I am by no means an expert on the Gili Islands. We planned to visit all of them, but our schedule changed and we only visited Gili Trawangan for 2 days. There are 3 islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air just off the northwestern coast of Lombok. Most locals live on Gili Trawanan (Gili T for short). Motorized traffic is prohibited by local ordinance, which means transportation consists of bikes, walking, and horse drawn carriage. The islands are a popular destination for scuba divers and dive companies are plentiful. Something I found interesting to learn AFTER my trip, was the Japanese used the Gili islands as a lookout post and POW camp during WW2. Permanent settling of the islands didn’t begin until the 1970’s due to a lack of fresh water. In the 1980’s backpackers begin discovering the islands after visiting Bali with rising tourism there. Here are the essentials of what to do in Gili T.
Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali or Lombok requires a ferry or boat transfer. There are lots of different companies who provide the transfer, and some routes or lengths vary. We used a company called Gili Getaway Fast Boat which offered direct service to Gili T. The ride took about 2 hours in a comfortable, clean boat where water and seasickness tablets were provided if needed. The price was rather high at around $200 total for two people roundtrip. However that included transfer to the ferry dock from our hotel and transfer back upon return. Plus the company follows an international safety standard and has many good reviews. Sometimes you pay for convenience and predictability.
The largest of the three, Gili T is a tiny island of only about 5.8 square miles. With just 800 residents, and no motorized vehicles allowed, you can see the entire island by bike or foot.
Hotels range greatly, with the most expensive ones being waterfront. Waterfront wasn’t necessarily important to us, since we could ride our bikes to the waterfront restaurants in minutes. We stayed at a lovely little villa called Kaleydo Villas just a short walk from the beach where the transfer boats stop. Breakfast was good, the rooms were lovely, the outdoor design was beautiful, they have bikes you can ride for free, and the people who work there were incredibly friendly and helpful.
Dining options are plentiful. Use Trip Advisor for reviews before choosing. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor. Nightlife transforms the little island into a bustling party scene. Day and night are distinctly different. But you can certainly retreat to the quiet of your villa if it’s not your thing.
Diving and snorkeling is incredibly popular in the Gili islands. You can find dive shops all over town. Probably a good idea to read reviews on Trip Advisor. Other activities are boat tours, horseback riding, water sports, spas, yoga, and cooking classes. Gili Islands are small and touristy, but worthy of a short stay.
To read my opinion on why you SHOULD and SHOULD’T visit Bali, read my post HERE.
To read all about Lombok, the island I was incredibly disappointed to miss, read HERE.
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