Gili Islands

The Gili Islands 101: Ultimate Guide for visiting the Gilis in 2023

A Brief Introduction to the The Gili Islands

Are you ready to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and experience paradise? Look no further than the Gili Islands! These Indonesian islands are home to crystal clear waters, white sand beaches, and an abundance of sea turtles. Not to mention, the party scene here is legendary, making it a popular destination for young travelers looking to let loose. But don’t worry, the Gili Islands have also become a hot spot for honeymooners and foodies, with a growing number of decent restaurants to choose from. So whether you’re looking to relax on the beach with your significant other or dance the night away with friends, the Gili Islands have something for everyone.

Where are the Gili Islands, and how do I get there?

Located just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia, the Gili Islands are a tropical paradise that is easily accessible from Bali. To get there, you can take a fast boat from Bali or fly into Lombok and then take a short boat ride to the islands. Alternatively, you can fly into Denpasar and then take a bus or car to the port town of Padangbai, where you can catch a boat to the Gilis. No matter how you decide to make the journey, the trip to the Gilis is worth it! Trust us, you’ll be glad you made the trip to this breathtaking archipelago.

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    The unique charm of the Gili Islands

    One of the things that makes the Gili Islands truly special is their laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. With no motorized vehicles allowed on the islands, you won’t find any cars or scooters buzzing around. Instead, the primary modes of transportation are horse-drawn carts and bicycles. This adds to the laid-back, rustic charm of the Gilis and makes for a much more peaceful vacation experience.

    In addition to the lack of motorized vehicles, the Gili Islands are also committed to environmental sustainability. The islands have a strong emphasis on protecting their natural beauty, including the clear turquoise waters and white sandy beaches. This makes the Gili Islands the perfect destination for travelers who want to relax and unwind in a stunning natural setting while also being mindful of their impact on the environment. Whether you’re snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, lounging on the sandy beaches, or exploring the island’s many eco-friendly accommodations, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the laid-back, sustainable atmosphere of the Gili Islands.

    Gili Islands Restaurants
    Island style - one of the many charming restaurants on the Gili Islands

    The three main Gili Islands; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, & Gili Air

    While the Gili Islands are a well-known destination, they also have plenty of hidden gems to discover. The three main Gili Islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – each have their own distinct characteristics and attractions.

    Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, is the largest and most developed of the Gilis. It’s known for its vibrant party scene, with a wide range of bars, restaurants, and nightlife options. However, it’s not all about the party scene – Gili T also has beautiful beaches, excellent diving and snorkeling, and plenty of opportunities for stand-up paddleboarding.

    Gili Meno is the middle island and is known for its more laid-back vibe. It’s a great place to relax on the beach or go for a swim, and there are plenty of hidden snorkeling spots to discover. If you’re looking for a bit of solitude, Gili Meno is the perfect place to escape the crowds.

    Gili Air is the smallest and closest island to Lombok. It’s a great blend of Gili T’s vibrant atmosphere and Gili Meno’s laid-back vibe. You’ll find plenty of secluded beaches to relax on, as well as some excellent diving and snorkeling spots. There’s also a growing number of restaurants and bars on the island, making it a great place to enjoy a drink or a meal while watching the sunset.

    No matter which island you choose, you’ll find plenty of hidden gems to discover on the Gili Islands. So start exploring and see what you can find!

    The Gilis Islands from above
    Aerial view of Gili Air (front), Gili Meno (middle) and Gili Trawangan (back)

    Where to stay on the Gili Islands

    When it comes to accommodation on the Gili Islands, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. If you’re looking for a bit of luxury, there are several beachfront resorts that offer everything from bungalows to villas. For a more eco-friendly option, there are also a number of villas and guesthouses that use solar power and other sustainable practices.

    For budget travelers, there are plenty of homestays and local warungs (small, family-run restaurants) to choose from. These options offer a more authentic experience and allow you to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.

    When it comes to dining on the Gili Islands, you’ll find a range of options to suit every taste and budget. There are several top-rated restaurants and cafes on the islands, offering everything from local specialties to international cuisine. For seafood lovers, be sure to try the grilled fish, which is a local favorite. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, try the local fruit, such as mangoes and papayas.

    No matter what type of accommodation or dining experience you’re looking for, you’ll find it on the Gili Islands. So start planning your trip and get ready to enjoy all that these beautiful islands have to offer!

    Seri Resort Gili Meno

    Top Things to Do On The Gili Islands

    The Gili Islands offer a variety of activities for travelers to enjoy, including scuba diving, snorkeling, freediving, yoga, and paddle boarding. Scuba diving is especially popular on the Gili Islands, with many dive sites teeming with colorful marine life. Snorkeling is also a great way to explore the underwater world, with many shallow reefs and shipwrecks to discover. Freediving is another popular activity on the islands, with clear waters and abundant marine life providing the perfect conditions for this sport. Yoga and paddle boarding are also popular activities on the Gili Islands, with beautiful sunset views and peaceful surroundings making for the perfect setting to practice these activities. No matter what activity you choose, the Gili Islands offer something for everyone to enjoy.

    Snorkeling the Gili Islands

    Snorkeling on the Gili Islands is a must-do activity for any traveler visiting this beautiful part of Indonesia. The clear, warm waters of the Gili Islands are home to a wide variety of marine life, including colorful coral reefs and a variety of fish species. Some of the different types of coral that you might encounter while snorkeling in the Gili Islands include staghorn coral, table coral, and brain coral. You may also have the opportunity to see a variety of fish species, such as parrotfish, angel fish, and clownfish, as well as turtles swimming through the waters. The average water temperature in the Gili Islands is around 26-29 degrees Celsius, making it comfortable for snorkeling all year round. While some snorkeling spots can be accessed directly from the beach, other more remote areas may require a boat trip to reach. Whether you choose to snorkel directly off the beach or take a boat trip to a more secluded spot, the Gili Islands offer a variety of snorkeling experiences for all levels of ability.

