable to place laptops, cameras and handphones in waterproof bags for the crossing.
There is no motorised transport on the islands. Your options are horse-drawn carts, known as cidomo's, or bicycles, which are available for rent all over the islands. The price for tourists is Rp 20,000-50,000 per head, depending on the length of the journey. To go all the way around the islands could cost up to Rp 150,000. However, as the islands are only a few km in diameter, it's entirely possible to just walk instead.
Travelling between the islands requires either catching the infrequent scheduled Koperasi Island hopping boats, or chartering one to take you across. To Lombok you can take one of the very cheap public boats that go back and forth at pretty random intervals (basically leaving whenever the boat is full), or again charter a vessel.
Tickets can be bought from the ticket offices on each island from where the boats depart. No need to pre-book, the approximate rates in Indonesian rupiah as of mid-2014 are as follows: Gili Trawangan to Lombok by Public boat is Rp 13,000. A charter (with 30 capacity) will set you back roughly Rp 400,000; still quite affordable, especially if you split the bill with a group of other travellers. Island hopping between the Gili's costs roughly Rp 25,000.
Booking through a travel agent usually just costs more, and you still need to change the reservation to an actual ticket at the very same counter. Some speedboat charters are available between Lombok and the islands, these do need booking shortly beforehand and usually can be arranged by your hotel locally.
The distances between the islands may seem swimmable, but do not attempt it — the currents are fierce and several visitors have died trying.
There are no major sights on the islands, snorkelling and diving being the main draw. However, a few attractions are worth noting:
- Gili Meno Bird Park, Gili Meno, Lombok, Indonesia. A bird sanctuary in the centre of Gili Meno boasting exotic species in a beautifully landscaped environment. Macaws, flamingos, cockatoos, pelicans, eagles, parrots and more. Also home to a crocodile, some deer and a kangaroo.
- Turtle sanctuary, Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. Green and loggerhead turtles are now common to the waters around the Gilis. To ensure the on-going survival of these creatures, sanctuaries have been set-up on both Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. You can visit the sanctuaries, see the baby turtles in their pools and learn more about these fascinating creatures.
- Sunset on the hill, Gili Trawangan. Great sunset spot with panoramic views of the 3 Gilis and of Lombok and Bali beyond. A good place to take photographs.
There is good diving around the islands, suitable for all levels, the islands being globally known as a proficient teaching center for beginners right up to instructor level. Technical diving courses are also available. An impressive array of marine life is present, such as green and hawksbill turtles, bumphead parrotfish, black-tip and white-tip reef sharks and more. There are also some great muckdiving sites for macro photographers, a Japanese wreck for deep diving and biorock artificial reefs which may interest environmental enthusiasts. Visibility is commonly in the 15-30 m range. Due to the exposed position of the Gilis, currents can be quite strong and drift diving is the norm. Some of the dive sites have unfortunately been damaged over the years due to a combination of human and environmental causes, especially from an increase in water temperatures from El Niño in 1998 and unsustainable local fishing practices. Since 2000, fishing has been regulated around the islands, allowing the reefs and fish population to slowly regenerate.
Most dive shops on the Gili Islands are members of the Gili Eco Trust, a non-profit organisation which originated as a co-operation between influential members of the local community and the dive shops on Gili Trawangan. Set up in 2000 and initiated by the owners of Manta Dive, the Gili Eco Trust aims to protect coral reefs surrounding the islands and provide environmental education. There is a one time only reef tax of Rp 50,000 payable by all divers and dive students. This is collected by the dive operator and helps fund the work of the trust. If you are interested in learning more about the trust, or volunteering to help, ask for Delphine at the Big Bubble dive shop on Gili Trawangan, and Lutwala Dive also organizes Gili Eco Trust activities.
Gili Trawangan has the most dive operators, but PADI and SSI licensed dive operators exist on all three islands. Equipment is kept in top shape, with excellent facilities and (mostly) western dive instructors. Dive guides tend to be a mix of local and western divemasters. Dive and course prices are fixed by agreement between the dive operators on each island, so there is nothing financial to be gained by shopping around between the operators. A good approach is to settle down on your chosen island, get to know the dive shops, and chose to dive with the one with which you feel most comfortable.
