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Gili Air – Lombok Island – Indonesia

Gili Air is the most easterly of the three Gili Islands off Lombok.

Of the three Gilis, this is the island closest to Lombok. Traditionally, Gili Air was seen as the domain of families and couples wanting a quiet, off-the-beaten-path escape, while the rowdier hoardes had their fun on Gili Trawangan. With Trawangan now upscaling so obviously, more and more backpackers seem to be chosing Gili Air as their primary option. This island has more of a rural, established feeling than the other two, and it is no surprise that many of the local Gili Islanders seem to prefer living on Gili Air, and that it has the highest permanent population of about 1,800.

Most of the accommodation and other tourism facilities are on the south and east coasts, facing Lombok. The boat landing is in the centre of the south coast. A coastal path leads you around the perimeter of the island, and a leisurely stroll all the way around will take about 90 min. For such a small island, the maze of paths that criss-cross the island can get surprisingly confusing, but these always lead back to the coast path eventually.

Get in
By Boat
The sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the late-afternoon, 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. You will need to wade through shallow sea when disembarking, so wear either appropriate footwear, or none at all.

From Bali
Not All fast boat operators stop at Gili Air. Here are some of the ones that do:

Gilifastboat.com offers a twice daily high-speed schedule to Gili Air from Amed on the East coast of Bali. Boats depart Amed at 10AM and 3:30PM with arrivals on Gili Air at 11:30AM and 5PM. Prices are Rp 600.000 (one-way) and Rp 1,100.000 (return) and tickets can be booked online.

Scoot Cruises also now departs from Sanur in Bali and stops in Lembongan, Lombok and Gili Air. Gili Getaway (formerly Island getaway) go directly to Gili Tawangan but offer a transfer service to Gili Air as soon as you arrive.

Also Kudahitam and Semaya one both stop at Gili Air.

To check live seat availability on a variety of trusted carriers (including many of the above) and book boat tickets online, use the recently established www.gilifastboat.com website.

From Lombok
Public boats depart from Bangsal between 8AM-5PM but often no later than 4PM and are fewer in number than go to Gili Trawangan. The voyage takes about 30 min and the official price is Rp 12,000 (from December 1st 2014). Sometimes these services only depart when there are enough people, normally a minimum of 15 is enough. If numbers are insufficient you may have to endure a wait at Bangsal. The official maximum is 20 people but sometimes the boat is overloaded by the time it is ready to depart. The best time to be sure of a crossing to Gili Air is 2PM-3:30PM in the afternoon however this can vary, especially with weather or passenger loads.

From the Lombok International Airport by taxi is about 350,000 around 2 hours if it’s a “normal” driver, there are a few taxi providers before you step out of the airport gate.

Buy your tickets direct from the official Koperasi Angkutan Laut Karya Bahari office. In Bangsal this is located inside the main building near the door at the eastern corner. The Koperasi operate the Public Boat, the Shuttle boat, the Island Hopping boat and also offer (official) Charter boats. The office lady still encourage you to buy the rest of the tickets to ensure that you depart on time, but actually it fulled within half hour with locals (by the time I took on April 15th 2014).

There is a ticket office on Gili Air to buy your ticket back to Bangsal, it is located adjacent to the arrival and departure point.

Public boat (ferry)
This is the standard method to reach Gili Air and is used by both local residents and tourists. The maximum number of passengers is fixed at 20 persons but it is often overloaded with goods and or passengers. If it seems clearly unsafe due to either overloading or prevailing weather conditions then it is most likely best not to board it.

– Bangsal to Gili Air 1 way is Rp 20,000 – (from December 1st 2015)
– Gili Air to Bangsal 1 way is Rp 20,000 – (the earliest deaprt at 7:30 am, the next around 8:30, it includes the time for slow boarding)

Shuttle boat
This service supplements the Public boat (ferry) service.

– Bangsal to Gili Air departs at 5PM, the official price is Rp 45,000.
– Gili Air to Bangsal departs at 8:15AM, the official price is Rp 35,000.
(This is more expensive than the standard Public boat cost officially fixed at Rp 18,000).

