Gili Islands: your guide to the Indonesian island paradise

The Gili Islands: Your Gu >Holiday in Indonesia | 19 Comments Last update on 19.02.2019

The Gili Islands are rightly an absolute dream destination! During our trip around the world we have not yet discovered a place where we could breathe in the holiday feeling so much. Today you will learn what to expect in the Gili Islands and what to do there!

The Gili Islands at a glance

There are many islands off the coast of Lombok that start with Gili. However, most travelers mean three specific islands when it comes to the Gili Islands. Since these islands are the most important tourist, I also limit myself to these three Gili Islands:

Gili Trawangan is the largest island with the most tourists. If you want to end your evenings with a cool party, this is the place for you!

Gili Meno is in the middle of the three Gili Islands and is still the quietest. Here it attracts the fewest visitors. In just over an hour, the smallest island can be walked around.

Gili Air is located in the east and is still a good mix of recreation and tourist infrastructure.

How to get to the Gili Islands

From Germany you have to fly first to Bali or Lombok. From Bali you have several options to get to the Gili Islands:

  1. speedboat: The boats depart from Padangbai. Within about an hour, you’re on the Gilis. However, many travelers can not handle the waves or the fast ride. Some even told us that they were completely soaked after the ride. That’s why we preferred the public ferry.
  2. Public ferry: The public ferry also starts from Padangbai to Lembar on Lombok. From there you can drive with a Bemo in the north to Bangsal and get on a public ferry again. This tour will cost you at least five hours.
  3. Helicopter: Do you want to hit the crap right? Then fly with a helicopter to Gili Trawangan and enjoy beautiful views.

You can find out more about these options and contact details on the website.

Experience Indonesia authentically

You want to travel individually, but you are also happy about personal support from an expert on site? Then take a look at the offers from Fairaway! Here, professionals from the countryside will advise you and guarantee you an authentic and sustainable holiday experience.

Accommodation on the Gilis

Many tourists want to visit the Gili Islands every day and there are not enough free rooms in Gili Trawangan and Gili Air during peak season. We were fortunate enough to get a nice place to stay at Gili Air for 250,000 rupiah.

During our time in the Gili Islands, many desperate faces have come to meet us who have not found a vacant room. That’s why you should be sure to book your accommodation in advance. For this you use Agoda or Many hotel owners do not keep to verbal reservations, so I would do without calls or mails. With the booking portals it is actually safe that you get your room too.

For backpackers traveling alone, the hostels are suitable for about 130,000 rupiah per night.

Book well in advance: Some hotels or bungalows are booked weeks in advance!

Did not find it? Then check AirBnB and get your 30 € discount.

What you can experience in the Gili Islands

There is more to do on the Gilis than I expected at the beginning. If you do not want to laze around on the beach all the time, then here are some cool tips on what to do on the islands.

Snorkeling with a turtle

The Gili Islands are not ideal for bathing holidays. Most beaches are interspersed with (dead) coral. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to go into the water. You can use a snorkel discover wonderful fish. The highlight should be for you but if you discover a sea turtle while snorkeling. This is really a great experience to glide through the water in peace with these creatures.

We found “our turtle” on the east side of Gili Air. The most beautiful reef for snorkeling, however, you can find on the southwestern coast of Gili Meno. There is also a sunken platform where snorkelling is certainly also very interesting.

Secret Tip: Subwing

Do you feel like it? like a dolphin gliding through the water? Then you should plan a sub-swing tour. The idea is to hang a long rope on a boat and at the end attach two boards to hold you tight. With these boards you can steer in the water and quickly dive down to several meters. You’ll learn the whole thing in a few minutes and you’ll really enjoy it – promise! Do not miss the fun. In addition to countless colorful fish and wonderful coral reefs, we discovered a total of nine turtles on our sub-wing tour! More info is available at

Watch sunset and stars

Legendary are the sunsets on the Gili Islands! Find the best evening a fancy restaurant on a west coast and enjoy this spectacle! We were flashed every night again! The reflections on the water are the hammer as well as the orange-red sky. If you’re lucky, you’ll still see the Mount Agung volcano in Bali just before the sun goes down. It is not unlikely that you are on these islands the most beautiful sunsets of your life you will see. Enjoy it with a delicious cocktail or a delicious fruit juice!

Sunset on Gili Air

If you stay a little longer on the beach, you can count the stars on a clear night. With any luck, you’ll see a shooting star pass by.

Learn to cook Indonesian

If you like the Indonesian cuisine as much as we do, you can go to Gili Air Learn how the locals cook. You can choose from three different 3-course menus. The courses take place daily. A pre-registration is necessary. You can find more information on

To learn diving

There are countless possibilities in the Gili Islands, in a few days To learn to dive. The underwater world in front of the islands is really alive, so a diving course is worthwhile! Many diving schools have their own swimming pool, where they teach you the basics before you launch into the sea. Popular destinations for divers are Deep Halik, Deep Turbo, Mirko’s Reef, Japanese Wreck, Shark Point and Manta Point. Under the water surface, various shark species, sea turtles and mantas are waiting for you!

Also Freedive Instructor you find the Gilis. In this type of diving, you climb into the sea without an air bottle. In two days, you can learn to dive to a depth of 20 meters with just one breath. We have not yet faced this adventure. Do you dare?

