Top 5 things we like about The Gili Islands

Hi Travel Buddies,

Where are the Gili Islands?  Many of our friends popped this question when we shared with them our most recent vacation.  Again, our friends wonder what are the things to do on these tiny islands?

Well, Gili Islands are 3 tiny miniscule coral islands, lying off the north-west coast of Lombok, Indonesia:

Gili Trawangan, also reputed as the ‘party island’ is the largest of the 3 islands and the furthest from mainland, Lombok.  Gili Meno is the middle and smallest island.  Gili Air, being the nearest to mainland, Lombok, offers a lovely Mount Rinjani-facing coastline.

In Gilis, there are no cars, no motorbikes, no dogs, the main form of transport is horse-and-cart taxis called cidomos.  Yes, no dogs but lots of cats and party animals (tourists) roaming around the islands. 😛

We stayed 3 nights at Gili Trawangan.  Wish we could have stayed one night more… Top 5 Things we like about the Gilis:

1. Island Hopping –  We planned a day trip to Gili Air by hopping on the daily boat service that serve all 3 islands at fixed timings.  A return trip from Gili Trawangan to Gili Air costs us Rp 46,000 per pax.  However, you can only visit one island a day if you want to go by this mode.  If you wish to do island hopping to all 3 islands in a day, you can charter a boat.

2. Snorkelling and Scuba Diving

There are many great snorkelling spots and diving sites surrounding the sites.  You can rent a set of snorkelling gear (mask and fins) for Rp 30,000 for one day.  Alternatively, you can also go for the organised day trips on glass-bottomed boat and snorkelling trips to all three islands.  Check out and compared the pricing with the different dive operators on the islands.  We heard that some established ones offer dive and stay free packages. 🙂

3. Cycling or walk around the island

You can either rent a bike to cycle around the islands or just do a round-island walk which can be easily completed in 2 to 3 hours.  Actually, we prefer walking than biking because we saw some cyclists struggled at certain trails on the islands where the routes are soft and sandy.  We explored the Gili Trawangan island one round on foot in one afternoon.  We recommend hiking up to the hill top, somewhere south west of the island and you get terrific views of the 3 islands.

4. Sunrise and Sunset watching

This is the only place so far that we had a chance to witness the most beautiful sunrise and sunset on the same day at Gili Trawangan.  Look at the lovely sunset shot of Bali’s Mount Agung, highest volcano in Bali.

5. Just Relax!

Yes, just laid back and relax and get a real holiday!  Isn’t that what a vacation is all about?  Why worry about what to do next?  We saw many caucasians lie flat on the beach to do sunbathing, napping, read a book or just people watching.  Surrounded by clear turquoise sea, fringed with white sands and swaying palm trees, The Gilis is almost the perfect place to relax!  It will be perfect if there are less crowds and less  touristy on the islands.  😛

Getting to the Gilis

There are many ways to reach the Gilis.  If you are coming from Lombok, you can either take the public ferry or charter boats from Bangsal Harbour or check out the transport options by Perama Tours or the many dive centres along the main street in Senggigi.  We read about many tout activities at Bangsal Harbour, so stay alert to avoid being ripped off by touts.

We took the fast boat by Sea Marlin from Padang Bai, East Bali.  We were quite satisfied with their service going to Gili Trawangan.  However, they were late and ferried us to Lombok before heading back to Padang Bai on our return trip, so we took much longer than expected to ubud, our next destination.  There are many fast boats operators in Bali to the Gilis and you can also choose to depart from Benoa Harbour, Serangan Island in South Bali besides Padang Bai.

Tips: If you tend to get seasick, take one motion sickness pill before you go on board the boat.  The fast boat we took cannot dock at the jetty at Gili Trawangan, so we were transferred to another small boat to get down to the beach, be prepared that your feet will get wet!  We were not bothered by that as long as our luggages don’t get wet.

Accomodation and Food

While you can find accomodation in all 3 islands, we chose to stay at Tir Na Nog, Gili Trawangan for the entire 3 nights vacation for the convenience.  At Gili Trawangan, there is a wide range of all kinds of accomodation, from budget guest houses to high end villas and bungalows. However, be prepared for salty showers at the smaller hotels and guesthouses because fresh water is scarce on the islands and power supply trips may happen sometimes.

There is a good selection of local eateries (known as warungs), restaurants and bars at Gili Trawangan.

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