White sandy beaches, palm trees, crystal clear water, in „hippie“ mood backpackers and no cars... YES YES YES! Simply - paradise.
Have you heard of Gili islands? No? it’s okay, because I’m gonna tell you all I think you need to know about these tiny islands in Indonesia.
Hmmm.... where should I start?
When we were first talking about Gilis with my friend, we were deciding which island we should go to. After a short research, we found out that Gili Meno is more like „honeymoon island“, Gili Trawangan is known as a „hippy party island“ and Gili Air has something from both with a strong local character. The choice for us, „little party never killed nobody“ girls was easy. Gili Trawangan – hippy party destination!
I’ve done a little googling to tell you something about the history of the islands. Thirty-forty years ago the Gilis were uninhabited, but seafaring Bugis people from Sulawesi and adventurous backpackers discovered the islands and made them what they are today.
…well, thank you guys! And that´s kinda all from my googling.
Oh yeah, okay, and where exactly it is?
These three tiny islands are situated just off the northwest coast of Lombok island and one and a half hour drive with fast boat from Bali. The public boat or fast boat is the only way you can really get there. We took a fast boat from Padang Bay, Bali.
*fast boat rates depend on season, in low season you can get a ticket from Rp 500 000 (€ 35) per person return (including hotel pick up) to over Rp 1 000 000 (€ 70) per person return in high season.
We booked our accommodation before we got there, but if your decision is spontaneous, there are many locals offering cheap rooms or home stay right after you get off the boat.
*Prices in low season (again) for home stay are very budget friendly. We stayed in Gili Life Homestay for Rp 100 000 (€ 7,5) per person per night, breakfast included! Don´t expect anything luxurious but it is clean, free wifi and fan above the bed! Ha! The best.
And how it really is?
It´s GREAT! It´s paradise! Trust me or just look at the pictures!
First I got off the fast boat I immediately fell in love with this place. White sand, crystal clear water, music from beach bars and smiling welcoming locals.. YES! This is how I see a paradise!
There are no cars and no motorbikes on the island (nor on the other Gilis), the main transportation is the cidomo (horse and cart), bike or basically just your own feet. Gili T is the largest one of these three, but you can bike around the island in one hour, so it really is not a big deal.
The east side of the island is the part where „life“ goes on – restaurants, shops, diving companies, night market, beach bars, party,.... It it the „busy part“ of the island, while the west side is more calm and more romantic. I know I told you this was a party island, but you can find few wedding canopies and very romantic resorts on the west side. So if you are both, partygoer during the night and romantic soul during the day, this island is just perfect for you!
So what can you do on Gili T?
Oh please, do nothing! This sand and ocean deserve that you just sit and look around. Enjoy the view from Gili T, because it is really amazing. You can see the hills of Lombok, white beaches and coconut trees on Gili Meno or just endless ocean. Just relax on the beach with a good book and sip from your Bintang or just spend your day swaying in the hammock. SO GOOD!
SWIM WITH TURTLES! (GO SNORKELING OR DIVING)
First day on the island I was so excited to go swimming with turtles, I was just jumping around and asking how much is a trip around Gilis. Then my friend calmed me down and told me that we still have time for this. Okay, okay girl, you are right, we just got here...
Well, in the end, I didn’t have to go anywhere to swim with them! Right after we got to water they were there! By the beach in the water ready to swim with me! Amazing!
So finally, all you need to see them is just snorkel gear, which you can rent everywhere along the beach. But if you want to see Gilis’ impressive marine life with all turtles, manta rays, green humphead parrotfish, whitetip reef sharks and many more, it is worth to go on the trip! Whether you snorkel or dive, there is more than enough of various dive sites around the islands.
*snorkel gear for half day is around Rp 30 000 (€ 2,20) and all day snorkel trip starts on Rp 100 000 (€ 7,50 ) with public transportation, Rp 500 000 (€ 35) when you arrange private boat trip. Diving with instructor starts approx. at € 60.
RENT A BIKE!
Because it´s fun!
And as I told you before, it takes just one hour to bike around the island. But hey! It is worth to make some stops to enjoy empty beaches and warm (literally warm!) water, watch surfers (or surf) at the surfer´s spot on the southern side of the island or just watch the scenery.
*bike for a half day costs around Rp 30 000 (€ 2,20). If you are too tired or lazy to cycle, you can take a cidomo tour around the island which starts at Rp 150 000 (€ 11)
click to enlarge photos
Head to the southwest and west side of the island. It is magical! ....guys playing on bongos, great local food, good beer, ocean and sunset behind Bali´s Mount Agung.. No more words needed.
*this great restaurant/bar on the pictures is The Exile. It has earned my full recommendations.
Oh yes and finally partyyyy! Ok, ok, I have to be honest with you. The commercial music there is not my cup of tea, but atmosphere is awesome and I think that music is not always the most important. Dancing on hot sand under the stars is really cool anyways! Party is every night (except Thursdays due to Muslim customs) and rotating between bars, usually until 4 a.m. So be sure that no party is the same. How cool! Unfortunately, we weren’t on Gili T at the time when the famous full moon party till the sunrise took place, but I am pretty sure it must be unforgettable.
*Small beer starts at around Rp 30 000 (€ 2,2) and drinks start at Rp 50 000 (€ 3,6)
..yeah, alcohol is relatively expensive compared to everything else and it doesn’t matter if you buy it in a store, restaurant or bar
Few more tips:
Eat local food - oh yes! It is tasty and great and fresh and just yummi yummi! Fresh juices and freshly caught seafood! The cheapest and 100% local food places to go are called Warung. Meals start at about Rp 20 000 (€ 1,5). Nice seafood dinner in restaurants starts at about Rp 120 000 (€ 9) without drinks.
Visit a night market – this is a very busy place full of locals and backpackers. It´s the best place to have a dinner or late night snack. There are a tons of local Indonesian food. Delicious and cheap. And the atmosphere is very unique.
More water activities – there are many more water activities to do than just snorkeling and diving. You can try stand-up paddle boarding, water-skiing, wake-boarding, surfing, kayaking or parasailing - you name it. The list is really long so it is just up to you what you wanna try.
Bargain bargain bargain! – especially in low season. You can bargain a good deal for everything – bikes, diving, goods in street shops, even the accommodation.. ...yep, almost everything
Hey, hey! Still reading or dreaming about going to this paradise?
The best time to come is ALL THE TIME! I personally prefer low season because there is less people and showers are more refreshing than annoying. Low (wet) season is from November to March and high (dry) season is from April to October.
And if you look for party on Gilis, be sure you are not coming during Muslim holidays (e.g. The Ramadan), because the place tends to be quite on these days.
Well, ok, I think I told you everything what I wanted to and I hope I made you think about visiting this awesome place!
I miss Gili T already and I’m just thinking about how to go back soon. So see you there!
Thanks for reading!
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