Let yourself be pampered

Do you want to be pampered? Then you are exactly right on the Gili Islands! There are countless spas, where you are at the various massages and wellness packages can relax. While you let yourself be kneaded and burn the incense sticks, the sea is rustling in the background. Is not that fantastic?

Feasting on the night market

A highlight that we unfortunately missed is the night market on Gili Trawangan. Many travelers swear by this delicious and cheap food. Every evening it starts at 6 pm near the harbor.

Yoga Sessions

There are plenty of yoga classes in the Gili Islands that you can visit. Depending on the provider, you can only go to a few sessions or you can do yoga retreats for several weeks. Especially cool is that you can do yoga at sunrise and sunset on the beach.

How to get from A to B

There are no real roads in the Gili Islands; rather sandy paths. That’s why there is no mopeds or cars. Instead, you can take a horse-drawn carriage to your destination. Alternatively, you can also rent a bike.

Horse-drawn carriage instead of taxi

Otherwise, you come well on foot. You can circle Gili Meno within an hour.

Withdraw money in the Gili Islands

The good news first: there are ATMs on each of the Gili Islands. There you can conveniently withdraw money with your credit card. In our comparison you will find out which travel credit card is best for your vacation.

Still, you should be careful that you are still take enough small change have. It may well happen that the ATMs are empty. So plan on having enough buffers!

On the Gilis you will find paradise!

We spent almost a week on the Gili Islands and really enjoyed the time here. Especially the subwing tour and the snorkeling with the turtle we especially liked.

But one thing I have to warn you is: No matter which island (s) you choose, it will be incredibly hard for you to leave the Gilis!

Lean back now and let us take you to the magical islands for three minutes:

Have you ever been to the Gili Islands? What did you like most there? Do you want to go (still)??

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Hey! Nice that you pass us by. We are Bina & Francis – globetrotters, adventurers and drone freaks. Since January 2015 we travel with camera drone in the luggage around the world. We love to explore our Earth from a new perspective!

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About the author

Hey, I’m Francis – globetrotter, blogger and drone pilot. Since January 2015 I travel around the world with Bina. Always in the luggage is a camera drone, with which we capture the most beautiful places from the air. On our blog we share with you the best tips for your next trip. Do you still have questions about this article? Then write us in the comments!

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Discussions on the topic

You did not ride the speedboat? Since you have really missed something! We have now made two trips with speedboat in Thailand. One in case of heavy storm (okay, half of the participants did not like the technique) and sometimes with sunshine and no waves. Was both times nice and really an experience, especially how fast these things go. The tour in bad weather was like roller coaster driving, only longer ;-)

Hi Kristin,
I can well imagine that speedboat can also be fun, as long as the stomach plays along. But we had to transport our drone and some travelers had told us that their luggage was completely wet after the ride. We did not want to do that to our baby. Maybe that will work in Thailand;) LG Francis

How beautiful and great that sounds. I’ve been gawking at the Gilis for a long time, I really have to go there … have fun with them!

We highly recommend the Gili Islands! Is really great there!

I can only say:
I want to return! Was a great time with you, now I’ll follow you on your blog ;-)! Take a break and enjoy Indonesia as long as you can! The Currywurst can wait :-)! I’ll call again … a cheers to two really super cool globetrotters … see you later … the Timo Ps. And I also miss Bintang :-(

Hi Timo,
Thank you for your comment and the great time we had together! We really enjoyed it. Please contact me again and, above all, let me know where the next vacation is going;)
Best regards from Ubud, Bina & Francis

Sigh. Wanted to stay there for two nights, become five. Gili Air is great!

Can I understand very well. We also stayed longer than we had planned! : D And one day we will surely stay there for a while longer;)

It really sounds like a nice patch of earth!

These are the Gili Islands too!

There is a petition against the agony of the carriage horses on Gili. Please sign.

Very nice pictures and informative site !! I read again and again how littered the beaches and the sea is at the islands – what have you made for experiences ?
Would like to spend a few days at the beach after snorkeling after our tour of Indonesia .
Lombok or the Gilis? – Bali I exclude strandtechnisch rather ?
Greetings Manuela

Hello Manuela,
We can not remember a lot of garbage. Apparently we were lucky there. For snorkeling, the Gilis are actually a very good choice. By the way, Bali also has beautiful beaches. ;)
LG Francis

Hello Bina and Francis,
we would like to stay in January 2019 a week on the
Spend Gilis. Have read your great reports.
Snorkeling, releaxing;)
Our first stop is Nusa Penida. After that we possibly wanted Lombok and Gilis.
My question is, is our travel time optimal at this time? Do you have experiences there ?
LG Katrin

Hello, Katrin,
That sounds like a great route. Unfortunately we were not at the time on Nusa Penida or the Gilis. That’s why we unfortunately can not share personal experiences with you. Greetings and have a nice holiday, Francis

We have just returned to Lombok and can only recommend spending time on the different Gilis. Well maybe it looks better next year, but then the rainy season starts and it is still very much destroyed by the earthquake. LG Jasmine
@Karin Werner

your reports are really great! We want to go to Lombok and the Gili Islands.
How much time should we plan in Lombok and the Gilis??
best regards,

Hello Sandra,
thank you :) Phew this is hard to say. Depends on what you want to do. But every island can be discovered in one day. If you want to chill, you stay there longer. If you would rather experience a lot, then you can move on after three days. On Lombok we would recommend at least 4 full days.
LG Francis

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