Charter boat
The official charter boat service provided by Koperasi Angkutan laut Karya Bahari is permitted to carry a maximum of 12 persons.

– Bangsal to Gili Air 1 way is Rp 155,000, return Rp 350,000
– Gili Air to Bangsal no published price
– Gili Air to Senggigi 1 way is Rp 600,000, return Rp 750,000

Informal and unofficial charters are also available from private operators to travel from Bangsal to Gili Air. If requiring one try to deal only with the boat operator, ignore the touts and ‘facilitators’ and use your time over a negotiation, any hint of haste or urgency is sure to raise the price.

There’s also a speed boat service by Koprasi Karya Bahari (phone: 081802091999 )

Gili Air to:
– Bangsal 550,000
– Gili Meno 550,000
– Oboroi 600,000
– Sira 550,000
– Teluk Nara 550,000
– Senggigi 1,700,000
– Gili Trawangan 700,000; Bangsal to Gili Trawangan 750,000

Departing from Bangsal to either of the three Gili islands is rarely pleasant due to the very persistent touts who infest the place, just try to ignore them and do not listen to their generally fanciful tales that involve you paying them money to solve an imaginary transportation problem. They often provide a chorus of gloomy predictions regarding the alleged unavailability of services, then if successful they just place unknowing passengers upon the normal scheduled service or a private charter at an often seriously inflated prices.

The situation arising from the activities of pestering touts combined with confusing and inadequate formal services at Bangsal is the source of many disappointments and complaints.

From Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno
To move from one island to another the formal procedure is to take the Public boat (ferry) to Bangsal and then a further similar ferry to the required island departing from Bangsal. To return the reverse is required. This can be confusing and co-ordinating the timing with the connecting boat departing from Bangsal may be either difficult or elusive. There is also a limited official inter-island Island Hopping service provided.

Ferry operators may sometimes enter into informal arrangements with passengers to journey inter-island. In this situation a passenger boards a boat that is meant to go directly to Bangsal from one of the three Gili islands but instead it detours and sets down on the beach at another island whilst en-route. The prices are a movable feast but people will normally pay a price of around Rp 35,000. Inter-island access on the public boats in this manner is dependant upon timing, weather, loading, payment and the inclination of the crew to facilitate an inter-island journey and such arrangements are not officially sanctioned. The standard procedure is to travel to Bangsal and make a separate trip to the different island or to use the very limited official service. The price for a single journey Public Boat ferry journey from Gili Trawangan is Rp 10,000 and Gili Meno to Bangsal is Rp 9,000. The price for the subsequent Public boat to Gili Air from Bangsal is Rp 10,000, this assuming the required connection was made at Bangsal.(there will be a cheaper price if you purchase two way – checked on April 15th 2014, but lack of detail)

Get around
Walking is the best option as you can wander around the whole of Gili Air in about 90 minutes.

Bicycles are widely available for rent for Rp 30,000-50,000 per day. Some hotels might give you one as part of your accommodation package.

There are fewer horse carts (cidomos) here than on Gili Trawangan, They have become quite predatory and will lead you to believe you need one to get to your destination. Most guest houses can be walked to if you don’t have heavy bags. Negotiating seems to have gone out the window and they now charge a flat rate of Rp50,000 for any trip regardless of distance.

Freediving
Freediving, breath-hold diving or apnea, is a form of diving where a person relies on his or her ability to hold their breath. With an abundance of dive sites and warm, clear waters, Gili Air is the perfect place to experience the amazing and fast growing sport of freediving. Although diving on a single breath of air may sound difficult, you will be amazed what an experienced team of freediving instructors can do for you in just a few days. By applying the correct techniques, together with informative theory and practical water sessions, you can experience new sensations and realise the natural ability of the human body to dive to depths you previously thought impossible, on just one breath!

Snorkelling
Any of the dive shops will also be able to organise snorkelling trips for you, including hire of gear. Alternatively, there are some good spots where you can snorkel from the beach. Try almost anywhere along the east coast where the fringing reef is fairly healthy and close offshore. Be careful walking in the shallow waters though as there are a lot of very spiny sea urchins in amongst the sea-grass. Equipment can be hired from almost any cafe or shack close to the beach for about Rp 30,000, or your hotel will be able to help you. Please note, the coral reef is a sensitive ecosystem, when snorkeling please swim rather than walk over the shallow reef; will be surprised how much is growing under you, as a rule of thumb, as soon as the water is up to your knees you are safe to swim.

