This post was last updated on July 10th, 2020 at 12:19 pm
In our whole quest to find the best places in Asia, we have been to many beautiful beaches. From the Perhentians in Malaysia to Star Beach in Phu Quoc. But Gili Nanggu, one of the still hidden gems of Lombok in Indonesia, remains one of our favorites. When we think about it or look back at our photos, we immediately dream away. In thoughts of that blue beach, that special underwater world, sitting in the sand by the campfire in the evening and our hut on the beach where we were awakened by the sunrise. It was such an amazing experience!
From Senggigi we took the bus to the south of Lombok. We already told the driver that we wanted to go to Gili Nanggu and he arranged that a boat would be waiting for us while driving. A typical Indonesian boat painted in bright colors was waiting for us and after we got in we reached Gili Nanggu in less than an hour. The sea is bluer than blue, underwater there are countless fish and blue starfish, hardly any other travelers on the island, and on the beach are huts with thatched roofs. Yes, we wanted to stay here overnight.
In the evening we had dinner with the two other guests who slept on the island. We dined at the only restaurant on Gili Nanggu and the next day the two of us took a walk around the island after breakfast. On the beach you will find plenty of colorful shells, but the biggest surprise was the turtle reserve where dozens of small turtles happily crawled over each other. The turtle caretaker had us hold one and said the turtles were released to the sea after about five months. A special moment that you, as a traveler, can also experience if you visit Gili Nanggu at the right time.
Gili Nanggu; the Secret Gili
If you are interested in snorkeling, sunbathing on the beach, and just relaxing on a fairytale-like island, Gili Nanggu is a must-visit. This island is located on the west coast of Lombok and is also called “Paradise Island”.
On white beaches with calm waves, you are assured of peace and privacy without being disturbed by sellers of bracelets or partying crowds. Gili Nanggu is a private island and is run by management and their staff.
The enchantingly beautiful sea around the island in combination with the white sandy beaches makes it a paradise on earth.
This mini island is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of life in the city. The “famous” Gili islands mainly attract backpackers and tourists. With views of the crystal clear water, clear air, the sound of the waves, and the glorious sun, Gili Nanggu makes more of a romantic island, perfect for newlyweds and honeymoons.
On Gili Nanggu you can get accommodation for a cheap price, 400,000 IDR (~ US$27).
What to Do on Gili Nanggu
There is not much to do on Gili Nanggu, but it is not necessary with a beautiful island like this. If you swim 10 meters into the water and take a dip underwater, you will see the most colorful fish while snorkeling.
1. Explore the Underwater World
There are two known snorkeling spots on the island; one on the east side where you mainly see tropical fish and in the south where you can also see coral. In addition to the tropical fish, you can also regularly see turtles here.
You are NOT allowed to fish here.
2. Do Nothing
If you want to recover from your trip through Indonesia, Gili Nanggu is a great place to do that. Besides snorkeling, exploring the island, and swimming, there is really nothing here. It is THE place to put your towel on the beach and read a book (or write a blog).
Gili Nanggu is the most famous island of this island group. Local fishermen are happy to take you by boat to Gili Nanggu, and if you ask, also to the surrounding islets. Count on about 5 to 6 hours to cruise back and forth, relax, look around and snorkel on Gili Nanggu and/or the surrounding Gili’s. In the water, you will find the most colorful corals, starfish, and tropical fish. We can promise you one thing: nowhere in Indonesia is snorkeling as beautiful as around these islands!
A good price for a day trip is twenty-five to thirty dollars per person (based on two persons) for a private boat with captain, snorkel gear, and three to four different stops on Gili Nanggu and the surrounding Gili’s. You can ask for a lunch stop in the afternoon, but lunch itself is of course not included.
The more people you’re with, the less it costs to make this trip. The fishing boats are small, more than five to six people do not fit. The fishermen who occasionally go out with backpackers also rent out snorkel gear: it is not entirely standard with the trip, so ask explicitly when you decide to go with a local. Do you want to stay overnight? Then agree on the time you want to be picked up and exchange telephone numbers if necessary.
Where to Stay on Gili Nanggu
Don’t expect boulevards with endless accommodations. There is only one type of accommodation and that is Gili Nanggu Cottages. Here you can do fun things like beach volleyball, basketball, jogging, and activities for children. A room here costs between 21,000 and 350,000 Indonesian Rupiah.
TIP – It is useful to book your stay in advance.
How to Get There
Gili Nanggu is located 60 kilometers from the coast of Lombok and it is quite easy to reach. You can reach the island via two routes. You can reach the island via Lembar Harbor Route which is a 30-minute drive from Mataram (capital of Lombok). From there it is about 30-45 minutes by boat.
The other route is via Tawun Harbor in the town of Sekotong. This is about 60 minutes from Mataram. From there you take the boat that takes about 15 to 20 minutes. A boat (4-6 persons) costs about 250,000 IDR (~US$17).
Best Time to Visit
Gili Nanggu is a beautiful destination all year round, but it is best to avoid the school holidays and Islamic days off because it will be much busier than usual. It is recommended to make a reservation. The high season lasts from June to August.