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  4. Gili Islands in Indonesia: hotels, restaurants, entertainment, transport

Gili is an Indonesian archipelago consisting of three coral islands: Trawangan (or Gili T), Air and Meno. They are located in the Lombok Strait, a few kilometers northwest of the resort of the same name. Therefore, most tourists come to the islands from here, as well as from Bali, which is located only 35 km away.

  • The total area of the islands is 15 km².
  • The population is about 4,500 people of different ethnic groups: Sasaks, Balinesians, Chinese and Arab Indonesians, Sumbawa and others.
  • Gili is translated from the Sasak language as "island". Sometimes the archipelago is also called “emerald” due to the tropical forests that abundantly cover all 3 islands.
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History of the resort

The history of the development of the islands is still a mystery. The first written mention of them is associated with the Second World War. Then there was a Japanese prisoner of war camp and an observation post. In the 70s, local fishermen began to stop on the islands, later the Indonesians planted coconut plantations here, which traditionally sent prisoners from the Mataram prison to cultivate. Many of them stayed on Gili and founded the first settlements.

In the 80s, backpackers from Bali began to come here, and already in 1982, the first hotel was opened on Trawangan - Pak Majid, now known as Pesona Resort and Restaurant.

In the 80s and 90s, the islands became famous as a great place for diving and fun parties. Since then, the flow of tourists there has only increased.


The climate of the Gili Islands

Due to the proximity to the equator, the climate on Gili is warm tropical with temperatures ranging from + 22°C to + 34°C. Thanks to the mountains in Bali and Lombok, which, as it were, surround the archipelago, there is less rainfall here than in neighboring resorts.

When is the best time to go

From November to May on Gili is the rainy season, but they go mostly at night. At this time, there are fewer tourists and cheaper prices. The hottest months are from April to September.


How to get to Gili

Gili does not have an airport. You can get there only by water transport from Bali or Lombok. In the late 90s Bounty catamarans Cruises connected Gili to Lombok and Bali, and were replaced by BlueWater speedboats in 2005 Express and others.

Mostly tourists go to Trawangan, and from there to other Gili Islands. Speedboats to Trawangan depart from three ports in Bali:

  1. South Serangan
  2. Central Padang Bai
  3. Northern Amed

We recommend using the port of Padang Bai (Padang Bai), as the transfer from here will be the fastest and therefore safest. Depending on the boat, port and weather, the trip will take from one to 4 hours. It is best to buy tickets online on the websites of Wahana companies Gili Ocean, Eka Jaya, more luxury bluewater Bluewater Express, Gili Fast Boat or consolidator platforms.

Usually, transfers are provided from the hotel in Bali to the port and back. Check out the WIOTTO catalog for such offers.

The cost of a one-way speedboat trip will be from $30 to $70, depending on the company, season and time before the trip.

Please note that most boats depart in the morning. This is primarily due to the fact that the ocean is calmer in the morning. You also need to take into account the season. The most favorable weather conditions for the operation of water transport are from April to June and from October to December.

“Slow” ferries also remained. They depart from the central Balinese port of Padang Bai every 60-90 minutes. In this case, you will have to sail for about 4 hours to the island of Lombok, there you will move to another port and from there go to Gili. In total, the whole journey, taking into account the waiting and transfers, takes about 8 hours. But it will cost about $ 5 one way.

Also, Gili T can be reached by ferry from the port of Bangsal on Lombok. It only takes about 30 minutes and costs from 70 cents to 5.5 dollars, depending on the type of ferry (regular public or fast). By the way, Lombok has an airport, so you can get here from Bali by plane, and already use water transport to Gili.

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Transport within and between the islands

Cars, motorcycles or scooters are not allowed on Gili. The only transport here is bicycles or horse-drawn teams (cidomo). Water transport is also used to move between the islands: hopping island boats, speed boats or private charters.

Hopping tickets are sold at the port of each of the three islands island boats and speed boats. You can also see the schedule there. Boats depart several times a day depending on the season.

