When you hear about “The Gilis”, an immediate reaction is to think of the three famous islands Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. These three islands have become popular spots for snorkelling, partying and relaxing, an escape from overcrowded Bali. However, there are more Gilis than you know. In fact, there are 26 different Gilis near Lombok.
While in Lombok, I took the “Secret Gili’s” tour. While the islands are far from secret, they are beautiful and something new to explore with fantastic marine life, tiny sandbars and a stop for lunch on the shore of a remote island.
TOP 3 PLACES TO STAY IN LOMBOK
WHERE ARE THE SECRET GILI
I stayed in South Lombok for the second part of my trip, which is a good place to stay if you want to visit the “Secret Gili’s” on an island hopping tour. From the main city of South Kuta, your tour will include the 1-hour van ride to the port/departure point for your island hopping trip. The Secret Gili’s can be seen on the map below. I’m on the west coast of Lombok and not too far from the shore!
WITH WHICH COMPANY DID I TAKE MY ‘SECRET GILIS’ TOUR
I did my tour with Adventure Divers Lombok. The company specializes in dive training and trips around Lombok, but also offers island hopping trips and other excursions. Our entire experience was great to the crew from the moment they picked us up to the moment we were dropped off that night back at the hotel.
The part I liked the most was that there was no rush to leave one island and move to the next spot like other tours I’ve done. Our guides just told us to tell them when we were ready to go, so we snorkeled for hours.
The journey with Adventure Divers Lombok is 750,000 rupees per person (group discount available) including hotel pick up and drop off. You can contact them to make your reservation via whatsapp: +62 813 39336418 (Tell Guillem you’re from my blog. He’s a great guy and he’ll take care of you!)
OUR ‘SECRET GILIS’ TOUR
The Adventure Divers Lombok crew picked us up at our hotel in South Kuta and we headed northwest to Lembar. The drive was winding but had some interesting rice paddies and scenery along the way. When we arrived at the trampoline there were two outrigger boats waiting for us. We tried on our fins, snorkels and gear and then off we went.
Our first destination was Gili Nanggu. It was quite a short boat ride to Gili Nanggu, taking about 15 minutes to reach the white sand of this beautiful islet. This was the island for snorkeling our guides told us. They weren’t wrong. Below the surface, we found an abundance of marine life.
Huge schools of fish surrounded us as they swam in and out of the coral restoration facilities. The reef itself was quite beautiful, but it was the huge quantities of fish that made this place an ideal snorkelling spot. The clarity of the water was perfect and we had an amazing time freediving here at the reef drop-off, which you can clearly see from the drone shots.
We got out of the water after our first snorkel and our guide told us to rest then head back to the other side of the island as this was the best snorkel of the day. The other two stops would be more for relaxation and lunch. We ended up having about 2-3 hours on Gili Nanggu. Therefore, if you were to visit only one, it would definitely be Gili Nanggu.
There seemed to be rental accommodation on Gili Nanggu but being so close to the coast, I’m not sure I’d recommend it for more than one night.
The island next to Gili Nanggu is called Gili Tangkong. You can explore it on foot if you like, but I’ve only checked this from the air. It has some amazing coconut tree plantations and vast deserted beaches. It really is a virgin island paradise, so perhaps it is best for tourists not to visit it and just enjoy the view while passing by on boats!
GILI SUDAK – LUNCH STOP
For lunch, we left Gili Nanggu and took a short boat trip to Gili Sudak. Here we found tables practically in the water. We would have our huge group have lunch inches from the shore in the shade of a beautiful tree. It was one of the most picturesque lunches I’ve ever had as we looked out over the ocean to the mountains.
At the warung (cafe) you can order Western or Indonesian dishes. I had Nasi Goreng, a coffee and a coconut. What a combination in heaven. The Secret Gilis were proving to be a relaxing way to spend a day from Lombok.
After our relaxing lunch on Gili Sudak, it was time for our last stop of the day. The last island was Gili Kedis, a tiny islet. I was wondering if this island was at risk during high tide. A small shack serving snacks and a few trees are all that have been built on this small island.
Several swings and benches to sit on, made this a relaxing place where you could have a much needed siesta after lunch. We flew drones, soaked up the sun and admired our beautiful surroundings.
WHERE TO STAY IN NORTH LOMBOK
If you are visiting the northern attractions such as Tiu Kelep or Mount Rinjani you should choose one of the three accommodations in the ‘Northern‘ section below.
- Jeeva Santai Villas – Luxury villa: Great location on the beautiful Mangsit beach but also a short drive to Tiu Kelep and Mount Rinjani. It’s a place that offers the best of both worlds.
- Hakiki Inn Bungalow – Value: Situated on the edge of the rice fields with the jungle feel but the comfort of a private bungalow.
- Blue Mountain Cottage – Budget (but also value): This is where I stayed. The room was very basic but was comfortable enough with a basic ensuite bathroom.
WHERE TO STAY IN SOUTHERN LOMBOK REGION
If you are staying in the south to enjoy the beaches and surfing of Kuta, Lombok you should choose one of the three lodgings in the ‘Southern‘ section below.
- Harmony villas – Luxury: The beautiful white theme throughout the property contrasts with the emerald green pool and plants. The villas are impeccably laid out and the best part about this 4-star villa is that it’s actually not as expensive as it sounds.
- March windows – Value/Luxury: This place is incredibly beautiful. Bungalow-style villas surround the modern swimming pool of this extraordinary property. For under $80 a night, you can get what would cost hundreds of dollars in most other countries March windows.
- Boogie Hostel Kuta Lombok – Balance: THE Boogie Hostel that’s all you ask for in a hostel. It’s super modern and clean and has lots of chill spaces as well as lockers for your gear and privacy shutters in your dorm.
READ MORE ABOUT MY LOMBOK GUIDES
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