Being one of the most popular destinations of Indonesia, the Gili Islands are hard to miss. Although we wanted to see these beautiful islands ourself, we also wished to escape the tourist traps. We very well succeeded in that as we found a green getaway at the westside of Gili Air.
Difference between the Gili Islands
Gili Air is the eastern island of the trio and is located between Gili Meno and Lombok. Although quite similar at first sight, each island has its own character. As somebody explained to me once: Gili Trawangan is the party island for singles, Gili Air is the island to propose to your girlfriend and Gili Meno is the honeymoon island. You can take this as a guideline or read in more detail about the difference between the Gili islands.
We traveled from Denpasar in Bali to Padang Bai, from where we took the fast boat to Gili Air. Since no vehicles are allowed at the Gili islands, you can either choose to walk to the lodge or go by horse cart. As we were bringing quite a heavy suitcase, we preferred to grab a horse cart. Be prepared though that the cabmen will try to negotiate a good price and they usually succeed in it as they are aware of their monopoly position.
Manusia Dunia Green Lodge at Gili Air
The Manusia Dunia Green Lodge is located at the west side of the island, which is more tranquil and less crowded than the east side. Once you entered the gate, you will find yourself in a peaceful oasis in a spacious set-up with lots of plants and flowers.
The lodge has a high level of service. Two French sisters run the lodge and together with their friendly staff they go out of their way to make sure you have a comfortable stay. The staff are local villagers who are trained by the owners to manage the hotel, a great way to support the local community. Both the owners and the staff can advise you on the best spots to visit. Bikes are for rent at the lodge; a great way to explore the island.
Rooms are clean and cool with a comfortable bed. From the veranda there is a nice view on the shared garden, a nice place for some relaxation after a day at the beach. Breakfast will be served at the balcony, from where you have a nice view at the ocean. You can choose to either have a sweet (pancakes) or savoury (eggs) breakfast, the pineapple pancake is of high recommendation. When the night falls, candles are lit for a very romantic atmosphere.
From the lodge, it is easy to head to the beach for some tanning or to take a nice stroll at sunset. Since the island is not that big, a round trip around the island takes you about 30 minutes. Along the way you will find many beach clubs and restaurants.
One of my favourites was Scratch Beach Club. The bill comes at Western prices but the price/quality ratio is pretty good. Besides, the restaurant offers various options for vegetarians (vegan at request) which is always a big plus to me.
Next door are the Gili Island Divers, with whom we did some diving. We had a good experience with them as there were small groups with dedicated guidance. The underwater world at the Gili islands is unbelievably beautiful with an abundance of turtles, tropical fish and baby sharks. The Gili Island Divers also offer PADI courses, free-diving and snorkel trips.
Do not be put off by the popularity of the Gili Islands, this place is definitely worth a visit!
* Please note that I visited Gili Air in November 2015 while the area was suffering from severe drought due to El Niño, which may be visible at the pictures.
Prices: Rooms at Manusia Dunia Green Lodge come from 850,000 RP or 59 EUR or 64 USD per night.
Transport: You can take a flight to either Lombok or Bali and from there catch the fast boat to the Gili Islands.