ABOUT THE GILI ISLANDS
GILI AIR > GILI MENO > GILI TRAWANGAN
Gili Trawangan, Gili Air & Gili Meno make up the renowned paradise island trio situated off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. In the Sasak language, “gili” means small island, perfectly explaining these little tropical gems.
Gili Trawangan – A Bustling Paradise
Gili Trawangan is certainly the largest and most frequently visited island of the three Gili’s. It is an energetic hub offering plenty of activities and a great nightlife. Some have referred to Gili Trawangan as the new Ibiza, on a much smaller scale of course. All of the bars and restaurants can be found on the side of the main beach area although the island also has a few tranquil hide aways if you want to break away from the hustle and bustle.
The main beach is where you find the majority of activity, but for those after a more tranquil experience the north of the island offers a more relaxed, resort style atmosphere with breathtaking sunsets.
Gili T offers something for everyone.
Gili Meno – a tranquil paradise
Gili Meno is the smallest, calmest and least frequently visited of the three Gili’s. If you are looking for a truly relaxing holiday this should be your destination of choice. Even though you can still engage in a variety of activities such as snorkelling and scuba diving, you can expect to fall asleep to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore.
Gili Air – a honeymooners paradise
Gili Air is the perfect mix between Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. With a large local presence, it offers slightly more activities, restaurants and bars than Gili Meno but is not quite as busy as the popular Gili Trawangan. Gili Air is a great choice for honeymooners and couples looking to break away.
The Gili Islands are a perfect holiday destination with something for everyone. We’ve put together a few of the basic’s every traveller needs to know about these paradise islands.
Getting to the Gili’s
There are a number of fast boat companies operating out of Bali which take you directly to Gili Trawangan, where you can then take an island hopping boat across to Gil Air or Meno. During high season some boat companies such as Gili Getaway will stop at the other islands, but not all year round. You can also take the local boat or hire a private speedboat from Bangsal Harbour in Lombok to get over.
If you are staying on Air or Meno, try and take the first boat from Bali to Gili Trawangan if you want to make the island hopping boat on the same day.
The island hopping boat is the cheapest and easiest way to get between the three Gili islands. The boat leaves daily from Gil Trawangan at 9.30am, stopping at Meno and Air. The current schedule is below.
Bahasa Indonesia is the national language uniting all of Indonesia, although Gili locals speak Sasak Gili Air which is slightly different. Rich in culture and history, these 3 islands boast beautiful views of Mount Rinjani on Lombok to the one side and Mount Agung on Bali on the other side.
The proximity of the Gili’s to the equator also allows for a tropical climate throughout the year with an average temperature of 28 degrees and water temperatures ranging between 26 and 29 degrees. The rainy season is from November to April and therefore May to October are known as the dry season.
The best time to travel to the Gili’s in during dry season, where temperatures are mild.
Each island has a clinc to deal with minor injuries and illnesses. Gili Trawangan has the most, incuding a 24 hour clinic outside Villa Ombok on the south of the main strip.
For any serious medical treatment, you would need to get to Bali or Lombok where the nearest hospitals are.
Gili Trawangan does have a helipad if urgent medical transfer to the mainland is needed.
Power cuts are a regular occurrence on the Gili Islands. It’s worth keeping in mind that they are small islands, making power cuts a regular occurrence. Most places will have back up generators, however it is a small island, so its recommended to exercise some patience.
Waste & Sewage
The islands septic systems are delicate and as such, DO NOT flush toilet paper down the toilets. Bins are provided to ditch any paper, or better yet, use the bum guns. You don’t want to be responsible for killing turtles. For anyone not familiar with how it works we suggest reading this
Roads & Transport
The majority of the roads around the islands are dirt. However a growing amount of heavily used roads are being concreted on Gili T. There are also a number of pot holes to look out for.
There are no motorised vehicles on any of the Gili islands. Which we believe adds to the charm. The most common way to travel is to walk or cycle. You can hire a bike from a number of places along the main strip and around. Some accommodation will have bikes for hire or even included in the price.
On average, bike hire ranges between 40k – 50k for a 24 hour period.
Cidomo’s (horse and cart) are also available as well, however it would be recommended to use these for luggage transport to and from your accommodation only. These islands really are tiny, and the ability to cycle or walk everywhere is one of the beauties of the islands.
As perhaps expected, internet on the Gili’s is not amazing by any means. The majority of restaurants, bars and accommodation will have free wifi, but dont expect high speed, consistent connections. The best way to deal with internet here is to keep your expectations low, or better yet, disconnect and take advantage of being on a beautiful tropical island.
There is an internet cafe on Gili T called flash. This is right near the harbour and has decent internet.
For those wanting a local sim card, you can get data only sim’s from a number of local shops. XL or Telkomcel are the 2 providers here, both are generally equal in quality.
