THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE GILI ISLANDS
- climate: The rainy season from October to March is usually weaker on the Gili Islands than on the well-known neighboring island of Bali. The temperatures there are around 30 degrees all year round. Really gorgeous.
- Size: Gili Trawangan is with 3.5 km² the largest of the three islands, followed by Gili Air with 1.73 km² and Gili Meno with 1.5 km². So all the islands are very small.
- There are no motorized vehicles on the Gili Islands – except for a few electric scooters. The locomotion takes place via horse-drawn carriage or bicycle. Food and water are unloaded from the boats by muscle power and transported in a big cart, the women carry huge baskets full of food on their heads.
- You will find bike rentals on every corner (Cost about 3 EUR per day). Specially on Gili Trawangan – the largest of the Gili Islands – it is worth renting a bike to explore the island. Otherwise, due to the manageable size, you can walk wonderfully.
The Gili Islands are very controversial, as tourism has taken over there, it seems overcrowded and the beautiful corals have unfortunately been largely destroyed. There are many reasons not to visit the Gilis.
From our point of view, however, there are very big differences between the different seasons. We were on the Gili Islands in early November and didn’t find it overcrowded. There is enough space on the beach and the accommodation and restaurants are not too crowded either.
Here are a few tips on how to get to the Gili Islands. There are 4 of them in total:
1. Speed boat
There are providers like sand by the sea – detailed information is available on this page. From Bali this is the quickest and easiest way to get to the Gilis. The journey takes around 2 hours, depending on the provider and the stopovers. You can find providers for this on almost every street corner.
The flight from Denpasar, Bali until Lombok takes about 30 minutes. There are various low-cost airlines such as Lion Air, where the fare is around €20-30. For around €10 more, the best option is to fly with Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia’s national airline, which was voted one of the top 10 airlines in 2013. From there you can take a speedboat to the Gili Islands in a few minutes.
3. Public Ferry
The low budget way. The crossing of Padangbai after Lembar, Lombok only costs around 40,000 rupiah but also takes around 4 ½ hours (plus the time to load and unload). The Public Ferry is used almost exclusively by locals and departs every hour (24 hours a day).
If you can afford it, you can also charter a helicopter to Gili Trawangan (max. 5 people) with Air Bali for around €4,000 (one-way, of course). The flight lasts only 45 minutes and is definitely a highlight. Unfortunately we couldn’t afford that. 😃
GILI ISLANDS: ACTIVITIES AND SIGHTS
1. Diving and snorkeling (learn)
Probably the classic on the Gilis. No wonder, because the islands have an underwater world that is well worth seeing. There are diving schools on each of the three islands, with most being found on Gili Trawangan. You can rent snorkeling equipment on almost every corner.
You can snorkel all of the snorkeling spots that we recommend from the beach. There are many providers of boat snorkeling excursions. In our opinion, this is not necessary, since the distances from the beach to the snorkeling spot are very short (20-50 meters).
Just watch out for the current when snorkeling in the Gili Islands. Sometimes you can simply let yourself be carried away by the current and enjoy the underwater world. All you need to do is know where the current is going and get out in good time.
The most beautiful snorkeling spots on the Gili Islands:
- Turtle Point on GiliTrawangan: An amazing experience to dive with a sea turtle. That was one of my absolute highlights of the whole trip.
- The Bask – Underwater sculptures on Gili Meno, a very popular diving spot (also thanks to Instagram)
2. Circumnavigate islands
You can circle the Gilis wonderfully in 1-2 hours. On Gili Trawangan you should rent a bike, which is available almost everywhere. Often the accommodations also have their own bike rental. Gili Meno can be perfectly circumnavigated on foot, because most of the way often leads directly to it lonely dream beaches long.
3. Island hopping
They drive 2 times a day public boats respectively to the other two islands. You can buy the tickets directly at the port (where the boats depart).
Alternatively, you can also rent a boat charter. This can be worthwhile if you are traveling with a group of more than 10 people, but of course it is also a bit more expensive.
4. Water sports
Stand-up paddling, also known as, is very popular “Stand Up Paddling” (SUP), where you can paddle comfortably along the island. Or you can rent a canoe/kayak for one or two people. Kitesurfing or wakeboarding is also offered on the Gilis. With all activities in the water, you should never underestimate the sometimes very strong currents.
There are a few surf spots in the Gilis, including in the southeast of Gili Trawangan, but also on Gili Meno and Gili Air.
6. Fishing and BBQ
Fishing tours are often offered, where you can be taken out by boat and catch the fish yourself and then have a barbecue. It doesn’t get any fresher or tastier.
7. A trip on the Glass Bottom Boat
Another way to explore the underwater world is the Glass Bottom Boat, which means that the boat has a glass bottom.
8. Go out and party
Gili Trawangan is clearly best suited and known for this. You will find bars and restaurants right on the beach.
10. Gili Trawangan Sunset Point
Here you have a wonderful view towards Bali and can see beautiful sunsets. You shouldn’t miss this view.
11. Horseback riding along the beach
Maybe not the classic activity, but for families and children it is a nice change to ride along the beach and partly in the water at sunset.
12. Relax or eat on the beach
Most bars and restaurants offer sun-protected loungers directly on the beach, where you can enjoy a delicious cocktail or a cool Bintang with the wonderful view.
Or you can buy one of the small ones for less than one euro maintenance (Sales stalls) fresh fruit, grilled satay skewers or tempeh/bakwan (fried vegetables, highly recommended!) as a small snack. Pack it up and head to the beach.
13. Carriage Ride
Would you like to explore the island? Ride one of the many horse-drawn carriages across the island and enjoy the view.
14. Turtle Conservation Center on Gili Meno
To protect them from other wild animals, the turtle eggs are collected and placed in Bolong’s Turtle Sanctuary hatched. The baby turtles are then raised in small tanks and released into the wild after about 8 months on the beach. For a donation of 100,000 rupiah you can even choose a turtle and then release it yourself on the beach. A good cause that should be supported so that the turtles do not become extinct in the waters of the Gilis.
15. Gili Trawangan View Point
The View Point is the highest point of the small island. From there you have a great view of the other Gilis and also of Lombok.