Surfing
Gili Air hardly registers a blip on the global surf scene, which is somewhat surprising. There is a poorly known, barreling right hander off the south coast called Playgili. This is by no means a straightforward wave, breaks over some very sharp coral and is best left to experienced, skilled surfers. It does not always roll, but when it does this is a good wave. Best first stop for any surfer is Ozzy’s Surf Shop, where the local crew will be keen to rent you a board and chat about the conditions.

Kite Surfing
Stefano Cavallucci runs Gili Air Watersports Club @Sun Rise Hotel with Kitesurf, wakeboard, stand up paddle, surf, and kayak. info@gilikitesurf.com

Walk
The circular walk around Gili Air is very pleasant indeed. The highlight for many would be the awe-inspiring views of massive Mount Rinjani towering over Lombok.

Buy
There is an ATM outlet of CIMB Niaga bank on the island. It is located 5 min east of the ferry arrival area. There are 2 terminals inside, the one which dispenses Rp 100,000 notes allows up to Rp 3 million per transaction from any Visa/MC (no extra charges). A second ATM can be found further north on the same main beach track past the Turtle Beach hotel. These are the only two on the island but are generally reliable. The best bet for changing money is Oseana shop located in the Harbour. Oseana shop will change a lot of different currencies. Ideally, make sure you bring enough cash with you that is already converted to Rupiah.

There are a few shops selling basic necessities close to the boat landing and on the eastern coast. In the same area there are also a couple of vendors with a reasonable collection of Lombok handicrafts for sale.

In the centre of the island (in the village, on main north-south road of the island), there’s a bigger shop (they have lots of smelly dried fish), selling, besides other things, some cheap foods (try donuts for Rp 1,000 if you are not afraid). Slightly cheaper than beach shops, but some sellers try to compensate for that when see foreigners, so the same 1.5 lt bottle of water could easily cost Rp 5,000 one day and Rp 4,000 the next one depending upon where you purchase it.

Get out
– Hop over to Gili Meno for further seclusion and a real desert island experience.
– Back to Lombok and Mount Rinjani for one of the best climbs anywhere in Indonesia.
– Bali per Fastboat depending upon the weather conditions.

Be aware that they’ll ask you to pay a Passenger Service fee Rp 250,000 if you depart from the Lombok International Airport, it says doesn’t include when you purchased your flight ticket.(checked on April 15th 2015)

there are many service agents on the island, to offer you more service to leave or arrange the trip, they could arrange your trip from a pick-up service at your stay all the way to the airport or anywhere I believe.

a charter car(private car)instead of a taxi from Bangsal to the airport was Rp 350,000 on April 15th 2015.

There’s also a shuttle bus around Rp 350,000, will take you from Gili Air through Senggigi to the airport, cheaper but takes longer.

 

Senggigi Beach – West Lombok

The Senggigi region is the main tourist destination on the island of Lombok in Indonesia. The main town is Senggigi itself, and the whole area is well known for its beautiful west facing beaches.

The Senggigi region is formed by several adjacent yet subtly different areas all lying along the same 2 lane coastal road. The exact boundaries of each area can seem rather ill-defined. While pockets of development can be found in some areas, long stretches of open undeveloped land lie in between. Nightlife and major restaurants are concentrated in the central township of Senggigi. The first time visitor should be aware of these distinct regional differences. Simply booking a hotel in Senggigi could mean a relatively remote location where the town centre can only be reached by taxi or public transport.

– Mangsit — a little to the north of Senggigi township it has a well established hotel strip running along a long tranquil sweeping beach with traditional outrigger boats resting on the sand. Mangsit is the gateway to the northern area of activities at Gili Islands, Tanjung and Mount Rinjani. It has well established resort hotel choices but few other tourist activities, such as shopping and nightlife. Mangsit can be quickly and conveniently reached from the centre of Senggigi by taxi or public bemo.

