As we approached the island on a small fishing boat, we were struck by its pristine beauty; powder soft white sand fringed by lush green palm trees, crystal clear turquoise waters dotted with a few catamarans and not a building in sight. What I saw was perfection.
The island is so relaxing and peaceful, I immediately felt happy and wanted to plan a future here. I had been on the island for less than an hour.
From the moment we sipped our welcome drink out of a fresh a coconut to when we boarded a small fishing boat for our return journey to Gili Air, everything was perfect.
This is NOT a sponsored post. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this article are because we had such an amazing time on Gili Asahan.
Goats and cows graze on the lush green fields, fishing nets can be seen drying in the sun whilst the day’s catch is cooking in an open pot. Locals smile and say hello as you stroll past but apart from that, there isn’t much else to see so just relax and enjoy the wonder of nature.
Fishing isn’t done to excess which is clearly evident when you look beneath the water, and this pleased me greatly. A family’s need to eat and too much tourism takes its toll in many different ways, so to see the land and water largely untouched made me feel as though we had found somewhere really special. Not special as in beautiful (although obviously it is), special as in man doesn’t appear to have ruined this island.
Visiting somewhere isn’t always about the island or it’s people, sometimes the accommodation you are in makes the difference. Gili Asahan Eco Lodge was perfect, in fact, it was more than perfect. This Eco Lodge actually exceeded my expectations which isn’t very easy to do.
When building the rooms and restaurant, the owner clearly thought about the style and comfort for the guests, but it is also supremely managed by Daniel and Yani, we could not fault a thing.
Everything is made from re-claimed wood; tables, chairs, beds, sofas, sun loungers, outside bins, mirror frames, even the toilet brush handles. Bamboo is also used giving it all a fresh, natural feel, and although the décor is simple, it does not compromise comfort. Everywhere is spotlessly clean despite being integrated with nature and surrounded by trees.
There were no doors, instead you pulled down bamboo blinds for privacy which meant we had the sounds and smells of nature but without prying eyes. WIth a couple of beanbags on the balcony to complete the decor, we were able to chill and relax whenever we wanted.
One afternoon, I regressed to my childhood and swung on one of the beach-facing swings, the only noise I could hear was the birds singing in the trees around me.
We snorkelled off the beach and it was lovely. There are a couple of coral bommies with good marine life so it was easy to spend some time bobbing around in the turquoise water. We saw Moorish idols, black and white clown fish, thousands of gold fish and little schools of silver fish.
The coral off Gili Ringit was in mostly good, healthy condition and there were plenty of fish to look at, the hour spent here flew by. We saw what looked like a pink flower, but it’s actually nudibranch eggs. Gorgeous.
Around the redundant jetty there are schools of different fish so it’s definitely worth a trip here.
One of the reasons we visited Gili Asahan was to check out the diving. We discovered that both Gili Eco Lodge and Pearl Beach Resort have a close relationship with Dive Zone, a 10 minute boat trip away on the mainland of Lombok. Gili Asahan Eco Lodge arranged a 2-dive trip for us; we were picked up, dropped back and given lunch with no stress involved.
It is here that the underwater world comes alive – literally! The coral formations are like nothing we have seen around the northern Gili’s and is comparable to Komodo. There are large coral pinnacles, swim-throughs, huge gorgonian fans, barrel sponges, mushroom coral, tubular coral and, living in amongst all this coral on the sandy bed are sea squirts.
Diving here showed us that no fish bombing or trawler nets have been used. Although there is really good marine life in the northern Gili's, you can see the effects of fish bombing. Check out our post Scuba Diving the GIli Islands, it's still pretty special!
www.divezone-lombok.com (part of the Two Fish Group)
I will confess that I was a little torn as to whether to write this post. When you find a perfect island, a place to experience that true Robinson Crusoe feeling, unspoilt by tourism in terms of trash, local culture, attitudes, tourists etc, you want it to remain that way.
From what I have sadly witnessed on my travels around the world, to preserve paradise, recommending it to the masses tends to mean unspoilt becomes spoilt. With all my heart, I do not want that for Gili Asahan. Known only to the lucky few, I would like to keep it that way but I know it’s only a matter of time before this secret is out! I heard through the grapevine that large areas of land have already been purchased by hotel owners and, when electricity reaches the island in 18 – 24 months time, this quiet slice of paradise could boom.
In saying that, our stay on Gili Asahan was everything we had dreamt of and more. It was the perfect escape from life, reality, and re-charged our batteries. I would absolutely recommend visiting this secret getaway to anyone who loves nature, beaches, sunbathing, snorkelling, diving … scrub that, I would recommend this place for just anyone!
Wondering what to pack for your next trip? Let us help you with the essentials in our Ultimate Packing List for Worldwide Travel (tried and tested!)
Flying: You can fly internationally to either Lombok or Bali airport. You can also fly domestic from Bali to Lombok if you didn’t want to get a boat from Bali.
From Bali Airport: Take a taxi to Padang Bai then Gili Getaway stops at Gili Gede (cost is in US$50 one way), your accommodation can arrange a local boat transfer for the 4km journey which will take between 20 - 45 minutes.
If you are on a budget and have time: there is an hourly public ferry service from Padang Bai (Bali) to Lembar Harbour (Lombok) which takes 4-5 hours, cost is approx. 44,000 IDR, then it’s 1.5 hours over to Asahan. Gili Getaway email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Gili Asahan Eco Lodge can arrange transfer from Lembar so other accommodations should be able to do the same.
From Lombok Airport: Gili Asahan Eco Lodge can help you with your airport/boat transfer (Lombok - Kores and many other destinations) so other accommodations should be able to do the same (journey time approx. 1.5 - 2 hours). Alternatively, you can travel independently and get a taxi from the airport to Pantai Kores Harbour and grab a local boat (10 minutes).
By boat from Lombok: Pantai Kores is the closest port, 10 minute boat trip to the island. Tembowong Harbour is 30 minutes away. From Sengiggi, Gili Getaway stop at Gili Gede, Gili Asahan Eco Lodge can arrange a transfer, so other accommodation should be able to do the same.
From North Gilis: Gili Getaway has a fastboat from Gili Trawangan and Gili Air to Gili Gede, Gili Asahan Eco Lodge are able to arrange a transfer so other accommodation should be able to do the same.
Where to stay
There are only four resorts on the island and, as mentioned, we would highly recommend Gili Ashan Eco Lodge and Restaurant. There is also Pearl Beach Resort, Matahari Luxury Villas and Avatar Raja Bungalow.
Travel Tips & Information
- There is no electricity on the island so generators are used. At the Eco Lodge, solar panels have also been installed in all bungalows.
- Wi-Fi is very poor everywhere (no one's fault), accept this and enjoy nature.
- No ATM’s on the island so bring cash!!!!
- No restaurants, there is apparently a small warung but we didn’t find it. All resorts have their own restaurant.
- Water is brackish as there is no fresh water supply to the island.
- No roads, just sand tracks and to walk the entirety of the island, you will need to time it when the tide is low.
- Dry season – May until November; wet season is December until April.
- The local currency is Indonesian Rupiah £1 GBP = 17,000 IDR.
- Their official language is Bahasa Indonesia which is similar to Malaysian and throughout Indonesia in general.
- If you can use just a couple of Indonesian words, this will give you big smile in return, even if you simply use “Pagi” (morning) and “Terima Kasih” (thank you), it will be hugely appreciated.
- A free 30 day visa is given at the time of arrival in Indonesia (not for all countries, check with your embassy).
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