The locals and the tourists call the islands in the south-western part of Lombok the “secret” or “hidden” Gili Islands. The thing is – they’re not as popular, as, say, Trawangan or Air, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun there. On the contrary: while the spots I mentioned are known internationally and are crowded, noisy, and sometimes even trashy, islands like Gili Asahan are always nice and clean.
Plus, you’ll get to be alone with your thoughts there and nobody will disturb your peace. Unspoiled, wild, and free, it is one of those “virgin” islands that the loners appreciate. Let’s take a closer look to see what it has to offer.
So, the best way to get there is on a boat. We’ll talk about that in more details later. For now, let me just say that fishing/speed boats are cheap to rent in Lombok. As you get closer to it, Gili Asahan will take your breath away with the heavenly beauty and the amazing atmosphere of balance and harmony.
The tropical plants, the palm trees, and the grass, along with the pure white sand are just right for a week-long getaway. And let’s not forget about the crystal-clear water that’s equally great for swimming, diving, snorkeling, and having fun with your friends. No offices, no police stations, no tall buildings – you won’t find any of that on this island.
What Is Gili Asahan All About?
If this is just a day trip to check the place out and go back to the mainland, then some tasty snacks and a couple of bottles of water will suffice. On the other hand, if you’re planning on staying there for longer, then it would be wise to pack the boat with enough provisions to last for a week or so. Wait, that’s not the case anymore: back in the day, this island used to be 100% empty, with no public places.
Thankfully, these days, there are a couple of warungs and even lodges in Gili Asahan. At the same time, the tourists are free to travel between Gili Asahan and Lombok whenever they please and purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, and everything else in between without any interference.
It might get a bit boring and even frustrating, however, especially after the 10th trip. This island is known to charm the foreigners and make them fall in love. I personally know five couples that spent several months there and were totally happy with that. Take a good look at the map: as you can see, there are two more Gilis in the area – Layar and Gede.
It won’t take you more than 15-20 minutes to travel between these three islands. Overall, there are 12 Gili Islands in the Sekotong Peninsular and 28 around Lombok. Again, you’ll find pretty much anything you need in Asahan and that means no trips are necessary.
Learning More About Gili Asahan
By the way, Gili can be translated from Sasak as “a tiny island.” Asahan has a circumference of just 5 kilometers. It will take a tourist approximately 2 hours to walk from one corner to the other at a slow pace. The joggers will complete that task in less than an hour. Fact: the Gili islands on the north are home to several cats, which partially explains the lack of birds.
That’s not the case here. So, get yourself ready for their enchanting songs late in the evening and early in the morning. Have you ever tried waking up to the sounds of the birds and the waves? It feels awesome! That’s especially true if there’s a person you love sleeping next to you.
Despite the fact that this is a small island, there are still some cows and goats living there. The green fields feed them and the cattle feed the locals. Fishing is another “source of income” in Gili Asahan. I put that expression in braces because people around here usually use that fish as food, not something to sell.
Open pots on every corner with fish and other underwater creatures cooking up are a totally normal thing in Lombok. As always, the locals are very friendly and helpful. I didn’t find a single person there that could understand me in English, though, and that’s something to keep in mind when planning a trip to this magical place.
What Is There To Do On This Island?
It’s safe to say that sitting under an umbrella and enjoying some exotic fruits/meals is the best thing you can do in Gili Asahan. The locals are used to this kind of life and don’t really see it as a resort island. They’re constantly working to provide for their families but you don’t have to worry about all that. I almost forgot: pearl farming is also very popular here and the foreigners will be surprised by the buoys all over the ocean.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, fishing isn’t really a business in Asahan. Don’t forget to take a dip into the water to see exactly what I’m talking about. There’s plenty of fish there; however, since this Gili is becoming more and more popular, I’m afraid that’s gonna change soon.
There are too many beaches and islands around the world ruined by our kind, and I was happy to learn that Gili Asahan wasn’t one of them. Another great fact about this place: you won’t find any trash lying around. The lodge owners do everything in their power to keep the island clean.
Obviously, the currents bring a lot of plastic and other rubbish from all four corners, but, again, there’s no trash in Asahan. The locals are doing a great job of proving that even without big budgets and help from the government, it is still possible to keep everything under control, take care of the children, and welcome the foreigners with pride and honor.
Some General Tips For The Newbies
Let me tell you a bit more about the local public places. There are several bungalows right next to the beach, lodges with restaurants, and even a supermarket. That’s more than enough for a tiny island like that. Service is amazing, and the owners make the tourists feel like they’re a part of a big, loving family.
The prices are super low; the meals are delicious; the drinks are always nice and cold. Everything is made from wood and looks equally stylish and “homey” if you know what I mean. Add some bamboo here and there, and you’ll get one of the most eco-friendly islands in Lombok. Gili Asahan knows exactly how to satisfy the visitors.
The bungalows are all about that authentic tropical island experience. As soon as you step foot there, you’ll turn into a lazy person that only cares about his/her own comfort. The hot climate and the chill atmosphere aren’t meant for worrying: they are meant for relaxing. Around back, you can play games with the kids.
On the beach, you’ll find some comfortable loungers. Snorkeling is probably the most popular water activity in this area. There are several fish species in the ocean. Silverfish, goldfish, eels, stingrays – grab your camera and take some pictures for the collection. The snorkeling trips don’t cost that much but are totally worth every last penny.
How To Find Gili Asahan
Most people land at the Lombok International Airport. However, there’s another one in Bali, and it might even be faster to get to Gili Asahan from there. Public ferries are the cheapest option. At the same time, they are slow and no fun at all. There’s a harbor in Lembar. From there, it will take you approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the destination.
From Bali, the ride will take 3 hours to get there. From Pantai Kores (Central Sekotong, West Lombok Regency), the boat will get you to Gili Asahan in 10/15 minutes. Senggigi is on the other side of the island (up north, that is), but you can also travel from there to this Gili.
As you can see, there are enough options on the table. It all depends on where you land and the mood you’re in. Keep in mind that there’s no electricity on the island; no ATMs either; Wi-Fi is pretty bad. There are no roads, which adds to the overall tropical vibes. The wet season lasts from December till April.
The dry season starts in May and ends in November. Despite the popular belief, Sasak is not the language the locals speak: it’s Bahasa Indonesia. Alright, that’s pretty much all you need to know about the magical Gili Asahan. Safe travels!