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A romantic escape to Gili Islands

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Getaway Category: Island Life, Relax, and RomanceGetaway Tags: Asia, Gili Islands, indonesia, Lombok, and south east asia

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  • Many have likened Lombok’s appeal to the Bali of yesteryear, before it started becoming commercialized. In many ways, this makes Lombok a true paradise for couples, with airy bungalows, relatively quieter sandy paths and beaches which are to-die-for.

    Lombok’s crowning jewels are the Gili Islands. Gili Trawangan is the largest and most visited of the three, which makes it less quiet as compared to the other two islands. It began developing its status as a party island, but it offers some really essential experiences which are too good to miss, and you can still find romance if you know where to look. Gili Meno is the complete opposite: very laid back and blessed with pristine beaches ideal for couples.

    Gili Air mainly attracts social backpackers who like to mingle with the local community of the Sasak people, and thus, is not covered in this itinerary (though it has its own appeal if you have extra time to spare).

    Make sure you check out Gili Islands and experience that special charm with your loved one before the crowd follows.

    Day 1 in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

    10.35am: Arrive at Lombok International Airport

    You will likely reach Luang Prabang in the evening. Make your way to Sisavangvong Road, which comes to life in the evening with food vendors hawking all sorts of meals, from Lao noodle soup to laap (minced meat salad) to ping kai (grilled chicken) to aw lahm (eggplant stew with bark from pepperwood tree) to skewered meats and French-inspired baguette sandwiches.

    Sisavangvong Road, Gili Islands, Indonesia

    1pm: Lunch at Flavors Restaurant (The Lombok Lodge)

    Flavors Restaurant has gained a strong popularity among those in the know. The lunch menu is an exquisite mix of Asian and Western tastes, led by a talented master chef who was previously with The Oberoi Hotel Group. The seaside dining ambience is a great way to start your Lombok journey with a touch of romance. Finish off with a delicious concoction of Lombok cocktails.

    Jl. Oberoi, Desa Medana, Tanjung, Lombok, NTB, Indonesia
    Open 7-11am, 12-2.30pm, 6.30-10pm daily

    3pm: Sire Beach

    After lunch, head to the nearby Sire Beach, with a long stretch of white sands. It’s easily one of the most gorgeous beaches in Lombok’s northern coast. From this coast, you can also enjoy a view of the famous Mount Rinjani in the distance.

    If you think you still have plenty of time for beaches and would like to experience something different, at the beach there is Hotel Tugu Lombok which comes with 6 hectares of palm gardens. It’s great for an afternoon walk, or a game of golf if you’re into it.

    4.15pm: Cross to Gili Trawangan

    Head to the Bangsal harbour and take a shuttle boat at 4.30pm to cross over to Gili Trawangan.

    5.30pm: Dinner at Pearl Beach Lounge

    Upon arriving and checking in to your accommodation, make your way to Pearl Beach Lounge. Made almost entirely of bamboo, this lounge is perfect for chilling out and soaking in the ambience of Lombok beach, especially as the orange sunset starts painting the sky. Sunset is typically around 6.30pm, but will change according to the time of year.

    Gili Trawangan, Desa Gili Indah, Kec. Pemenang, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia

    Day 2 in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

    9.30am: Fly underwater along the reefs of Gili Islands

    Gili Trawangan is the most active out of the islands, and it’s excellent if you’d like to do activities together as a couple. One of the most interesting activities has to be Subwing Gili Islands, which allows you to explore the reefs beneath Gili Islands in a new and fun way. For a duration of 3-4 hours and IDR 350,000/pax, every person will have a chance to go on a subwing twice for 25 minutes each.

    1.30pm: Movie at the hut of Beautiful Life

    Wet and soaked with fun, it’s time to retreat to a hut as the afternoon sun begins to heat up. Buy your lunch here and you will get to pick a romantic movie to watch inside a tiny straw hut by the beachside. Simply lie down and share the moment together—sometimes it’s the simplest things that make life beautiful!

    Gili Trawangan, Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia 83355
    Open 8am-11pm daily

    3.30pm: Afternoon walk along the coast or horse-carts around the island

    Gili Trawangan is small enough you can literally cover it within 2 hours. Make an afternoon walking along the southern coast and passing through the many beautiful beaches. A slow walk of about 45-60 minutes will bring you to the next highlight.

    Or if you feel like relaxing, why not take a horse-cart (or cidomo) to circumnavigate the island? It’ll cost you approximately around IDR 100,000. Finally, make a stop at Hotel Ombak Sunset.

