Indonesia

A quick guide to Gili Islands

Beautiful beaches, clear water, and tropical weather sounds pretty nice right? Gili Islands are a paradise you need to explore at least once in your life, preferably several times. During my trip to Bali I took five days to explore these beautiful islands and I’ve wanted to go back ever since I left!

The difference between the islands

The three islands have different things to offer and even though most people tend to head out to Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, the other two islands have their own unique ways of making them ideal destinations.

Gili Trawangan –
 The most developed, popular and lively destination, here you’ll find backpackers from all over the world, a lot of restaurants and bars and overall more things to do. Here you can find a lot of budget and backpacking accommodation, and their full moon parties and party nights in general are a big draw for travellers. But it’s not all about the parties, there are cooking schools, scuba diving schools, a lot of shops and beach bars making Gili T a great destination!

Gili Air – More quite than Gili T, but more lively than Gili Meno, super cozy and a brilliant choice for a more relaxed vacation. There are still plenty of things to do, such as scuba diving or snorkelling, and there are some brilliant choices for food! Like Gili T, Gili Air has a party scene and full moon parties, but on the calmer side. It also offers a lot of activities outside of parties, such as kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding, and kite surfing. 

Gili Meno – The most underdeveloped of the islands, it gives a feeling of calm and quiet and there are still options for amazing accommodation, and the prices are cheaper than on Gili T. Gili has some of the most beautiful beaches, and it’s the most untouched Gili Island. Come here if you want a calm and quite escape. There’s not a big party scene and more about beach side relaxing than a lot of activities.

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Getting between the islands

It’s easy! The local shuttle boats run twice a day, once in the morning and again in the afternoon. Make sure to be there a bit before and keep an eye on the boat, I actually managed to miss my boat and had to stay one extra night on Gili Air! Not the worst thing in the world of course, but not ideal if you need to get off the island!

What to do

Scuba – The Gili Islands are famous for scuba diving, and for good reason! There are plenty of scuba diving school offering a range of experiences, maybe take a diving certificate or just a get a scuba experience with one dive. It’s a perfect place to learn, you can try it out in the pool and then head out for a dive in the ocean, a not to be missed activity!

Shop – On Gili T you’ll find the most options for shopping, and some more unique alternatives than the “I love GT” tops. If you need a new bikini, pair of flip flops or a beach dress it’s where you’ll find it. But keep in mind it’s not the cheapest!

Snorkelling – I would choose scuba diving over snorkelling any day, but it’s still a nice experience! 

Boat parties – Never did this but there are day boat parties everywhere on Gili T. Apparently a tip is to hang out near the Blue Marlin Dive Centre at night and normally you can find a rep to give you a band to get on the boat for free. An untested tip but there it is!

Cycle – A hot tip is to rent a bike and explore the island, but make sure to know if you get a bike with breaks or not!

Yoga – Nothing better than doing yoga while looking out over an island right? At the Yoga Palace, opposite La Boheme you can do yoga for 60k (discounted if you stay at La Boheme), and there’s also a restaurant for some after-yoga-recharge.

Party – There’s always something to do, some bar to go to or some new party to attend. Keep your eyes and ears open and explore your options!

Cinema – A bit on an unexpected island activity maybe, but the nightly cinema at Villa Ombak is worth a visit. You’ll get a beanbag for a seat, drinks on order directly to you and Gili T beach as a backdrop, and of course a huge screen showing two films every night.

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1 Comment

  • Reply A quick guide to Bali – wishesofwanderlust June 7, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    […] If you want to take a weekend or a day trip Lambok and Gili Islands are the most popular choices. If you want a more authentic experience there is Sumba Island, a place people say is “what Bali was like 30 years ago”. I personally hoped on a boat and spend some time on Gili Air and Gili Trawagang, and I would definitely recommend it! Gili Air is a bit smaller and more quiet, it’s cozy and beautiful but there’s not too much to do. Gili Trawangan, or Gili T, is a more popular and lively destination. Here you’ll find backpackers from all over the world, more restaurants and bars and a larger island as a whole. Make sure to try scuba diving and enjoy the relaxed vibe of the island lifestyle! To find out more about the Gili Island, check out my full guide here!  […]

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