The Gili Islands that nobody knows yet

White beaches, waving palm trees, the crackling sound of the turquoise sea rolling gently over the sand and... nothing else. Welcome to the Secret Gili’s: a dozen small islands that you only share with a handful of other tourists.

The Gili Islands that nobody knows yet by Ann Cools

Ann Cools

Photographer:Ann Cools

A trip to Indonesia and a visit to the Gili Islands are often mentioned in the same breath. The paradisiacal islands off the coast of Lombok are extremely popular with both backpackers and luxury tourists. While Gili Trawangan is known for its vibrant nightlife and Gili Air is loved by brand new married couples, the Secret Gili's are known for their, indeed, unknownness.

Travelers who are limited in time but still long for peace and beautiful beaches will find a worthy alternative in the Secret Gili's. After all, they are close to the coast in southwestern Lombok and are so small that you can visit several in one day. If you follow the coastline from Mataram, the capital of western Lombok to the south, you'll find the islets Gili Sudak, Gili Tangkong, Gili Kedis and Gili Nanggu where Lombok sticks out its tongue to Bali. In the far west you will find even more of the secret Gili Islands, but for that you have to drive a little further.

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A winding road takes you along idyllic bays with deserted beaches. You pass the port in Lembar and a few kilometers further you arrive in the village of Taun, the departure point for the Secret Gili's.

Colorful, wooden boats float in the water while locals chat in the shade of the trees. Ask for the Secret Gili's and no doubt someone will jump up to help you out. With a private boat you glide over the clear blue water and after 20 minutes you will already come across the island of Gili Kedis. Gili Sudak, Tangkong and Nanggu are only 5 to 10 minutes apart. Perfect for a day trip!

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The green heart of Gili Nanggu is completely surrounded by beaches: you can walk around the entire island in an hour. However, the beach where the boats moor is the most beautiful and the best place to snorkel.

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It is bursting with life so take your snorkel or rent one on the spot. Allow yourself to float on the gentle current in the shallow water and keep your GoPro ready. You'll see purple and yellow coral: the underwater version of Provence, as it were.

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The island is so small that the choice for a restaurant is made for you: after all, there is only one dining tent. Enjoy fresh fish dishes while the sea breeze blows through your hair. Those who want to enjoy this mini-paradise for several days can spend the night in the romantic-looking cottages on Gili Nanggu.

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Also on Gili Sudak there is a simple resort for travelers looking for a quiet getaway. In the cooling shade of the trees you can enjoy fresh squid while admiring the 50 shades of blue of the water. Besides lazing around, it is also great to snorkel here. Those who prefer to be up in the water can rent a kayak and explore the island while paddling.

If you really want to be all alone, you can get dropped off at Gili Kedis. The heart-shaped island is near the coast and is very small. Unless you want to sleep under the starry sky, there are no accommodation options. You can sunbathe, snorkel or just stare into the distance. The only company are the few trees that are standing in the middle of the island.

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Last updated on: 22.10.2020