The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands just off the Northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia and around 35 kilometer away by boat from Bali, Indonesia. The Gili archipelago exists of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. When you are travelling around in Indonesia or planning a holiday to Bali, you should definitely visit one of the Gili islands.
The Gili islands exists of really blue water, white beaches, palm trees, boats and lots of bikes. On all the islands no motorised vehicles are allowed, so you will only see bikes, cidomo (small horse-drawn carriage) or people who are walking. This makes the Gili islands very peaceful and quiet islands. In total the Gili islands exists of 200 really small Gili’s, but only Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are well known islands by the tourists. Even though some websites mention there is Malaria on Gili, it is not necessary to take any medicine to provide the Malaria, because the chance you get malaria is really small and it is not that well-known to get Malaria on Gili. However, there are of course some mosquitoes, so take enough anti mosquito spray with you.
Gili Trawangan This island is the biggest of the three, is the most developed and geared towards tourism. There are plenty of bars, home stays and hotels on this island. Even though it is the biggest island of the three, it is still possible to bike around the entire island in one day. A bike is easy to rent in the tourist streets and the average price per bike is around €1,00 – €1,50. In the Northern part of Gili Trawangan are many luxurious hotels and the southern part exists of more bars and cheap homestays or hostels. In general you can party quite good on Gili Trawangan.
There is some drug tourism on the island. At different places you will see signs with (magic) mushrooms. Even through drugs are strictly permitted in Indonesia, at Gili Trawangan it is possible to try some different things. Don’t try it in public, but go and look for a more quiet place (just in case the police is walking by).
Gili Meno and Gili Air Gili Meno is the smallest of the three islands and Gili Air is the second smallest of the tree islands. Both islands are very suitable for honeymooners. The islands have just a few bars and are well known for snorkeling.
How to go to Gili? There are different ways to visit Gili. It is possible to take a fast boat, private boat, ferry or flight directly to Gili or indirectly to Gili via Lombok. When you take a flight, you will fly to Lombok international airport, take a taxi to the harbor and then take a boat to the Gili Islands. During my stay on Bali, I visited Gili Trawangan. Via a local tourist stand of the street, I bought a transfer ticket to the harbor including the fast boat to Gili Trawangan. The costs of this ticket was 600.000 Roepia (€39,00). You have to bargain about the price and if you are really bad in bargaining you will pay around one million Roepia. 600.000 Roepia is a reasonable price to accept. There are many different fast boats going to Gili. The Bluewater Express fast boat and the Semaya One fast boat are recommended companies. The time to get from Padang Bai, Bali to the Gili islands takes around one and half hour.
What to do on Gili? Go snorkelling or diving On every island it is possible to go snorkelling or diving. Different snorkelling trips are daily organised where you will visit the best hotspots around all the three islands in order to see all the tropical fishes and turtles. However, you do not need to go on a snorkelling trip to see the turtles. They also swim close to the beach! Close to the beach, at Gili Trawangan, I have seen three big turtles.
Party tropical Gili Trawangan is the best party island. Here are enough places where you can party. There are different bars with live music. If you like reggae music, the reggae bar ‘Sama Sama’ is a good place to visit. Next to this, there is a bar in the same street where they organise every evening beer pong tournaments. It is fun!
Watch the sunset The Gili islands provide stunning sunsets. Tip: make a picture on the swing of Hotel Villa Ombak Sunset. This looks amazing!
Eat delicious Like the bars, there are plenty of restaurants where you can enjoy the fresh sea food or just local and tourist meals.
Cycle around the island It is fun to cycle around the islands. Within two hours you can cycle around Gili Trawangan and even in a shorter time on the other islands. Definitely fun to do. You can see all the beautiful hotels, plenty of bars, restaurants and the beautiful nature.
Get high As mentioned before, on Gili you can buy (magic) mushrooms and other stuff. Watch out for the police. However, no police station is located on Gili. There is just some island security and sometimes the police of Lombok will take a look on the Gili islands.
Relax and sunbath Since the Gili islands are small islands, the entire coastline is filled with sand and blue ocean water. Just rent a sun bed and enjoy some sunbathing.
Go shopping At Gili Trawangan there are many local shops where you can buy all kinds of clothes. Next to this, you can buy a lot of bracelets on Gili.
Watch a movie on the beach Close to the reggae bar ´Sama Sama´ is a restaurant where they play two movies every night. Take a seat in one of the beanbags, order a cocktail and enjoy the movie.
Where to stay? There are plenty of home stays, guest houses and hotels on Gili Trawangan. During my trip to Gili Trawangan, I only bought a ticket for the fast boat and booked last minute a room. At the beach, some people are promoting their guest houses. It is fine to take a look at the room of one of these guest houses, I did it as well, but the quality may not always be that high. The guest house I visited, had no air-co, no hot water and was in the middle of a garbage area. When I looked for another place to stay, I found a nice cottage called ´Rumah Saga´. The room was clean, big and included a mini bar, air-co and hot shower. The employees were very friendly and the breakfast was delicious (choice between pancakes, fried egg, omelette etc.). Next to this, there was a small swimming pool with a filter. The price for a three person room was 500.000 Roepia (€30,00).