Explore Indonesia #7: Things to do in Lombok + Gili Islands

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Of pristine beaches and blue waters.

We are back from our Lombok escape, 5 shades darker and lovin’ it. Our four days in Lombok was simply amazing – a lovely respite from the hustle and bustle of Jakarta. I found Lombok to be much more laid back than Bali (less touristy and cheaper!) and we were able to just wind down, chill, and soak in the beach vibes.

In case you’re thinking of visiting the alluring island of Lombok one day, here’s a list of what you can do:

1) Enjoy the resort’s facilities

Because Agent D and I booked our hotel late, we were left with few choices. We finally settled on Sheraton Beach Resort on Senggigi for its central location. (Qunci Villas would have been our first choice!) Although Sheraton was old and in need of a makeover, it was clean and good enough for us.

We spent our first day exploring the resort’s grounds and enjoying the pool.

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Stroll around the beautiful green grounds or play a game of giant chess in the lush gardens.

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Read a book by the swimming pool + suntan.

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Get a refreshing drink by the bar and watch the world go by.

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Enjoy the hotel’s private beach.

The private beach was really clean with clear blue waters. Agent D and I borrowed floats from the hotel and bobbed around for a while. You can event rent a kayak and paddle out to sea.

In case you’re interested, Sheraton offers comprehensive spa packages which are half price if you book them during breakfast (a real steal!).

2) Catch pretty sunsets

Because the island of Lombok is surrounded by sea, it has one of the prettiest sunsets with the sun descending into the water. Many of the restaurants in Lombok are located along the beach so customers can enjoy a stunning sunset over dinner.

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1st night dinner at Lotus Bayview Restaurant.

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2nd night dinner at the Ballroom Restaurant, Puri Mas Boutique Resort & Spa.

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10 minutes before the sun went down.

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Waiting for the sun to set on Gili Trawangan, after which my camera ran out of battery.

Oh do note that the sun sets rather early in Lombok, around 6 pm. If you want to watch it making its way down, you have to arrive at the restaurant around 5.30 pm thereabouts. 🙂

3) Go snorkelling/diving on the Gili Islands

To get to the Gili Islands from Lombok (Senggigi), you either have to charter a private boat or take the public boat from Bangsal Harbour. Agent D and I wanted to save time so we went for the first option. We paid IDR 700k for a full day’s hire.

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With our cute-looking private boat, Amedeo.

We arranged for the boat to pick us up from the beach just behind Sheraton (super convenient!) and it took us about 1.5 hours to get to the Gili Islands.

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Just us and the vast ocean.

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Spot the Gilis in the distance?!!

As our boat neared the Gili Islands, we found ourselves surrounded by waters in fifty shades of blue. The waters were so clear we could see the corals underneath. It was amazingly beautiful.

Although Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are all lovely in their own ways, both Agent D and I felt that Gili Meno was best for snorkelling.

A tiny island no doubt, but it has one of the best beaches and waters + snorkelling sites all round with incredible corals and fishes. You can rent snorkelling sets on the island for about IDR 100k/day.

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Before taking a dip!

First day, our boatman picked out various sites around the 3 Gili Islands for us to snorkel. We saw corals and a large variety of fishes but felt that we wanted to see more. As such, we signed up for the ‘Public Boat Trip Gili Meno’ (IDR 150k/pax) with Blue Ocean Boat Trip the next day.

It consists of a three hour group snorkelling tour either in the morning (10am) or afternoon (2 pm). The boat stops at Meno Wall, Coral Garden, and two other spots around Gili Meno.

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The ‘Public Boat Trip Gili Meno’ uses a glass bottom boat.

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Corals on the seabed.

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Deep into the sea.

With the help of a guide in the waters, we were able to see a lot more things in 3 hours than in an entire day. Apart from countless species of colourful fishes, we saw lil’ Nemo, a brown octopus, a shipwreck, and even swam close to sea turtles!!

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Thank you for being good to us, Gilis!

Both days, we left the Gilis around 4pm to head back to Lombok Island. According to the boatman, there are no lights out at sea and it’ll be dangerous after the sun sets.

On our boat ride back, we caught sight of majestic rock formations. The glimmering sun on the waters was such a pretty sight!

