Lombok and the Gili's for families ...


Lombok is a major island that is close to Bali . It is much less populated than Bali and has a more laidback feel. There are three key tourist areas in the island currently – Senggigi Beach , the Mt Rinjani/Sembalun area and Kuta Beach .

Senggigi Beach

This is the main tourist area for Bali with a number of excellent hotels - Sheraton, Senggigi Beach etc.... and some really good restaurants and rock bands that play live music most nights of the week. The band that play at the Happy Cafe are seriously fun to watch! Senggigi is a base for the Gili Islands and other dive sites in Lombok, there are a number of dive businesses in town. There is also a good left hand point break on the southern point.

To book the better family hotels, please click below

Senggigi Beach Hotel - The hotel is set in 12 hectares of tropical gardens, and offers guests locally styled rooms and facilities, excellent restaurant and bars and a peaceful, pristine beach. The charming Senggigi Beach Hotel has long been a favorite in Lombok.


Mt Rinjani/Sembalun

Mt Rinjani is popular with trekkers . It is a real experience and you hire guides and porters to help with your gear.

Kuta beach

Photo - room at the Novotel

Kuta Beach is in the South Of Lombok. It is a quiet although developing area that is reminiscent of Bali in the 70's. The people are very friendly, the roads are quiet and there are some most magnificent white sandy beaches. The town is made up oif a number of small restaurants and places to stay, and a little out of town is the magnificent Novotel Lombok hotel. In town there is a small supermarket and also a few places where you can buy t-shirts and local weaved sarongs and table cloths. The key reason most people come to this area of Lombok is to surf! There are manu surf beaks from beginners to waves that the professionals love, like Desert Point. For more information about surfing in Lombok it is worthwhile to get a copy of Pete Neely's Indo Surf and Lingo guide.

To book the better family hotels, please click below

Novotel Lombok Hotel This four-star Novotel offers the best in exciting activities and facilities for families. Located on the southern shore of Lombok, under an hour drive from the international airport, you’ll be playing on the white sands of the hotels unspoiled private beach in no time. Boasting its very own natural lagoon, four beautiful pools, two restaurants that overlook the ocean, and a health and treatment spa. The Kids Club will leave quite an impression on your children, with tons of fun activities and games.

Photo - on the way back from a surf at Gerupuk

How to get there

There are a number of airlines that fly to Lombok from Bali and other places in Indonesia

These are as follows – links are provided to the airlines websites so you can access the most up to date flight information.

Website addresses for the airlines that fly to Lombok from Bali are as follows

  1. Merpati – website : www.merpati.co.id email : mataram@merpati.co.id
  2. Trans Nusa Air – website : www.transnusa.com
  3. Indonesia Air Transport – website : www.iad.co.id
  4. Garuda – website : www.garuda-indonesia.com

Website addresses for airlines that fly from Jakarta and other Indonesian cities to Lombok are as follows

  1. Garuda – website : www.garuda-indonesia.com
  2. Merpati – website www.merpati.co.id
  3. Lion Air – website www.lionair.co.id

 Website addresses for airlines that fly from Singapore to Lombok are as follows

  1. Silk Air – www.silkair.com

You can also get the public ferry or fast boats  

From the airport

 There is a taxi stand on the right as you exit the baggage collection area. Here you tell the staff where you are going and pay, and they give you a voucher with the taxi number and you are directed to your taxi. This is more expensive than getting a taxi on the street outside the airport as it is a monopoly business. If you want to get a Bluebird taxi (good news that Blue bird are in Lombok !). You can just walk out on to the street and hail one as they pass the airport regularly.  The other alternatives are to arrange a transfer through your hotel or book a car and driver.

If you are by yourself or there are only two or three of you, then using a taxi is the cheapest option ( to Kuta around 170,000 one way) if there is more than three and you have extra luggage like surfboards, a car and driver may be more competitive ( to Kuta it is around 200,000 to 250,000 one way)

 The Gili’s (off Lombok )

Picture - local ferry to Gili Trawangan

 The word “Gili” stands for small island, and that is why this small group of islands are known as the Gili’s. These islands have become very popular with International tourists as a place to learn to scuba dive or simply to go diving. The Gili’s actually are now popular with a wide range of tourists from backpackers, honeymooning couples and of course with families!

The Gili Islands are located just off the coast of Lombok , there are three islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. The atmosphere on all of these islands can be described as seriously laid back. There are no cars or motorcycles, you can walk, cycle or catch a horse drawn cart, known as a cidomo. There are stunning white sandy beaches, warm clean water, great restaurants and bars. There is also a good range of accommodation from cheap losmen style through to five star villas. You may ask why would a family visit these islands for a holiday? Well if you want to have a relaxing break with your family you can spend lazy days at the beach, swimming and snorkelling. There are restaurants right on the beach so it is never too far to a cold drink or some great food.


