The lesser-known Gili islands on the southwest of Lombok, are what dreams are made of. Gili Nanggu and Gili Gede have some interesting accommodation choices like the Sundancer, Secret Island Resort and Pearl Beach Resort which come with excellent diving, boating, fishing, and snorkeling options. Among the accommodation options, Cocotinos Boutique Beach Resort and Bola Bola Paradis are slightly more upscale and come with spas, well-staffed restaurant services, and luxurious rooms. If an intrepid tropical beach vacation is what you are looking for, then read this lesser-known Gili Islands travel guide.

at gili sudak, one of the lesser known gili islands

The secret Gili Islands is my happy place.

The lesser-known Gili Islands are beautiful secrets

The southwest Gili Islands being the lesser-known Gilis hardly have much to boast of except for the luxury of calling sugar-white beaches your own. One can find some floating boat piers, a few intrepid island villages, and a handful of dive resorts/operators (Dive Zone, Odyssea Divers, Bounty Cruises, etc.) around Sekotong region of Lombok. It is the most secluded and idyllic region of Lombok and a far cry from Gili T or even Gili Air. The ocean around the southwest Gilis especially Gili Tangkong, Ringgit, Asahan and Layar are teeming with unspoiled marine life. There is an abundance of coral reefs, lots of colourful tropical fishes, turtles, white-tipped reef sharks, and baby squids. The stunning islands Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkong, and Gili Sudat can be accessed by outrigger boats from Tawun village. From Tembowong village, one can reach Gili Gede and Gili Asahan. Known to only a lucky few, the beautiful, pristine southwest lesser-known Gili Islands still remain Indonesia’s best-kept beach secrets.

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Try out Gili Gede from the lesser-known Gili Islands

Things to remember before visiting Gili Gede

  • Until 2018, there was no electricity on the island and generators were used.
  • Asphalt roads are non-existent and what’s there are made up of sand tracks, concrete pathways, and rubble. Some parts of the island cannot be reached at high tide on foot and one needs to use a local boat.
  • There is no ATM’s on the island and credit card machines add a 2% charge extra service charge.
  • There are limited dining options on Gili Gede.
  • Gili Gede has no freshwater supply and the water available on the island is brackish.
  • The best time to visit is from May until November. The wet season lasts from December till April.
  • Recommended places to stay – Kokomo Resort and Vista Villa (Luxury), Tanjungan Bukit Lodge, Secret Island, Yut Inn Flower Paradise, and Via Vaccare (Mid-Range), Thamarind (Budget)

How to reach Gili Gede

  • By Flight – The nearest international airports are at Lombok and Bali. All Gili Gede accommodations help their guests with airport transfers to and from the harbour.
  • By boat from Bali – Gili Getaway have fast boats from Bali which take about 2.5 hours and the Northern Gilis fast boats take about 1.5 hours.
  • By boat from Lombok – At Lombok’s main harbour, there are plenty of boats available to take you to Gili Gede. The trip takes about 30 minutes one way.

    Hire a local boat from Tawun village to explore the secret Gili Islands

Exploring the gorgeous Gili Nanngu

How to reach Gili Nanngu

  • Gili Nanggu is located at the southwestern Sekotong peninsula of Lombok.
  • It is reachable by boat from Lembar (the place where the public ferry from Bali arrives) and West Sekotong (Sekotong Barat). The boat ride from West Sekotong takes only 15-20 minutes and from Lembar one requires approximately 40 minutes.
  • It is recommended to hire a rental car with a driver or a taxi from Senggigi or Kuta in Lombok to reach Sekotong. They also bring you directly to the boats.
  • The drive from Senggigi to Lembar takes less than an hour and you will need around 1.5 hours to reach West Sekotong. Most of the tourist offices will be offering a Nanggu tour probably. Nowadays, most tour companies in Lombok offer Gili Nanngu day trips.
  • Gili Nanngu has only one accommodation, the Gili Nanggu Cottages & Resort which has bungalows on the beach. It has one restaurant.
  • Gili Nanngu is great for day trips and snorkeling excursions. One can combine Gili Nanngu with many other Gilis like Gili Tangkong and Gili Sudak. The islands of Gili Gede, Gili Poh, and Gili Asahan lie further west of Gili Nanngu.

    gili islands are near lombok

    The Gili Islands are best explored by a local outrigger boat

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Visiting Gili Asahan of the lesser-known Gili Islands

How to Reach:

From Bali: You can fly internationally to either Lombok or Bali airport. From Bali airport, take a taxi to Padang Bai to reach the Gili Getaway boat office. Their fast boat stops at Gili Gede (cost is in US$50 one way) and Gili Asahan accommodations arrange local boat transfer for the 4km journey for their guests. This local boat transfer takes around 20 – 45 minutes.

From Lombok airport: Gili Asahan Eco Lodge arranges airport and/or boat transfers to many destinations including Lombok. This boat trip takes around 2 hours. Alternatively, one can take a taxi from Lombok airport for Pantai Kores Harbour and grab a local boat which takes you to Gili Asahan in 10 minutes.

By boat from Lombok: Pantai Kores is the closest port. It is a 10-minute boat ride from there to Gili Asahan. Tembowong Harbour is 30 minutes away. From Sengiggi, hop on a Gili Getaway fast boat which stops at Gili Gede. Most Gili Asahan accommodations arrange local boat transfers from there.

From North Gilis: Gili Getaway has a fast boat service from Gili Trawangan and Gili Air to Gili Gede. Gili Asahan accommodations arrange local boat transfers for their guests from there.

It looks like this when the water starts receding

Where to Stay:

Gili Asahan has four resorts namely the Gili Ashan Eco Lodge and Restaurant, Pearl Beach Resort, Matahari Luxury Villas, and Avatar Raja Bungalow.

Things to remember before visiting Gili Asahan

  • There is no electricity on the island and generators are used.
  • Wi-Fi is very poor everywhere.
  • There are no ATM’s on the island.
  • No restaurants on Gili Asahan and all resorts have their own restaurant.
  • There is no fresh water supply on the island and the potable water is brackish.
  • Do not expect asphalt roads and during high tides, many parts of islands are reachable only by boat.
  • The dry season lasts from May until November and the wet season is from December until April.

The last of the lesser-known Gili Islands, Gili Sudat

How to Reach:

From Bali:
1: Catch a fast boat with Gili Bookings, Gili Getaway or Blue Water Express from Padang Bai to Lembar. The ride takes approx. 2 hours.
2: Fly with Lion Air or Wings Air for 25 minutes from Denpasar to Lombok airport and then get on a boat.

From Lombok:
Taxi from Praya Lombok Airport to Lembar Port: The drive takes 1 hour and then get a boat
Taxi from Mataram to Lembar Port: Takes 30 mins and then get a boat
Taxi from Sengiggi/Kuta to Lembar Port: Takes 1 hour and then get a boat

Boat from Lembar Port to Gili Sudat: 40 mins

Taxi from Sengiggi/Kuta to Tawan Sekotong harbour: 1-1.5 hours drive
From Mataram to Tawan Sekotong harbour: 1-hour drive

Boat Tawan Sekotong Harbour to Gili Sudat: Takes 10 mins

Other travel facts

Stay: Nirvana Gili Sudat

Do: Use the free kayaks to paddle to Gili Kedis

Note: Gili Sudat has a true deserted island feel to it. There are no shops, restaurants, cafes, or any sort of places to hang out.

For more information on diving in the lesser-known Gili Islands, check out this detailed post.

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At the turtle sanctuary at Gili Meno

I saw this floating hut from a vantage point at Sudat