Useful Information:

Private boat hire: +6287864696189 (Agus)
Blue Ocean Boat Trip (snorkelling operator on Meno): +6281339509859 (Dean)

4) Sunset horseback riding along the beach

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A once in a lifetime experience.

Horseback riding along the beach is a must-try on Gili Trawangan. If you want to ride along with the sunset, book the time slot that is from 5pm-6pm.

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Susie getting ready.

Suitable for families or couples, is a nice break to ride along the beach (and even partly in the water!). We didn’t have time for a full hour’s ride so we paid IDR 200k/pax for half hour instead.

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Introducing the handsome Rano and gorgeous Susie.

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Riding alongside the mountains and sea.

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Being novice horse riders, we were holding on for our dear lives.

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What a stud!

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Into the water we go.

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Backdrop took my breath away.

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Rano and Susie were too fascinated with the water to pose.

Agent D and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We both agreed that it was one of the highlights of our Lombok trip and worth every penny spent.

Thank you Susie, for the safe and lovely ride! x

Useful Information:

Sunset Stables: +62 859-3501-2836 (located near Casa Vintage)

5) Explore the three Gili islands on a bicycle

As the 3 Gili islands are surrounded by sea, no cars can be found on them. The only modes of transport are horse-drawn carriages (Cidomo), bicycles, and your own bus 11 (i.e. your legs).

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Gili Trawangan.

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Gili Air.

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Gili Meno.

If you’re taking a Cidomo, don’t forget to negotiate. Some of the quotes can go up to IDR 150k for one way. Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle for about IDR 40-50k for a few hours.

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Cidomo horse sporting one of the coolest hairstyles in town.

If you worry about your bicycles being stolen, you may want to bring along a bicycle lock. Otherwise, it is generally safe. There are plenty of quaint streets and back-alley cafes to explore!

Here are some of the sights we saw:

Quite interestingly, we came across a sign stating “Thank you for NOT wearing bikinis on the streets of Gilis – respect local culture”. Glad both Agent D and I adhered to this. 🙂

6) Chill on the beach with a beer + book

On both Lombok and the Gilis, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and hotels lining the beach. One can simply enjoy a meal with a sea view, read a book on a comfy deck chair, suntan on a hammock, or even soak in the breeze on a swing.

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Laze the day away with a book.

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Lunch with a view.

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Coffee/tea with scones, anyone?

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Relieving my childhood days.

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Suntanning on a hammock.

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Wind in our faces!

If only I had more time in Lombok…

7) Pamper yourself with a spa treatment/massage

Because we stay in Jakarta where we have easy access to affordable spa treatments/massages, we decided to give this a miss in Lombok.

You may want to check out the following outlets which offer massages and body treatments at very decent rates:

  • Lemongrass Spa provides services such as massages for IDR 85k/hour and foot reflexology for IDR 75k/hour. If you’re not keen on massages, they have a nail package (manicure + pedicure + polish) for IDR 170K.
  • Orchid Day Spa and Beauty Salon offers similar treatments at slightly cheaper rates.

8) Shop for cute handicrafts

If you love Indonesian handicrafts like I do – you’d love Lombok! From wooden household wares to ceramics to gorgeous seashell bowls to chunky beaded necklaces, Lombok has them all.

I spent about 2 hours just picking out wooden coasters, door stoppers, soap holders, rattan tissue boxes, fabric placements, etc for the new home. All at really good prices!! (Thankfully Agent D was there and helped me exercise restraint hehe.)

Here are some handicraft shops you can check out:

  • Bayan Lombok Handicraft and Tropical Gifts is located within walking distance to Sheraton, on the opposite side of the road. They have a great variety of handicrafts at reasonable fixed prices. I bought most of my stuff there.
  • Anna’s Giftshop is a cute little shop that sells things like handmade pearl jewellery, colourful sarongs, pottery, woodcarving, decoration lamps, etc — also at fixed prices.
  • Pasar Seni (Art Market) is situated between Santosa and Sheraton. There are numerous small stalls selling handicraft and souvenirs. Prices are not fixed so be prepared to bargain!

9) Check out nice restaurants and eat good food

I will cover this in the next post where i will be sharing all the restaurants with sunset views, awesome yummy food and reasonable prices.

Till then, cheers! x

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