Fast Boat To Gili and lombok
History Of Gili Islands
Due to the small size, population and relatively recent settlement of the Islands, published sources are limited. Where local knowledge has been used, those cited are elected local officials whose details are listed in the references section. For more detailed regional historical information, visit the Lombok article.
For a brief period during the second world war, occupying Japanese forces used the islands as a lookout post and prisoner of war camp. Relics from this period include the remains of a bunker on the hill of Gili Trawangan and the wreck of a patrol boat submerged at a depth of 45 m in the bay to the south of Gili Air (now a popular dive site). Permanent settlement only began in the 1970s, mainly due to the lack of fresh water sources before that time. Previous to human settlement, these islands remained pristine wildlife mangrove habitats.
Initially, Bugis fishermen used the islands as a stop off location for their voyages around the archipelago. In 1971 the governor of Lombok, Wasita Kusama, began to establish coconut plantations and gave land rights to private companies. 350 inmates from overcrowded Mataram prison were sent to help with the first harvests between 1974 and 1979, many of whom remained on the Islands as permanent settlers. Following various difficulties with coconut harvests, the private efforts to exploit the islands’ plantations were abandoned. The local population grew beyond their allocated bounds (100 hectares) and began to erect homes and businesses on the private, abandoned land. This led to a land dispute that continues to the present.
In the 1980s, the islands started to be discovered by backpacker tourists. This was influenced by the exponential rise of tourism in neighbouring Bali. At first, Gili Air (having the most infrastructure at the time) began to transform to cater to this new economy, however, Gili Trawangan soon surpassed it due mostly to its proximity to better dive locations.
As the prospects for tourism on the islands began to rise in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government and investors whose abandoned land had been settled on by an expanding population, began to regain interest in the potential for development. This resulted in a series of evictions and demolishing of local homes and businesses, followed each time by no action on the part of the developers and a rebuilding of destroyed homes by residents who opposed the eviction.
The first tourist accommodation on Gili Trawangan was a small homestay called Pak Majid, built in 1982, by Pak (“polite Mr”) Majid. This was eventually taken over in 2007 and transformed into Pesona Resort and Restaurant (the first Indian restaurant on the Gilis). Most of the locally owned businesses from the 1980s have been acquired by westerners. The longest standing locally owned and operated business is “Goodheart” resort, originally built in 1987 and rebuilt three times following demolition relating to the ongoing land dispute.
Gili Trawangan gained a reputation from the late 1980s to the late 1990s as a party island. Drugs were freely available on the island and its low population and remoteness required no police presence at the time.
During the 1990s, the Diving industry grew swiftly and the Islands began to develop into a world class diving instruction location. This fed local tourism and in the new millennium a wider spectrum of accommodation and entertainment began to be developed that catered to a broader range of visitors.
In 2000, a non-profit organisation by the name of Gili Eco Trust was established to help protect the coral reefs surrounding the islands and improve environmental education. It originated as a co-operation between influential members of the local community (Satgas) and the dive shops on Gili Trawangan and was initiated by the owners of Manta Dive. Many projects have since been organised to protect and restore coral reefs, improve waste management, struggle against erosion, treat animals, raise awareness and educate. This was needed as damage had occurred due to a particularly warm El Niño and unsustainable local fishing methods.
In 2009, fast boat operations began from neighbouring Bali, the first company being Giligili Fast Boat, they still operate to the islands. Following them, fast boat services from several operators commenced services from various points around Bali and Nusa Lembongan, to the Islands.
As of 2012, The islands continue to experience rapid growth and development related to the tourism industry. Efforts are being made to preserve marine habitats and remain culturally distinct from neighbouring Bali in this process. The aforementioned land dispute remains unresolved.