Whenever someone tells me they're going to Bali, I always tell them to go to the Gili islands so I thought to myself, why don't I just write a Gili Island travel guide? So here goes!
The Gili islands - Gili Trawangam, Gili Meno and Gili Air are three beautiful islands situated just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia. What makes these islands different from their famous cousin Bali is that their beaches are breathtakingly beautiful with white sand and clear turquoise waters with stunning views of majestic Mt. Rinjani and Mt. Agung in the far distance. Gili Trawangan is the party island where you can find lots of beach bars and night life. It's the biggest and most crowded island of all three. Gili Meno is loved for its gorgeous untouched beaches and pure island life and is very popular among honeymooners. Gili Air strikes the perfect balance between the two and offers both entertainment and relaxation.
How to get there
There are numerous locations in Bali where you can take fast boats to these islands, many of which include a transfer to the port from your hotel which take around 2 hours. I took a flight to from Bali to Lombok and then it was a two hour drive from the Lombok airport to a harbor followed by a twenty minute speed boat ride to reach Gili T.
When to visit
The Gili Islands have a temperate climate so the weather is nice all throughout the year. The high season is from June to August and this is when most people visit the islands. The climate is really nice at this time too, it's cool and pleasant. During the month of the Ramadan celebrations, bars turn down the music around midnight, so if you're in the mood to party, avoid going around this time of the year.
There are a lot of cheap hotels and guesthouses on the island as well as expensive fancy villas and resorts so there's something for every budget.
All three islands have no motorized transport so be prepared to walk. If you're lazy you can travel by horse car. You can rent bicycles too. Someone I befriended on the island owns an electric bike (I don't know if you can rent one because I didn't see any others) and that was great fun to ride!
What to do -
Swim, snorkel and dive - The Gilis are famous for scuba diving. The water here is clear and blue and absolutely perfect for these. There are dive shops everywhere. You can snorkel along any of the main stretches of beach and are bound to have a great experience.
Nature - If you love nature, make sure you visit Gili Meno for its famous salt lake and Turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno. Turtle eggs are collected and incubated at Bolong’s Turtle Sanctuary. The baby turtles re nurtured here until they're around eight months old, and then released. Try to attend one of the regular releases as it's a joy to witness.
Shop - There are lots of shops on the islands with Gili T being the most commercialized. You'll find a lot of fun clothing and swimwear along with mainstream beach brands.
Yoga - I've just been doing yoga for a month and half but I really love it and if you practice yoga, then are a lot of yoga centres and retreats on the islands. Imagine doing yoga on the beach during sunrise and sunset! Bliss!
Party - Gili T has lots of parties everyday. with bars side by side next to each other. Gili Air has a few dedicated days for parties where there's only one happening on the whole island. Meno is the quiet one so I'm not sure if parties really happen there. There's a boat party that happens too! Its supposed to be fun but I was so partied out for that entire trip that I skipped it.