Gili Islands: Trawangan, Meno and Air
If Bali is not enough for you and you still want "bounty-like" beaches, then you will find what you are looking for on the Gili islands. These three islands are located a few dozen kilometres east of Bali. "Gili" is translated from Sasakian language, the language of Lombok, as "island". Around Lombok there are more than four dozen islands called "gili"; however, the chain of islands consisting of Gili Trawangan, Air and Meno are the most popular tourist destinations.
From the west - Gili Trawangan: the largest and liveliest, Gili Meno: the calmest, and Gili Air: beloved by families on holiday. Further to the east is the island of Lombok.
A view from Trawangan to Meno (left) and Lombok (on the background)
Formally, the Gili Islands belong to West Nusa Tenggara, not Bali. West Nusa Tenggara also includes the large islands of Lombok (3.2 million people) and Sumbawa (1.4 million).
The Gili Islands enjoy year-round temperatures of about 28 degrees Celsius with water temperatures of 26 to 29 degrees Celsius. The rainy season is here from November to April. Accordingly, the dry season is from May to October. Gili Islands are located in the Bali Sea near the border of the Pacific Ocean and are especially characterized by its microclimate. Gili islands are generally drier during the rainy season than Bali and Lombok. And even if there are thunderstorms, thunder and lightning raging on Lombok, this inclement weather can bypass Gili in many cases.
How to get to Gilis
They can be reached by water or air. The way to get there depends on your budget and the weather.
1.On a fast boat
Beautiful, fast and comfortable. Sometimes the waves can be serious, and your trip will be full of extreme. Most people get to Gili in a fast boat, a fast boat.
Tickets to the islands are usually purchased with a Bali transfer. That is, you are picked up from the hotel, taken to the port, where they put you in a boat to Gili. On the way back from Gili you are taken to Bali, and then by car to the hotel.
If you take your transfer tickets from the hotel, you don't have to 1) take a taxi (and a taxi from the south of Bali to Padang Bai, for example, can cost about Rs. 250,000) 2) leave your bike at the port, where no one will vouch for its safety.
Boats run from Bali to Gili either from Padang Bai in eastern Bali, or less frequently from the port of Benoa, Sanura or Ameda. The boat usually arrives at Trawangan or Air (Air). Only Eka Jaya stops at Meno. A large fast boat approaches the port, meets a shuttle boat that transports passengers to the pier.
Once you have arrived at Padang Bai and are ready to sail to Gili, find your boat company office and check in for the flight. You will be given your ticket and a sticker to glue to your clothes. Wait until the manager gives you a signal to go to the marina and board the boat.
There are luggage compartments in the boats where employees help to load heavy things. You can sail with suitcases on Gili - they will help you to load and unload them. Take fragile things with you to the cabin.
The Gili Islands are no longer served by boat carriers. You will either have to walk to your hotel or take a horse-drawn carriage to the port. Tourists also practice this option. If the hotel does not provide free bikes, they will rent a bicycle near the port and transfer part of their luggage to the bike and roll it, or ride with luggage on the bike.
There are several companies do transfer to Gili. Among the main ones:
- from Padang Bai: Wahana, Eka Jaya, Gili Gili, Marina Srikandi, Ganggari Express, Marlin, Golden Queen
- from Serangan: Eka Jaya, Gili Getaway, BlueWater Express
- from Amed: FreeBird Express.
- from Sanur: Scoot Cruise, in which case the journey time on the boat will be longer.
Don't give in to offers with very large discounts from dubious carriers and only take tickets from recommended companies that keep the boats in good condition and take care of the health and safety of their passengers.
The most optimal variants of tickets to Gili are as follows:
1) Tickets from Wahana - back with a transfer for Rs. 450,000. This is the most affordable option. Fast boat comes to Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, at the Bangsal quay on Lombok. If you need to go to Meno and you are going to Wahana, you will have to take a boat to Karya Bahari for the transfer to Meno. Wahana boat is medium size, clean, comfortable, with an open top deck. If you're getting seasick, take antimo or dramamine with you just in case, because the strong waves of rocking can be felt.
Wahana fast boat
2) Eka Jaya is more expensive, round trip to Padang Bai port for Rs. 600,000. Eka Jaya's boat is big and comfortable. It is safe to take this boat even at high waves, and also if you want to get to Gili Meno without a transfer. On Meno, a shuttle boat picks up the passengers to the main fast boat.
Eka Jaya's fast boat
3) Round trip tickets from Gili Getaway with a transfer of Rs. 1,250,000, which differ in that the boats leave Serangan port in the tourist south of Bali. That is, you should take these tickets if you do not want to waste time traveling from your hotel in Nusa Dua or Sanura to the port of Padang Bai.
1) Tickets to Gili are sometimes bought with a fixed date and sometimes with an open date back. If you decide to change your departure date or fix it in the Gili Islands, you should come to your boat company office and report it two days in advance. All offices are located in the ports of the islands within 100 meters of the marina.
2) Be careful at Meno! Of the large boat companies that transport from Bali to Gili, only Eka Jaya has an office in Meno. That is, the office of Wahana or Gili Getaway to Meno is not available and being on Meno you will not be able to change the dates of your tickets from these companies. Only when you are on Travangan or Aira (Air).
3) On the way back at the port of Padang Bai you may meet some people who will assure you that your buses with a paid transfer to the hotel are 1) cancelled 2) would be stuck in traffic for 3-4 hours 3) in poor condition 4) have already left. Do not believe these people. Their purpose is to prevent you from receiving your prepaid transfer and to make you use their service. From Padang Bai, for example, a car goes from Padang Bai to Canggu for 1.5 hours instead of 4 hours, as port taxi drivers say. Look for representatives of your transport company in branded clothing and your cars with branded logos. Do not give away your free transfer tickets to unauthorized people.
