Exploring the Gili Islands and Lombok myself, first solo on a motorbike, and secondly, with friends in Gili Trawangan, I experienced no dangerous or annoyoying situations. I found the people in the Gili’s / Lombok, to be reserved, respectful and the place in general to be quiet and laid back. Bali is way more in your face, and 10 times times as busy, with people hanging out,
watching what you are doing etc.
There are dangers in the Gili’s / Lombok, however and they are worth pointing out.
•Sexual harrassment – some solo female travelers have reported harrassment in the Gili’s, which on occassion can get nasty. No one approched me, but then I’m an ugly old white guy, some hopes!
•Strong currents – although there is no big surf hitting the Gili Islands, there are strong currents. It makes sense to get a group of people together and hire a boat for snorkeling, instead of heading out from the beach by yourself. There are no lifeguards in the Gili’s. Some people have tried to swim from one island to another and have drowned in the process. Don’t try this, the Lombok Strait is 1300 meters deep and has enormously strong current.
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•Theft – I stayed in cheap guest houses in Senggigi, Kuta Lombok and on Gili Trawangan, and never had any problems.
Occassionally travelers report a theft. If this happens to yoy, contact the local community representative, as there are no police in the Gili’s. On the rest of Lombok the police telephone number is 110.
•Robbery – Some surfers in the Ekas area of south Lombok and trekkers, in the Rinjani area, have in the past reported getting robbed. Staying in a group helps prevent this.
•Malaria – I hear stories all the time of westerners getting malaria in Lombok, particularly surfers down at Desert Point. The reasons for this i’m not entirley sure of, but one guy said to me that maybe the geography contributes. When you have steep cliffs dropping towards the coast, water pours down them and collects at the bottom, rather than forming rivers, like in Bali. Maybe that is part of the problem. I know in Lombok very steep cliffs often occur, close to the coast. Consult your doctor before going to Lombok.
•Medical emergencies – there is no ambulance service outside of Senggigi and Mataram. You will have to arrange your own transport. For major medical emergencies, there are hospitals in Selong and Praya, and a better one in Mataram. There are also direct flights to Singapore (flight time 2 hours 40 minutes).
Generally speaking, Lombok and the Gili’s are safe as long as you use your head and don’t do stupid things.