The Gili TravelGuide
No cars or honking mopeds. No, on the gili islands you do everything on foot or by bike. White beaches, turtles, coral, trendy tents and a beautiful sea. Escape the bustle of Bali and completely unwind. The Gili’s are incredible.
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The Gili Islands
The Gili’s consist of 3 islands, namely Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. Although most combine this with a visit to Bali, the Gili’s belong to the island of Lombok.
Gili Trawangan <
Also called the party island. We thought this was better than expected. It is sometimes warned that this island is best known for the drunken tourists. That is a bit exaggerated. The island itself is not the most beautiful island, but the beaches are wonderful here. There is also plenty to do here. Every night there is a nice party and you have more than enough restaurants. We decided to combine Gili Trawangan with Air, so we had a bit of both worlds. At Gili Trawangan it is choking with turtles. If you lie down at turtle beach, chances are that you can spot a turtle from the beach. During the day, lie on the beach, do a little snorkeling, eat out and then have a party. Sounds good anyway.
Gili Air is a lot smaller, quieter and greener than Gili Trawangan. The island is perfect for cycling around. There are fewer sandy beaches compared to Trawangan and also turtles are a bit harder to find. However, the atmosphere on Gili Air is very relaxed and chill. There are more than enough eateries and you also have parties. Only a lot less than on Trawangan. The outdoor cinemas are also nice. We loved it here, but after 3 nights we were ready for a little more life, so we left for Trawangan.
Gili Meno is the smallest island of the three and is also called Honeymoon Island. Here you will find mainly resorts and wide beaches. If you want a few romantic days, this is the place.
How to get to the Gili Islands
From different ports you can directly take the fastboat to the Gili’s. Most depart from Bali from PadangBai. The boat takes about 2 hours and costs around 25 euros. You can also leave from Amed (1 hour) or Nusa Lembongan (2.5 hours). If you prefer not to take a fastboat, you can also take the slowboat to Lombok to catch a fastboat there, but it will only take 15 minutes. The slowboat takes 4 hours, leaves every hour and costs around 50,000RP (less than 4 euros). You only have to drive to another port in Lombok where you take about an hour to catch the slowboat there. Since this does not always run smoothly, you are sometimes 8 hours on the road if you are unlucky.
> Get Around on the Gili
No cars or scooters are allowed on the islands. You can do everything here on foot or by bike. Naturally delicious for us Dutch people. Watch out for all tourists who are not used to always riding a bike. You do have taxis here, but as a horse and cart. Don’t expect a quiet ride, because they drive like idiots on the small sandy paths. We also thought it was a bit sad for the horses. The cars are sometimes completely stuffed with people and things and the poor animals are there from early in the morning until late in the evening. Moreover, they charge ridiculous prices.
Gili Islands accommodation
Everyone has ever heard of the Gili Islands. They are perhaps the most popular islands of Indonesia. This means that many are fully booked early. If you already know when you are at the Gili’s, it is wise to book a room in advance. Unfortunately we did not have this and had to move almost every day to a new homestay or hotel. The prices are also a lot higher than in other parts of Indonesia.
Le Pirate, Gili Trawagan
Sleeping in a small cabin on Gili Trawagan at the trendy Le Pirate. Le PIrate is a very nice place to stay in Gili Trawagan.
Mandalika Cottage, Gili Trawagan
A friendly price, but still some luxury then choose Mandalika Cottage. And you also don’t have to worry about renting a bike, it is simply included.
Rent a villa
It is full of super nice villas on the gili islands. Nothing as nice as your own paradise on a bounty island. We too were lucky to spend a night in a fantastic villa on Trawangan and what a pleasure it was. Truly a paradise.
Looking for the best Gili food places and restaurants? From luxurious dining with your feet in the sand to coffee tents in the middle of the island, Foedsie would not be Foedsie if we did not go looking for the best Gili hotspots. The Gili Islands is full of nice tents. We have listed the best hotspots for you. More information about all Gili hotspots can be found here.
- Vintage, Gili Trawagan: Hip, fun and affordable. Incredibly tasty food in a beautiful location
- Kayu Cafe, Gili Trawangan: Not to be missed, perfect for a good lunch, cup of coffee or breakfast
- Night Market, Gili Trawangan: Incredibly tasty food for little money
- Le Pirate, Gili Trawangan: Hipper the hip, good food and sometimes a movie theater
- Pituq Cafe, Gili Trawangan: Take care, this is the place to be
- Chill out bar, Gili Air: Top location, right on the beach and the pizzas are top
- Coffee & Thyme Gili Air: nice atmosphere, good coffee and good food. What more do you want.
What to Do in the Gili Islands <
Do not expect an active time when you go to the Gili’s. Here it is all about relaxing and enjoying the sea and beach. Everything is just a little quieter and slower here. We love it!
Whether you want to get your Padi or are an experienced diver, the Gili Islands are wonderful for diving. Although there is a lot of dead coral, you will still find beautiful coral gardens and lots of turtles here. You also have nice drift dives.
You don’t have to dive to enjoy the beautiful underworld. Walk into the sea from your beach bed with a snorkel set and you will find countless fish, turtles and beautiful coral. You can also book a snorkeling trip. It is then wise to do this with a private tour or to find out in advance what a good organization is. Otherwise there is a good chance that you will be on a small boat with fifty people and more people in the water.
Especially on Gili Air you can enjoy cycling. The island is very green and has beautiful nature. If you cycle towards the mosque you will even find a small village.
Get hold of a cinema
Both on Gili Air and on GIli trawangan you can grab an outdoor cinema at different places in the evening. Walk along the beach and you will find one.
Rent a kayak or stand up paddle boarding
If you still want to do something active, rent a kayak or a paddle board. It seems that you can even surf the Gili’s.