Ride on the usual hopping island boat will last about 30 minutes and cost from $ 2.5 per way, on a fast one - up to 10 minutes, and will cost about $ 6. If you buy tickets at a hotel or other ticket offices, you will have to overpay at least 2 times. You can also order individual charters for a time that suits you. To do this, you can use the site gili-islandtransfers.com. The cost will be displayed here.



The official currency on Gili is the Indonesian Rupiah, which is approximately US$0.000067. In most hotels and restaurants, you will be able to pay with a bank card, and cash may be required for shopping and other expenses. There are ATMs on all the islands, but it often happens that there is no money in them or they do not work. Therefore, we recommend taking care of the currency in Bali or Lombok.


Islands and resorts of Gili

Gili Trawangan

Gili T is the largest, busiest and most developed island in the archipelago, although even it can be traveled from end to end in half an hour on a bicycle. Trawangan is a vibrant hangout and one of the safest and cheapest spots in the world to learn how to dive.

Beaches on Trawangan

All three islands are famous for their clean sandy beaches with many bars and cafes. The beaches here are designated mainly by the cardinal points:

  • Northeast or Coral beach - ideal for fans to watch the underwater world, as it is simply incredible here.
  • Western beaches - it is from these beaches that we recommend enjoying the sunset, as well as here near the Ombak hotel Sunset is famous installation - swing in the ocean.
  • Southern or Good Heart Beach is the place of the best beach parties on the island.

Hotels on Trawangan

With accommodation on Gili T, since most of the hotels in the archipelago are concentrated here. For those who want a more relaxing, luxurious holiday with the opportunity to meet amazing sunsets right from the room, we recommend staying on the west coast:

  • Suite options: Gili Eco Villas, Gili Treehouse.
  • Average budget: Lumi Gili Trawangan, La Cocoteraie Ecolodge, Gili Teak Resort, ASTON Sunset Beach Resort, Ombak Beach Resort, Kardia Resort Gili A Pramana Experience.
  • Budget option: Mad Monkey Gili Trawangan, Santorini Beach Resort.

For those who want to be in the center of the movement, closer to all the infrastructure and nightclubs, we advise you to choose one of the hotels on the east coast:

  • Suite options: Pearl of Trawangan, Gili Palms Villas, Amalika Luxury Private Pool Villa.
  • Average budget: Trawangan Dive Resort, Pesona Beach Resort & Spa, Scallywags Resort, Martas Hotel, Soraya Yoga Wellness Center.
  • Budget options: Gili Nyepi, Koi Gili Guest House, My Gili Paradise, Lost Paradise Gili.
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Restaurants, bars, shops

There will be no problems with establishments on Trawangan either. There is plenty of everything, for every taste and budget.

  • For breakfast and coffee, we recommend going to Hellocapitano lifestyle Cafe or Coffee & Thyme.
  • The best pizza is at Francesco's Pizza.
  • Burgers - at Voodoo kitchen.
  • Seafood - at Karma Kayak, Scallywags sea food Bar & Grill, Egoiste Restaurant, Ko Ko Mo Restaurant, Pearl beach Lounge, the latter also has a good cocktail menu.
  • We recommend trying local cuisine in Gili Frame, Wajan Sister cafe, Jali Kitchen and, of course, at the Night Market, which opens closer to sunset. Here you can find everything from local fruits and seafood to full meals, snacks and desserts.
  • Bars on the island are mostly open until midnight, but on certain days of the week, certain bars can serve until 3 am.

There are no big supermarkets here, but there are many small shops. Usually they open at 7 am and work until 9-10 pm.

What to see on Trawangan

  • Observation deck at the highest point of Gili T in the south of the island: it offers views of Lombok, Bali and other Gili Islands.
  • The traditional performance of "Presean", which is a duel between two rivals. Takes place every Sunday afternoon in the market square.
  • Casa Vintage Store is a vintage shop and bar where a big fire is lit every evening and the sunset is watched.
  • A turtle hatchery where, if you're lucky, you can release a baby turtle into the ocean.
  • Masjid Mosque Agung Baiturrahman.
  • Gili Park Golf with a golf course and other games, as well as a bar.
  • Open air cinema at Le Pirate Beach Club Hotel.