– Kerangdangan — in a large quiet bay to the immediate north of the Senggigi township with some rental villa’s in the valley behind the beach.

– Senggigi (centre) — not a typical tourist resort town, such as may be found in Bali where a day can be spent shopping and socialising at the local bars and restaurants. However there are enough bars, pool tables, TV screens with sports broadcasts, relaxing lounge areas and beach side restaurants to keep people occupied should that be their focus. Many visitors use Senggigi as a home base and take day trips to the waterfalls, the Gili Islands, or just go exploring the still authentic villages, temples, and forest habitat found within a couple of hours drive.

– Batu Bolong — is to the immediate south of Senggigi and has a sparsely spread out collection of hotels, cafes, restaurants, several karaoke style establishments and a large barn like nightclub all situated along the coast road. A smaller restaurant and hotel strip is concentrated at the Senggigi end. It feels in the most part like a southern satellite extension of the Senggigi township. In the valley behind Batu Bolong is a large housing complex catering to both Indonesian and expatriate long term residents and visitors. Taxis, or bemo if during daylight hours, give very quick access the centre of Senggigi.

Both Mangsit and Batu Bolong are more focussed on the hotels situated along their respective beachfronts where at night the centre of Senggigi has a more lively street feel to it with live music playing and people moving about from one venue to another.

Lombok’s tourism sector has had a difficult past decade and tourism activity in Senggigi went through a very subdued period with many developments halted and businesses closed.

Recently things have been starting to improve again, with new villas and hotels going up and new shops and tourism ventures opening. Senggigi is now becoming increasingly popular with visitors seeking out the stunning scenery and unique culture and flavours of Lombok.

Get in
Senggigi is about 15-20 min north of the outskirts of the island’s capital Mataram. Airport Taxis and metered taxis are available for connections from the airport.

Airport taksi are only for the use of passengers arriving at the airport and requiring transport to destinations across the island. They are not permitted to carry passengers to the airport when departing the island.

Lombok’s new international airport Bandara Internasional Lombok (BIL), (IATA: LOP, ICAO: WADL) opened on 1 October 2011. The new airport in Praya has replaced operations at Selaparang International Airport in Mataram. Selaparang Airport was closed for airline operations on the evening of 30 September 2011.

The new airport is located near the city of Praya on Jalan Raya, Tanak Awu Lombok Tengah in central south Lombok and is approximately 40 km south of Mataram, and 55 km southeast of the established Senggigi tourism precinct of West Lombok.

By taxi
It has been formally announced that the needs of arriving passengers at the new international airport near Praya (Bandara Internasional Lombok) will be served by Airport Taksi, provided by the Airport Taxi Koperasi previously serving Selaparang Airport, Bluebird metered taxi, and Express metered taxi.

A metered taxi from the Bandara Internasional Lombok location to Senggigi cost will be approximately Rp 135,000-155,000. A taxi from the Mandalika Bus Terminal in Sweta on eastern outskirts of Mataram will be around Rp 60,000-65,000. Taxis use a meter and the charge is determined by both time and distance. A Rp 17,500 airport taxi surcharge is payable when departing the airport in a taxi. Coupons are available at the Taxi Service counter immediately outside the airport terminal doors.

Please see the main Lombok article for more details on the new international airport and connecting services to Senggigi

By airport bus
A public bus service is available from Bandara Internasional Lombok to service passengers wishing to travel to and from either Mataram or Senggigi. The 8 DAMRI buses serving the route are air conditioned and have a capacity of approximately 40 passengers.

The DAMRI bus services depart Senggigi from 03:00 and are listed as departing every 1.5 hr until the last departure from Senggigi at 20:00. The bus is meant to take about 1.5 hr but the trip time may be closer to 2 hr.

DAMRI services also depart from the Mandalika terminal every hour and proceed to the airport, commencing at 04:00 with the last bus leaving that terminal at 19:00.

The fare from/to Senggigi it is Rp 30,000 and from the Mandalika terminal it is Rp 15,000. Buses arrive and depart from immediately south of the Art Market on Jl. Raya Senggigi and from in front of the terminal building at the airport. Tickets are purchased on the bus. Price from Airport is Rp 35,000

Bluebird taxis are normally readily available in Senggigi to fulfill any requirements for travel onward to destinations that are further to the north.

