the southwest coast & secret islands

Southwest Lombok boasts long meandering coastlines of pristine white sand beaches and sparkling ocean, with rarely a person to be seen. Off the coast, thirteen small islands - the Southwest Gilis - float in the turquoise waters just waiting to be discovered.

Unlike the famous ‘Gili Islands’ in northwest Lombok, the Southwest Gilis are largely uninhabited and have yet to be discovered by most travellers... that’s why we call them ‘The Secret Gilis’!

The big island of Gili Gede is the gateway to the Southwest and, with a range of accommodation and facilities, it’s a good base for island hopping and exploring the area.

The picturesque Southwest region begins from Sekotong, just south of Lembar Harbour, and features stunning beaches and bays set against a backdrop of rolling green hills.

The drive down the southwest coast is an enjoyable trip, meandering through villages where life is largely untouched by tourism and where the people are involved in their day-to-day activities of farming, fish cultivation, fishing, brick-making and other traditional pastimes.

Situated on a wide, placid bay in Sekotong is the peaceful village of Taun (or Tawun). The ocean is sparkling turquoise and the dazzling white sand stretches in a wide sweep around the bay.

Just out in the bay are the three lovely islands of Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkong and Gili Sudak (and the tiny island of Gili Kedis) – all easily accessible by local outrigger boats. A small sign in the nearby village will direct you to the local boat hire area, where you can arrange boat trips out to Gili Nanggu and the other islands.

Accommodation at Taun has grown over the past few years and there are now small hotels, villas and home stays overlooking the bay. It’s easy to base yourself on the mainland and take boat trips to explore all the southwest islands from here.

Gili Nanggu has accommodation for visitors, with simple cottages on the beach and a restaurant. The island is small and the beach has soft white sand and a good reef just offshore for snorkelling.

Island-hopping tours usually stop at Gili Nanggu, Sudak and Kedis, which all have good snorkelling from the shore.

Back on the main road and travelling a little further south, before the marine culture complex (Balai Budaya Laut), there is a small dirt road leading out onto a white peninsular of sand that juts into beautiful clear waters. Drive to the end for superb views and a close up look at Gili Genting.

Gili Genting sits just off the tip of the peninsular and at low tide you can walk across the sandbar and explore this uninhabited island. Old volcanic rocks and stone carved from centuries of tidal flow create small caves and alcoves, providing shelter for picnics and interesting nooks and crannies to explore.

Further south is the village of Tembowong. There are a few cafés and places to eat here. Nearby is parking area and a small jetty – the site for catching boats out to Gili Gede, only a few minutes across the water.

Gili Gede: The largest of the islands in the area is Gili Gede, appropriately meaning ‘Big Island’. The island lays just offshore and is so large visitors often mistake it for part of the mainland.

Gili Gede is developing as the main hub for the Southwest Gilis, as it is one of the few islands in the area that has a choice of accommodation, making it an ideal base for exploring the other nearby islands.

The luxurious ko – ko – mo Gili Gede Resort, which opened in February 2016, is the sister resort to ko – ko – mo Resort on Gili Trawangan. The stylish all villa resort, comprising fifteen 1- and 2-bedroom villas with private swimming pools, and one bedroom Villa Kecil (small villas), is spread out over spacious grounds on a pristine beachfront.

All modern comforts such as air conditioning and ceiling fans, flat screen televisions with satellite channels and DVD, Wi-Fi, fresh (not salt) hot water, plentiful power points for charging devices, and more are provided in each villa.

Facilities at the resort include a tennis court, a small gym, a resort swimming pool and purpose-built Spa facility and a beachfront restaurant.

Guests at the restaurant can enjoy up-market dining with a menu prepared from fresh locally-sourced seafood, imported Australian meats and in-house breads and bakery items. There is also an outstanding wine and drinks list.

ko – ko – mo has a purpose-built jetty at the front of the resort and operate their own fast boat service – ‘Gili Getaway’ – making Gili Gede easily accessible from Bali.

Perched on the hilltop just to the north of ko – ko – mo is Villa Selalu, a private luxury retreat that enjoys outstanding 360º views of the stunning surroundings.

The fully serviced 4-bedroom villa boasts unparalleled luxury with all mod cons and ultra-chic furnishings. Guests can enjoy a number of indoor and outdoor living areas, as well as an 18m infinity pool overlooking the ocean surrounded by a spacious deck, BBQ area and lounging pavilion.

Villa Selalu has a private beachfront and a boathouse equipped with snorkelling gear, sea kayaks, paddle boards and bikes to make the most of your holiday.