Gili Meno

Gili Meno is the smallest and quietest island in the archipelago. It attracts lovers of elite recreation and incredible natural landscapes. It is he who is often chosen by newlyweds for their honeymoon. In the depths of the island there is a small village where about 400 people of the local population live. Most of the tourist infrastructure is concentrated in the north, while the south is poorly equipped.


It is believed that the most beautiful beaches in the north of the island. There is no such developed infrastructure, but nature compensates for everything. The eastern beaches are best equipped. Among them, the most popular is Gili Meno, with azure waters, spectacular corals and underwater life.

Gili Meno Hotels

There are not so many hotels on Gili Meno - they are mostly small, without a pool. In the center of the island there are budget options: bungalows and hostels; look for luxury hotels on the coasts.

  • For connoisseurs of luxury apartments we offer: Meno House, The Island Houses Gili Meno, LE PIRATE GILI MENO.
  • For an average budget, we recommend: United Colors of Gili, Gili Meno Escape (adults only), Meno Dream Resort, Coco Bale.
  • More budget options: Kampung Meno Bungalows, Villa Kinagu, Laba Laba Bungalow, hostel The Rabbit Tree.
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Restaurants, bars, shops

Most of the hotels on the island offer breakfast, and you can have lunch or dinner at local restaurants. Of course, there are many times fewer of them than on Trawangan, but you definitely won’t stay here without delicious food. Recommended to visit Mahamaya with open kitchen and Karma beach. These are beach restaurants where you can order dishes of both local and European cuisine. For inexpensive and delicious Indonesian food and seafood, head to Sasak, Pak Man Warung Buati or Ya Ya Warung.

Please note that the shops on Gili Meno are very small and the assortment there is quite limited.

What to watch

  • Bolong's Turtle Sanctuary Turtle Sanctuary
  • Salt lake with mangroves
  • Underwater sculptural composition Nest
  • Masjid mosque Gili Meno


Gili Air

Gili Air is the most eastern and authentic island with a calm bohemian atmosphere. This is the best place to get to know the local culture as much as possible and relax in one of the many warungs. The west coast is considered less infrastructurally developed, but thanks to that - more calm.


Eastern beaches are very popular, as they have good infrastructure, and most importantly, an interesting coral reef along the coast. But keep in mind that because of this, there will not be a smooth entry into the water.

Western beaches are about azure water, white sand, beautiful sunsets, relaxation and peace. At the same time, in the southwest there are many beach clubs, bars with lounge areas, and the closer to the north, the less often they come across.


Those who do not plan to spend a lot on housing, focus on the interior and northwestern part of the island. Mostly these will be bungalows, guesthouses and homestays.

  • Here are some good budget options: Two Brothers Villa, Kai's Beach House Villa, Nanas Homestay, Lelah Lalok Homestay, Rangga homestay.
  • Average segment: Senang Villa, The Koho Air Hotel, KyGunAya Villa, Chill Out Bungalows.
  • Elite options: Vyaana Resort, PinkCoco Gili Air, Samata Village Gili Air.
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Restaurants, bars, shops

Gili Air is a mecca for connoisseurs of small authentic establishments with a cozy atmosphere.

  • We recommend trying Indonesian dishes at Ruby's local restaurants Cafe, Chili bar and Restaurant or Warung Gili.
  • For original sandwiches, head to Shark Bite.
  • For burgers - in Olala cafe and Mowies.
  • For the freshest and most delicious pastries - in Breadelicious.
  • For lovers of superfoods, gluten-free and vegetarian food - Musa Cookery - mast tray.
  • Delicious Italian food at Mama's and Classico.

Please note that there are only a few grocery stores on the island (the largest is Siti Shop in the center of the village) and they close quite early.

What to watch

  • centers yoga Flowers & Fire Yoga Garden and H2O Yoga & Meditation Center;
  • central mosque Masjid Moscow Gili Air.


Things to do on Gili

The best diving and snorkeling spots on Gili

Diving is one of the main reasons why tourists go to Gili. The underwater world here is simply incredible and is represented by an impressive reef, which, because of its scale, is called the “underwater Chinese wall”; dozens of species of fish, turtles; sunken ships and underwater sculptures. Each of the islands has the necessary infrastructure, diving schools that conduct diving trips and PADI certified courses for divers of different levels.

