Escape Reality In The Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat

If this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about Lombok, then you probably already know that it is famous among the foreigners for the amazing Gili Islands. There are dozens of those on the map, and each has something fresh and exciting to offer. Because of the well-developed infrastructure, clever advertising, and pure luck, Gili Air, Meno, and Trawangan are more popular than the rest of them.

At the same time, the fans of discovering “new”, almost uncharted islands will appreciate the fact that, say, Gili Sulat is known only to a select group of hard-boiled tourists, which makes it something of a ghost island. I’m not saying it’s 100% empty, of course, and there is a modest tourist flow.

But, again, compared to the “monster” islands, Sulat is not nearly as popular. So, why did I want to tell you guys about it? What does this piece of land have to offer to the regular men and women from the Western civilization that the rest of Indonesia doesn’t? Well, once you see and experience what Lombok is all about, the adventurer deep inside of you will want to explore more of it.

The Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat will be a perfect change of scenery. When I arrived at the destination, it made me feel like I was lost somewhere on a deserted island and the local tribes were about to attack me with their sticks and stones.

The Magic Of The Mangrove Forest Of Gili Sulat

Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and Sulat was full of locals and visitors from other countries. Still, when you’re in the forest, the atmosphere is quite thrilling. If you’ve got kids, I would encourage you to take them on this trip. For the little ones, the joy of arriving at a secluded island will be worth the tiring flight and everything else in between.

The Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat is home to numerous species of birds, and their singing will help you sleep better in your tent (that is if you decide to camp out with your family and spend the night in a “barbaric” style). Some of these birds are quite rare and exotic – make sure to check them out. Technically, Sulat belongs to East Lombok.

The coastal line is 5.2 kilometers long, which makes this island one of the tiniest parts of Lombok. Grab your phone and try to capture some of these magical birds with your camera. The most amazing thing about this forest is that the government of Indonesia left it pretty much untouched, and, while the rest of the country is slowly, but steadily starting to look like all the other well-developed Asian countries, this forest is as natural as it gets.

The air is different there; the people are different. Be careful, though, because the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat is also home to several snake species. They aren’t that aggressive, but still, do keep the children safe.

Learning More About The Mangrove Forest Of Gili Sulat

Now, I mentioned earlier that very few people visit this island, and that’s equally true both for the foreigners and the locals. So, don’t go asking the citizens of Lombok about what you can expect there, because chances are, they’ve never even been to Sulat. While Gili T is always in the center of attention and thousands of people visit it every single year to have fun, Sulat is the exact opposite of that.

There are no facilities there, which is exactly why most locals prefer Gili Kondo (you’ll find it east of Lombok on the map). Again, don’t rely on the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat for anything. There aren’t any hotels, guest rooms, or even bungalows on the island.

You also won’t find a single restaurant, café, or food stall, simply because no businessman will invest money in a place that rarely if ever sees a mighty flow of tourists. Thankfully, there is a 400-meter-long road, or, rather, a bridge that will take you right into the heart of the forest. I can’t even imagine how much harder it would be to get there without these boards.

The second you enter the forest, the birds will welcome you with their amazing voices. It’s almost like they’re telling the visitors that they are on their land now. By the way, if you look down into the water, you’ll see that it’s inhabited by several species of fish.

What Is There To Do In The Forest?

It goes without saying that the few brave souls that will decide to visit the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat despite all the challenges should definitely pack their bags with some food and drinks, especially if they’re planning on staying there for more than a couple of hours. At the same time, the fact that this is an uninhabited island has its advantages.

First of all, this is probably the less contaminated island in the area, simply because there isn’t any trash lying around. Second, the water is shallow and clear; the waves are calm. Hop into a canoe and “drive” through the dense forest, listening to the buzz of the insects and the trill of the birds, feeling like Indiana Jones or Nathan Drake.

Don’t worry – you won’t ever get lost, because the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat is pretty small and there aren’t any labyrinths to trick you. The place looks like the Amazon jungle, and it might get scary for a loner. So, it would be a great idea to embark on this crazy journey with a bunch of friends. That way, every single discovery will be more exciting.

On the other hand, the fans of peace and quiet will probably fall in love with the Mangrove Forest because it’s one of the most peaceful and tranquil spots on planet Earth. Sitting in the middle of the island, closing your eyes, and connecting with Mother Nature, you’ll be able to reach harmony with yourself like never before.

Falling In Love With The Island’s Unique Atmosphere

The only way to get to the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat is on a boat. You won’t have any problem hiring a trained crew to take you there. By the way, don’t forget to ask them about the best spots for swimming and snorkeling, because they are just as amazing as the much more popular spots in Lombok and elsewhere.

It would be a good idea to hire a guide that will show you the right way through the forest. Yet, as I said earlier, it’s impossible to get lost in the Mangrove Forest. Just follow your gut and you’ll be great. Still, I gotta mention that for the camping enthusiasts, Kondo will still be a better pick.

The boat crew will be happy to take you around for an additional fee. There are more tiny islands on the east side of Lombok, waiting for you to pay them a visit. The closest hotels and restaurants are located in Labuan Pandan. So, if you rent a room there and pack some delicious local meals, along with several bottles of fresh drinks, your time on Gili Sulat will be more enjoyable.

Please keep in mind that the January-February period is the worst time to visit the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat because the wind is strong then. Other than that, you’ll be fine no matter when you arrive on the island.

How To Find The Mangrove Forest Of Gili Sulat

Ok, here’s where things get interesting. Sulat is located on the far east side of Lombok, miles away from the airport and Mataram, the capital. If you just landed at the International Lombok Airport, prepare for a long ride that will last for up to 3 hours. The route will be almost 100 kilometers long if you choose to drive along the coast and enjoy the beautiful waves on the right side.

The shorter route is only 87 kilometers long and will take you through the center of the island. I would highly recommend hiring a taxi driver for this ride. Or, rent a car/bike and drive through the better half of Lombok. But make sure not to be super tired at the end.

And what about people that arrived in Mataram (say, from Bali or another Indonesian island)? For them, the drive will be even longer. The fastest route is, again, through the middle of the island (but, obviously, from a different side). You’ll have to drive for 3 hours to get to Sulat.

The second route follows the coastline of Lombok and lies through Pamenang. Once you reach the shore, get on a boat and head straight towards the Mangrove Forest of Gili Sulat. Ok, that’s pretty much it!

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Alexis F.
February 12, 2018
The boat crew that took us to the island was very professional and friendly. They didn't charge us much but were happy to lend a helping hand.
Lucia M.
September 29, 2017
Thanks for the great review. Never really knew about this "Indiana island" until I read this article.
Edgar P.
August 11, 2017
Felt like I was in the Lost TV show in the Mangrove Forest. And no, I didn't get scared camping out totally alone in the middle of nowhere.
Cecilia M.
May 25, 2016
I don't see why anyone would want to spend more than a couple of hours there. Yes, it's exotic, but nothing more.
Troy B.
February 24, 2015
When we arrive at the island, there were dozens of tourists there, also looking for an exciting adventure.

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