Bemo
In daylight hours the a public bemo is available inside the parking area of the Ampenan market and on the road way outside, the charge to travel up the coast to Senggigi is around Rp 5,000, plus extra charges for any larger items of luggage carried.

Bemo are also available to travel down the western coast from locations in the north of the island. Bayan, Tanjung and Pemenang have public terminal areas, the facilities at the terminals are quite rudimentary and resemble a parking area rather than a formalised terminal or interchange.
Hotel transfer services

Some of the larger hotels offer pick up transfers to and from the Airport. You will need to book ahead for this and normally charge an extra.

Get around
By bemo
Bemos are small covered pick-up trucks with narrow padded seating benches in the rear. They are the main means of short and medium distance transport in the rural and coastal areas of Lombok and can be hailed down on many streets. They will happily take you even short hops around Senggigi and the fares are inexpensive.

An approximate fare from Senggigi to the produce markets in Ampenan is Rp 4,500-5,500 per person. Prices for set distances can vary at time. Try and watch what local customers are paying for a similar distance to your own and if really in doubt just include Rp 1,000-2,000 extra. If chartering an empty bemo to a particular destination be careful to clarify the exact amount of payment required prior to getting into the vehicle.

Many bemo drivers are reluctant to venture further up the west coast than the northern end of Mangsit Village as the passenger densities drop dramatically from there on. The driver may want to turn back at this point if he does not have sufficient passengers.

Bemos have normally stopped running by dusk on the west coast of Lombok.

Travel agents can also get you on semi-regular shuttle services, which connect Senggigi, the airport, and the harbours of Lembar (for Bali) and Bangsal (for the Gilis).

By taxi
Lombok Taksi (Bluebird group). is the most common taxi available in the Senggigi area. edit Both the Bluebird and white coloured Express Taksi have a radio despatch system and both companies cars are equipped with meters which should be used by their drivers at all times. Flag fall is approximately Rp 4,250 and the meter ticks up a few hundred rupiah for every hundred meters past 2 km. Taxis can often be hailed down on the street around Senggigi with the exception of the dark blue Airport Taksi the use of which is limited to arriving airport passengers only. Taxis can be booked in advance either by calling them yourself or by booking through your hotel. Late at night they can often be found congregated near the Marina nightclub in Senggigi. Taxis can often be found parked opposite the Holiday Resort in Mangsit and on the hill above the Sheraton resort at the northern end of Senggigi township both day and night.

By car
Renting a car is also an option and there are many places to rent from in the Senggigi area. Expect to pay Rp 250,000-Rp 300,000 ( Suzuki mini jeep-Jimmy (2×4) to Rp 450,000 for a late model Toyota Kijang (2×4). Check over the vehicle very carefully before signing the rental agreement.

By motorbike
To hire a motrobike, expect to pay around Rp 60,000 for most models and possibly more in peak season when demand for rentals can be very high. Thoroughly check over the motorbike before signing the rental agreement. In Indonesia a helmet is required at all times, and lights should be illuminated whilst on the road.

By ojek
Prices are negotiable but a rule of thumb is Rp 15,000 if the destination is nearby.

By horse cart
Horse-pulled carts, known as Cidomo, are very common around Senggigi and all across Lombok. They are a good method of transportation for short distances such as from your hotel to a restaurant. Make sure to agree on the price before the journey and before alighting the cidomo. Rp 10,000 is the maximum price to pay for a short journey.

By boat
Traditional fishing boats known as perahu ply the waters around Lombok. They are instantly recognisable due to their outriggers, two lengths of extra large bamboo sealed at either end and attached by bars on both sides like a catamaran affording greater stability in heavy swells. They can also be chartered on the Senggigi beaches, either directly from owners (in which case some knowledge of Bahasa Indonesian or Bahasa Sasak will come in handy) or via any travel agent, who will of course take an often generous commission.