For those interested in learning to dive or advancing existing qualifications, several of the operators offer PADI and SSI options. Nitrox and other technical diving options are also offered by operators on Gili Trawangan especially.
Dive prices, PADI & SSI courses
- Fun dives Rp 490,000
- Scuba Review Rp 900,000
- Discover Scuba Rp 900,000
- Advanced Open Water Rp 4,500,000
- Open Water Rp 5,500,000
- Rescue Diver Rp 5,500,000
- Emergency First Response Rp 2,000,000
- Divemaster Course Rp 14,000,000
All dive shops accept US dollars, Indonesian rupiah and credit cards, except when the telephone lines are down (in this case, pay using internet banking).
There is now a dedicated freediving and apnea centre on Gili Trawangan, where you can attend courses and workshops. Owned and run by the British freedive record holder Mike Board. For more information see Gili Trawangan. Gili Air and Gili Meno also host a freediving operator, offering SSI and AIDA certification hosted within Gili Air Divers and Gili Meno Divers. For more information see www.giliairdivers.com
Yoga classes are available at a variety of locations on the islands. There are dedicated yoga centres on Gili Trawangan (see article for that island).
Party Boat tickets are US$25 and you can buy them through South Sea Nomads located at Manta Dive and Gili Hostel.
You can rent masks and fins off the beach, or contact any of the numerous dive shops to arrange snorkelling at choice spots nearby. A daily snorkelling programme usually involves a 10:00 departure and 16:00 return, and includes three or four spots around the three islands and a 2-hr lunch break. The cost ranges from Rp 60,000-150,000 depending on the shop and your negotiating skills. The quoted price normally includes the mask and snorkel but Rp 10,000 (or more) may be charged for the fins. Lunch is typically not included.
It's possible to snorkel off some of the beaches, but pay attention to the currents, which can be strong even near the shore. Wear flippers even if you're a strong swimmer, or you'll spend most of your energy fighting the currents.
A new water sport where you get pulled slowly behind a boat and are given two wings which allow you to fly underwater or to swim like a dolphin. Trips depart from Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.
Although not renowned for its surfing reputation, the locals regularly surf off the south end of both Gili Trawnagan and Gili Air. Both are reef breaks, and on their day can be an outstanding wave.
It is possible to charter private boats to cruise the 3 Gilis on, prices vary depending on the boat, small local snorkel boats start at around Rp 900,000 for a few hours, South Sea Nomads private charters start from US$250.
One of the attractions of the islands is the ability to do nothing. With no cars on any of the islands and the lower tempo of Gili Air and Gili Meno, there are several bungalow-style accommodations with verandas that overlook gardens and/or the ocean. The styles of cafes and restaurants involves small open huts (called berugak) perfect for two to four people to claim for a good part of the day. The islands have beaches all the way around, however not all stretches are suitable for sunbathing or entering the water. Gili Meno has the nicest beaches of the three islands. All the islands have their best beaches on the east side with regard to snorkelling and accessibility, however these are also the busiest so you might be better off seeking a quieter location to relax. See individual Gili island pages for specific beach information.
You can walk around the islands in 90 minutes. Just follow the coastline, take sunscreen and avoid doing so during the middle of the day.
Watch a movie
There are a few places that put on free movies alfresco on the beach, typically at 19:00 and 21:00. Just buy drinks or food. Movies are normally displayed in advanced along side the venues.
There are upwards of 10 ATMs on Gili Trawangan. Exchange rates offered by money changers are noticeably poorer than on the mainland. Credit cards are accepted by some of the more upmarket places and all dive shops, but there will usually be a 3% charge. Some will also arrange credit card cash advances, but with hefty fees in the order of 7-10%.
Small money is often in short supply on Gili T so its not a bad idea to stock up on Rp 20,000, 10,000 and 5,000 notes in Bali. They will prove useful here.
Shopping opportunities are very limited. There are plenty of kiosks offering tourist staples such as drinks, basic cosmetics, suntan lotion etc. Anything that might be required such as specific medication or items for children/baby's is best brought with you or alternatively should be purchased on Lombok. All hotels and dive centers make regular trips to Lombok and are usually able to help (even though it will take time).