Individual rooms are available or rent the villa in entirety for the ultimate island escape!

Accommodation options on the island are growing and include some lovely mid-range resorts as well as cottages and home stays with simple accommodation for budget travellers.

Marina Del Ray on the south of the island is an Australian-standard yacht marina. The location of the marina is ideal, with a long jetty extending into deep protected waters offering safe anchorage year-round for visiting boats.

The marina offers customs, immigration, and port control facilities as well as fuel supplies, moorings, provisioning, and repairs. There is also a Yacht Club, with restaurant and accommodation available.

Gili Gede is large enough to provide a range of activities such as hiking to the hills in the centre for fantastic views across the other islands, exploring deserted beaches and hidden coves, and meeting the people living on the island, who are very friendly and, as yet, unspoilt by tourism.

To the south of Gili Gede, the islands of Gili Ringgit, Layar and Asahan are lined up like secret treasures in the calm sea.

Bounty Cruises, a Bali based company, own a large parcel of land on Gili Ringgit and constructed a boat mooring and pier on the island some years ago. There is good snorkelling on the west side of Gili Ringgit, accessed by boat.

Large gardens of hard and soft corals lay just beneath the surface and the reef extends along most of the island’s coast. On the other side of the island is where the pier is located, on a fantastic white sand beach.

It’s easy to snorkel offshore, just north of the pier and, although the reef isn’t as large as on the other side of the island, there is still plenty to see, and the scenery and beach are lovely.

Many are astounded by the pristine conditions and huge schools of turtles seen near Gili Layar – the island between Gili Ringgit and Gili Asahan. Bright blue starfish drape themselves across patches of coral, and bright yellow and black Moorish Idols dart through the water. Schools of hundreds of small iridescent fish swim past and weirdly shaped squid drift by in the deeper areas.

There is simple accommodation on Gili Layar and a restaurant serving fresh juices, beers and tasty meals.

Slightly further south, beautiful Gili Asahan attracts visitors with its deserted white sand beaches, clear calm waters and swaying palm trees.

Gili Asahan Eco Lodge and Pearl Beach Resort both offer comfortable accommodation options on the island, and a number of other places offer a range of accommodation to suit all budgets.

Leaving Gili Asahan and back on the mainland, continue south on the coastal road until you come to a main intersection.

A signpost to the left leads to the spectacular large bay at Mekaki. The road to the right leads to Labuhan Poh and Pelangan.

There are small home-stays and private accommodations spaced out along the road to Bangko-Bangko – known as Desert Point and the surfing Mecca for those in the know – located on the far southwest tip of Lombok.

The wide white sand bay is lined with fisherman’s huts and draws hundreds of surfers every year from as far away as Hawaii and Brazil to challenge the huge waves of Desert Point, just offshore.

Although the road deteriorates after Labuhan Poh, it is still passable for most vehicles in the dry season. During the surfing season, from mid-May to September and again in December, the beach is buzzing with surfers, but otherwise it is a remote and peaceful area. Bali is clearly visible, with the island of Nusa Penida only about an hour’s sail away.

The drive to the point is dotted with bucolic scenery and tiny villages, making it a worthwhile trip even for non-surfers. There is basic surfer accommodation in the area and plans for development in the near future.

The dive sites of the Southwest reflect a good cross-section of what Indonesian diving has to offer. Dive in and be fascinated by turtles, white tip reef sharks, cuttlefish, moray eels and many other varieties of marine life.

The reefs are full of colourful corals, which harbour an amazing variety of marine life, including ghost pipe fish, leaf fish, pygmy seahorses and much more.

For non-divers, the islands are a delight for snorkelling – abundant coral reefs lay just below the surface waiting to be explored, filled with thousands of brightly coloured tropical fish, huge sprawling blue starfish and magical turtles gently gliding through the water.

It’s easy to imagine hotels and resorts on all these beaches and islands in the future but for now, the Southwest is unspoilt and the Gilis remain the secret islands… stunningly beautiful, pristine and unique, and visited only by the lucky few.

Southwest Lombok boasts long meandering coastlines of pristine white sand beaches and sparkling ocean, with rarely a person to be seen. Off the coast, thirteen small islands – the Southwest Gilis – float in the turquoise waters just waiting to be discovered.

Unlike the famous ‘Gili Islands’ in northwest Lombok, the Southwest Gilis are largely uninhabited and have yet to be discovered by most travellers… that’s why we call them ‘The Secret Gilis’!

The big island of Gili Gede is the gateway to the Southwest and, with a range of accommodation and facilities, it’s a good base for island hopping and exploring the area.

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