    4.30pm: Swing by the ocean at Hotel Ombak Sunset

    There is simply no excuse to leave Gili Trawangan without cherishing the unforgettable experience of swinging in the middle of the ocean side by side with your loved one. Swing your way into another magical sunset here, or simply lie down on the beach while sipping a drink.

    Gili Trawangan, Dusun Gili Trawangan Indah, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia

    7pm: Dinner at Hotel Ombak Sunset

    Afterwards, you can head to their restaurant for a semi-fine dining experience with the very same swing as a backdrop. They serve a mixture of gourmet Eastern and Western cuisine. Dinner is served between 7-10.30pm.

    Gili Trawangan, Dusun Gili Trawangan Indah, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia


    Day 3 in Gili Meno, Indonesia

    9.30am: Cross from Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno

    It’s time to kiss Gili Trawangan goodbye and find some privacy at Gili Meno. It takes only 15 minutes to cross in good weather. Coming off from the more popular Gili Trawangan, the tranquil atmosphere of Gili Meno will strike you right away.

    11am: Find your paradise beach

    There are not as many activities in Gili Meno, but this is precisely the charm of Gili Meno: quiet, peaceful time. The fact that the island is chock full of beautiful untouched beaches doesn’t hurt either.

    One spot you can consider is Karma Beach, where you can spend the morning enjoying the scenic view sitting down on comfortable rattan chairs, or dip your feet into the shores, or have uninterrupted sun-bathing. Around lunch time, order a good serving of excellent seafood.

    Gili Meno island, Pemenang, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83352, Indonesia
    Open 7am-11pm daily

    3pm: Swimming with sea turtles and crustaceans

    Gili Meno is excellent for snorkelling, but turtle-watching is the star attraction. It is a unique experience snorkeling along with turtles at Turtle Heaven, right at the northern coast of the island.

    Start from the beach and cross a few dozen yards of sandy areas and seagrass (approx. 0.5-2m deep), then you will begin to encounter the coral (2-3m) and finally the reef drop-off (6+ m). The reef drop-off is the best part. Visibility is very good and you can observe many other marine wildlife and beautiful reefs which decorate the seabed. Other than turtles, you can occasionally come across surgeonfish, sunburst butterflyfish, sea goldies or even clownfish!

    Do note, however, that the current in Gili Islands is generally quite strong, so if you are beginner, try not to venture too far from the shoreline. Not to worry, however, because you can still spot green sea turtles and hawksbill sea turtles even as close as 5-10m from the beach, feeding on the seagrass.

    If you still have time, move to Meno Wall, which is home to different crustaceans. The first wall runs from 5-16m down and the second wall runs a little deeper. You can observe sponge crabs, lobsters, shrimp, baby cuttlefish and scorpion fish here.

    6pm: Candlelight dinner under the stars at Mahamaya Restaurant

    Hit the seafront and cool off with a refreshing cocktail at Mahamaya Restaurant for your final spectacular sunset. After the sunset, candles are lit up and mouth-watering dishes, mostly Asian Fusion with an international twist, will be cooked in an open kitchen and delivered to beach tables to quench your appetite. If the weather is clear, you can even dine under the stars while listening to the sound of waves crashing onto the shore. Perfect way to end your last night!

    Pemenang, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia
    Open 7-10am, 12-4pm, 6-10pm daily

    Day 4 in Lombok, Indonesia

    9.50am: Gili Meno Ferry

    Cross back into mainland Lombok.

    11.30am: Bukit Malimbu viewpoint

    Head up to the top of Malimbu Hill and be greeted with a spectacular view of coastal and forested hill stretching to the aquamarine sea.

    12nn: Lunch at The Ballroom Restaurant

    This is a top-notch beachfront restaurant right at Senggigi, the most famous beach in Lombok. Delicious seafood and Indonesian cuisine is served here.

    Puri Mas Beach Resort, Jl. Raya Mangsit Beach, Senggigi, Batu Layar, Kabupaten Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia
    Open 7am-11pm daily

    1.30pm: Couple spa at Purimas Lombok

    Voted “Best Spa for Couples” by Conde Nast in 2015, the Purimas Lombok spa facility has since received commendation from Conde Nast Johansens Luxury Spas continuously over the past five years.

    The distance from Purimas Lombok to the airport is approximately 1-1.5 hours, so keep this in mind when selecting your spa treatment from the menu.

    Puri Mas Beach Resort, Jl. Raya Mangsit Beach, Senggigi, Batu Layar, Kabupaten Lombok Barat, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83355, Indonesia

    5pm: Reach Lombok International Airport

    For weekend itinerary, your return flight home will likely be at 7.25pm. Make sure you arrive at the airport 2-2.5 hours before so as not to miss your flight!


