Turtle Capital of the World – Gili Islands Indonesia
Just off the northwest coast of Lombok Indonesia (the next large island to the east of Bali) are 3 small islands collectively known as the Gili Islands. Gili actually means small island in the local Sasak language which is spoken on Lombok. Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are some of the most beautiful tropical islands across the entire Indonesia archipelago.
As well as being referred to as the Gili Islands, they have also been named the Turtle Capital of the world due to the large number of Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles found in the waters around the 3 islands. Even though there are lots of turtles, they are still listed on the critically endangered list.
Despite being very similar, each of the 3 islands have their own personality. The locals have nicknames for each of the islands to describe their individuality. Gili Trawangan is referred to as Party Island as this is where you find the nightlife with loads of late night bars with live music. Gili Meno is referred to as Honeymoon island as it is peaceful and quite with large stretches of beautiful deserted beaches. Gili Air is referred to as Lazy Island as it is the quietest and a perfect place to come and enjoy a relaxing, lazy holiday.
A holiday on the Gili islands can be either a nice relaxing vacation, lazing on the beach or it can be jam packed with activities like scuba diving, snorkelling, kite boarding or surfing. There are various boat trips that you can take for snorkelling or scuba diving to see the turtles. The year round warm waters which are clear and teaming with marine life make some of the best scuba diving in Indonesia and South East Asia. As well as the many turtles expect to see loads of marine life including Moray Eels, Stingrays, Manta rays, reef sharks, reef octopus. See more information about Scuba Diving in the Gili Islands.
On both Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno, they have various conservation activities to ensure the survival of the turtles. There is a turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno where they allow baby turtles to grow to a suitable size before being released into the wild. Up to 90% of baby turtles do not survive more than a few days if they hatch naturally and make their ways into the oceans. During different times of the year, the locals release the grown turtles into the ocean, with a whole lot of ceremony that goes along with it.
There is also an initiative to build artificial reefs around the Gili Islands to provide suitable habitats for the various marine animals who use the reefs for feeding and breeding. There are already a number of metal reefs which are built along the coast of Gili Trawangan. Once the metal frame is built a low voltage current is passed through the frame to stimulate lime growth which corals use to attach themselves to the reef. These artificial reefs are already seing great potential with good natural growth of coral.
There is accommodation found on each of the Gili Islands, ranging from basic, backpacker accommodation, to luxury beach resorts. See a full list of hotels on each of the islands Gili Trawangan Hotels, Gili Meno Hotels and Gili Air Hotels.
See our Gili Islands Video
Getting to the Gili Islands
It is quite easy to get to the Gili Islands. You can take a fast boat from Bali which takes around 2 hours to get from Padang Bai on the east coast of Bali. Read more info about the various ferry companies that provide the Gili Islands fast boat service.
You can also fly into Lombok’s international airport which has direct flights from Bali, Jakarta, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. From the airport you can take a car transfer around 1.5 hours to the ferry port, just 20 minutes from Sengiggi. There are small public ferrys that take 15 minutes to go across to the Gili Islands.
Read more information about the Gili Islands