All the islands feature a myriad of restaurants and cafes concentrated on the beach fronts. The most activity is found on the east side of each island. There are an abundance of cafes and restaurants, both large and small, with the largest concentration on Gili Trawangan. As of late 2012, Gili Air has some new restaurants opening that offer western cuisine. Gili Meno remains limited to more basic food options like barbecued fish or pizza from a wood-fired oven.
Be careful with "fee and tax" especially in "luxury" restaurants, most will charge 21% tax and service, however it can be written in very small font at the bottom of the menu and be from 5 to 25% or more.
Gili Trawangan had a huge reputation in the late 1990s as a backpacker party island. This has now developed into a nightlife for all tastes. There are bars playing live music, bars with DJs, as well as quieter beach front places dotted around the islands. There is a varied choice of venues every night of the year.
Be careful to not leave drinks unattended, as spiking incidents have been known to occur. There have been fatal cases (in 2012/13) involving locally distilled spirits when drunk in large quantities, due to non-standardised production methods. If you suspect that what you've been served is not what you ordered, take it back. Sticking to western owned and managed bars will reduce any risk.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
Demand often outstrips supply, so prices tend to be noticeably higher than on Bali or Lombok. During the peak seasons (Jul-Aug, Dec-Jan), it pays to make advance reservations, as the best places are often fully booked. Arrive early for better chances of getting accommodation without a reservation. Late arrivals need to be prepared to spend a night on the beach (it's perfectly safe though).
There are plenty of largely identical backpacker guesthouses on the islands. The price ranges depending on the season and island. Figure on at least Rp 100,000 for a basic room with fan only. Air conditioned rooms are more in the Rp 300,000-400,000 range. Gili Trawangan especially, has a rapidly increasing range of high end luxury accommodation with prices up to US$500 per night for a large private villa.
Always try to negotiate for the best price, and be clear about whether or not the quoted price includes taxes and breakfast. Most of the larger hotels and dive centres on Gili Trawangan feature fresh water for showering, while other smaller homestays may use salt water. On Gili Air it is best to check with the Hotel you plan to stay at, and on Gili Meno its mostly salinated.
If you want to sleep in a hotel/villa in front of the beach, you might want to avoid an area near a port because the sea water there is very oily. You can see approximately locations of ports in the map of the "Islands" section above.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Gili Islands during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
Many of the local population on the Gili islands are Muslim. While the islands residents are used to western style tourism please still remember to respect the island, the community and local customs. Never sunbathe nude or topless and cover up when away from the beach. A readily available local sarong is a handy accessory for this. Avoid excessive displays of affection in public, and depending upon your location you may expect to hear early-morning prayer calls from the mosques.
Little changes on the Gili Islands during the fasting month of Ramadan, as food is served during the day and bars stay open at night. However, many dive shops cut down the diving schedule to cater for those locals who may be fasting. Use appropriate sensitivity during this time and refrain from conspicuously eating, drinking or smoking when interacting or nearby to the local population between sunrise and sunset during the Ramadan period.
As you would at home, lock doors at night and don't leave valuables out in the open.
Be very careful with locally produced alcohol, especially Arak. It can contain methanol and has caused cases of serious injury and even death (as recently as new year 2012/13) among tourists and locals alike. If you suspect that what you've been served is not what you ordered, take it back. Sticking to western owned and managed bars and to beer will reduce the risk.
When out in the bars, use discretion: do not leave your drinks unattended, as drink spiking has been reported on occasion. This goes for both sexes.
Magic mushrooms are widely available and openly advertised, particularly on Gili Trawangan. Their psychotropic and hallucinogenic effects may be overbearing and distressing for many individuals. Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as psychedelic mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocin. The outcomes of ingestion of these mushrooms or their compounds may be quite dangerous for some users. For others it may cause distress, nausea, vomiting, cramps, and diarrhea. Mixing Psilocybin mushrooms with alcohol is just looking for extra trouble and may well provide some..