Half of the islands dive spots are open to beginners, but some require a special Open certificate water Padi course. It is issued after completing the corresponding course lasting 3 days and costing about $ 400. If you are not sure if diving will come to you, you can take a test course with one lecture and a trial dive.

Most diving centers are located on Trawangan. The most popular even have their own hotels, among them: Manta Dive, Trawangan Dive Center, Blue Marlin Gili and Mango Dive, on Gili Air, Manta is considered the top Dive Resort. If you are a fan of freediving, then go straight to Gili Air, there are specialized Freedive centers Flow or Gili Air Divers. The most popular diving sites on Gili are:

  • Shark Point (Gili T)
  • Manta Point (Gili T)
  • Turtle Heaven (Meno)
  • Deep Turbo (between Gili T and Meno)
  • Meno Wall (Meno)
  • Simon's Reef (Meno)

Gili and snorkeling will be no less impressive. All 3 islands are suitable for this, but Meno still holds the palm. In addition to the usual format, you can also swim with turtles or sharks on Gili. Snorkeling tours are sold at diving and tourist centers and usually include several swimming spots. The most popular are:

  • Underwater sculptural composition Nest near Meno Island
  • Meno slope
  • Meno Bounty
  • Trawangan Slope (opposite Villa Almarik)
  • Turtle Point (on the northeast coast of Gili T)

In general, Trawangan spots for snorkeling are scattered on many beaches and are often marked with signs “Turtle Point". But don't get fooled. This does not always mean that you will be swimming with turtles.



Surfing and windsurfing is best developed on the southwest coasts of Gili T and Meno, with year-round reef breaks. Most of the surfboard rentals are also located here. But be careful with the currents. They are especially dangerous from the side of Lombok.



Trawangan is the only one of the three islands that is elevated. It is located in the southern part of Gili T. On the way to the top, hiking enthusiasts will find a Muslim shrine, the remains of a Japanese observation post from the Second World War and, at the end, for the journey they have made, a reward in the form of incredible panoramas from the highest observation deck of the islands.



Cycling is the perfect way to explore the islands. We recommend going for a walk early in the morning or closer to sunset, when it is not so hot. Renting a bike is not difficult, there are rentals in almost every guesthouse, hotel and near ports. Pay about $ 3 and you can ride all day. The best developed roads are Gili Air and Trawangan (except for a few kilometers of dirt road in the northwest). On Meno, the coverage is far from ideal.


Boat trips

Many local tour operators offer boat trips between the islands, most of which include snorkeling stops. You can also organize fishing or spearfishing from the ship. Glass bottom boat trips are very popular. This option for 2 hours will cost from $ 60 for two.


Walks on horse-drawn carriages

Another way to travel around the islands and explore them is by horse-drawn carriages or in the local “cidomo”. The easiest way to rent them is near the ports. The cost is about the same as for bicycles. There are 2- and 4-seater options. On Meno and Trawangan you can also ride a horse. It's especially cool to do it at sunset. Such walks are organized by Stud agencies. Horse Riding Adventures or Sunset Stables.


Culinary master classes

Almost every day, local chefs hold cooking classes where you can learn how to cook local food and enjoy the masterpiece of your own cooking. This activity is especially common on Gili T (Sweet & Spicy Gili Cooking School) and Gili Air (Gili Cooking classes). The average cost of a 2-hour master class is about $30. On the menu: lokshina mi goreng, Taliwang chicken, steamed fish, traditional sauces.


SPA and yoga

For the best spa treatments, head to the salons on the southeast coast of Trawangan. Gili Air is famous for its Flowers & Fire yoga centers Yoga Garden & H2O Yoga & Meditation center. Here, in addition to classes, they also offer spa treatments and massages. On Gili T for yogis works The Yoga Place.


