Gili Islands are perfect runaway from busy streets of Bali. Situated just off Bali, you can enjoy diving with turtles, peaceful sandy beaches, rich options of sports activities and nightlife. The largest and most visited island is Gili Trawangan, which is only 3 km long and 2 km wide. You can walk around the whole island in just one hour and a half. The calmness on the island is proved by the fact that there are no cars or scooters. The locals use bicycles for getting around the island and only a handful of them have an electric scooter.
How to get to Gili Trawangan?
The best option is a fast boat from Bali. There are several places where you can hop on a boat. We started in Amed, but you can also go from Padang Bai and from the south of Bali. As part of your ticket, you usually have a pickup transfer from your accommodation near the port. The journey from Amed takes approximately 1.5 hours, depending on the weather and how quiet the sea is. Price depends on the place of collection. From Amed we paid 350,000 IDR ($26) with FreeBird Express company. On a way back we took Putri Island boat for 300,000 IDR ($22). Use the Gili Bookings website to find and purchase tickets. Riding on a boat was very fun experience on its own.
What to do on Gili Trawangan?
Snorkeling is the number one activity on Gili that you can’t miss. Diving with turtles, that are from 30 cm to almost a meter big is an unforgettable experience. The best spot for diving is the east side a few minutes’ walk from the port to the north. There are Turtle Point signs on beaches so you’ll know where to go. If you see a group of colorful snorkels in the sea, the turtle is probably there. The beach slopes very slowly into the sea to the cliff and from there, it goes steeply into the depths. It is at this cliff where the turtles most often stay, but it is no exception that they go to shallow waters only half a meter deep. If you notice a turtle at a few meters depth, wait, it’ll float to the surface in a while for sure. Watching, or taking a picture or video of a turtle is great, but don’t disturb them and don’t touch them.
If you don’t have your equipment around the beach, there are many stalls, where you can cheaply rent it. You can also buy a half-day guided boat snorkeling trip for a few hundred thousand IDR. The boat stops at the most interesting places around all 3 Gili Islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air, including the popular Bask Nest Underwater Statues.
Take into account, that especially the sculptures spot will be very crowded. However, you can pay extra for a private tour and set off before most of the group tours. The trip then continues diving at corals and other turtle spots at other islands. On the smallest of the islands Gili Air the boat stops for lunch. You can have it either at the port with a significant surcharge, or take a few steps deeper into the island for more price friendly meal.
If you like to go out in the evenings and party, Gili T is definitely the right place. The entire eastern part of the island is full of various clubs and live music. On the other side of the island there are also bars with DJ. If you rather prefer a romantic dinner, there are many beautiful restaurants right on the beach. All along, being on Gili felt like to be in Asian Jamaica. We had some cocktails in popular Sama Sama reggae bar, where played lovely local reggae band.
Who wouldn’t want to take photos from such a beautiful place as a nice memory? There are many places, but the most beautiful are on the northwest side of the island. There are beautiful sunsets, and there are plenty of frames, swings and similar props in the water that will help you to get the best photos.
In the northwest of the island, you can enjoy a sunset horseback riding on the beach and in the sea. Isn’t that a beautiful idea? Admire the view from the saddle of a horse walking in the shallow calm water and watch the sunset above the horizon with the Balinese highest volcano Agung.
Bicycle is the most common way of transport on the island. For little money, you can borrow it at every corner and drive around the island along the beaches.
There are a lot of diving schools on Gili Islands. You can learn here the basics of diving. You start out in the pool first to learn how to work with the equipment and then start your first sea dive. If you are already an experienced diver, you can rent all the equipment and of course the local guide.
If you like to work out on your holiday, then Gili has several options. There is a well-equipped Total Body Fit fitness gym near the harbor. Individual admission is 70K ($5). If you stay longer, you can buy 4 entries for 200K IDR ($15). You can also work out right on the beach, there is nice little outdoor workout park with bars, parallel bars and bench press. There are also many places to take a yoga lesson.
Unfortunately, we haven’t tried surfing here as we didn’t have enough time. But it is one of the island’s favorite activities.
You read correctly, there is also an open-air cinema on the island. Every day a movie is shown and you just buy a drink and sit down in the beach bag.
Where to stay on Gili?
Accommodation is really cheap and varied, on Booking.com you will find plenty of options. We can recommend a little unconventional accommodation in elevated bungalows Gili Kampoeng for ($10) per night incl. breakfast and bungalows for ($20) per night Coconut Dream Bungalow with pool and super breakfast served on the terrace of your bungalow. Both accommodation was in the busier eastern part of the island by the harbor. We had everything within reach.
Where to have a great meal?
There are many restaurants on the island and prices are only slightly higher than in Bali. The Gili Night Market is a great place to dine and taste local cuisine, fresh fish, seafood, fruit juices and great local desserts. It is a short walk from the harbor and there are many stalls where you can choose what you want and they’ll prepare the food for you immediately. Great place to eat was also the restaurant WR BB Kontemporer with very nice owner who serves Balinese cuisine and popular Nasi Goreng as well.
Do I need to rent a scooter?
There are no petrol scooters on the island. Local regulations prohibit any petrol engines. The main way of getting around are bicycles and walking. You can also try a ride in a cidomo carriage pulled by a small horse.
Unlike Bali, where Balinese Hinduism is the main religion, Islam prevails on the Gili Islands. There is a large mosque in the middle of the island that regularly calls for prayer. Wherever you live on the island, you probably cannot avoid a regular wake-up call at 4:30 am, when there is one of total 4 times for prayer.
Weather in Gili
Map of spots on Gili Trawangan
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