Located fifty miles east of Bali are three relatively unspoilt paradise islands collectively known as the Gili Islands. All are fringed by glorious white sandy beaches, swaying palm trees and deep blue waters containing an astounding array of exotic marine life. Each of these tiny islands has developed its own distinct character and the most commercialised by far is the ‘party island’ of Gili Trawangan.
Gili Air is a relaxed place with a more authentic local flavour while the smallest of the three, Gili Meno, offers a true castaway experience. Here you will find very little in the way of entertainment but you can easily have a wide expanse of tropical beach all to yourself. Plus the Gilis are a genuine scuba diving Mecca with some of the most spectacular coral reefs in Southeast Asia.
Gili Islands guide – snorkelling and relaxing in pure paradise
The diving industry is big business here and there are dozens of offshore dive sites suitable for both beginners and seasoned pros. An alluring attraction of the waters around the Gilis is a huge population of adorable sea turtles which makes snorkeling here an irresistible attraction.
Each island also has a rash of classy beachfront hotels and a few plush private villas. It has also become a popular destination for discerning honeymooners. Spend a day at the fabulous Bird Park of Gili Meno or its attractive salt water lake, visit one of the islands’ turtle conservation centres or explore dense rainforests and windswept deserted beaches in nearby North Lombok.
The Gili Islands are predominantly Muslim and the atmosphere is markedly different from Hindu Bali. They also portray a very positive image to visitors of simple island life. Beach hawkers and all motorised transport is banned here and the islands and all its surrounding coral reefs form a protected eco-trust.