The Gili Islands (Indonesian:Tiga Gili [Three Gilis], Kepulauan Gili [Gili Islands]) are an archipelago of three small islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air — just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia.
The islands are a popular destination for Western tourists looking for a remote island experience. Each island has several small resorts, usually consisting of a small collection of huts for tourists, and a restaurant. Most local inhabitants live in the hilly interior of the island. Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on the islands by local ordinance, so the preferred method of transportation is bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage called a cidomo. Diving in and around the Gilis is also popular, although the prices are fairly high due to local cartel activities. The name “Gili Islands” is a bit of a misnomer, because Gili simply means “small island” in Sasak.
Gili Trawangan is the largest of Lombok’s Gili Islands and is the only one to rise significantly above sea level. It is 3km long and 2km wide with a population of about 1000. Of the Gilis, Trawangan has the most tourist facilities; the pub Tîr na Nôg claims that Trawangan is the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub. The most crowded part of Trawangan lies on the eastern side.
On Gili Trawangan (as well as the other two Gilis), there are no motorized vehicles. The main means of transportation are bicycles (rented by locals to tourists) and cidomo (a small horsedrawn carriage). For traveling to and from each of the Gilis, locals usually use motorized boats and speedboats.
The Gili islands are renowned not only for their friendly inhabitants but the total tropical island paradise feeling that they have. The white coral beaches, the warm and inviting waters all invite to snorkeling, sun bathing and of course diving. The diversity of aquatic life is astounding and just off the shores you can find turtles, sting rays, reef sharks, baracudas, and a myriad of small and large fish.
Some of the first inhabitants of Gili Trawangan were from Sulawesi who are fishermen and farmers. Previously Gili Trawangan was covered in forest and deer lived on the island.
Gili Meno is the middle of Lombok’s three Gilis. It has population of about 300, mainly concentrated on the center of the island. The main income of the population comes from tourism, coconut plantation and fishing. On the west side of the island there is a small shallow lake that produces salt in the dry season. Until a few years ago there was also a small production of seaweed on the reef at the north end of the island. It has swimming beaches all around the island, as well as an impressive bird sanctuary.
Gili Air is the smallest of the Gilis and it’s closest to the Lombok mainland, making it popular with honeymoon couples and travelers seeking a quiet retreat. It has population of about 1,000 and administratively lies in the West Nusa Tenggara province. The island offers excellent snorkeling and SCUBA diving off its east coast, and turtles can be seen along the coral reefs
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