4) If your fast boat does not provide for a trip to Meno, and you have a hotel booked there, you will have to take a separate boat to Meno. Island hopping from Karya Bahari runs between islands. Twice a day there is a cheap and slow boat with tickets of Rp. 35,000 to 40,000, and a few times a day a fast little boat - also Karya Bahari with tickets of Rp. 85,000. All these tickets can be bought at the Karya Bahari ticket office in the port of each of the islands without any extra charge. The schedule of boats can be seen in the Gilis smartphone app.
2. By ferry via Lombok
This path will be much longer, harder, but more economical, adventurous, and richer in adventure. Ferries leave Padang Bai for Bali every hour of the day. They come to the port of Lembar on Lombok. Travel time on the ferry is 4-5 hours. Rp 120,000 per bike and 2 passengers.
On Lombok you will need to move to the port of Bangsal about 60 kilometers north of Lembar. But the road from Lombok to the port is very beautiful as it will pass through the coast on one side and the mountainous terrain on the other side.
From Bangsal you can get to Gili by public boat. The time by boat is half an hour and the ticket costs Rs. 15,000. The bike will have to be left in a paid parking lot in Bangsal. You won't be able to transport the bike to Gili, because Gili has no gasoline bikes. You can only ride a bike, a horse carriage or an electric scooter around the island.
This trip will cost you about Rp 100,000 to 150,000 if you take your bike on a ferry.
3. Take a
At first this option seems faster and calmer, however, air tickets are more expensive, and you still have to go from Lombok airport to the port of Bangsal and go by boat to Gili.
Tickets from Bali airport to Lombok airport start at Rp. 250,000. The flight is only 30 minutes away. Look for tickets in advance. Trawangan offers transfers to Lombok Airport for Rp. 200,000 per person. The same price should be from the airport to Trawangan. Simply look for an airport transportation company that offers an airport transfer to Gili at this price. Boat prices from Bangsal to Gili should be included in the price (Rp 200,000 per person).
4. By helicopter
Yes, there's an option going by helicopter. It will not be cheap, but if you can afford it, then why not. The flight will take only 45 minutes from the south of Bali to the Gili Islands.
A helicopter carrier at Bali airbali.com can be contacted for a booking.
Try to plan your trip to Gili not on the first or last day of your arrival in Bali. Sometimes boats to/from the islands are delayed for an hour or two and if your plane leaves on that day, you can get nervous or miss the flight. Sometimes boats can be cancelled for a few days because of the big waves during the summer.
Transport in the Gili Islands
There are public small boats going between the three islands of Gili - Karya Bahari. Big slow boats run 2 times a day. From Air through Meno and Trawangan and back from Trawangan through Meno and to Air. Small speed boats go 8 times a day.
All three islands have a Karya Bahari ticket office right in the port, where you can buy a ticket for such a boat directly. Private kiosks along the main streets also sell these tickets, but with extra fee. A slow, large boat ticket for Karya Bahari costs Rp. 35,000 between the neighbouring islands and Rp. 40,000 between Trawangan and Air. A small speedboat ticket from Karya Bahari costs Rp. 85,000.
The Karya Bahari ticket office at the port on Trawangan
It will cost Rp. 15,000 to get to Lombok (Bangsal) from any of the three Gili Islands. This boat leaves when the number of passengers has reached 40 people. That is, you may have to wait for it to depart.
Slow and cheap boat in the morning:
Gili Air 8.30 - Gili Meno 8.45 - Gili T 9.00 am
Gili T - 9.30 - Gili Meno 9.45 - Gili Air 10.00 am
Slow and cheap boat in the evening:
Gili Air 3.00 - Gili Meno 3.15 - Gili T 3.30 pm
Gili T 4.00 - Gili Meno 4.15 - Gili Air 4.30 pm
If you do not get on a slow boat, you can take a fast boat from Karya Bahari, that goes 8 times a day. Ask for a fast boat transfer there at the ticket office. Alternatively, you can make an appointment with private boaters if offer a price of more than Rp. 85,000 per person.
Cyclists on Gili Trawangan
Only bicycles, horse-drawn carts and electric scooters are allowed on the islands themselves. That's why the air on Gili is so clean and fresh, and the noise of transport does not dampen the rustle of the waves. After the earthquake, one motorcycle with a trailer, a pair of bulldozers and a mini truck to disassemble construction waste were brought to Trawangan with the special permission of the island administration, but they promise to take them back to Lombok as soon as their task is completed.
By the way, the police are moving around the islands of Gili on bicycles. This is an unforgettable sight!
One of the most convenient transport options on Gili is a bicycle. It is especially useful on Trawangan, as this island is the largest of the three. Some expensive hotels provide bicycles free of charge.
Bicycles are widely rented out on the street. The standard price for a day is Rp 50,000 to 75,000. If the bike has wide tires for sand riding, it is going to be Rp. 75,000. If you take a simple bicycle for 2 days, you can ask for a price of Rp. 80,000 for 2 days. For 3 days - Rp. 100,000 for 3 days. If for a longer period of time - ask for a bigger discount. If your hotel rents your bicycles for an additional fee depending on the age and condition of the bicycle, they can cost from Rp. 20,000 to 25,000 per day.
bicycles are simply left by the road on Gili Meno
A bike lock is also provided on Trawangan and Air. In Meno, nobody fastens their bicycles. A flashlight is usually not given, but it may be needed when riding in the dark through some unlit streets of Trawangan and Air.
Bicycle rentals usually don't ask for any deposit. They just write down your name and the name of your hotel.
If you want to cycle around the island, Trawangan is the easiest place to do so because the road around the island is the most suitable. There are only 3 places on the whole perimeter where the sand is too loose and you have to roll a bike 30-60 meters next to you. Aira and Meno have more places with loose sand around the islands, but the streets that pass through the centre of the island are great for riding.
