It is no secret that Bali is the world`s leading chill-out hub. Being so popular, however, the island has become busy and crowded, and recently even overpriced. When it comes to the ultimate relaxation for little money, nothing can beat the ‘Gilis’.
GILI ARCHIPELAGO – THE ULTIMATE ISLAND GATEWAY
Cars are prohibited on the islands hence there is no need to worry about traffic at all. The only means of transport will be your feet, whether using a bicycle or walking. The Gili Islands might be tiny, and the smallest islet can be walked around in just a couple of hours, yet none of the visitors will ever get bored here.
With idyllic surroundings, tropical climate, friendly hospitality, unhurried lifestyle and phenomenal underwater scenery the isles offer nothing but joy and contentment.
WHAT TO DO IN GILI TRAWANGAN (SOCIAL HUB)
Try some of the local specialities of the Sasak cuisine at the Trawangan night market on – the main public dining spot. It offers plenty of inexpensive open-air food stalls and traditional Indonesian warung-style meals. Taste Bakso or Nasi Goreng and you will lick your fingers!
Join a full-moon party at one of the guesthouses on the Trawangan Island or a full-moon beach party if you happen to be in the right place at the right time 😉 There is a vast range of bars, clubs and restaurants regularly organising parties, drinking games and fun activities.
Watch the epic Gili sunset from one of the Trawangan`s insta-famous beach swings.
WHAT TO DO IN GILI AIR (UNDERWATER PARADISE)
Rent a bicycle or walk around the island in just a few of hours to research its bushes and secret bays. Relax on one of the unspoilt beaches of Gili Air, overlooking the mountainous coast of Lombok.
Do not miss out on some of the best diving spots in Indonesia. Join a dive school or take a diving boat tour to discover what is hiding in the warm emerald seas of the Gili islands. Walk on the radiant coral gardens of the sea bottom teeming with radiant fish so that you leave the island with unforgettable memories.
Snorkel on the reef surrounded by the giant sea turtles. You can either hire snorkelling gear and explore the underwater world on your own, or book a tour to be taken to the best snorkel spots, lunch included).
WHAT TO DO IN GILI MENO (HONEYMOON HOTSPOT)
Visit the Gili Meno Turtle Sanctuary and its private hatchery and learn more about the sea turtles and marine life conservation (best time to visit is between June-November).
Hire a sea kayak on Gili Meno for the whole day and explore the turquoise shallows of the smallest Gili Island. Hunt for a hidden beach bar where you can quench your thirst with a refreshing Bintang beer and chill out under a palm tree before you continue.
Take a snorkelling tour to discover the ‘Nest’ – the insta-famous Underwater Sculptures – an artificially created collection of underwater sculptures by Jason de Caires Taylor
Spend a romantic candle-lit night at one of the cosy beachside taverns and enjoy fresh seafood and sunset
Relax. Sunbathe. Read. Swim. Enjoy the peace!
You can easily move between the islands using the local ferry or the more expensive private speedboats. The isles are so close to each other that it only takes up to 30 min by a slow boat to get from one island to the other. Simply book a guesthouse on the desirable island and go on island hopping to see the other two islands just in one day.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
Most of the visitors come to the Gili Islands between May and October – in the dry season. The peak season runs from June to September hence prices go up, and more tourists show up. Therefore, the ideal months to visit the archipelago seem to be May and October.
HOW TO GET THERE
Fly to Denpasar (Bali).
Catch a shuttle bus from Denpasar/Kuta/Seminyak/Legian to Padangbei (1.5-2hr trip).
Most of the travellers take a private speedboat from Padang Bai in Bali to the desirable Gili Isle (1-2 hrs/$30-50 USD one way, depending on the company and weather). If you travel on a budget you might want to go with the much cheaper option, the public ferry (5 hrs boat trip from Padang Bei, $10 USD one way).
Gili Islands are easily reachable from Lombok. There are many boats frequently operating from the Bangsal Harbour to each of the Gili islands. ($1-5 USD one way, 2-hour ride). For more convenient travelling hop on one of the private speedboats in Senggigi that take you to the islands in just about 30 min for around $30 USD one way.
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