The Gili Islands are a triad of idyllic islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Nestled off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia, they feature sugar-white beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and local charm. They are the ideal escape from busy and stressful lives, and they’ve solidified their spot as a must-visit in Indonesia. Just be mindful that the country now has entry requirements for all foreign visitors. Be sure to check how long you can stay in Indonesia to make the most of your stay in these beautiful islands.
In addition to their undeniable natural beauty, what sets the Gilis apart is their commitment to eco-tourism. You won’t find any motorized vehicles; bicycles and horse carts are the primary modes of transport. The islanders’ warmth along with sustainable tourism practices, makes your stay a harmonious experience with nature.
The islands are famous for their their crystal clear waters making them a perfect spot for snorkeling and scuba diving. Furthermore, they are known for their laidback and calm atmosphere, ideal for a relaxing and peaceful break.
Each island has its personality, with Gili Trawangan being the liveliest and most developed. Gili Air is a nice blend of development and tranquility. Meanwhile, Gili Meno is the most secluded and quiet of the three.
To get to the Gili Islands from Bali you can take the following options:
1. Fast Boat
Leave from one of the departure points sucha as Padang Bai, Serangan, or Amed. Your journey will take between 1.5 to 2.5 hours depending on your departure point and the sea conditions.
You will find several fast boat companies operating in Bali which offer daily trips to the Gili Islands. Some of them are: Bluewater Express, Gili Getawat, and Marina Srikandi. We recommend booking in advance to secure your seats.
2. Flight & Boat
For those short on time, you can fly from Bali’s Denpasar Airport to Lombok’s Praya Airport. From there, a taxi ride to Bangsal Harbor and a quick boat journey will get you to the islands.
If you are actually in Lombok instead of Bali, you should head to the closest point situated in Bangsal Harbor. Here, you can catch public boats or hire private speedboats to any of the Gili islands.
For travelers seeking luxury, the Gili Islands won’t disappoint. There are many hotels and villas. Here are our top picks for each island:
In Gili Trawangan, you will want to book Villa Ombak. It offers exquisite overwater bungalows and tropical villas with private pools. Their spa, seafront dining, and personalized services will make you feel like royalty. Prices range from $60 for a room to $250 for a villa per night. However, this will change depending on the season.
If you stay in Gili Meno, choose Mahamaya Boutique Resort which showcases refined beachfront villas and suites. The breathtaking sunset views, gourmet dining, and infinity pool are pure luxury. A family suite is priced at $277 per night.
Last but not least, when staying in Gili Air, one accommodation that stands out is Slow Gili Air. It is an upscale resort boasting private villas with outdoor showers and glass-bottomed pool gazebos. Experience tranquility at its spa or indulge in delectable seafood dishes. A one bedroom villa starts at $259.
In general, most luxury accommodations offer packages that might include airport transfers, spa treatments, and guided tours. Look out for diving packages; as mentioned earlier the Gilis are renowned for their marine biodiversity, and most hotels are likely to arrange tours for their guests.
Diving & Snorkeling: The islands are encircled by vibrant coral reefs, making them superb for diving and snorkeling. Common sightings include sea turtles, clownfish, and even the occasional shark.
Island Hopping: Each Gili Island has its unique charm. Use the local boats to hop from one to another, enjoying the distinct vibe of each.
Sunset Horse Riding: Particularly on Gili Trawangan, horseback rides on the beach during sunset offer a romantic experience.
Sunset Spots: While sunsets are beautiful everywhere, the Gilis offer some iconic spots. For instance, the Sunset Swing on Gili Trawangan is an Instagram-favorite. You can swing above the water as the setting sun paints the horizon.
Gili Trawangan is the epicenter of nightlife amongst the islands. Enjoy beach parties, live music, and fire dance shows.
Reggae Nights: Gili Trawangan, in particular, has a vibrant reggae scene.Sama Sama Reggae Bar, is the hub of this scene. Here, islanders and tourists unite under the rhythms of live reggae bands, lending the night a distinct Caribbean vibe. With bean bags on the beach, cold drinks in hand, and stars overhead, it’s an experience that captures the soul of the islands.
The Gilis bring forth a mix of local and international flavors:
Seafood: Grilled mahi-mahi, red snapper, and prawns are local favorites. Many beachfront eateries let you pick fresh catches and have them prepared to your liking.
Sate Ikan: This is a must-try; skewered and grilled fish served with a rich peanut sauce.
Night Markets: Particularly in Gili Trawangan, the night market is a culinary adventure. From spicy nasi goreng (fried rice) to tender satays, the choices are varied and delicious.
Something that stands out in the Gili Islands is the absence of motorized transportation. It contributes to an unpolluted environment. Instead you can hire a “Cidomo” or horse carriage. These traditional horse-drawn carriages replace taxis. They are an experience in themselves.
Another way you can move around the island is by bicycles. You can rent one out, and circle the entire island!
The Gili Islands are likely to make a lasting impression on you. It has a strong heart, and you are bound to make lasting memories and even friendships!
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