Even if you live close to the main island hangouts and planned to walk, rent a bike and ride around the island. This brings back the atmosphere of a carefree and mischievous childhood.
Bicycles on Trawangan
On the islands there is a taxi ride around the island, ranging from Rp 50,000 to 150,000 per trip. As a rule, the wagon accommodates 3 passengers without suitcases. An extra person will have to pay addtitional Rp 25,000.
Fares on Trawangan are fixed. They are calculated on the route from the pier to a specific villa or hotel.
To villas and hotels:
Unggul, Almarik, Vamana Resort, Coral Beach II, Danma Resort, Nero, Woodstock, Villa Ombak, Kokomo Resort, Hari Puri, The Trawangan, Pondok Santi - Rp. 50,000.
Kokita, Casabonita, Coral Beach I, Windy Beach, Villa Tera, Villa Kelapa, Trawangan Oasis, Coconut Garden, Belukar, Wahana Resort, Pantai Karang, Sama Lama, Luce Daima, Otalia Villa, Lamumba, Sunset Paradise, Sunset Bar, Pink Coco - Rp. 75,000 rupees.
The Excile, Bamboo Villa, Gili Teak - Rp. 80,000.
Alam Gili, Gracia, Ociano Resort, Wilson, Karma Kayak, Eco Villa, Dunia Beda, Sunset Beach, Le Pirate, Julius Villa, Laco Kotre, Gili Kumba, Sunset Palm, Eden Cottages, Five Element, Ombak Sunset, Mala Garden, Aston Sunset, Pandawa, Light House - Rp. 100.000.
Around the island - Rp. 175,000.
There are also fixed prices on Meno, but cabmen do not put them in a prominent place, but hide them under the roof lining, usually charging the price in the universal Rp 150.000 . In Aira, cabmen say that there is a price list with rates, but it is located in the office of the head of the village and also usually charge Rp 150,000 for the trip. If your hotel is not far from the pier, try to bargain for Rp. 50,000 - 100,000.
In the northeast, in the area of the La Moomba Restaurant and Bar, the ring road is interrupted and you can take a detour to the horse-drawn carriage. If you're cycling, you'll have to ride a bicycle for 100 meters on the beach. In Air, in the extreme northern part, there is also a section where the road is interrupted by 200 meters, and then begins again. On Meno, the road runs along the perimeter of the entire island.
The history of the Gili Islands' development began not so long ago. About 200 years ago, fishermen from the island of Sulawesi, namely the representatives of the tribes of Makassar, Bugis and Mandarans came to Gili. They began to stay on the islands. The reason became abundance of fish and presence of fresh water on Gili Air.
The name of the island means "water", because in Indonesian "air" is water. This may confuse foreigners, causing them to mispronounce "Gili Air" by using the pronunciation "air" as in the english "air". Instead it is pronounced as "ayir".
Gili Trawangan got his name from the Bugis word, which meant "foresight", "weather forecast". The Bugis were fishermen and sailors and the word had an important symbolic and very important meaning for them. Another explanation, in Indonesian terowongan, means "tunnels". Japanese troops occupying the island during the Second World War dug up tunnels at the hill on the island to hide in case of danger.
Gili Meno sounds more like "manu" in the local language, meaning "the same as always", "permanent".
For a long time, Trawangan and Meno had not been inhabited and the people of Air used them to simply cultivate the plantations. There was no fresh water on these islands and all the drinking water had to be carried with them.
The settlers began to cultivate the land, planting peanuts, tapioca, corn and continued fishing, selling products on Lombok. Coconut palms always grew on the islands. Mango trees, papaya trees and banana palms were brought in by farmers.
During World War II, Gili Trawangan became a military base for the Japanese army. They held prisoners on the islands and forced the locals to work for the Japanese invaders. On a hill in the southern part of the island, there was a six-meter combat cannon, which is now stored in the central mosque. The remains of a Japanese bunker can also be found on the hill.
The first foreign tourist stepped on the land of the Gili Islands in 1984. And in the 90's, when the fame of a popular tourist destination was established in Bali, Gili was increasingly mentioned as a secret paradise shelter.
Of all the three islands, Gili Air is considered the most traditional because it is home to the majority of the indigenous people of Gili. It has good infrastructure for a long stay. The head office of the of all three islands is located here. It never had a police presence, because law enforcement issues have always been resolved by the local community. After the earthquake, police units were deployed to the islands to help maintain order and prevent looting. Police tents can now be seen around the ports of the three islands, but they are about to leave the island in the near future. A permanent tourist police post is located on Trawangan, right at the port.
It is said that Trawangan was decided to make it a tourist destination because it is the furthest from Gili Air and the music from Trawangan and the problems associated with the tourists would not touch small and calm Air. The music from Trawangan can be heard in Meno at night. Do not worry if you stay on Trawangan itself, a couple of blocks away from the disco it's getting quiet.
Trawangan and Air have recently seen a campaign to demolish bars and restaurants in the beachfront. Thus, the government wanted to clean up the beaches and make them more accessible to tourists. This action took place in Trawangan in autumn 2017 and in Air in spring 2018. So don't be surprised if after a long absence you come to Trawangan or Air and don't recognize it. By the way, the demolition of bars and restaurants really made the beaches of the islands more pleasant and opened the ocean view from the ring street. Although not in all places, the former owners have managed to remove the remains of the building structures. Now only temporary and mobile tables, chairs, poufs and gazebos are allowed near the beach, which can be removed at any time.
Sometimes tourists who have been to the islands try to give advice to tourists not to stay in hotels located near the mosque or not to settle on the island, where there is a mosque. In fact, all three islands have mosques. There are even two on Travangan. And the islands are so small that from any point you will hear a prayer service that takes place 5 times a day.