There are a number of currency exchange places on the Gili’s, majority being on Gili T. The majority of the ATM’s on Gili T are on the main street, with a few around on sunset side near Aston Resort.
The ATM’s generally give out denominations of 100K notes, and have a maximum withdrawal of around 2 Million IDR.
Gili Air has approximately 4 ATM’s which are all nearby the harbour, Meno has one.
Majority of restaurants and bars are cash only, with exception of resorts. Dive shops all take card.
As the Gili Islands take after their larger neighbour, Lombok, they are primarily Muslim. There are two mosques on Gili Trawangan that sound a call to prayer at various times of the day, this being said it is important to respect the local culture and abide by certain rules.
Topless sun-bathing is strictly prohibited and will be treated as a serious offence so just do not do it! Saying this, it is also not a good idea to walk around the island in your bikini in the evenings or at any time of day in the village areas of the island. This can offend the local community and can be easily avoided.
The island is generally quite safe but you should also be wary of going home alone at night, mainly after a few too many drinks. This is the same worldwide but we thought we should mention it to remind you to be careful in paradise too.
It might surprise you but there are actually more ways than one to get to the Gili islands. They include public ferries, private sailing charters and even private air charters. The most popular method is of course via fast boat. Because fast boat is the most widely used, we have given a breakdown below of how to get to the three Gili islands from either Bali or Lombok via fast boat.
Bali to the Gili Islands
There are fast boasts operating daily form two harbours or ports in Bali to the three Gili islands. Padang Bai is the bigger and more popular harbour. There are a number of fast boats stopping at all three Gili islands operating from Padang Bai. They leave between 9 am and 9:30 am and you can also catch an afternoon boat leaving between 12 pm and 12:30 pm. Amed port is the second, not so busy harbour. There are very few fast boats operating from this port and they leave daily at 9am and 4pm also stopping at all three Gili islands.
If you are flying into Bali and plan on going to one of the Gili islands straight away, it is best to stay in a hotel in Bali for one night, so you can catch the first 9 am fast boat in the morning. Most people stay in hotels in Kuta or in that area where your fast boat company that you’ve booked will come pick you up at your hotel in a shuttle and take you to Padang Bai.
We at The Gili Guide know what a headache it can be to try and arrange all of this on top of all your other travel plans when all you actually want to do is relax and have everything taken care of. That is why we have put together some different package options to take the hassle out of getting to the Gili’s. Click here to view our Bali to Gili package options.
Lombok to the Gili Islands
Like Bali, Lombok also has two harbours or ports. There is a fast boat company operating from Senggigi to Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. They leave daily.
Should you want to travel to Gili Meno, or if the fast boat operating times from Senggigi don’t accommodate your schedule, then you can catch a local transport boat from Bangsal Harbour that operate all through the day at various times. When travelling from Bangsal Harbour, you can purchase your tickets directly from the Bangsal ticket office.
1. What’s on tonight on Gili T?
It’s party night every night on Gili T. There is a party on each night, with one main bar being allowed to stay open until late (3am), the other bars must close by 1am. Each night there are a few bars that are generally referred to as the pre-gamers, these include but are not limited to Lava Bar and Jungle. Have a look on our weekly events planner to plan your week out!
2. Where’s a good place to eat?
This depends on what kind of food you fancy. Here on Gili T we have a great variety of cooking styles and ethnicities available. There’s local Indonesien food that you can try from the street warung’s or night market (also available in some restaurants), there is also Italian, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, BBQ, and the list goes on. We would recommend having a walk along the main street as well as the street parallel to the main street just one block from the beach front. You can check out the bar’s and restaurant section of our site to see what’s on offer.
3. What good activities are there?
There is so much to do on the Gili’s, with the islands’ main attraction being diving. Even if you are not a diver, I would definitely recommend giving diving here a try as it is a great place to learn and awesome to rack up a few fun dives too.
If diving is not your thing, the snorkelling around the islands offer great marine life and even some turtles! There are also other fun activities available such as para-sailing, Gili golf, horse riding along the beach for the sunset, cooking classes, paddle boarding and lots more. Have a look in our activities section for more information on each.
4. What are the best dive sites around the Gili’s?
We are really spoilt with great dive sites around the Gili’s, with sites to suit every comfort level. Whether you are a beginner, an open water diver or an open water instructor, there is plenty to keep you busy and excited underwater here.
Turtle Heaven is a very popular site, so named as we would be surprised if you did not see at least a few turtles per dive – with as many as 15 in one dive!
There are also some great deep dive sites suitable for advanced and higher level divers. These include Shark Point, Deep Turbo and Simon’s Reef. Most dive centres around the Gili’s will cover most of the dives sites, mixing it up from day to day so divers are not going to the same sites, but you can always request a specific site and they will usually try and accommodate you.