Pictures - beach eating


Things you need to know

The three islands have developed their own atmosphere with Gili Trawangan (GT) the largest and busiest (it is all relative as GT is very laid back). GT has the largest choice of restaurants, has telephone and internet access, has restaurants and hotels that accept credit cards. This is less common on the other islands, so bring cash from the mainland. You can find places to change money but the rate will be lower than in Bali and Lombok .

Photo - main street of Gili Trawangan

Gili Air is the closest of the three islands to the mainland. It is very quiet and has some good snorkeling from the beach and plenty of dive businesses.

Gili Meno is the middle island and is the smallest. It is also very quiet and had a deserted feel about it, there is a number of basic small bungalows on the island.

The Gili’s are small coral islands, they have a hotter drier climate than the mainland. This means a great climate for the beach and ocean activities. This dry climate means that fresh water is at a premium and in many hotels you will be showering in salt water. There are hotels with fresh water pools which are great after a day at a beach and make a shower unnecessary.

We have noticed that there are stone fish in the waters around the island, so if you are walking on any of the close to shore reefs, please take care. A stone fish sting is a very painful experience.

There are no real health facilities so it is wise to bring your own basic first aid kit.


How to get to the Gili’s

 There are two ways to get to the Gilis, by boat or by plane and boat. The more reliable option is to catch a ‘fast boat’ from Bali . There are a number of options, we recommend the Bluewater Express. This boat leaves from the port at Tanjung Benoa. The boat is modern and the fare includes pick up and drop off from your hotel. This is a real bonus as you basically can arrive in Bali go to your hotel and relaxe knowing you will be picked up and taken to the Islands. The only issue with this option is if you get seas sick and there is a rough ocean for the crossing. The trip takes from one and a half hours to two and a half hours. They staff provide water and sea sick pills if you need them. You can book directly on the internet. The website address is

The second option is to fly to Lombok, and then get a taxi to the harbour and catch a local boat for the short trip to the Islands , your hotel will offer to organize this for you. The great thing about this option is you get to drive along the coast from Mataram to Bangsal Harbour or Telok Kode if you are on a private boat. The scenery is spectacular! You travel through forest and farmland. The other positive is if you get seasick it is only a twenty minute trip across to the Islands across a protected bay.

The downside with this option is that the airlines can be unreliable – they will often cancel flights until they are full of passengers and you only find this out when you get to the airport.When you get to Bangsal Harbour , if you are planning to take the local Perama ferry(cheapest option), you will find that you may have to get a horse drawn cart from a car park to the beach area. Do not stop short of the beach, there are plenty of touts who will try to convince you that there will be no boats available if you do not book through them. Do not be sucked in, walk to the beach turn left and you will see the ferry terminal building – go in and buy your ticket at the counter on the left – it is cheap. If you have a surfboard they will charge you for an extra person, no point arguing this is a standard charge.

You will then be taken to the Island to which you are heading. If you have booked a hotel they will be there waiting for you on the beach when you arrive.

 When you get to the Gili’s

 If you did not organize transfers, when you arrive you can grab a horse drawn cart for around 20,000 Rph to the hotel you are heading to. If you plan to negotiate when you get there make sure you are aware which hotels you are interested in as in peak season August to November, accommodation can be in short supply.

 Where to stay?

 The pick of hotels for families on the Islands is the Beach House on Gili Trawangan. This property is owned and actively managed by an Australian family. They have a range of accommodation including two new two bedroom villas and a four bedroom villa. They also have cheaper accommodation options. There is also a fresh water pool, wonderful as there is limited fresh water on the island, so you can use the pool if you want to keep the kids out of the sun for a day. The Beach House also has a great restaurant and as one of the owners is a chef from Sydney , the food is healthy and delicious!

To book the better family hotels, please click below

The Beach House Resort - This is a fabulous resort for families with multiple bedroom rooms, good facilities and a great pool for the kids to relax around. This is a safe place to take your family just to relax and have fun!

Some other accommodation options you may like to consider are –


 Photo - pool at the Beach house

What is there to do?

 Gili Trawangan

The options to for a snorkel or learn to dive have been discussed already. There are a number of dive businesses on the island, the following are a couple of examples.

The food on Gili Trawangan is very good with a range of choice from basic local fare to Western choices at the restaurants at and around the Beach House, such as , Scallywags

There is the opportunity to have a horse ride, to go cycling around the island, to go fishing during the day. At night there are choices of live music and DJ music. There is always at least one bar where the parting goes all night

 Gili Meno and Gili Air

 Are just about relaxing……


In the wet season or when there is a large swell running there is surf on the point past the Beach House on GT and off the end of the island on GA. The breaks can be great fun but are not reliable so don’t head here if you are after a full on surfing holiday