If you’re going to Bali anytime soon, you 100% need to tie in a trip to the Gili Islands. There are three to choose from: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Gili Trawangan is the busiest of the three, while Gili Meno and Gili Air are both a lot more chilled. Myself and my boyfriend visited Gili Trawangan while in Bali last August, and since winter is a popular time for Brits to flock to Indonesia and escape the weather, I thought now would be a good time to share all my top tips. Enjoy 🙂
How to get to the Gili Islands from Bali
There are a number of fast boats you can catch from mainland Bali to Gili Trawangan. We caught the most popular fast boat to Gili, the official ‘Gili Fast Boat’, costing 1,300,000 RP return (approx. £60), taking roughly 2.5 hours each way.
Tip: Make sure you book in advance- your hotel should be able to do it for you, but if not click here and you can do it online. Queues get so long that you risk missing your boat and having to wait for another if you don’t have a ticket ready.
Since the islands are all so small- you can walk around the whole of Gili Trawangan in around 20 mins- there aren’t that many hotels/resorts to choose from. As mentioned, Gili Trawangan is also the busiest of the three islands, and attracts a younger demographic. It’s because of this that luxury resorts are pretty thin on the ground, but we managed to find a Gili Trawangan hotel that I’d say was just as lavish as our Maldives resort. Yeh, really. Cue Pondok Santi Estate. Set across 8 hectares of land (its very own coconut plantation included), the resort plays host to 12 bungalows, a boutique restaurant and a huge pool. The cheapest palm view bungalows will cost between £180-£250 a night, but it’s SO worth it.
Tip: You’ll struggle to get wifi on the Gili Islands, but Pondok Santi provides strong signal for all its guests.
Things to do on the Gili Islands
Gili Trawangan is famous for snorkelling and home to its very own snorkel school. The ocean, meanwhile, is crystal clear and attracts every type of sealife you can think of- the Gili Islands are known for their turtle population.
The food on Gili Trawangan is all fresh, and all very, very cheap. We ate at our hotel the night we arrived, and spent the other at Scallwags seafood BBQ. You get to handpick which fish and exactly how much you want to be cooked from the freezer, then watch the chefs cook it right in front of you, before finishing it off with a trip to the all-you-can-eat salad bar. The whole meal will cost you the equivalent of £5-£10 depending on how much fish you eat.
And if you’re vegan, the Gili Islands were basically made for you. Head to Pituq café for a selection of sweet and savoury meals in the cutest, rustic ‘treehouse’ setting. So chill.
3. Hire a bike.
The Gili Islands are car-free zones, and the only option is to cycle or take a horse and cart. As mentioned, it doesn’t take long to get around the island, but if you get bored of being a beach bum, take a bike ride. Our hotel had their own to rent, but you can find bike stalls/shops every 5m or so on the island. Just make sure you return them once you’re done.
4. Book tickets to an open-air cinema.
Gili Trawangan plays host to a few outdoor film nights, and it’s literally like being in a film. You’ll see posters up around the island advertising which films are playing and when, and you’ll need to visit the stall/shop seen on the poster to buy the tickets. You won’t be assigned seats, but make sure you arrive early- at least 15 mins or so- if you don’t want to be stuck at the front. Neck ache ain’t the one.
Hope that helps! Comment below or send me an email if there’s anything else you’d like to know!