Bali Activities

An introduction to the Gili Islands

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Most probably, you’ve already heard about the pristine Gili Islands when planning your trip to Indonesia. They are just as famous as Bali, and for good reason! Close your eyes and imagine idyllic white-sand beaches, turquoise and blue waters, encounters with sea turtles, amazing diving sites, gorgeous villas – it’s paradise-like here on the gorgeous Gili Islands. But, what makes these islands all even more unique, idyllic and peaceful is that all 3 of them are free from motorized traffic. The only means of transport you’ll find are bicycles and… horse carts! On top of that, you can easily circle the islands on foot, catching the sunrise and the sunset all on the same day on a different part of the island. Perfect.

Introduction to the Gili Islands
No cars or motorbikes on the Gili Islands, just bicycles 😀 Photo credit: e.noemie on Instagram

Nicknamed as ‘the Maldives of Southeast Asia’ the Gili Islands are 3 islands and each of them has their own charm, attraction points, and unique appeal. Whether you are a family with kids, a romantic couple on their honeymoon or a group of friends looking for an awesome place to chill out and have fun, The Gilis Islands have something to offer for everyone! Let’s take a closer look at each of these lovely little islands, located in the Lombok Strait, just a 3-hour boat ride from Bali:

introduction to the Gili Islands
A typical Gili Islands scenery. Photo credit: jenny_kim_12 on Instagram

Gili Trawangan (the famous Gili T ‘party’ island!)

Gili Trawangan is the largest and most popular island of the 3 Gili Islands, also known as ‘Gili T’ and referred to as ‘the party island’. Trawangan is laid-back yet booming at the same time from chill-out reggae bars to all-night clubs and party boats. There is the ‘party’ side of the island on the eastern coast which is full of beach clubs, restaurants, bars and clubs and there is the relaxed side where you can go snorkelling and spot turtles from the shore, sip sunset drinks and take some amazing Insta-photos sitting on the ocean swings. Whether you came to party or you came for a family holiday – you will find what you are looking for on Gili T!

Things to do on Gili Trawangan

  • Diving & snorkelling
  • swimming with turtles (just from shore)
  • Upscale beachfront dining
  • Sunrise and sunset
  • Night Market (food!)
  • Explore the ‘party street’ on Gili T (shisha bars, clubs, party boats, reggae bars – you pick!)
  • Surfing
  • Stand-up paddleboard
  • Beach cinema
Gili Trawangan
Paradise on earth: Gili Trawangan. Photo credit: zijenstijl on Instagram
Gili Islands
Swim with turtles at Gili Trawangan. Photo credit: mo0071980 on Instagram
Gili T
Sunset, drinks & friends on the beach @ Gili Trawangan. Photo credit: manfro87 on Instagram
Gili Trawangan
The ocean swings on Gili Trawangan. Photo credits go to maximevelly via Instagram

Gili Meno – The ultimate honeymoon island

Gili Meno is sandwiched between the Gili T and Gili Air and it is the most ‘local’ one – a great little island for romantic couples and honeymooners to take refuge, escaping everyone and everything for a little while. The island of Meno has got fabulous luxury resorts and honeymoon villas designed for lovers to enjoy privacy, completely undisturbed by the outside world. Mesmerizing ocean views, starry night skies, romantic dinners, flower baths, this island is all about love, romance, tranquillity and tropical bliss. No wonder it’s also a popular choice for intimate beach weddings. Gili Meno is also a popular choice for families on a peaceful tropical getaway. The kids will love the turtle sanctuary on the island!

Things to do on Gili Meno

  • Fall in love all over 🙂
  • Swimming, snorkelling, diving
  • sunset dinner on the beach
  • sunrises to blow you away
  • exploring dessert beaches
  • Visit the turtle sanctuary and release baby turtles into the great open sea
  • See the stunning salt lake on the island
introduction to The Gili Islands
A lovers’ escape – Gili Meno (the most romantic one of the 3 Gili Islands). Photo credit: tinkerbell45000 on Instagram
Gili Meno
Wonderful and peaceful Gili Meno. Photo credit: headingplaces on Instagram
Turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno
Turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno. Photo credit: laurine_mn on Instagram
The Gili Islands
Gili Meno is also perfect for families! Photo credit: justaboutusfour on Instagram

Gili Air – Yogis and Yoginis

Gili Air is the island closest to Lombok and it is perfectly tranquil and tropical. Did you come to the Gilis for yoga and meditation on the beach? You’ll probably love Gili Air. Everything is even more relaxed and laid- back than Gili T and there are no all-night party scenes just some chill out live bands in the evening. Nothing too loud or lasting until after midnight. After all, we want to be up to catch the sunrise and do our daily sun salute! Snorkelling, diving, horse riding on the beach, it’s all part of the Gili Air experience! 

Things to do on Gili Air

  • swimming, chilling out, snorkelling
  • diving
  • sunrise & sunset meditation
  • Yoga (on the beach!)
  • horse riding on the beach
  • Beachfront dining
  • bars with live music but nothing passed midnight
Yoga island Gili Air
Yoga on the beach @ Gili Air. Photo credit: h2oyogagiliair on Instagram
Gili Air
Nothing but good vibes on Gili Air. Photo credit: lou.zelig on Instagram
Gili Air
Horse riding on Gili Air. Photo credit: svenvbekkum on Instagram
Gili Air
Gili Air is the closest to Lombok and it is a gem! Photo credit: _nela___on Instagram

Getting there

There are 2 options: plane or boat.

You can fly to the international airport of Lombok from Bali (+-45 minutes) or even from Australia (there are direct flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth these days!). From there, you can drive to Bangsal Harbor (2 hours by car) to reach the Gili islands by boat in 10 minutes. 

The second option is to take the speed boat from Padang Bai, Amed or Sanur on the island of Bali. The crossing takes around 3 hours on average. Usually, a pick-up from your private villa in Bali is included when you buy tickets to the Gili Islands.

What to pack

  • As little as you can – you don’t need much on a tropical island now do you?!
  • Sunblock, sunhat, sunglasses – pretty important stuff!)
  • Your bathers (not to forget!)
  • (Underwater) camera
  • Motion sickness pills (just in case you’re taking the boat and the water is rough – you can thank us later)
  • Cash money (always handy in case the ATM machine doesn’t work)

Where to stay

owhere tp stay on the Gilis
Gili Beach Villa Dua on Gili Trawangan

We love the Gilis just as much as we love Bali. We did our best to find the best, most tropical and wonderful villas on the Gili Islands and we are proud of the humble yet fabulous villa collection we have on offer! Sleep to the sounds of the sea, plunge into your private pool and live your tropical island dream at one of our Gili Islands Villas. You can see them here

See you there?

Introduction to the Gili Islands
Introduction to the Gili Islands. Photo credit: catalinadiazosori on Instagram

See our villa collection in Bali & Lombok. Selected and inspected by Villa Finder

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