If you set yourself in a positive mood and realize that the prayers from the mosques are an integral part of Gilis, as well as a friendly atmosphere and beautiful beaches, you will be able to perceive everything without negative emotions and prejudices.
Gili Trawangan is believed to have the largest percentage of Sasaks, namely the people of Lombok who come to Trawangan for work. And on the islands of Gili Meno and Gili Air, the percentage of the indigenous population, namely the Bugis, is slightly higher.
The southeastern beach of Gili Trawangan
The Gili Islands is a place you don't want to leave. When you get back in the traffic jams of Bali's tourist south, you'll inevitably miss the tranquility of Gili. The islands are small, so after a couple of days on the island, you'll get to know the masses of the people and greet each other not with a duty smile, but with a sincere smile.
The islands have a rustic spirit in the best sense of the word. On Meno, because of the poor development of tourism, locals are a little shy. They will either pass by or greet you when they meet you, but maybe they will do so with a shy smile right after the greeting, hiding their eyes. Air has the most friendly locals. Maybe even many people who see you on the street with your suitcase or backpack on the way out of the port will shout "Welcome home!"
Gili is a place to relax. It's a pleasant stroll through the small streets, quiet and cozy beaches and stunning seascapes with tops of Bali and Lombok volcanoes. The atmosphere of the streets without cars and motorcycles, but with bicycles creates a childish and joyful mood, which is instantly transmitted to the one who arrived at Three Gilis.
At the same time Gili has everything you need for recreation - hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars, ATMs, exchangers, internet, diving centers and water sports.
Situation after the earthquake
In August 2018, Lombok was hit by a major earthquake of 7 magnitude and many houses were destroyed. It also affected the islands of Gili. There were also human victims. There are no exact statistics, but a visual indication at the end of October shows 20-25% of the buildings are being restored or repaired. The rest are fully functional and look great.
Indonesian staff are happy to welcome guests. For them, a tourist who comes to Gili and leaves some money for services - a person who helps with the money to restore the islands and Lombok. After all, most of the staff working for Gili are from Lombok. The money received from tourists in Gili is used to rebuild houses on the three islands and Lombok, and the victims receive shelter and a decent life.
There are two very different approaches to this issue. There are tourists who come to Gili and start taking pictures of all the destroyed buildings they have seen on the way and posting them on social networks with the signatures "This is the real truth! At the same time they don't notice the beauty at all. All the same beautiful beaches, underwater world, restored buildings or those houses that have successfully survived. As if their negativity or the grief they are spreading will help someone.
And there are tourists who see both destroyed and surviving buildings, who understand what happened on Gili, but also see the beauty. At the same time, they can enjoy the entertainment and nature that the islands have to offer. Other such constructive people are characterized by the realization that the best thing they can do is to share positive moods and optimism with the islanders, making their holidays more pleasant and helping people to return to normal life.
Weather on Gilis
the southeastern beach at Gili Trawangan
The rainy season here is the same as in Bali from December to March. But it is believed that Gili is drier because there are no high mountains on it. And locals say that during the wet season the rains are a couple of hours a day. So if you came to Bali in December or January and caught the rains, maybe you should take a few days to rest on Gili.
Perhaps one of the secrets of the beauty of the Gili Islands is that they offer a panoramic view of the island of Lombok, where the mountain peaks are covered with lush clouds, in which a variety of celestial shades play.
The southeastern beach of Gili Trawangan
To know the tide time on Gili, install the Gilis app. In addition to the tides, it also shows the time of local boats sailing between the islands.
Which island to choose?
Gili Trawangan is chosen lots of different people. The eastern part, with its port and lively nightlife, is suitable for hikers, young people and single travellers looking for acquaintances. Western and northern is for those who are looking for a relaxing holiday and newlyweds. Also good for those who do not mind riding a bicycle from the hotel or villa to the party during the night. Within a couple of blocks of the partying area, you won't hear any more night parties, as the walls of the buildings will absorb sounds, so don't be afraid of the night noise if you're away from the port area.
Trawangan is also a great place for divers, as there are a lot of dive centers here that are really high quality. Before the earthquake, there were 28 of them, and after the end of September, 12 of them opened again.
Gourmets and vegans like Trawangan a lot. There are really conceptual restaurants and cafes for vegans and meat-eaters here. And there are places that will surprise even the most sophisticated "foodies".
There is a fairly common and erroneous opinion that Gili T is only used by drug lovers. Yes, a person can come up to you in a bar and offer "weed" or "mushrooms". But it's done in an unobtrusive way and people who would be underneath the substances are visually invisible on the island. Moreover, the atmosphere of Gili is so pleasant that the rest will be beautiful and without additional "doping".
Gili Air chooses families with children, settled couples, vegans and yogis and older people. There are also parties and acoustic concerts here, but there are fewer of them than on Trawangan. There are a lot of conceptual cafes and restaurants in Air, two schools of yoga, so people who are looking for spirituality, there will like it.
Gili Meno is chosen by people who want privacy in nature. There are few hotels in Meno and there is little transport there. There are many newlyweds in Meno who don't need much fun, but who just need to be alone with themselves and nature.
Internet at Gili
Judging by the popularity of the locals, Telkomsel is the most stable and fastest Internet in Gili as of September 2018. Some people use XL's Internet on Gili, but it is less stable. The hotels also have Wi-Fi.
In Meno XL works very bad. Telkomsel is used here for the internet, although the quality of the Internet is still weaker than on Trawangan.
In Air, in the northern part of the city, the Internet signal is rather weak. If you need quality internet, find accommodation closer to the south.
There are ATMs and exchanges on the islands. They are concentrated mainly in the port part of the island. To find the nearest ATM, just Google ATM Maps and you will see on the map their location points. If you are going to Gili Meno Island, stock up on cash in advance. There is only one Mandiri ATM left to function after the Meno earthquake, and as you know if there is only one, it is difficult to guarantee 100% availability.
