Getting from Lombok to Gili Islands

Before this airport is built, the only way to get to Lombok was from Bali either by air or by boat. Taking a boat from Bali to Lombok is a really horrendous experience because of the long hours on the sea and unexpected sea condition. Gratefully, after having this airport, AirAsia has started to provide 2 flights daily to Lombok from Kuala Lumpur as of the date I am writing this. 
Once you have arrived the airport, you will see all kinds of transportation that can take you to your desire destination. There are Ojek, Bemo, Cidomo, Taxi, Bus or Self-Drive/Hired Driver. Since I am just going to share with you the way to get to Gili Islands from Lombok Airport, there are only taxi and bus options for you to choose from. To get to Gili Islands, you need to get to Bangsal Harbour first to hop on to a boat.
Taxi will cost you between IDR250,000 - IDR300,000 because it is a metered taxi. According to other travelers' experience, they usually pay around IDR300,000. Do take note that there is an extra charges of IDR17,500 which is an Airport Taxi Surcharge. The best part for taking a taxi is you just need 90 minutes to reach Bangsal Harbour. If you would like a little adventure on this boring road trip, do consider taking a bus which is provided by a bus company named DAMRI. This bus cost IDR35,000/pax but only able to take you to Senggigi. After that, you will need to take a metered taxi to Bangsal Harbour which cost about IDR120,000 - IDR150,000. The whole journey takes about 2 hours but the view was magnificent as you can see from the picture above. The route taken is just beside the sea which you can enjoy a little teaser before you begin your holiday on Gili Islands. My personal advice is if you are going with more than 2 pax, just grab a taxi to reduce any unnecessary hassle. 
Note: The bus operates from 4.00am - 10.00pm (daily) and departs every hour.
As for me, I always like an adventure so I took a bus and finally I reached Bangsal Harbour. As you can see on my picture above, this is the office building that is selling a legit boat ticket to Gili Islands. The office is open from 8.30am - 4.30pm (daily). The price per way for foreigners to Gili Trawangan (IDR 22,500), Gili Meno (IDR 21,500) and Gili Air (IDR 19,500). The boat will leave once they have 40 pax on the boat so there is no fix time. The boat will take about an hour to reach to your desire island destination.
WARNING: Many of the interactions between the local touts and people arriving at Bangsal to travel to the 3 Gili islands have highly unsatisfactory endings. They will try to mislead visitors into buying boat tickets from them, coerce them into buying overpriced mosquito repellent or chartering boats and will actively seek to deceive and mislead people regarding the services available at Bangsal. Some may concentrate on developing friendships involving attending parties, cultural events or invitations to their home. They can become intimidating when they are unsuccessful or their advances are rebuffed. Only a very small minority of them have anything other than malevolent deception in mind. Any arrangement or even paying them attention may lead to vigorous and coercive demands to assist them with imaginary expenses. Avoid any such engagement, do not buy anything from them and do not enter into any arrangements that may later lead to a claim of obligation promise or commitment.
Please strictly follow the warning message above or else your your holiday is ruined. Only deal with the lady in the office behind the desk for the boat ticket. If you know you are going to arrive after 4.30pm, the only way you can get across to the islands is by chartered speedboat which cost IDR 225,000/way/boat (Gili Trawangan), IDR 200,000/way/boat (Gili Meno) and IDR 190,000/way/boat (Gili Air). The price is negotiable and the maximum passenger they can carry is between 10-20 pax only, depending on the size of their boat. The pros of choosing a speedboat are:

  • You just need less than 30 minutes to reach your desire island 
  • You have your own privacy 
  • You can depart immediately without waiting. 
My personal advice is only take the speedboat if you have 10 pax or more in your tour group and you know you are arriving late. Please take note that if you are going to take a late boat trip, the price is going to be higher than the normal day boat trip. 
NOTE: 

  1. The speedboat is not just available after 4.30pm, it is available all day (depending to the sea condition).
  2. If you are worried about overpaying the speedboat, you can always coordinate with you hotel or dive center to provide you their reliable speedboat service.
It is not really that bad to wait for your boat as you can roam around and try their local snacks such as this Es Doger which is originated from Bandung. It is a sweet milky dessert which kinda like an Ice Kacang in Malaysia. FYI, Bandung is a city located at the West Jawa, Indonesia. 
This is how inside of a public boat looks like. The boat is slow and it is quite congested and hot. Oh well, it is only IDR 22,500. You cannot expect much right? About the safety, as you can see that you are not advised to wear a life jacket even they do provide it. In case of emergency, I think most likely we will fight over the life jacket while drowning.
There is only one jetty at each island. If you are going to Gili Trawangan, the jetty will be at the east of the island. As for Gili Meno, it will be at the west of the island. Lastly for Gili Air will be at the south of the island. If your hotel is far away from the jetty, you can always hire a horse cart which locally known as Cidomo. The price is fixed by law at IDR150,000/ride. It is quite expensive on the island compare to the mainland. However, the only transportation allowed on the island is Cidomo and bicycle. Some locals do own their personal electric scooter which is not for rent.
This is how the road looks like at Gili Islands. It is dusty and smelly which mostly cause by the horse poo and pee since Cidomo is a very important transportation on the island. Street hygiene is really an issue here especially Gili Trawangan where most tourists would flock here.
Rent a bicycle which is just cost IDR50,000 (normal bicycle), IDR80,000 (tandem bicycle) and IDR100,000 (big tyre bicycle). The price is negotiable if you are going to rent longer. My personal advice is to get a big tyre bicycle with a basket on it. It is because the basket is important to put your small bags while you riding (unless you are using a backpack) and big tyre will gives you a comfortable ride on some uneven road on the island.
That's all I have to cover about this topic. I hope the information is enough for you to start to make your own plan. If you do have any other question which I did not cover here, please do not hesitate to drop me an email. I will try my best to answer you. Last but not least, below is the price and schedule of the boat for island hopping between Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Have a great holiday at Gili Islands!
Island Hopping schedule service between the 3 islands are;

Gili Meno - Gili Trawangan @ 08:15am and 15:20pm is IDR19,000/pax/way

Gili Meno - Gili Air @ 09:50am and 16:20pm is IDR19,000/pax/way

Gili Air - Gili Meno @ 08:30am and 15:00pm is IDR18,000/pax/way

Gili Air - Gili Trawangan @ 08:30am and 15:00pm is IDR25,000/pax/way

Gili Trawangan - Gili Meno @ 09:30am and 16:00pm is IDR19,000/pax/way

Gili Trawangan - Gili Air @ 09:30am and 16:00pm is IDR23,000/pax/way

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