The beautiful Gili Islands are a must-see on any visit to Bali, and fortunately, they’re an easy add-on to any length Bali trip.
Days on the Gili islands can be spent soaking up the rays, snorkelling, and cycling. With no traffic and no large hotels, it’s an easy-going slice of paradise. This guide aims to detail everything you might need to know about a visit to these islands, but feel free to ask any further questions below! 🙂
Location and How to Get There
The Gili islands are made up of three island: The largest is Gili Trawangan, and two smaller less inhabitated islands, Gili Air and Gili Meno. They are located off the coast of Lombok, but are just as easily accessible from Bali.
The fast boat to the Gili Islands goes from a few ports on the Eastern side of Bali, including Padang Bai, Sanur, Benoa and Amed.
There are two options – the more expensive speedboat or the cheaper public ferry – I would definitely recommend the first. The speedboat takes about 2.5 hours and is a perfect time to top up the tan!
Tickets can cost about IDR 250,000 (£13) for a return journey. Most tickets include pick-up and drop off in Bali too.
The Three Islands
Gili Trawangan (or commonly known as Gili T) is definitely the most lively, with many bars and fun nightlife to get stuck into. It’s easily the most popular with backpackers.
Gili Air and Gili Meno are the calmer and more quieter of the three islands, with a more honeymoon/romantic feel about them.
None of the islands have cars or really even roads, more like dirt tracks circling the perimeter of each island.
Although they are firmly on most backpackers’ itineraries to Bali, they have actually managed to hold on to their natural charm. They also really lack any huge developments or giant hotels, so it looks promising that it might stay this way too!
Top Things to See and Do
1. Beach time
Nothing beats a day or two of kicking back on the beaches here and looking out onto the azure waters.
2. Snorkel or Scuba dive
A lot of people come to the Gili Islands to gain their PADI diving qualification, but if you fancy a day of snorkelling and spotting turtles, almost every travel agency you see will be able to organise this for you.
3. Explore the islands by bike
The perfect way to explore and who knows, you might find your own secluded paradise beach!
4. Enjoy local bars and nightlife
As I mentioned, Gili T is definitely the most lively of the islands and you’ll have no problem finding where the party’s at (you’ll hear it..).
5. Catch a sunset
You can’t beat an Indonesian sunset and the islands know they offer something a little bit special. At different beaches dotted around you’ll find swings and hammocks, all vying for your photo taking attention!
All three islands offer small local eateries, but undoubtdly the best food and experience can be found in the popular local night markets. Starting up around 6pm, you can really feast like Kings for less than £2.
Where to Stay
There’s quite a lot of accommodation options across the three islands, many of which you can just rock up to as they don’t take prior reservations.
We stayed at the Aaliku Bungalows, which were an excellent choice and fairly typical of the villa accommodation on Gili Trawangan.
Other useful information
All three islands have ATMs but it’s wise to bring cash over with you from Bali, just in case they run out.
There are no cars, and it’s very enjoyable to get around by bike or walking. Gili T, the largest of the three, is no less than a 3 mile walk around the island. Just to give you an idea how small they are..
You will however see horse-pulled carts. I personally wouldn’t use these but each person can make their own decision on this. It is the only form of ‘public transport’ on the island.
Ultimate Gili Islands Bali Guide
So here’s my guide on the beautiful Gili Islands, a great place to chill and relax for a few days in your Bali/Lombok itinerary.
I hope this post has been useful for anyone visiting Bali and the Gili Islands!
Feel free to ask any further questions regarding the Gili Islands in the comments section below. If you’re looking for further guides in Bali, please check out my other blog posts here and check out my review of Kalapa Resort & Spa in Bali here.
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