Dive center, PADI 5 star in Lombok – Gili islands

Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands

Paradise beach in Lombok
Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands

After 5 years of living and working on Gili Trawangan, we decided move and settle in Lombok by the Pantai Sire (or Sire Beach) near the Gili islands.
Now, we are 10 minutes away by boat from Gili Air.

One of the many reasons why we relocate to Lombok is the deterioration in the quality of life and the environment on the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan in particular.
We gone through a list of comparisons which motivated us to sought for a better standard of living on Lombok island by the Pantai Sire.
Lombok vs Gili !

Of course, these are our personal opinions and it’s subject to your own discretion.

1/ Living environment

The living environment is generally much more pleasant on Pantai Sire (Lombok), with minimum man made environment, untouched natural sight can be seen everywhere.
The hotels on Pantai Sire are reasonable spaced and each has their own unique style, surrounded by trees and fields with coconut trees and plantations. As opposed to the gilis where hotels are side by side with each other, and to walk along the road during the evening is horrible as each hotel and restaurant is offering the same bbq menu along the street, having to endure the smoke coming onto your face from left and right not mentioning the smell. Sire beach is very beautiful and quiet, there are almost no relentless paddlers or service providers touting you.

Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands
The beach in front of dive center at Pantai Sire

The Gili Islands (including the least developed Gili Meno, is growing at a fast rate and the construction of a new pier will accelerate the progress) are moving toward massive urbanization, new taller buildings begin to appear. On Gili Trawangan, even the tiny hill is not spared, new buildings are sprouting like mushrooms on its very steep slope.

Due to their small size (Gili Trawangan being the largest is 2 km by 1 km) with the large number of tourists, they are becoming commercialized.

The Gili islands are slowly losing their reputation as a paradise island (almost deserted island with beautiful beach).

An example of an ugly building recently built shaped like a matchbox :

Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands
Gili Air

Obviously, with modern technologies and photography skills or using old photos, it is always possible to present images of heavenly beaches accompanied by a pretty girl in bikini on a swing.

Pantai Sire is little-known to tourists and thus only the locals know about this little paradise.

Advantage : Pantai Sire – Lombok

2/ The beaches

The beach plays an important role of a paradise island.

Pantai Sire, is one of the places in Lombok that has the most beautiful beaches. The beaches can be accessed freely at anytime, you do not need to buy a drink in order to relax and enjoy the tranquility and unobstructed view of the gilis or mount rinjani depending on where you are.

In Gili, the best beaches are overrun with boats (especially areas which are suitable for boats to dock, swimming or snorkeling around the area become unsafe due to boat traffic), restaurants – bars, parking area for bicycles, small local set up or even garbage.

Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands
Gili Trawangan

Some beaches are located on rocky areas, big rocks can be seen when the tide is low. Swings can be found on the beaches around the island, photos taken with the swing during high tide are spectacular, less appealing during the low tide:

Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands
West coast of Gili Trawangan during low tide

Advantage : Pantai Sire – Lombok

3/ The crowded Gilis

In Gilis, it is difficult to find a quiet place (quiet, alone and without being solicited). The Gilis have become “tourist traps” because they are advertised as paradise and tourists are often disappointed by the reality.

At the current rate of urbanization, the already crowded Gili Trawangan and Gili Air will soon be overcrowded with hotels, home stays, restaurants, shops and tourists. Even on Gili Meno, new buildings emerged every now and then.
As the island become denser, due to lack of space and pricey land, the way to expand current business is to add another level to the existing building.
Generally, everything is more expensive and some cheap local food is often low quality food. The prices are doubled or more during the high season.

Advantage : Pantai Sire – Lombok

4/ Discover the life of local

In Lombok, it is easy to experience the life of a local and to engage with different activities while exploring the island. For example, it is easy to go to a local warung to taste some authentic local dishes.

In Gilis, most of the locals live in Lombok, they travel to gilis everyday for working.
Almost everything on the island are transported from Lombok, including the food in night market.

For example, on Gilis you can find a warung that offers Mee goreng at a cheap price, what you get is mee goreng from instant noodle! The price you paid for is 5 times more expensive than the price of a packet of instant noodle.

Advantage : Pantai Sire – Lombok

5/ The rates, Lombok is cheaper

Generally, the price is cheaper on Lombok, even for a tourist.

For example, the food costs 15-30% lower, same for accommodation.

An exception: Alcohols and wine are cheaper (and very easy to find) in the Gilis probably because high consumption due to tourism.

Advantage : Pantai Sire – Lombok

6/ To get Lombok – Gili

There are two options, more detail on this page:

  • Speed boat from Bali: the Bali – Gili – Lombok route includes 2 to 3 or even 4 stops depending on the company, always with a stop in Lombok (at Bangsal). We are 10 minutes from Bangsal.
  • From Lombok Airport, it is possible to reach your destination at any time and easily (without having to take a boat if you are staying in Lombok).

A third option exists, taking the ferry from Bali to Lombok, which takes 5 to 6 hours!

Advantage : Equality

7/ Rubbish and dirty in Gili islands

Rubbish are everywhere in Gilis, especially if you venture off the main road to explore the inner part of the island.
On Lombok the problem exists (as everywhere in Indonesia), but less prominent.

Reasons to pick Lombok over Gili Islands
A path on the inner part of Gili Trawangan

Advantage : Pantai Sire – Lombok

8/ Activities: Lombok or Gili islands

On Lombok, it is easy to explore the island via different program each day (waterfalls, Rinjani, rice fields, traditional markets …).
You can easily spend a day on the Gili.

On the Gilis, one activity is most sought for by the tourists : The Parties.
Other activities to do in Gili: lazing around, the beach, snorkeling and diving.

Advantage : depends on what the plan for your holidays

  • Lombok if you are an adventurous person who prefer to do something different everyday followed by a quiet evening to unwind and relax.
  • Gili Trawangan or Gili Air, if you are looking for parties, alcohol and loud music.

9/ Parties – Gili Trawangan and Air

On the Gili, every evening (except during Ramadan), there are organized parties and it is difficult not to hear them until early next morning.

Pantai Sire in Lombok is a peaceful heaven in comparison.

If you are looking for parties and alcohol or cocktail drinks (other illicit products), the Gilis are for you (except Gili Meno).
The parties are so famous that they have even become the first attraction of the Gili. Many young people come to Gili only for the intense nightlife. Even during the day time, it is common to see tourists walking around the island with a bottle of beer on hand.

Advantage : depends on what is the plan for your holidays

  • Gili – if you love alcohol and to party all night long
  • Lombok – if you want a nice quiet place with plenty of activities

10/ Diving (we are a dive center) around the Gili islands and north Lombok

And finally, about scuba diving.

We dive around the gili islands at the same dive sites as the other dive centers on the gilis.

Gili Air is just 10 minutes by boat, so the traveling time to the dive sites is similar.

If you stay in Lombok (Senggigi, Tugu, Rinjani, Amersvati, Anandita…) it is more convenience to dive with us instead of having to spend the entire day on the boat or on the island.

Advantage : depends where do you stay:

  • on Lombok : Lombok
  • on a Gili slands : the Gili

In conclusion, Lombok or gili islands ?
Lombok first !
Spending your holidays on Pantai Sire – Lombok is preferable unless your main purpose is to party, drink (or get drunk) and experiment with illicit products.
The Gilis have unfortunately lost their past charm of natural paradise islands and small number of tourists.