There are many different levels of housing on the islands. Expensive and luxurious accommodation is mainly represented by four-star hotels and villas. Among them, the most dignified and elegant are Pearl of Trawangan, Pondok Santi Estate and Treehouse.
The Pearl of Trawangan Villas
From the cheap - there are hostels, there are private clean rooms in the guesthouses with basic amenities from Rp 125.000. Prices may rise during the peak season. Trawangan is the most diverse place to live, as it is the largest and most developed. From the cheap housing you can recommend the Gili Bong Guesthouse, which is located in the eastern part of the city. It is convenient to walk from the beach, it offers free tea and coffee, and in the courtyard, which is a reception, is constantly sitting staff who are ready to help guests or just entertain their chatter. The guesthouse kitchen can be freely used for self-cooking.
In Meno, a high-end residential resort in Mahamaya, United Colors of Of Gili, and Gili Meno Escape can be recommended. There is Seri Resort, which is located on a very picturesque beach near the turtle pointe. But many visitors complain about the quality of service at the hotel, so consider this if you are going to stay there.
There is also a very cheap accommodation at Meno, which is clean and provides decent basic facilities. For example, Turtle Bungalows is near the port, where a clean room without breakfast costs from Rp. 125,000 per night.
The most convenient way to book a booked accommodation is to avoid running with backpacks from one hotel to another upon arrival. Booking on the Internet is much more convenient, because you will spend less time and effort on viewing options on the Internet than on viewing options in reality. Bookshop prices and real estate prices are usually the same. But if you are going to stay in a guesthouse or villa for a very long time, you will probably be able to negotiate a discount directly with the owner.
There are private accommodation on Airbnb ($19 discount!). Booking ratings are richer than on Airbnb, so it's easier to get an objective opinion on the real state of the hotel, cleanliness and quality of service.
If you are going to dive, consider staying at a dive resort. You will be surrounded by people close to you in spirit and the point of departure to the dive trip will be less than a hundred meters from your room.
Atoll Heaven Villas with private pools and 150 metres from the beach are recommended for luxury accommodation in Gili Air, with stunning owners who take the utmost care of guests, Saya Villas, with excellent French owners who serve great breakfast and like to take care of guests, Apalaga Villas which include 1, 2 and 3 bedroom complexes, and the bamboo villa Bamboo. Most of the recommended luxury villas are located either in the northern part of the island or in the center.
Sometimes you have to hear the opinion that people come to Gili only to "hang out". These rumours are spread either by those who probably have never been to Gilis. There so many great activities on Gilis! Diving, snorkel, freediving, kayaking, stand-up puddle, surfing, wakeboarding, subwing, yoga, meditation, ecstatic dance, great restaurants and cafes, culinary master classes and amazing white sandy beaches without waves are waiting for you. One of the dive centers in Trawangan has a Russian dive instructor, and Freedive Gili center has a Ukrainian teacher, a record-breaker of Ukraine, diving to a depth of 100 meters - Viktor Reshetnyak.
Most likely, in the bar or directly on the street you can be offered mushrooms and weed, but we recommend caution and to stay away from illegal drugs.
Snorkeling with turtles
There's a good chance of meeting turtles in each of Gilis. It is believed that there are more such points on Gili Meno. Hunting turtles on Gili is forbidden, so they feel quite free to swim with them.
Turtles are a diving feature of the Gili Islands, which divers call a "turtle paradise". If you are a turtle lover, you should definitely go to Gili.
a turtle at Turtle Heaven spot; photo @morefununderwate
Turtle spots are on the Meno, opposite the Seri Resort Hotel. This place is called Turtle Heaven and is located 100 metres north of Seri Resort. There is a good chance of meeting turtles at a snorkel in front of the Mahamaya Hotel. There they can be seen in the coral gardens at a depth of 2-3 meters from the water surface.
In Aira there is a high, but not 100% probability to see turtles at snorkeling just north of meters from 3W Dive Center. They can swim very close to the shore and sit on the bottom at a depth of about a meter from the surface.
On Trawangan you can see the turtles diving from the shore from a point opposite the former turtle breeding center. But they are not inclined to go out in shallow water and they will sit at a depth.
If you go on a snorkeling excursion, one of the points will include a turtle. Of course, a snorkel guide will never guarantee that you will see the turtle 100%, but the probability is very high. As a rule, tourists are taken to Turtle Heaven and finding the turtle sitting at the bottom, the guide dives to the bottom, touches it and makes it surface to make tourists feel better. While touching turtles is potentially dangerous to their health. And then this poor turtle is followed by a crowd of tourists eager to shoot a video, and some grabbing on to "ride" it. Please remember, you can't touch a turtle in any way, as it can cause infections. But you can be near them and swim next to them.
After the earthquake, the turtle conservation centres on Trawangan and Meno were closed and the turtles were released into the sea. But divers say it's even better for turtles. The fact is that the turtles are grown in conservation centers in shallow water and in a limited space. From this they do not develop a sufficient amount of lungs to be able to swim to a depth in adulthood. Turtles grown in such conditions are very difficult to adapt to life outside.
Snorkeling with underwater statues
Nest or Nest statue at the future Basque Hotel, photo @baskgilimeno
At the beach of Gili Meno, 50 meters from the coast, there is a statue of "Nest" or a nest. It was a wise marketing move by the owners of the newly built Basque Hotel. The hotel isn't there yet, but it's a honeymoon destination.
From Trawangan you can come here by boat. It's possible as part of a snorkeling tour, but then you'll have to "boil" in a "tourist soup" that everyone wants to make selfies at the same time. Usually such excursions arrive at the statue at about 11.00 - 12.00 and at 1.30 - 2.30.
The location of the future Basque Hotel, photo @baskgilimeno
If you rent a private boat at the port, you have a chance to come to the statue when there are no people.