Night life

Gili T is considered the most party island. Traditionally, this is a reggae island, but now you can hear everything here: from live performances of local musicians to house and hip hop. Most of the bars and clubs here are open until midnight, but every day there is a "duty" bar, which is open almost until the morning. The main party schedule on Trawangan looks like this:

  • Monday: Blue marlin
  • Tuesday: Jiggy
  • Wednesday : Tir Na Nog (Irish bar)
  • Thursday: no parties due to Friday prayer
  • Friday: Sand bar
  • Saturday: Sama Sama (local music, mostly reggae)
  • Sunday: Evolution

All these clubs are located on the beach and each has its own traditional drinks.

The loudest parties take place on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as on full moon days ( Full Moon party).

Among the best party places of the island:

  • Mad Monkey Gili Trawangan is a beach bar with happy hours for alcohol (you pay for 2 drinks, you get 1 extra), an infinity pool and cool DJ sets.
  • Jiggy Bar - with many great deals on alcohol, DJ sets and party boats.
  • Lava - bar with inexpensive alcohol and Rock'n Roll Bingo on Fridays.
  • Sama Sam a is a favorite place for tourists and locals with live music.
  • Jungle.
  • Exile - here you can hear musicians playing traditional drums.
  • Malibu Beach Club.

On Gili Meno you can listen to live reggae music and drink a glass of cold Bintang (Indonesian beer) in Sasak Island Cafe. Also parties are arranged by Legend Bar.


Cuisine on the islands

The basis of the local cuisine is rice (especially fried), meat and seafood dishes. They add a lot of different spices, but the food is not spicy. Among the local specialties we recommend to try:

  • Naxi Goreng - fried rice with various additives.
  • Mi goreng - fried noodles with various additives.
  • Setai - grilled chicken, beef or seafood skewers with spices.
  • Rendnag - meat in coconut sauce.
  • Naxi uduk - rice in coconut milk with meat, chicken and fried onions.
  • Gado-gado - a warm vegetable salad with tofu and sometimes an egg.
  • Shark fin soup.

Among the local drinks on Gili, rice vodka, Bintang beer, tea and juices from local fruits are popular. For those with a sweet tooth, we recommend trying Indonesian dessert martabak, which looks like a pancake with nuts, chocolate or cream cheese.


Vacation with children

Despite the fact that Gili, especially Trawangan, is primarily known as a resort for divers and party people, you can also go here with children. There are no hotels with children's animation, children's rooms, etc., but there is beautiful nature, the ocean and activities that will provide a quality family vacation. For example, snorkeling, boating and canoeing, biking and horseback riding; cooking classes, evening dances, open-air films; visiting nurseries of turtles and local exotic animals. If you have a child of middle school age and older, most likely, he will start to miss Gili in 4 days. Therefore, plan a trip to the islands for a not very long period.

It is believed that it is best to choose the east coast of Gili Meno for families with children. The infrastructure is well developed there and the music of night parties from Trawangan will not interfere.

If you are traveling with kids, then take everything you need with you: baby food, care and hygiene products, medicines, since you won’t be able to buy it here.


Interesting facts and tips

  • The majority of Gili 's population is fluent in English.
  • Since the majority of the population here is Muslim, Friday is considered a day off. Wednesday corresponds to our Friday there. Therefore, it is on these days that the loudest parties fall.
  • Here you can not sunbathe naked and walking around the island in swimsuits is not welcome.
  • Be careful with local alcoholic distilled drinks and cocktails based on them. Many cases of poisoning are known.
  • Bargain! This will give you the opportunity to save a lot, especially on water transport.
  • There are problems with fresh water on the islands, so it is more likely that you will have to wash with salt in the shower. It is strictly forbidden to drink from the tap. Buy in bottles.
  • There is no permanent police presence on the islands. This is the main reason why drugs can be found here. Hallucinogenic mushrooms can be bought in many bars and it is absolutely legal, unlike marijuana, which is sold here, despite the official ban. At the same time, Gili is quite safe.
  • There are no hospitals on the islands, and there are very few pharmacies, so take a first aid kit and all the necessary care and hygiene products with you.
  • Meno Air has no evening lighting.


On the islands, sometimes you have to walk along a dirt road, which gets very wet during the rainy season. Keep this in mind when choosing shoes.


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