The Gili Travel Guide
The Gili Islands: no cars or honking scooters. Nope, on the Gili Islands, you do everything on foot or by bike. White beaches, turtles, coral, trendy spots, and a beautiful sea.
What makes these islands so special? Think of curious turtles swimming by, coral reefs inviting you for an underwater adventure, and colorful fish dancing among the vibrant coral. It feels like stepping into a postcard!
And let’s not forget about the atmosphere! Trendy spots, beautiful beach bars, and cozy eateries adorn the coastline. The sea beckons you to snorkel, dive, or simply float and enjoy the calm, lapping water.
The Gilis are like an oasis of tranquility, an escape from the bustle of Bali. It’s here where you’ll completely unwind. So grab your snorkel, rent a bike, and embrace the laid-back life on this beautiful group of islands. Welcome to paradise!
In this article about the Gili Islands
What are the Gili Islands exactly?
The Gilis consist of 3 islands, namely Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno. Although most people combine this with a visit to Bali, the Gilis belong to the island of Lombok.
Also known as the ‘party island’, but honestly, that wasn’t too bad. Sometimes there’s a warning about drunken tourists ruling here, but that’s somewhat exaggerated. While the island itself isn’t the most picturesque, the beaches here offer a delightful experience. There’s plenty to do. Every evening, you can find a nice party somewhere, and there are countless dining options. We decided to combine Gili Trawangan with Gili Air to experience the best of both worlds.
There are plenty of turtles around Gili Trawangan. If you lay on Turtle Beach, there’s a good chance you’ll spot a turtle right from the beach. Enjoying the beach during the day, some snorkeling, delicious dining, and then catching a party in the evening. Sounds like a perfect day, doesn’t it?
Gili Air is smaller, quieter, and greener than Gili Trawangan. The island is perfect for exploring by bike. Compared to Trawangan, there are fewer sandy beaches, and spotting turtles here is a bit more challenging. Yet, Gili Air has an extremely relaxed atmosphere. There are plenty of dining options, and occasionally, there are parties, but considerably fewer than in Trawangan. The outdoor cinemas are also fun. We enjoyed it here immensely, but after 3 nights, we longed for a bit more liveliness and headed to Trawangan.
Gili Meno is the smallest island of the three and is also known as Honeymoon Island. Here, you’ll mainly find resorts and wide beaches. If you want a few romantic days, this is the place to be.
What to do in Gili Islands
Are you heading to the Gili Islands? Don’t expect a tightly scheduled activities program. Here, it’s all about relaxing, fully experiencing the sea, and the beach. Everything here operates at a more relaxed pace, and honestly, we love that!
Whether you’re aiming for a PADI certification or you’re a seasoned diver, the Gili Islands are a true diving paradise. Despite some dead coral, the coral gardens here are still breathtaking, and encounters with turtles are frequent. Don’t forget to enjoy the amazing drift dives.
You don’t have to dive right in to enjoy the beautiful underwater world. Just grab your snorkel set and walk into the sea from your beach bed. There, you’ll meet countless fish, turtles, and colorful coral. Consider a snorkeling trip, but opt for a private tour or research the best organizations beforehand. Otherwise, you risk ending up on a small boat with dozens of others in overcrowded waters.
Cycling on Gili Air is delightful. The island is green and boasts beautiful nature. Pedal to the mosque, and you’ll even find a small village.
Catch a Movie
Both Gili Air and Gili Trawangan offer open-air cinemas in the evenings. Take a stroll along the beach, and you’ll easily find one.
Renting a Kayak or Stand-Up Paddleboarding
If you’re up for something active, rent a kayak or a paddleboard. There’s even talk that you can surf on the Gilis!
So, while on the Gili Islands, you can soak up the relaxed atmosphere and still have some fun activities. Or simply chill out, which is always a great choice! Explore the breathtaking underwater world with snorkeling on the Gili Islands during your vacation or dive into the fantastic dive spots these islands have to offer.
Hotspots & food in Gili's
Looking for the best restaurants and cafes on the Gili Islands? From luxury dining with your feet in the sand to coffee shops in the heart of the island. The Gili Islands are full of cozy spots. We’ve gathered the best hotspots for you. Chech our complete Gili Food Guide.
- Barefoot Blondie: Heavenly coffee and delicious sandwiches, a favorite!
- Aura Bowls: For your smoothie bowl fix.
- Juju Zero Waste: Cozy place with delicious French Press coffee and an adorable shop.
- Kopi Susu Gili Air: Trendy location with amazing coffee, fantastic terrace!
- Vintage, Gili Trawangan: Hip, fun, and affordable with incredibly tasty food in a beautiful location.
- Kayu Cafe, Gili Trawangan: Not to be missed, perfect for a good lunch, a cup of coffee, or breakfast.
- Night Market, Gili Trawangan: Incredibly delicious food for little money.
- Le Pirate, Gili Trawangan: Hip and trendy, with good food and sometimes even a cinema.
- Pituq Cafe, Gili Trawangan: Vegans, pay attention, this is the place to be.
- Chill Out Bar, Gili Air: A prime location right on the beach where the pizzas are amazing.