But the best option is just to come to Meno, come to the beach and dive from the shore. The statue is right in front of the Bask sign in the middle of the building fence. The inscription is very contrasting and can always be seen even from Trawangan. If you are on the tide, then 20 meters you have to go on the corals to the water, and then still swim in shallow water. In this case, go on the corals in fins or coral slippers to avoid injury.
Biorock" complex on Gili Trawangan, photo by Alex Kydd
Another statue of the Biorock complex consists of underwater scooters. It is a new creation. Although it is reported that the scooters of this complex are still ancient, Japanese, remaining on the island since the Japanese occupation. Biorock has wires and a weak electric current to ensure that the corals are attached to the grid. Divers place dead corals on this structure and the corals begin to attach and recover.
Biorock underwater scooters at Gili Trawangan, photo @alfredminnaarphotography
Biorock underwater scooters at Gili Trawangan, photo @alfredminnaarphotograph
Scooters are located opposite the hotel Villa Ombak under a square pontoon of about 2x2 metres. The difficulty is that boats are sailing and parking near the pontoon. Of course, they make sure that you can see the snorkelers in the water in time. But if you dive in this place, please make sure you don't suddenly come under the passing boat. At low tide, the scooter steering wheel are located at a depth of about a meter from the water surface. Therefore it will not be difficult to dive and pose on them even for beginners.
At Trawangan, the constructions of the Biorock complex start at this point and stretch to the north along the eastern beach. Of course not all are as interesting as underwater scooters. Most of them are spheres or "tables" of grids, under which fish like to hide. Opposite the former turtle center there is a construction of Biorock, which is made in the form of a turtle.
There's also a Biorock on Gili Air, just across the street from Manta Dive Gili Air's dive centre. It's designed mainly in the form of nets, but the place is very popular because there are a lot of fish there all the time.
Biorock Gili Air, photo Manta Dive Gili Air
Biorock Gili Air, photo Manta Dive Gili Ai
Snorkeling has different offers. If you need a more affordable option, you can find an offer for Rp. 100,000 for a 3-point tour in the stalls by the road to Gili Trawangan. If you're leaving Trawangan, the tour includes another hour of walking or lunch on Gili Air. The boat fits 35 people. No one guarantees that many "neighbors", but it is very possible. The trip starts at 10.30 and ends at 3.30. Mask, tube and fins are included in the price.
The route of such trip can vary, but one of the options to Gili Trawangan can be a spot with a statue of "Nest", turtle point Turtle Heaven north of Meno, point with fish south of Air.
There is an option of a more expensive trip for Rp 150,000. It starts at 1.00 pm and there are fewer people in the boat.
With Meno they offer trips for Rp 150,000 in a boat with 20 people. It is delivered to 4 spots without losing time in a cafe on the neighboring island. They take for 4 spots - a turtle point in Turtle Heaven, which is also called Christmas Tree, the Meno Wall, the statue of "Nest", the shipwreck site off the coast of Bounty shipwreck.
Snorkeling on Meno and other water activities can be booked at the port at Atta's Travel Centre. There is a manager who speaks English fluently and knows the history of Gili and Lombok Islands. He's a great person.
You can contact Atta Travel by WhatsAap (+62 819 331 425 54 +62 819 994 357 91, email@example.com). It is also possible to take a snorkeling gear at Meno directly from the port.
If you stay at an expensive resort hotel, you will probably get snorkeling equipment there. If you are in a budget guesthouse, you can rent snorkeling equipment anywhere by the beach for Rp. 50,000 for a full day for a set of mask, snorkel and fins. Separately the mask and the snorkel are Rp. 25,000 to 30,000 and the fins are for Rp. 25,000 to 30,000.
Safety rules for independent snorkeling
1. Don't swim into an area where corals run out of corals and depth begins, because there's nothing to see, and secondly, you can get in for a while.
2. Do not try to cross the strait between Trawangan and Meno or Meno and Air.
3. Always dive with a partner.
4. If you dive in a strong wind, it can be fraught with a strong current, so do not swim far into the ocean during such periods.
5. If you dive for long periods of time in a place with lots of boats, make to look up before going up, so you do not find yourself under the blades of the boat.
6. If you want to snorkel in the shallow water at low tide, go in fins or coral slippers to avoid hurting your foot.
7. Choose time mainly at low tide, because you will then be more comfortable to get to a point from which you can already swim.
There are many dive centres on Trawangan Island that offer both one-time dives and certified diving courses. The three centres on Gili Trawangan offer a deep-sea technical diving course.
There are about 25 dive sites around the islands and a keen diver will always find something to do. Among the best and most active dive centers on Travangan are Manta Dive Gili Trawangan (there is a Russian instructor), Blue Marlin Dive Gili Trawangan, Trawangan Dive, Dive Central & Pesona Dive Resort, Gili Divers Gili Trawangan. They all provide pre-diving pool lessons and accommodation in their own dive resorts. Oceans 5, 3W Dive, Blue Marlin Gili Air, Manta Dive Gili Air are recommended for Gili Air.
Diving prices in all dive centers are the same. All Gili Island centres that are members of GIDA are required to adhere to a clearly defined price for diving and training. Therefore, it makes no sense to run from one centre to the next and look for cheaper ones.
Due to the large concentration of centers, there is intense competition between them, which is not expressed in terms of discounts, but in the fact that the centers provide very high standards of training and safety. In most cases, foreigners work as dive instructors at Gili, who check the equipment several times before diving.
After the earthquake, two dive centers has been opened in Meno. Blue Marlin Gili Meno can be highly recommended. It is located on a beach street on the east side of the island. If you want to get the most qualified approach and training in Russian, come dive in Gili Trawangan.
In the evenings, the central street of the eastern beach of Trawangan is lounging with the sounds of a wide variety of music. DJs play house, small bands play reggae or famous rock and pop hits.
