Among the many wonders of Indonesia are tiny islands surrounded by turquoise waters and white sand -that looks a lot like little pieces of heaven. Between Bali and Lombok, after only an hour boat ride are three of them: the Gili Islands. They might not be as wild and perfect as they used to be, but it still gives you a perfect dose of paradise.
Situated just off the Lombok's west coast, Bali's more rugged sister island, the Gili Islands are made up of three tiny teardrop islands: Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. Thought they are not as tranquil as they were in the past, if you are looking for a quiet alternative to conclude your trip perfectly or to recover after a long trek, come to the Gilis. Those three islands a perfect destination to relax and soak up the sun!
Exploring the Gili Islands
First impression once we set foot on Gili Trawangan's beach: oh my word, this is heaven! The clearest turquoise waters, white sand beaches, colorful traditional boats, bars on the beach with delicious cocktails, giant turtles in the water, lush tropical jungle..!
Every morning, we had our blissful routine, waking up for sunrise when the island is still sleepy, taking some photos or running, then eating our banana pancakes breakfast with a peaceful view on the beach + the Gunung Rinjani on the backdrop. In a word, it's utterly beautiful. We could stay for hours there, sipping our detox cocktails, foot in the sand...
What to do in the Gili Islands?
Snorkeling/diving: The Gili islands have a beautiful underwater world! You can either rent snorkel equipment on a shop or go for a full day snorkeling tour. It will take you island hopping to each of the Gili Islands -it's a great way to explore the islands. And you might have the chance to swim with sea turtles!
Massage: There are plenty of options. The best being obviously at sunset, on the beach!
Watersports: From Stand Up Paddle to kitesurf, surf, wakeboard to kayak, everything is possible in the Gilis.
Yoga: At sunrise... on the beach... What else?
Cooking class: Learn how to cook Indonesian food by joining one of the islands' cooking classes.
Exploring the island: Three ways to do it: take a ride with a Cidomo, a horse-drawn carriage, rent a bike or simply hike.
Sunset watching: One of the most beautiful I've seen. Even better with a Bintang and a group of friends.
Seafood barbecue on the beach: Because you won't resist long!
Party on the beach: If you come to party, Trawangan is the-island-to-be.
HOW LONG SHOULD I GO?
Although it's a wooonderful place to chill out and enjoy the simple pleasures of life, 3 days in the Gili Islands is enough. Don't forget these three islands are a tiny pieces of paradise -Gili Trawangan, the largest one, measures only 3km long and 2km wide. Enough to say you will have plenty of time to enjoy the Gili Islands in 3 days. After what it will be time to head back to the road!
WHICH ISLAND IS THE ONE FOR ME?
Living in one of the most polluted and stressful city I've known for seven months -Jakarta-, I've been lucky enough to do 3 trips in the Gilis. The first one was in Trawangan, with some girlfriends. The plan was to get tan, relax and sip delicious cocktails. Gili T is known as the place to party, it's where you'll find most backpackers, bars and cheap accommodations. The two other times, I stayed in Gili Air -which is more the family one. And indeed it is. More serene, less people -therefore less noise-, and smaller. I liked it better. Gili Meno is the smallest, I've heard it's perfect for a romantic-trip-far-from-everything-and-everyone.
How to get to the Gilis?
From Bali: A fast-boat ticket will cost you around 400,000Rp. It takes around two hours from Amed.
From Lombok: A public ferry will take you from Sengigi to Gili Trawangan in two hours for 100,000Rp. You can also opt for a speedboat which only takes 30 minutes, but costs 500,00Rp.