Gili Islands Guide

gili islands

In this post we share with you all the information you need to plan your visit to the Gili Islands, what to expect from the islands, and how to make the most of your stay.

1- Things to do in the Gili Islands

Here is our list of must-do things to do in the Gili Islands

  1. Scuba Diving
  2. Snorkeling
  3. Sunset
  4. Paddleboard
  5. Surfing
  6. Visit Gili Meno UW Statues
  7. Freediving
  8. Bike around the Islands
  9. Yoga Classes
  10. Live Music at Night

Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving in the Gilis is a must for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a total beginner or if you are a super experienced diver, you will surely enjoy Gili’s underwater life.

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  • gili islands fun diving
  • gili island sea turtle
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  • clown fish gili

Great visibility, sea turtles, reef sharks, octopuses, and even a shipwreck! These are some of the many things that will make your diving experience in the Gilis an unforgettable one.

Snorkeling

Snorkeling around the Gilis is something you can’t miss in your visit to the islands. A few meters from the shore you’ll find sea turtles and many different colorful fish. The visibility is always great so good snorkeling is assured. 

boat gili

Sunset

Sunset in Gili Trawangan. Every day is a great day to enjoy the sunset from sunset beach in Gili Trawangan. This quiet beach is the perfect place to enjoy stunning views of Bali volcano while the sun hides and the sky turns totally psychedelic with an infinity of colors.

sunset gili trawangan

Paddleboard

Rent a paddleboard on the beach and enjoy the views from the sea. Paddle boarding is a typical activity in the Gilis, that you will want to try at least once. The flat sea and the stunning views makes paddleboard a perfect plan for a sunny afternoon. You can even enjoy sunset from your board and have a totally unique experience.

Surfing

While surfing is not the main activity in the Gilis and conditions are not everyday good for it, locals and tourists can enjoy some very nice waves when the wind hits in the right direction.

There are surfing spots in the three of the Gilis, and you can even find some surf schools in Gili Trawangan where you can learn if you are a beginner. However, surfing in the Gilis is mostly recommended for experienced surfers, and may not be the best place to try it for the first time.

If you are planning to surf here, be aware of low tides, avoid crushing corals and pay attention to the currents (currents can be very strong sometimes).

surf in gili
Photo by Renan Brun on Unsplash

We highly recommend making friends with some local surfers, they know the place better than no one and will help you to avoid dangerous spots. 2And of course, you’ll enjoy a richer experience while sharing with the locals than doing it on your own.

Visit Gili Meno UW Statues

Not far from Gili Meno shore, there’s a beautiful spot for snorkeling called the “Nest”. This underwater art piece is made by the sculptor Jason DeCaires Taylor, has a total of 48 life-size human sculptures, formed in a circle. Many fish will join your visit around the statues, as the coral started to grow and is forming a beautiful artificial reef.

How to get there? If you are staying in Gili Air or Gili Trawangan, you can get there by a very short (10 or 15 min) boat ride. If you are in GIli Meno, it will take a 5 min swim from the shore.

Don’t forget your snorkeling gear and your go pro or uw camera!

Freediving

The crystal clear waters of the Gilis, added to the great depth of its sea, make the Gilis a very good place to learn or practice freediving. If you are a beginner, make sure to take the proper courses and get a freediving certification. You will learn the basic techniques and the safety procedures to make your freediving experience safe and fun.

If you are already a certified freediver, your visit to the GIlis is a great opportunity to master your skills and reach new depths, and of course, learn from the great freedivers you will meet on the Islands.

If you want to know more about freediving in the GIlis, send us a message. We’ll help you to find the best course or freediving trip for you.

Bike around the Islands

Did you know that there are no cars or motorbikes in the Gilis? The best way to move around the islands is by bike. Renting a bike usually costs around 50.000 IDR per day (approximately 3 euros) and you will enjoy riding around the very quiet streets of the Islands. 

