When searching for Bali itineraries there are always some Gili islands involved. But where are they? How many Gili islands exist? Which one is right for me? And the most important – is it worth going there? Is it true there are just horse carriages to take you around?
On our first visit to Bali we didn’t bother about these islands, but this time we decided to visit them all to see the difference among them.
If I would have to make it as short as possible, it would be like this:
Gili Trawangan: party
Gili Meno: solitude and romance
Gili Air: a mix of the two above
Personally, we liked Gili Air the most, because we could have some alone time as well as chilling at fun bars. Gili T was way too much of a party scene for us and Gili Meno was a little bit too quiet for our taste.
Ok, now let me show you some pictures and let’s get into detail about them 😉
As I already mentioned this is the most party island of them all. And it is true: there are no taxis, mopeds etc. to take you around, but you can hire a horse carriage. Later when you dropped your luggage you can rent a bike to circle the island (around 100k for 2 bikes for 1 day). The port area is very busy, the hotel strip here is especially noisy. The island if full of dive shops and dive resorts, the whole scene reminds a lot of Koh Tao in Thailand or Boracay in the Philippines. Food is a little more expensive than on Nusa Penida, but it is easy to find vegetarian and vegan options.
Everyone said it is the most quiet island of them all. And indeed – it was super quiet, in the evening a bit scary already and a perfect place for love birds. We are suckers for sunsets, so we went to the west side of the island to watch it. Although we were there in high season (August) half of the restaurants and bars were empty (and a little more expensive again). Here you can rent bikes again, but we decided to walk, as the island is really small (the smallest of the three). The port is in the east and busy only when a boat departs or arrives. There is a well stocked super market,as well as an ATM and a restaurant.
Oooo, Gili Air … I just liked the vibe here as it wasn’t too quiet but also not to loud. We rented bikes again (60k for 1 day at our bungalows, 100k on the street) as the island is a bit bigger. We found our favorite local restaurant with suuupeer delicious food for insanely low prices, I could go feed my inner shopper to some cute little shops (and found a nice jewelry shop with silver where I bought my mandatory piece of jewelry for this trip), we could try the famous swings in the sea, because they were not as occupied as on Gili T and we had a gorgeous accommodation for a great price. We enjoyed the sunsets again and we had 2 great beach days (the best strip of beach is supposed to be on the eastern tip, it is also the most busy, but the ocean here is really turquois).
A few good to knows:
- Hopping between the islands is really easy. Just be careful where you book your boat – on Gili T we thought we booked the normal ferry (although it seemed expensive() but we thought they are making money because they can. I mean, you don’t have any other choice, you probably won’t swim with your luggage to the next island? 😉 But then we had a private boat which brought us directly where we wanted.
- On the other two islands we were more careful and managed to book the “local” ferry for much lower prices, but the boats were suuupeer packed.
- Be aware that when you enter or leave any boat here, you will have to walk through water.
- Be very careful when going from Gili Air to Lombok – when you arrive at port, they ask you for the ticket and they tell you to come with them. They will try to get you into a horse carriage to take you to your bus. Do Not Drive the Carriage! They will then charge you a lot at the end.
- You probably want to see the underwater statues on Gili Meno, right? You can find them easily on the west side of the island – there where are always many boats 😉 BUT: please be careful as the current is strong, so take fins/flippers and take care of the tide. Also – do not touch ANY corals and be careful when going in and out of the water not to break them.
- We saw many sea urchins, also in the shallow – take care!
- We saw ATMs on all islands, but on Gili Air we had to go to 5 different ones to get money as so many were empty (and it wasn’t even evening).
- If you don’t want to move a lot, you can see the Gili Meno statues with a tour or private boat from Gili Air and Gili T (it’s very near to Gili T)
- All these islands are Muslim, which means all have a mosque. Be prepared for early wake up/prayer calls.
- It is easy to find vegetarian and vegan food on all islands. For everyone else a big deal here is sunset barbecue, where you can choose a fish from the displayed catch of the day and they’ll grill it for you.
- Sunbeds and umbrellas are often free if you drink and eat there, but sometimes they also charge (once we payed 50k for a set for the day)
- They take care of the environment – we saw many water refill options so please take your reusable bottle and use it. Don’t buy water in plastic bottles.
Usually we don’t recommend specific places or restaurants, but this time we just have to share these finds with you as we really liked them (no cooperation or paid advertisement!):
We stayed in Gili Malibu Bungalows for 23€ per night with breakfast. The bungalows were really beautiful with an open air bathroom and the location was just great. You can easily find them on Booking.com.
In the same street we had wonderful smoothie bowls at Aura bowls.
Just behind the corner was our fav restaurant on Jl.Mojo street directly opposite Littlw coco shop (unfortunately we don’t know the name). They serve amazing local food at low prices (and they have just 4 tables). But be aware, you might wait a little longer as they prepare everything fresh and I think just 1 person is in the kitchen.
Pituq café is a great vegan restaurant with amazing food combinations, tasty plates and how everything is served is just a treat for the eyes and the heart. Although it is a bit more expensive, it’s worth a try at least once.
I hope we could help you a little bit with this information. These islands caught us by surprise as we thought it’s just another tourist hype, but it’s actually nice, the beaches are beautiful and once you find the island which suits you the most, you’ll have an unforgettable vacation.
Here’s our Vlog from these beautiful islands
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