Various other drugs and intoxicants are readily available and sometimes flaunted (as is the case of mushrooms and 'power drinks' at parties), and you can expect to be offered everything from marijuana to methamphetamine. Keep in mind you are still in Indonesia, where drug usage and distribution penalties are extraordinarily harsh ranging from 20 years in a dilapidated prison to the death penalty for importation and trafficking. On Gili Trawangan, there have been a number of busts of high profile local characters resulting in serious prison sentences. On Gili Air, village leaders have been known to banish tourists from the island for drug usage and several signs posted around the island will remind you of their local laws.
Small but annoying jellyfish/stingers are common in the waters around the Gilis during certain moon cycles, with July and August getting the brunt, so wearing a full-length wetsuit or surf skin in the water is advisable. The stings can be quite painful, but they're harmless and usually go away within an hour. The welt from bad multiple stings may last a day. Not so harmless are the less common bluebottle jellyfish that can be recognised by their long bright blue tentacles and surface floating clear bubble. These stings are extremely painful and can cause respiratory problems.
If stung by a blue bottle, tentacles must immediately be removed using covered hands and the area rinsed in sea water; this is one of the few moments one of the discarded plastic bags around the place may actually be useful. The affected area should then be immersed in hot water (as hot as can be tolerated) for at least 20 minutes.
If stung by another kind of jellyfish, vinegar (acetic acid) Asam cuka should be used to rinse the affected area and any tentacles removed, with care to protect the hands when doing that. Again, soaking in hot water should always be the following step to take. Be aware that using vinegar on blue bottle stings is not advised as it may increase the level of pain.
- avoid any further contact as best you can, but carefully remove any remnants of the organism from the skin (taking care not to touch them directly with fingers or any other part of the skin to avoid secondary stinging); then
- apply salt water to the affected area (not fresh water, which tends to make the affected area worse)
- follow up with the application of hot water (45°C/113°F) to the affected area from anywhere between 15-20 minutes which eases the pain of a sting by denaturing the toxins.
- If eyes have been affected, irrigate with copious amounts of room-temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes and - especially if vision blurs or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or show light sensitivity after irrigating, or there is any other concern - see a doctor as soon as possible.
Vinegar (acetic acid) Asam cuka is not recommended for treating "blue bottle" stings. Vinegar dousing increases toxin delivery and worsens the symptoms of stings from the nematocysts of this species. Vinegar has also been confirmed to provoke haemorrhaging when used on the less severe stings of the nematocysts of smaller species. The "blue bottle" is often confused with jellyfish by its victims, which may lead to improper treatment of stings, as the venom differs from that of true jellyfish.
There are large spiders roughly the size of a grown man's hand scattered about the islands; while not venomous, their bites can result in a painful wound. Thankfully, avoiding them is relatively easy, don't tread through brush and avoid climbing random trees.
There are normally no visible police on any of the islands, however there are often undercover police on the islands. If someone announces themselves as one then do ensure you are provided with appropriate identification. There are also local security guards that patrol the islands (mainly Gili Trawangan). Crime is largely limited to opportunistic petty theft, and all problems are usually settled by the local island councils; if you face larger problems or need to make a police report for insurance purposes, you will need to head over the mainland to do it. Pemenang has a police post; turn left coming from Bangsal, it is a short distance northward and on the left hand side of the coastal highway. The others nearby are located northward at Tanjung, and to the south at Senggigi. The one in Tanjung has regional jurisdiction to the Gili islands. The police headquarters for the island and the entire Nusa Tenggara Barat province are at Ampenan.
Despite popular belief there is a police presence on Gili Trawangan. So please do not assume this is some sort of free-for-all zone, that belief could provide disappointing outcomes.
All three islands have a small, simple clinic. For serious problems, visitors should get back to Lombok (or preferably Bali) as quickly as possible. The nearest hospital is in Mataram, Lombok.
Tap water is very salty and not potable. Bottled water is widely available and many cafes, dive shops, and stores will fill up bottles for Rp 3,000, reducing waste and costing less than a new bottle. The refill supplies can be a little erratic in availability at times; however, do not be concerned as drinking water is always available for sale on the Gili Islands.