Yoga Classes

The very relaxed atmosphere of the islands invites us to connect with ourselves and a good way to do this is by taking some yoga classes. The most popular of the Gilis for Yoga activities is Gili Air. You will find a variety of offers and styles, with some hotels offering yoga retreats. 

Some of the most popular places for taking yoga classes are:

  • H20 Yoga and Meditation Center Gili Air
  • Mao Meno on Gili Meno
  • The Yoga Place on Gili Trawangan

Live Music at Night

A very characteristic thing of the Gili Islands atmosphere is that you can find live music in every corner of the islands. Plenty of restaurants and bars offer live shows to their customers, so if you like to enjoy live music you will have a good time in the GIlis. 

2- Gili Islands Beaches

gili island beach
Gili Trawangan

Sunset Beach: Sunset Beach is located on the northwest side of the Island. It’s a long beach perfect for relaxing and enjoying the sunset view, but not the best spot to swim or chill on the water because of the low tide and full of coral ground. Worth a visit every day at sunset time.

Southwest a.k.a. Malibu Beach: in the southwest side of the Island there’s a little beach perfect for chilling and enjoying the quiet location, white sand and crystal clear water.

East Side: on the Ease side of the Island it’s where the social life happens, so this is the most crowded area. All along the East side, you will find a beautiful beach with plenty of restaurants to enjoy lunch (or dinner) with your foot on the sand. If you want to avoid crowds, walk north direction and you will find quieter spots with nice views of Gili Meno Island and Lombok in the back of the scene.

Gili Air

Southwest Area: the best beaches in Gili Air are on the Southwest Side, and luckily for every visitor, no matter where you stay, you can always walk or ride your bike and reach the beach in 5 minutes. That’s something we love from the Gilis!

You can enjoy white sand and crystal clear water, snorkeling around or just chilling on the sand.

Gili Meno

Gili Meno’s beaches are very similar between each other, so the main difference you will find between one or another is the more or less people around you. 

In the South side you will find the less developed and less busy beach of the island, a long and very nice beach. We recommend this spot to do some snorkeling and relax on the sand while enjoying the views.

A must in Gili Meno is to visit the lake (yes, there’s a lake inside the Island!). Be sure to take a look at your map and find your way to the Gili Meno Saltwater Lake, it should take a 10 min ride to get there from the east coast of Gili Meno.

3- How to get to Gili Islands

In this section we’ll show you how to get to the Gili Islands from Lombok and Bali.

How to get to the Gili Islands from Lombok

Once you land in Lombok Airport, it will be very easy to find a Taxi. Take a taxi from Lombok Airport to Bangsal Harbour. The ride from the Airport to the Harbour will take around 2 hours.

After arriving in Bangsal Harbour, make your way to the ticket counter and choose your destination and boat. 

There are 2 kinds of boats going between Lombok and the Gili Islands, public ferry and speedboat.

Public Ferry: public ferry is way cheaper than the speedboat, so if you want to save some money, this is your best option. Ticket prices are:

  • 15.000 IDR to Gili Trawangan
  • 13.000 IDR to Gili Meno
  • 10.000 IDR to Gili Air

Speedboat: the speedboat services are runned by private companies and prices are way higher, the cost of traveling from Lombok to the Gili Islands by speedboat is around 80.000 IDR

Both options are good, so don’t overthink it and get on the first departing boat!

How to get to the Gili Islands from Bali

To the Gilis from Serangan Harbour. This is the best option if you are staying in South Bali, around Kuta or Canggu area. The cost of the ticket is around 700.000 IDR and you will reach the Gilis after a 2:30 hs trip. We recommend Blue Water Express company to do this trip.

To the Gilis from Padang Bai. If you stay in Ubud or east side areas of Bali, the best option to go to the Gilis is to leave from Padang Bai. To get to Padang Bai you can hire your own private taxi or make use of the transfer provided by some hotels or the same ferry companies. Most of the agencies will sell you ferry tickets with Hotel pickup so you only need to ask for this option.

The trip between Padang Bai and the Gilis takes around 1:45 or 2 hours and can be done with different companies. We recommend Blue Water Express or Eka Jaya services.

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