If you ever take the slow boat to Lombok, or the fast boat to Lembar, you’ll see the Southern Gilis – also known as the Secret Gilis – stretched out along the south coast. Like the Gilis proper, their names all begin with Gili, which is the local word for island.
The Southern Gilis, the second most-developed group of islands off Lombok, cluster in two main groups. The largest group, and the furthest south, is headed by the largest island in the Southern Gilis, formally known as Gili Gede Indah (Big Beautiful Island), to distinguish it from a rather more obscure Gili Gede (Big Island), which is also off Lombok.
Accessed from the port at Tembowong, Gili Gede (Indah) is a populous island with a decent choice of places to stay: we recommend Gili Gede as an example of Indonesian island life without too much of the associated grime and litter.
Gili Asahan, accessed either from Gili Gede Indah or from the port of Labuhan Poh, has some simple fishermen’s shacks and what’s probably the highest-end resort in the Southern Gilis, Pearl Beach: a second is allegedly under development. There is, we’re told, astonishing snorkelling off Gili Layar, which is, like Gili Anyaran and Gili Renggit, uninhabited.
Heading north, the islets of Gili Amben and Gili Poh stand all alone with white sand beaches fronting their forested interiors. These are not officially inhabited, although Gili Poh, like the islets of Gili Kura Kura (Turtle Island) and Gili Gelong (Monkey Island), is home to several dive sites.
The northernmost cluster comprises the neat triad of Gili Nanggu, Gili Tangkong and Gili Sudak. Gili Nanggu is a popular destination for weekend daytrips from Lombok’s mainland (specifically Tawun). It features good snorkelling, a turtle hatchery, and a lumbung bungalow complex that periodically goes up for sale.