Musicians and DJs usually stay in open restaurants by the beach or in bars along the road, so all you have to do is walk 10 minutes along the main street, from the port to the north and from the port to the south to see where the heat is today.
On the west side of the island, parties are held near The Excile Beach Club. It has the most pleasant sunset atmosphere, there is a swing for photographing. And right after sunset, the drum orchestra starts performing.
There is a very pleasant relaxed atmosphere at the parties, people just enjoy the music.
Main places of concerts and parties on Trawangan:
Wednesday - Tir Na Nog - Irish pub, Sand Bar - beach reggae bar, Ombak Bar - electronic music from house to techno, Jiggy Bar - hip-hop parties
Saturday - Sama Sama - reggae bar
Sunday - Evolution - and an acoustic concert and DJ
Every night - Warung Warna - popular rock hits in a restaurant on the beach.
There are no parties at Meno. Sasak Cafe on the west coast occasionally hosts live music concerts. You can hear music from Gili T until 3 am.
On Gili Air, concerts take place either on the west coast in the bars of Cheeky Monkey, Lumbung, or on the northeast coast in Legend Bar. On Mondays from 7 p.m., the Mexican Kitchen restaurant offers salsa classes and salsa parties. Entrance is free. All you have to do is buy some food and drink.
Trips to Lombok
Many of the travel agencies can book a trip to Lombok. It costs Rp. 350,000 (minimum 3 people required) and includes Benang Kelambu Falls, a traditional village and rice paddies. The ascent of Rinjani is now suspended for security reasons.
It is also possible to book a tour to Komodo for 4 days and 3 nights in the tourist agencies. The tour includes snorkeling equipment and food. The final point of the tour is the port city of Labuan Bajo on the island of Flores.
horses on the southeast beach of Gili Meno
If you come to one of the bars on the west side by sunset, you'll probably see local guys riding horses in shallow water. They offer a ride which costs Rp. 100,000 for 15 minutes. An hour will cost you Rp 350,000 to 400,000.
Sunset overlooking Agung
What else you can try in these peaceful waters:
- parasailing - Rp. 750,000 per session
- kayaking - for one Rp 100,000per hour - for two Rp 150,000 per hour
- wakeboarding per boat - Rp. 500,000 an hour session - Rp. 900,000 with an instructor
- subwing - Rp. 350,000.
- yoga at sea on a stand-up paddle board - Rp. 200,000 per class
photo: Fly gili SUP yoga
on the blackboard with her goat teacher, photo: Fly gili SUP yoga
All this entertainment is available on Gili Trawangan. Kayaks can be taken to Gili Air.
Water extreme can be booked via WhatsAap (+62 81 907 683 924 - Eddy) facebook: fly gili parasailing
yoga (+62 81 907 845 203 - Marki) facebook: fly gili sup yoga
Yoga classes are offered by Freedive Trawangan. The yoga studio is located 50 metres from the main road.
photo: Freedive Gili
There is also a very unusual yoga studio located in a tree house on the west side of the island in Sunset Beach Villa. Gentle Flow and Fly High classes cost Rp. 130,000 per class.
Meno has few places with yoga classes. Since there are a few tourists on the island, there are usually not many students. Yoga on Meno is in Mao Meno, Made Madya.
There are now two yoga centres in Gili Air. H2O offers more traditional yoga and focuses on hatha yoga. This studio has existed longer and is more famous. Another young and fast-growing yoga studio is Flowers & Fire. It offers morning vinyasa classes and evening classes - yin yoga and slow flow.
Yoga studio Flowers & Fire, photo: @hanz_johansson
On Sundays at 11.00 a.m., meditation classes are held, and on Mondays evening film screenings are organized. The studio has a small hotel with separate bungalows, a shared hostel bedroom and an organic and healthy restaurant.
Healthy food in Flowers & Fire yoga studio, photo: @encasbyjustine
There are beautiful sunsets on the hill on Trawangan. This is a great place for evening gatherings and photos.
The islands themselves are a natural attraction that completely changes the psychology of anyone who stays here for more than a couple of days.
The Japanese cannon from World War II, which stands in the central mosque, was considered a landmark on Gili T before, but after the earthquake it was fenced off and hasn't been reached yet.
The underwater statue of Nest on Gili Meno and the Biorock complexes on Trawangan and Air, as well as sunken ships on Bounty Shipwreck and Shark Point, can be considered sightseeing places on the islands.
Meno has a salt lake in the middle of the island. The only difference is that it has a bar and Brotherhood, an eco-centre on its eastern shore that serves as a base for eco-activists on Gili Meno. The jewellery in this outdoor area is made from recycled materials such as plastic, cans and lids. A portrait of Bob Marley in the center of the bar is also made of them.
"Brotherhood" of eco-activists on Gili Meno
And in the yard there is a two-storey building of the eco-center made of picturesque snags. In the lake itself you will not be able to swim. It is shallow, and the water in it is not transparent.
Shops and markets
There are no big shops on the islands. Most of the trade is through small supermarkets and local shops. Gili Trawangan along the central eastern street has a lot of minimalist shops with everything you need.
If you go a hundred meters further from the port to the middle of the island, in the morning you can find a small shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. In the eastern part of Ikan Hiu Street (shark) there is a good Ida Market.
If you walk through the streets passing through the center of Gili Trawangan, you will find fruit and vegetable shops of the locals.
Along Trawangan's main street there are shops with beachwear, souvenirs and water sports goods. If you decide to buy some diving goods, you can buy them at the dive centers. At the same time, all the necessary equipment for diving is given out during the dive.
On Trawangan, near the main street, there are 2-3 shops with rather pleasant beach sundresses and dresses. The price ranges from Rp. 250,000 to 300,000, but sellers can easily drop Rp. 50,000 at the first request for a "discount".
