An archipelago of three minuscule islands fringed with lush palms swaying under the turquoise waters bears the name of Gili Islands. Each island is unique in its own way attracting people of all ages and nations to indulge in the paradisal escape.
GILI ISLANDS STYLE
Gili islands or simply Gilis consists of three fabulous islets: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. What is common to all three islets is its breathtaking beauty, fascinating diving and snorkelling spots and jaw-dropping villas lining the fabulous beaches.
Among these three, Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, is the most bustling isle appealing to the young travellers and party lovers of all ages. It boasts of the most frantic nightlife, glamorous villa accommodations and stylish dining and drinking establishments.
Gili Air is the closest island to Lombok featuring with just perfect number of beach bars, laid back atmosphere and the well developed local community. Gili Air is a Golden Mean between frantic Gili T and highly secluded Gili Meno.
Gili Meno, the smallest of Gilis, is a desert-island getaway appealing to the Robinson Crusoe types and honeymooners. Notwithstanding its tiny size, the islet boasts of natural attractions and arguably the best dive spots of the archipelago.
WHAT WE LOVE
Pristine white-sand beaches
Fantastic water activities
Idyllic and romantic atmosphere
Fabulous beachfront villas
Vibrant nightlife and trendy bars
GILI ISLANDS LOCATION
Gili Islands are located off the northwestern coast of Lombok. Gilis have earned the reputation of the Indonesian Shangri-la and it’s a perfect place to get away from the routine life.
Although it is possible to get to Gili Islands, Lombok over land or water, the best way is to fly:
BY FAST BOAT FROM BALI
Numerous fast boat services depart from Bali to Gilis with none or one stop in Senggigi, Lombok. Boats depart from the major Bali seaports – Benoa, Padang Bai and Serangan – and it takes between 2 to 2,5 hours to get to Gili Islands. However, during the big swell (July-August) and monsoon (January-February) seasons delays and even cancellations can occur. The ticket price vary as it depends on the travel agent and season, and usually include the land transfer from/to your hotel in Bali.
BY FAST BOAT FROM LOMBOK
It takes around 35 minutes by a public boat to get to Gili Trawangan, Air or Meno from Lombok. Public boats depart from either Senggigi or Teluk Nara seaports and ranges from IDR85,000 per person to more than IDR500,000 for the whole chartered boat. Charter boats will coats around IDR200,000 one way for the entire vessel that carries up to 12 persons. Charter boats also leave from Bangsal harbour on the west coast of Lombok mainland.
BY FAST BOAT FROM OTHER GIL ISLANDS
There is an official island hopping boat service with a couple of boats carrying passengers between three Gili Islands. Boats depart according to the official schedule, and the ticket price starts from IDR20,000 for a one-way boat trip. The chartered boats are also available to hire and the price averages between IDR 170,000 to IDR200,000 depending on the timing and season.
Due to the fact that Gili islands do not have motorised transport, there are only a few options to get around these tiny islets:
Gili Islands feature with small sizes, hence, you can easily circumnavigate any of them around the perimeter in around two hours on foot. The footpaths run along the beach and link the main attractions and tourist infrastructure. Walking around the island on foot is a great way to explore the island and find your own favourite beach.
Renting a bike on Gilis is widely available for IDR30,000-50,000 per day. Riding the cycle is fast and convenient way to move about the island, however, there are a few places with deeper sand so better to avoid riding along these tracks. Also, check your bike on malfunctions as some of them can be rather old and pretty used.
Horse carts or ‘cidomo’ are available on Gili islands catering to visitors travelling with heavy bags and staying away from the departure area. The flat rate of IDR100,000 is now charged, notwithstanding, the distance on Gili Meno and Gili Air, however, you can try to negotiate on the price on Gili Trawangan.
GILI ISLANDS VILLAS
There are more than 15 Ministry Approved villas on Gili Islands. As Gilis is a popular, yet, rather a remote location with a limited number of activities and attraction for the long stay, villa prices tend to be lower than in other parts of Lombok and Bali. Gili Islands villas range from USD $120 per night for one-bedroom villa to over USD $600 per night for a nine-bedroom luxury villa.
Most of our villas have dedicated staff including butlers, chefs, nannies, 24-hour security personnel, and many other services you won’t find in a hotel. This is why we say “Spend just one night in a villa and you’ll never stay in a hotel again.”
GILI ISLANDS DINING
Regarding dining experience, all Gili Islands have a few things in common. The majority of the dining venues in Gilis serve the most delicious and freshest seafood barbeque. While walking along the sandy paths, you might notice numerous display stands showcasing the catch of the day, and choose the fish, which will be grilled and served to you with complimentary salad and french fries.
No matter which island you choose for you holiday escape, you can be sure that you will have the most dramatically beautiful vistas over the ocean and rising above the distance imposing Mount Rinjani in Lombok or Mount Agung in Bali.
The largest concentration of high-end restaurants and bars can be found on Gili Trawangan, though there are many great fine dining on Gili Air too. Gili Meno dining scene is represented with several midrange eating establishments offering the savoury local cuisine, traditional seafood platters and wood-fired pizza, which even became a Gili Meno speciality.
GILI ISLANDS NIGHTLIFE
The nightlife scene is the most vibrant on Gili Trawangan, where bars are typically allowed to remain open until the early hours of the morning. Various bars on Gili T and Gili Air conduct regular party nights in turn to ensure that all partygoers are gathered in one place rather than being spread around the island.
The regular renowned Full Moon Parties gather crowds to participate in this full blown event with awesome mix of electro trance and techno music and the fantastic fire shows. These parties usually last till the sun comes up.
A laid-back Gili Meno island stands out with its relaxed and quiet nightlife scene. It offers an utterly romantic experience of watching the mesmerising sunsets and sighting the starry sky when the night falls. A few bars are serving cold beers and refreshing beverages, however, they all close at midnight.
GILI ISLANDS SHOPPING
Shopping opportunities are rather limited on Gilis so better to bring all necessities with you. There are several shops selling essentials such as sunscreen, bug sprays and basic cosmetics, however, get prepared to pay the double price.
Gili T hosts a tiny Art Market offering the usual range of items: sarongs, T-shirts and knick-knacks that can be found in any other tourist location. However, the selection is far more limited than in the same street stalls set in Bali or Lombok.
There are a few fashion stores on Gili Air offering beachwear, accessories and sandals along with the typical souvenirs and knick-knacks but you should not expect a serious shopping there.
GILI ISLANDS RELAXATION
Most of the tourists visit Gilis to chill out on the beach and indulge in the laid-back atmosphere. The turquoise water and the powder white-sand beaches are ideal for lazing, soak the sun and relish in the ice cold beer or cocktail from the nearest bar.
Active sports enthusiasts are blessed with fascinating diving and snorkelling widely available on any of Gili Islands. The majority of dive sites are suitable for all levels, moreover, numerous dive schools are dotting the islands, where experienced instructors will teach you how to dive and bring to the first dive trips.
Surfers will also have their piece of cake. Gili Trawangan and Gili Air have infamous surf spots catering to the intermediate and advanced surfers. If the conditions are appropriate, you can expect to ride a fast and barreling right wave breaking on a shallow reef, so caution is required.
One of the allures of Gili Islands is the ability to enjoy doing nothing. These laid back islands exude the tranquil and offer a relaxed lifestyle, imposing unparalleled “Gilis state of mind”.