There are many self-styled gigolos anxious to swoon foreign girls on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. If you're female and on your own (even temporarily), you will be approached often. If you find yourself swept off your feet, condoms are available at most little stores.
Mosquito numbers vary throughout the year. There is no Malaria on the Gilis, however there is in Lombok. There have been cases of dengue reported, mostly during the rainy season. Mosquito repellent, mosquito nets and long sleeves at dusk are wise precautions.
Please see main Lombok article for notes on malaria, dengue fever (DHF), methyl alcohol adulteration of traditional local drinks such as arak, and other tips for your health and safety whilst on the Gili Islands.
Supplies of fresh water vary from resort to resort and island to island.
Electricity supply comes from generators on each of the islands; therefore it's not uncommon for power to be off for hours at a time on a daily basis, and the same goes for water as most is directly fed by electric pumps. Many upmarket hotels, restaurants and dive shops have backup generators, and there are tentative plans for solar and wind power generation. It is worth checking with your chosen accommodation whether they have a backup generator. In a lot of cases, backup generators are saved for use at night.
Laundry can be arranged through most guesthouses, expect to pay by piece rather than by load. The cost can add up quick, you may want to consider hand-washing smaller items yourself, clothes dry very quickly in the equatorial sun, but very slowly during the humid rainy season.
Several hospitals are located on the nearby mainland in city of Mataram including the islands principal public hospital Rumah Sakit Umun and also the Risa Hospital in Cakranegara near Mataram mall.
- Please see the Lombok main article for a list of medical facilities available in Mataram.
- Klinik Risa (Risa Centra Medika Hospital), Jl. Pejanggik No.115, Cakranegara (just east of Mataram mall on the right hand side of the road), ☏ . 24 hr Emergency room (UGD). Full hospital facilities available on site, specialist consulting rooms and Dentist.
- Puskesmas Tanjung (Local health Clinic Tanjung township), Tanjung, ☏ . This is a local municipal health clinic rather than an emergency centre.
- Ambulance +62 370 622 254, +62 370 623 489
In emergency dial - 118
- The reality is that unless within the confines of the main city of Mataram/Ampenan/Cakranegara an ambulance is normally too far away to provide prompt transport in the case of a true emergency. Most often a taxi, police vehicle or a private car is used to get someone requiring urgent medical attention to a hospital. The ambulances in Lombok are more often used in the role of assisted patient transport rather than for first responder/paramedic supported emergency assistance and transport. Obviously for the Gili islands a boat transfer to the mainland is required.
Mobile phone towers ensure you're never out of touch. Telekomsel's Simpati SIM card has the strongest and most reliable coverage on the Gili islands.
Internet cafes are quite widespread but connections are often very slow, prices can be Rp 300-400/minute). Free, slow Wi-Fi is often available to customers in restaurants and bars lining the beach on Gili Trawangan. Gili Divers and The Deck has got free Wi-Fi and this connection is very fast. Skype, book tickets or use internet banking without problems.
Many visitors chose to use a USB modem stick with a Telkomsel Flash SIM card fitted to it. Reception is reasonable on all three Gili islands but 3G connections should not be anticipated. More likely a connection will fall back to the slower GRPS system. USB modems and SIMs suitable for use the Telkomsel GSM/3G network are available from outlets on the Lombok mainland.
There is no post office on the Gilis, but William's Bookshop, right behind the Art Market on Gili Trawangan, sells stamps and can mail out your postcards.
- Bali — the Magical Island
- Lombok — to the mainland and the attractions of the west coast; north to Tanjung and Mount Rinjani, south to Senggigi, the provincial capital of Mataram and further to Kuta on the south coast. If travelling to somewhere on mainland Lombok, then you could get the early morning local ferry to the mainland, Rp 20,000. Then walk about 800m inland to Bunga Bunga Cafe on the right hand side of the road. This is where the shuttle buses and cars pick up from. Here you can buy tickets or bargain for a seat in a taxi car. You can have breakfast here too. Note that anyone with a ticket already will be expected to walk here or pay for a ride on a horse and cart.
- Sumbawa — one more island down the chain
- Nusa Lembongan — a stop for some boat services between Bali and Gili Islands