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A guide to Lombok and Gili Islands - beaches, wellbeing and beauty

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Stepping onto one of Lombok’s beaches or the three Gili Islands, and it’s hard to believe the postcard-perfect scene in front of you. Clear aqua waters lick white sandy beaches that are shadowed by bright green trees – it’s someone added a little extra saturation into the mix. But rest assured, the islands are real, and they’re every bit as beautiful as you hope. Whether you’re fleeing everyday life with a luxurious escape or simply exploring the area’s surf with your backpacker mates, Lombok and Gili tick all the boxes.

Robyn Junaedi

My Destination local expert on

Lombok & Gilis

Gili Islands

 

Just off of Lombok’s northwest coast are ‘the three Gilis’, an archipelago of paradisiacal islands. Closest to Lombok’s mainland is Gili Air, a small island that proudly retains its Indonesian heritage. It is popular with backpackers and has a slow pace of life. Gili Meno is a small hop away and perhaps the most tranquil island of the three. Its biggest attraction is the tropical bird park and its visiting sea turtles. The furthest and largest is Gili Trawangan, or ‘Gili T’, the most developed of all the islands. It has a blossoming amount of accommodations, eateries and attractions for every budget, as well as various water sports like kayaking and snorkelling.

 

Diving

 

Famed for its offshore reefs and expansive underwater world, the island of Lombok strikes diving gold. The clear blue waters sparkle with exotic marine life and lure snorkelers and scuba divers from near and far. Lombok’s south western coast holds the newly discovered but increasingly popular Sekotong Bay and its boutique resorts where soft white sand hems the aqua waters. Rivalling the bay are the Gili Islands themselves: Gili Trawangan, where manta rays offer divers a little company; Gili Meno, whose abundant reef is a journey of discovery; and Gili Air, where marine life ventures so close to shore, snorkelers can get an eyeful too.

 

Spas and wellbeing

 

When told to shut your eyes and think of paradise, many envisage powder beaches, azure waters and balmy climes: this is Lombok. Catching up to neighboring Bali, Lombok can offer sublime spa facilities, be it a quick massage on the beach from the Balance Spa in Kuta after a little swim, or a five star luxury spa, like the Hening Swarga Spa, which oozes relaxation and replenishment with sweeping views over the ocean. At the Oberoi Spa you can mix the two, with massages carried out in private pavilions with sea views, or body wraps and unique therapy treatments.

 

Outdoor activities

 

With year round warm weather, Lombok and Gilis are the ideal destination for outdoorsmen. Its varied landscapes can be explored by bike or on foot: a trek up the Rinjani Mountain and its National Park is a tall order, or a bicycle tour of Lombok’s best views with Lombok Amazing Panorama. Golf is another pastime of the area, and the Rinjani Country Club boasts an international standard championship course that sits just under towering Mount Rinjani.

 

Dining culture

 

With an unlimited supply of fresh fish, the dining in Lombok and the Gili Islands is heavily seafood focused, featuring barracuda, lobster and snapper. At Scallywags on Gili Trawangan you can dine on the sand with a textured sunset as a romantic backdrop. Give the cuisine a go yourself with Gili Cooking Classes, where hands-on classes allow you to learn the Indonesian recipes you’ve come to enjoy, using the freshest local ingredients. Alternatively, avoid seafood dishes and venture to Coconut Cottages in Gili Air where local and international dishes like burgers and pasta are served within a secluded garden setting overlooked by Jasmine and Frangipani flowers.