There is a very nice shop with jewelry called Yin in Gili T and Air. This shop has a branch in Ubud as well. In addition to jewelry, there are accessories and organic cosmetics for body and face care.
In Air, on the main street that goes from the port to the north, there is a Pink Coco shop with an unusual concept. It is divided into 5 pavilions, which offer clothes, accessories, jewelry and decorative items, separated by colors. There are shops with goods in blue, red, pink, green, black and white colors and their combinations and neutral shades. It's just a very nice place with a picturesque courtyard, which you can visit even if you didn't plan on shopping.
In Air, you can easily find fresh fruits and vegetables in the local stores (warungs) by the road. There are 4-5 such stores in the center of the island. One of the most universal and largest supermarkets is Siti Market. In addition, locals distribute fresh vegetables and fruit in trolleys across the island.
On Meno locals keep all shops and shops. Fruit can also be bought in the shops and warungs. One of the largest shops is Rust, which is located right in the port. It has a wide range of sun creams and snorkeling products.
There is no central market in Meno. A boat withfood of food comes to the port around 10:00 a.m. and there you can buy fruits.
Food prices on Gili are about the same as those on Bali. Trawangan has elegant restaurants and very inexpensive local eateries, which can be located in a luxurious restaurant area between the main street of the east beach and the beach. And the price of Nasi campur will be Rp 15,000.
Gili Trawangan's restaurants include Jali Kitchen, an Asian fusion restaurant serving Vietnamese, Thai, Indian and Indonesian cuisine, home-style Vietnamese chef, Pituq is a strictly vegan restaurant with home-made Indonesian food, where guests can enjoy tofu ceviche and vegan rendang,
a cafe Pituk
Pearl of Trawangan is the restaurant of the four-star bamboo hotel of the same name that will suit the lovers of high and dainty cuisine, Tiki Grove is a restaurant specializing in Polynesian cuisine and amazes with its tacos, vegetarian dumplings and the best cocktails on the island.
Pizzeria Regina is a pizzeria with delicious carbonara, Kayu Cafe is a stylish healthy restaurant for meat-eaters and vegetarians with divine juices and avocado toast,
Banyan Three is a vegetarian restaurant from a Finnish manager with smoothies and vegetarian dishes that disprove the myth that life without meat is not cool. There is even an authentic Chinese restaurant on the island, created by a thoroughbred Chinese woman. It is simply called "Fang", which means rice.
A bottle of water in the shops costs Rp 6.000-12.000 for 1.5 liters. By the way, many dive centers have Refill My Bottle program, which allows you to fill your multi-glaze bottle with water for a small fee or free of charge.
Gili Air Island's hits are Pachamama's healthy cuisine restaurant, with stunning interiors and a host of rare ingredients and components of its own making, including pickled vegetables, kombucha and jam. Mexican Kitchen is an authentic Mexican restaurant, opened by a Turkish woman who has learned all the intricacies of this cuisine and opened up the first island’s Mexican cuisine. Mowie's is a great restaurant for both sunset and a delicious breakfast, created by one of the first eco-activists on the island. Camilla is a restaurant that combines Japanese and Italian cuisine from an Italian owner who is crazy about traditional sushi and original and innovative sushi. Camilla is on the sunset side and in the evenings shines with flashlights and brings a romantic mood.
Gourmets will have a hard time on Meno. It is difficult here with good restaurants. Yes, there are some expensive places with high prices, but among them there are very few that we would like to recommend. It is worth mentioning the restaurant of Maha Maya Resort (Mahamaya) and Sasak Cafe on the west coast. If you want to save some money on food, go to the famous Pak Man & Bu Ati and order a Nasi Campur for Rp. 15,000. The place is very Indonesian in its simplicity. Suitable for those who want to feel the spirit of the Gilis countryside.
The sea around the islands is protected from large waves by a coral reef, so even in bad weather it is quiet and peaceful. Gili is a real paradise for young parents who travel, as you can always bathe with your children. The sea is very gentle and friendly.
All the islands of Gili have beautiful snorkeling, many turtles, very funny and diverse fauna, beautiful corals.
Gilis also has good surfing. We do not recommend going there specifically for surfing, but if you suddenly find yourself in Gilis during the swell then, you can surf.
The surf point is located in the southeast of Gili Trawangan, just behind The Pearl of Trawangan Resort. There are a couple of board rental centers there. They offer boards for Rp. 100,000 for 1.5 hours. A good wave can be found on Gili Trawangan in September-October. The spot is called Bongkas.
Another surf point is located on Gili Air, also on the southeast side. It is believed to be even better than on Trawangan. And it is also called Bongkas.
Safety and health
1. Don't drink cheap alcohol in bars on the Gili Islands. This is dangerous.
2. Consider currents if you are going to snorkel without an organised tour. Take your friends with you.
If you are a girl, do not drive alone on a road that runs from west to east through the centre of Gili Trawangan without light sources. There is a section where there are no lanterns and it is a bit scary to drive.
4. The general medicine, plasters and betadine can be bought at any store on the road. If you need a more serious approach - you can go to one of the medical centers. In Trawangan, it is the centre of the Warna Hotel and Warung, and the Villa Ombak Medical Centre.
At Meno, the health centre is currently closed. There is a tent near the mosque, where medicines are collected and distributed free of charge to those who have got sick. There are several clinics and pharmacies in Gili Air, but again, if there is something serious going on, the sick patient would be sent to either Lombok or Bali.
5. If you are going to go or walk at night through some deserted parts of the island, take flashlights or loaded phones with you. There is no public lighting. Light comes only from private homes. Without light it is not dangerous to walk, you are unlikely to fall into a hole, fall and break something. It's just more pleasant to walk with the light. The situation with street lighting is best resolved on Gili Air. There are houses with light almost everywhere.
Trawangan is known as a "party island", but it's actually a one-sided opinion. From the p