Just two hours off the coast of Bali lies three remote islands, called the Gili Islands.
White sand beaches, palms trees, seashells, and turquoise blue ocean water.
The Gilis are the perfect essence of a tropical paradise.
The three Eden alike islands each have their own vibes.
- In Gili Trawangan you will find fun and party,
- Gili Meno is the smallest and has the most remote feeling, while
- Gili Air is super chilled and laidback.
It takes only 15min by boat from Lombok.
15 years ago the Gilis were only a backpacker secret, but over the last five years, they have skyrocketed in popularity.
How to get there
- The Gili Islands are located in Indonesia, around a 15-minute boat from Lombok. However, many visitors to the island are coming from more famous Bali. So you can jump on a boat from there.
- There are two main options a boat from Sanur in southeast Bali which will take around 3 hours.
- Another option is to book a boat from Padang Bay. From there, it takes only 1.5 hrs to get to Gili.
- Or you could fly to Lombok, take a taxi about a 1.5h to Senggigi and then a 15-30 minutes boat transfer.
You can book a ferry ticket from almost any major tourist office in Bali.
- Most of the fast boats don’t stop at Gili Meno so you’ll have to jump on a local boat from one of the two other islands if you plan to go there. The extra 15-minute ride will cost you about 25k Rp. and departure is only twice per day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
- Be sure to order your ticket at least 24 hours in advance to avoid extra booking charges. If you plan ahead and book online in advance you can save a lot of money.
- If you ever get seasick, get a seat in the back - it’s usually quite a bumpy ride.
Once on the island
- There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island
- Although - renting a bicycle have become a bit expensive though.
When to visit
July, August, September, and December
February, March, April, and November
You can have the whole beach to yourself.
November – April
Don’t travel during this period if you want to dive and see wildlife.
Underwater visibility also is reduced during the wet season.
Gili T comes to life after sunset.
- The most famous east coast where most of the bars are located will be ready for your night out.
The “party strip” serves up all kinds of fun and party, so you can keep it going all night long.
- The west coast, also known as “sunset side”, is where you can chill and enjoy the sunset in a more relaxed environment.
As I mentioned earlier - Gili Air is chilled and laidback.
You can go around the whole island on a bicycle in about an hour. One stretch of the road is only sand, so either you have to push your bike or get one of those “dirt bikes”.
Also, it is a great location for reef diving
Gili Meno is the tiniest and most peaceful of the three islands.
Take a few days here to completely escape from everything, enjoying the gorgeous beaches, visiting the lake in the center of the island, snorkeling in search for turtles and enjoying beachfront cocktail bars at sunset.
- Gili Meno is home to the best dive sites and snorkeling reefs in the Gili Islands. Gili Meno Wall is the best spot, the reef drops to a sandy bottom at about 22m. In there you can find tropical fish like cuttlefish, scorpionfish and a bunch of other ocean wildlife. The dive is suitable for all levels.
What To Do on Gili
- Party: Every night the whole island will know that that’s the party tonight is in one of the bars. Keep your eyes and ears open for the news.
- Rent a bike and explore the island. Try to ride more remote roads, turn into the palm tree jungle or search for hidden spots. Cycling around the island will take you less than 2 hours.
- Go on a hike to the miradors, located on the southern end of the island. There you’ll have the most magnificent view of the other Gili Islands. Also, Bali with it’s noble Mount Agung and Lombok with the even higher Mount Rinjani.
- Order a fresh coconut on the beach, rent a paddleboard and just have fun!
- Probably the most Instagrammed scene on the Gilis, the swing at Hotel Ombak Sunset is a must. Just remember that it’s usually pretty crowded to get on the swing.
- The Gilis aren’t the best place in Indonesia to surf, but you can still catch quite a decent wave on the south coast of Gili T and Air.
- Lounging In Overwater Swings
The Gili Islands are all about the swings and hammocks and sunset shots at one of the swings. Little off the center there are some swings for perfect sunset shots that will give you plenty of time to just relax and enjoy actually swinging in the ocean!
- Explore the island and ride the horse on the sunset
- Do some yoga at one of the many yoga studios
- Gilis are one of the best places in the world to do snorkeling and diving
- Bolong’s Turtle Sanctuary on Gili Meno is doing a fabulous job.
The baby turtles are raised in the small ponds and after about 8 months they’re released into the wild. For a 100k donation, you can even choose a turtle and release it yourself. It’s located on the east coast.
- Another place you can see tropical birds is at the Gili Meno Bird Park, which is home to more than 300 birds. It’s located in the middle of the island.
- Go on a walk to the salt lake located northwest on the Gili Meno island. The lake is surrounded by a lot of flowers and wonderful plants. You can even spot quite a few species of tropical birds.
- There are around ten ATMs on Gili T, two on Air and none on Meno.
Although I would suggest you bring some money with you. Especially if you’re paying for your accommodation in cash, which many of the cheaper hotels would expect.
- Same goes for the wifi! If you’re dependent on an internet connection at specific times a day I wouldn’t bother going to the Gilis at all.