Introducing Gili Islands
Picture three miniscule desert islands, fringed by white-sand beaches and coconut palms, sitting in a turquoise sea: the Gilis are a vision of paradise. These islets have exploded in popularity, and are booming like nowhere else in Indonesia – speedboats now zip visitors direct from Bali and a new hip hotel opens practically every month.
It's not hard to understand the Gilis' unique appeal, for a serenity endures (no motorbikes or dogs!) and a green consciousness is growing. Development has been more tasteful than rapacious and there are few concrete eyesores.
Each island has its own special character. Trawangan (universally known as Gili T) is by far the most cosmopolitan, its bar and party scene vibrant, its accommodation and restaurants close to definitive tropical chic. Gili Air has the strongest local character, but also a perfect mix of buzz and languor. Meno is simply a desert-island getaway.
Gili Trawangan is a paradise of global repute, ranking alongside Bali and Borobudur as one of Indonesia's top destinations. Trawangan's heaving main drag, busy with bikes, horse carts and mobs of scantily clad visitors can surprise those expecting some languid tropical retreat.
Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and the perfect setting for your desert-island fantasy. Even in high season Meno still feels right off the grid. Most accommodation is strung out along the east coast, near the most picturesque beach. Inland you'll find scattered homesteads, coconut plantations and a salty lake.