    Clown Fish Gili Islands

    Learning to SCUBA dive on The Gilis

    The Gili Islands are one of the top destinations in SE Asia for diving, with crystal clear waters, diverse coral, and an abundance of marine life. There are many dive sites to explore, including Shark Point, Turtle Heaven, and The Japanese Wreck. These sites offer the opportunity to see a variety of marine life, such as sharks, turtles, and colorful fish. There are many dive companies on the Gili Islands that offer diving lessons, PADI courses, and guided dives. These companies have international instructors who will teach you everything you need to know to become a certified diver. Some of the leading dive companies on the Gili Islands include Blue Marlin Dive, Divine Divers, and Aqua Dive. No matter which dive company you choose, you’re sure to have a memorable and safe diving experience on the Gili Islands! We will be publishing an in-depth article about diving on the Gilis in the coming weeks, so please be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

    Learning to Freedive on The Gilis

    Freediving is a sport that involves diving underwater without the use of scuba gear, using only the air in your lungs. It is a popular activity on the Gili Islands due to the clear waters and abundant marine life. Freediving is a great way to explore the underwater world and experience the freedom of being weightless. If you’re interested in learning to freedive on the Gili Islands, there are many reputable schools that offer courses. One such school is Freedive Gili, which is run by British freedive champion, Mike Board. Mike and his team of experienced instructors offer a range of freediving courses, from beginner to advanced, as well as guided freediving trips to some of the best dive sites on the Gili Islands. Whether you’re a seasoned freediver or a beginner looking to try something new, the Gili Islands are the perfect place to learn and practice this exciting sport.

    Freedive Gili
    How long can you hold your breath?

    Where to practice Yoga on The Gili Islands

    Yoga is a great activity to practice while on holiday, as it allows you to relax and de-stress while also improving your physical strength and flexibility. It can be a great way to start or end your day, and can be easily incorporated into your vacation routine. The Gili Islands, located off the coast of Indonesia, are known for their beautiful beaches and tranquil atmosphere, making them the perfect place to practice yoga. There are a variety of yoga studios and classes available on the islands, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. Some popular spots to practice yoga on the Gili Islands include Gili Yoga, Om Ham retreat, and Gili Yoga Shala. In addition to taking classes at a studio, many hotels and resorts on the islands also offer yoga classes or have dedicated yoga areas for guests. Whether you are an experienced yogi or new to the practice, the Gili Islands are a great destination to embrace the benefits of yoga while on vacation.

    Yoga Gili Islands
    Why not have a healthy holiday by incorporating a daily yoga practice into your itinerary?

    Evening entertainment on The Gili Islands

    The Gili Islands are known for their vibrant nightlife scene, offering a variety of options for evening entertainment. If you’re looking to party, the Gili Islands have a number of bars and clubs that are popular with tourists and locals alike. On Gili Trawangan, the largest of the three islands, you’ll find a wide range of cocktail bars and clubs, including Sama Sama (live music venue famous for Reggae music), Tir Na Nog (boisterous Irish bar), and Ombak Bar. In addition to the party scene, the Gili Islands also offer more laid-back options for evening entertainment. Open air cinemas and live music performances can be found on all three islands, providing a unique way to enjoy a movie or some tunes under the stars.

    For those looking to relax and take in the beautiful sunsets, the Gili Islands offer plenty of peaceful spots to watch the sun go down. The beaches on all three islands are popular places to watch the sunset, and many hotels and restaurants have sunset viewing areas with comfortable seating and refreshing drinks. Some popular sunset spots on the Gili Islands include the lighthouse on Gili T, Ana Warung Restaurant on Gili Meno (great views of Mt Rinjani), and Mowies on Gili Air. 

    Overall, the Gili Islands have something for everyone at nighttime, whether you’re looking to party the night away or relax and take in the beauty of the islands. No matter which island you’re on, you’ll find a variety of bars, clubs, and other entertainment options to choose from.

    Can I get western food in the Gili Islands?

    Yes, it is possible to find western food on the Gili Islands. While the local cuisine of the Gili Islands is predominantly Indonesian, there are a number of restaurants and cafes that offer western-style dishes. Many of these restaurants also offer vegan and vegetarian options, so you can still enjoy your favorite foods while on vacation. Some popular restaurants on the Gili Islands that offer western-style dishes include The Beach Club, Gilli Café, and Ombak Sunset. In addition to restaurants, there are also a number of bars on the Gili Islands that serve pizzas and burgers, such as Adeng-Adeng on Gili Meno (their pizzas and burgers are awesome!). Overall, while the Gili Islands are known for their local Indonesian cuisine, there are plenty of options available for travelers looking for western-style food.

    Best Pizza Gili Islands
    Adeng-Adeng restaurant, Gili Meno - great option for Pizza & Burgers (& cold beer!)

    Closing thoughts on visiting the Gili Islands in 2023

    In conclusion, the Gili Islands offer a unique charm and an abundance of hidden gems that make them a must-visit destination. From the crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches, to the colorful marine life and lively nightlife, there is something for everyone on these beautiful islands. So if you’re in search of a tropical paradise to escape to, look no further than the Gili Islands. Don’t just take our word for it, experience the magic of the Gili Islands for yourself and book a trip today. And for more travel inspiration, be sure to follow our blog for more exciting destination ideas.



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