5. Can I rent a bicycle? How do I do it?
You can certainly rent a bike on the island and I would actually recommend that you do as it is a great way to get around and explore, especially since one of the many charms of the island is that there are no cars, scooters or motorbikes around.
Many hotels provide a bike rental service so check with your accommodation first, if not then there are many local rental places along the main street and a few roads back too.
The bikes are rented out on a 24hr basis and usually costs between IDR 30,000-50,000 for the 24hr period, this may vary when renting directly from hotels or resorts.
6. How do I get to the Gilis?
If you are wanting to visit these beautiful islands, please look under our Getting to the Gili’s section.
7. Where’s a good place to stay?
Gili has accommodation types for whatever kind of getaway you like! Family resorts on the quitter side of the island, private bungalows for honeymooners, villas for those wanting to be close to the nightlife, or homestay dive accommodation for those focusing on the incredible diving on the islands. Take a look at our Accommodation pages and find the perfect place for you!
8. How safe is it to be walking late by yourself?
The Gilis are quite safe islands and walking by yourself should never be a problem. However if you are worried about it we suggest..
- If someone is giving you unwanted attention, just keep your head down and do not engage in conversation.
- If you don’t want to walk by yourself just follow behind a larger group.
- The streets are never really empty at anytime of day or night so if you’re in need of help someone will always be close by.
- You could try keeping in touch with others you have met from the same hostel or homestay as you and asking them to walk with you home.
9. Is there any night life that doesn’t include drinking?
Nightlife is one of the main attractions if you are staying in the Gili’s so there isn’t much else happening at night that doesn’t involve the bars. If you really wanted to stay away from that scene you could possibly..
- Go for a night dive if you’re a fan of diving
- Finding a nice quiet place on the beach to watch the stars is always a relaxing way to spend your night
- Villas around the islands have outdoor cinemas with older movies playing at night
- Some restaurants around the island have live bands or fire dancing to entertain you while you enjoy a meal.
- There are also a few Shisha bars that are open late for your enjoyment
- You could always spend your night at the beauty spa and indulge yourself!
10. Can you drink the water or does it have to be bottled water?
Buying all of your water is the way to go, its always cold and safe to drink!
11. How safe is the party life and drinking?
There is always danger of something going wrong while you’re out so keep these few things in the back of your mind and you’ll be fine!
- Always keep an eye on your drink and don’t leave it unattended.
- If you don’t know them, and you didn’t watch the drink bring made, its safer to say no.
- We can’t tell you what to do, but as you will be offered different drugs a lot and it may be tempting, I mean you’re on holiday! But we recommend you once again say no, its better safe than sorry.
- Everyone’s out to have a good time just like you, so respect the others around you and life it up on Gili!
12. Are there any doctors on the Island?
If something does happen to go wrong on your trip there are 24hour clinics on Gili T and Gili Air. Here are the contact details:
- Trawangan Clinic Centre – +6281917451861
- D’Gillan Clinic – +6287865674141
- Hotel Villa Ombac – +623706142336
- Gili Air Medika (GAM) – +6281907173113
13. What laws are there to be conscious about?
Just the same as anywhere else in the world all of the usual no no’s still apply, no drugs, no stealing, no violence etc. Here’s a few of the main ones to be aware of.
- There are no police. This doesn’t mean there are no rules.
- If you steal, you will get to do a walk of shame around the island. Island law.
- There is island security for any problems, they are found all along the main street
- Police come over from Lombok every now and then so don’t take the risk, you never know when they’re coming.
- If you think to your self “I couldn’t get away with this at home” it most likely means you still can’t get away with it here. Common sense!
14. If someone is not interested in diving, what activities are there?
Although diving is one of the main attractions of the islands, there’s so much more that the islands have to offer.
- Fly High Gili offers parasailing, paddle boarding, or a sunrise snorkel to wake up the turtles!
- If you’re not a big water bug and prefer your feet on the ground, there are a few outdoor cinemas around the island at different villas or GiliFit has an a/c indoor movie room with over 1000 movies to relax in.
- Some of the outdoor activities are mini golf, basketball on the rooftop court and horse trekking.
- Biking around and seeing all of the island is always a relaxing way to spend your time.
- On Gili Trawangan there are also cooking workshops available to sharpen up your skills at Indonesian cuisine!
15. What is the difference between the 3 islands?
Although all 3 islands are equally beautiful, they each have their own perks! Heres a quick low down on all 3 islands..
- Gili Trawangan is the most popular of the 3 islands with the most visitors. Well known for the crazy nightlife and range of different dive centres and activities.
- Gili Meno is the quieter of the 3 islands so this is the place if you are wanting a truly quiet relaxing holiday.
- Gili Air is a mix between Gili Trawangan and Meno. More populated than Meno but still not quite as popular as Gili T
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