- Coffee & Thyme Gili Air: A cozy atmosphere, good coffee, and tasty food. What more could you want?
Best time to travel to Gil Islands
When is the perfect time to visit the Gili Islands? Well, between May and September is generally the best time. That’s the dry season, when the sun shines beautifully, and you can fully enjoy pleasant temperatures. It’s the period when many people visit these gems, so expect some crowds and perhaps slightly higher prices. Want to avoid the crowds? Consider going at the beginning or end of this dry season.
But rest assured, you can actually visit the Gilis all year round. In the other months, between November and March, you’ll encounter the rainy season. Expect occasional heavy downpours, but don’t let that deter you! The low season offers quieter beaches and a relaxed atmosphere.
If you truly want to sunbathe and enjoy pleasant temperatures, plan your trip between May and September. But if you don’t mind braving occasional refreshing showers and prefer a quieter ambiance, the months outside the high season are also great for visiting the Gili Islands.
Transportation in Gili Islands
Cars or scooters are not allowed on the Gili Islands. Everything is done on foot or by bike, which is fantastic for us Dutch people. But be cautious around other tourists who may not be accustomed to biking. While there are taxis, they are actually horse-drawn carriages. Don’t expect peaceful rides, as they sometimes race wildly along the narrow sandy paths. Moreover, we found it a bit sad for the horses. Sometimes, the carriages are loaded with people and belongings, and the poor animals stand there from early morning till late at night. And then they ask ridiculously high prices.
Which budget do i need in Gili's?
On the Gili Islands, there’s something for every budget. From basic homestays to fancy beach resorts, you have options in various price ranges. For a night’s stay, you can expect to pay somewhere between 25 and 150 euros, depending on where you stay and the season.
When it comes to food and drinks, local warungs offer affordable meals for a few euros. If you prefer more luxury, there are restaurants with extensive menus where you might spend between 5 and 15 euros per meal, depending on where you choose to dine.
For activities like diving and snorkeling, the costs also vary significantly. A diving or snorkeling trip can range from 20 to 100 euros, depending on the duration and the organizer.
In short, on the Gili Islands, there’s something for every budget. Whether you’re a backpacker or someone who enjoys the luxurious life, here you’ll find something for everyone. It just depends on how you want to spend your time on these beautiful islands!
Practical information about Gili's
- Bring a backpack. There’s a no-wheels policy here. Walking or cycling is the norm! A suitcase can be very inconvenient.
- You can use ATMs in many places, but having some extra cash on hand is always nice.
- Since debit cards aren’t always accepted, having a credit card is a great tip.
- Protect yourself from the intense sun! Bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
- Mosquito alert! Ensure you have good insect repellent; we’re big fans of Soffell!
- During peak season, accommodations fill up quickly. Book your stay in advance to secure a spot.
- Be cautious while swimming. Not all spots are safe; watch out for currents and tides.
- Respect nature: Help keep the islands clean. Take your trash with you and leave the environment tidy.
- Respect the culture: Avoid walking through the village in your bikini or swim trunks.
What are nice places to stay in Gili Islands?
Everyone has probably heard of the Gili Islands. Due to their popularity, hotels on the Gili Islands are often quickly fully booked. If you have an idea of your stay dates on the Gilis, it’s wise to reserve a hotel in advance. Unfortunately, we hadn’t done this beforehand and had to switch homestays or hotels almost daily, searching for available rooms.
Another thing you’ll notice is that the prices for accommodations here are significantly higher than in other parts of Indonesia. This may come as a surprise to travelers used to more affordable rates elsewhere in the country. The range varies from affordable homestays to luxurious resorts. For travelers on a tighter budget, there are hostels and cheaper options available, but these often fill up quickly. Hence, it’s useful to plan ahead and book in advance to avoid disappointment. Moreover, it’s good to know that despite the higher prices, accommodations are generally comfortable and often located directly on or near the beach, which is, of course, a plus for that perfect beach vacation.
How to get to Gili Eilanden?
If you want to travel to the Gili Islands, there are various routes and options available to get there. If you’re traveling from Bali to the Gili Islands, it’s best to depart from PadangBai. The boat ride takes about 2 hours and costs around 25 euros. You can also depart from Amed (1 hour) or Nusa Lembongan (2.5 hours).
For travelers who don’t want to travel by fast boat, there’s the option to take the slow boat to Lombok or fly to Lombok and then take a local boat to the Gili Islands. This is a longer route but offers a different experience. The slow boat to Lombok takes about 4 hours, departs regularly, and costs about 50,000RP (less than 4 euros). Once you arrive in Lombok, you can take a small local boat to the Gili Islands, which only takes about 15 minutes.
If you’re already on a beautiful journey through Lombok, it’s quite easy to visit the Gili Islands. Traveling from Lombok to the Gili Islands can be easily arranged with a small boat from the Bangsal harbor for a few euros. From Bangsal Lombok, it’s only a 15-minute boat ride to the Gili Islands. Discover the cheapest flights to Lombok or Bali.
Also, read the article “Lombok Route for 1,2 or 3 weeks.”