By bicycle
Traffic is relatively light throughout the island so travel by bicycle is quite possible and provides a very different cultural experience to other means of transport. Some of the hotels have bicycles available and Senggigi has a bicycle tour operator.

Lombok Biking Tour, Jl. Raya Senggigi, Contact : +62 (0)818 0209 1999

See
– Pura Batu Bolong, 2 km south of Senggigi. Small Hindu temple located in a scenic spot at a small headland overlooking Senggigi beach, named after a rock (batu) with a hole (bolong). At the tip of the this headland is an empty chair representing Brahma, the god of creation. Free entry, but you’ll have to ‘borrow’ a sash (Rp 10,000 a throw) from one of the urchins if you don’t have one already. Sunsets seen from here can be very impressive.

– Senggigi Beach, A spit of sand stretching out from central Senggigi. This is Senggigi’s raison d’etre but, by Indonesian standards, it’s not all that spectacular. The beach is a sometimes a little dirty, the hawkers can be a nuisance and the Senggigi Beach Resort has grabbed most of the land. Some local surfers brave the smallish waves. A pathway has recently been built around the peninsular and it can be a pleasant promenade. The sunsets can be very beautiful.

– Kerangdangan beach, On Sunday afternoons Kerangdangan beach is a popular destination for Lombok residents. They go there to wander about and socialise or sit on the sandy beach or grassy area behind the warungs. People often take a swim in the sea and later eat satay and other snacks made by Kerandangan villagers and sold in the beachfront warungs. There are also two small and more expensive venues with informal outdoor dining in a cluster of small baruga’s with big cushions and relaxed service. They are set a little back from the beach and are open most days and nights. Full menus are available at these two venues and they offer an interesting alternative to the Senggigi township offerings. Recently access to the area has become a little less obvious and the number of beachside warungs has been reduced due to a large parcel of land being annexed for a new development. Look for an entrance toward the northern end of the bay.

Senggigi is a popular launch point for other activities on Lombok. Without the hassle of Mataram, you can visit several other locations and come back to the same hotel each night. Tour operators can arrange these trips for you at around Rp 350,000 for a very basic short trip for the day including a private car and driver. Excursions to more distant locations are up around Rp 800,000-1,000,000 and would most likely include a guide for the day. Overnight trips are easily arranged and the necessary accommodation charges for a guide and driver should be quite modest.

Popular excursions that can be done in a day trip include:
– Village visits, including weaving villages and other handicraft-producers.
– Waterfall visits. During 2011 some very interesting new waterfall and village destinations are being opened up for tourism visits in the northern part of the island.

Scenic drive the coastal road to the north of Senggigi has recently been extensively upgraded turning this road into a popular scenic route with stunning vistas of quiet kampungs, traditional rural activities, near deserted beaches and bright green rice fields with mountain backdrops. It has steep climbs over some of the headlands affording panoramic views of the coastline and the Lombok Strait. The drive northwards up the coast from Senggigi is a popular destination for young local couples and families going on Sunday outings. It is a stunning scenic and normally reasonably quiet drive and is serviced by small traditional roadside shops and warungs. Sundays can get a bit hectic on the roads, especially toward sunset.

Do
Sailing & Cruises
– Tropic Princess Cruises (Lombok and Komodo Sailing, Daily Cruises), Senggigi (Next to Senggigi Beach Hotel), ☎ +62 (0)370 692179, and website www.lombokkomodosailing.com. 24. Offers daily sailing cruises from Senggigi to Gili Trawangan, Meno, Air, Gili Nanggu, Gili Layar, Gili Kedis and Gili Ringgit, Depart daily including hotel pick up with their Phinisi Sailing Boat Tropic Princess US$ 120.

Cooking Class
– Anggrek Putih Cooking Class, Meninting, Senggigi (Dusun Presak), Anggrek Putih offer half day cooking classes. Classes consist of a minimum of 2 people to a maximum of 6 people. Experience the different flavour of “Indonesian cuisine” and learn about the local products. The cooking classes commence daily at 10:00 am and are a fun educational and enjoyable way to learn about the Indonesian food and culture for the whole family. Bookings are essential. Hotel pick-up is included in the area of Senggigi, Mataram and Mangsit