  • Places to stay in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

    Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    Affordable

    Akalanka's rooms are spacious and clean with a hybrid touch of traditional and modern appeal. The property comes with its own little garden which can be viewed from the pretty terrace. For couples on a budget, this is a simple but lovely option.

    Price range: SGD 46-62

    Address: Jalan Kelapa, West Nusa Tenggara 83352, Indonesia

    Mid-range

    Cinta Cottages' name literally translates to "The Love Cottages". Its greatest asset is its strategic location, on a tranquil area which allows you to escape from the hustle and bustle while maximizing your privacy. Each villa comes with a private pool and free bicycles are provided for you to get around. Lovebirds will surely love this cottage.

    Price range: SGD 133

    Address: Jalan Kelapa Gili Trawangan, Gili Trawangan, Lombok, Indonesia, 83352

    High-end

    Kaleydo Villas offers a range of accommodation options from suites to beautiful villas with private pool. A luxury boutique resort with incredible wooden details and great comfort, Kaleydo Villas is also a winner for the prestigious international award for Best Luxury Villas of the Year 2016 from UK's Luxury Travel Guide Magazine.

    Price range: SGD 186-520

    Address: Jl. Ikan Duyung, West Nusa Tenggara 83315, Indonesia

    Places to stay in Gili Meno, Indonesia

    Prices listed are based on average daily rates for a Standard Room.

    Affordable

    Meno Dream Resort's bungalows are furnished with traditional exterior and a warm interior. Each bungalow comes with a terrace with a view of the garden. For the experience you get, this is really excellent value-for-money.

    Price range: SGD 36-95

    Address: Gil Meno, Gili Indah, Pemenang, North Lombok Regency, West Nusa Tenggara 83111, Indonesia

    Mid-range

    Kebun Kupu Kupu Gili Meno Eco Resort, as its name suggests, specializes in eco-friendly rooms with a gorgeous lush garden overlooking a swimming pool.

    Price range: SGD 105-169

    Address: Gili Meno, Pemenang, Gili Indah, Pemenang, Kabupaten Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara Bar. 83000, Indonesia

    High-end

    AVIA Villa Resort is a wonderful choice because it comes with a private beach, an outdoor pool and a lovely garden. Its location at the beachfront of a dreamy white sandy beach and warm blue sea will surely be a hit among honeymooners or couples on a break.

    Price range: SGD 80-327

    Address: Jl. Pantai Sunset, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

    Getting to Gili Islands, Indonesia

    The nearest airport to Gili is on the mainland Lombok.

    SilkAir flies from Singapore to Lombok on 7.40-10.35am every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, as well as on 3.45-6.30pm on every Monday.

    The return flight is at 11.20am-1.45pm every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Or 7.25-10.10pm on every Monday.

    From the airport, the easiest way to get to Gili Islands is by booking a package through a travel agent or tour desk. If you'd like to DIY, however, you can take a taxi to Bangsal harbour (approximately 2 hours and costs around IDR 200,000) and take a public boat or chartered boat from there.

    The boat ride takes 15 minutes to get to Gili Air, 30 minutes to Gili Meno, or 45 minutes to Gili Trawangan. Please refer to the below "Getting Around" section for more details on schedule and pricing.

    Getting around Gili Islands, Indonesia

    In general, shuttle boats leave around twice a day between islands, one at 9.30am and another at 4.30pm. However, this is highly subject to change from time to time. For the latest schedule on how to get from one island to the other, check the schedule on the harbour while you're there or refer to Lombok Tourism page.

    You can also rent your own boat at a fixed price of IDR 225,000, which is a good option if you are going in a group, up to a maximum of 10 passengers is allowed per boat.

    On each individual island, the easiest way to get around is by walking. Motorized vehicles are not allowed, so the only other alternative is to use horse carts (known locally as cidomos). A short horse cart ride will cost around IDR 50,000-100,000.

    Other important notes

    Time difference

    Gili Islands and Lombok are GMT+8, hence there is no time difference with Singapore. However, if you are coming from Indonesia, do note that Gili Islands and Lombok are 1 hour ahead of Jakarta.

    Best months to visit

    Dry season is from May to September. Outside this window, expect rains on Gili Islands.

    Private boat scam

    If you intend to take public boat in the interest of cost-saving, make sure you buy only from the ticket counter. Some of the private boat sellers will try to approach you, scam you into buying a private boat which will be very costly! Some will even pretend to accompany you to the ticket counter but will make you pay for a private boat. Ignore them and buy only directly from the ticket counter!

    Helplines

    • Police: 110
    • Fire department: 113
    • Ambulance: 118
    • Search and rescue team: 115
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