There are three Gili Islands: Gili Trawangan or short Gili T is the biggest and most popular island. Gili Meno is the smallest and Gili Air is the middle one and my favorite. The Gilis are situated in front of Lombok and the religion is unlike Bali not Hindu, but Muslim. “Air” means water in Indonesian and this name is just perfect because the water is AMAZING!
Why you should go
Gili Air is the perfect island escape. There are no cars or motorbikes on the island, hence no traffic noise. It is perfect to relax, snorkel and enjoy the beauty of nature while sipping a coconut. If want to take some amazing pictures, Gili Air is perfect for you. White sandy beaches, crystal clear and blue water and palm trees everywhere.
How to get there
Unlike Nusa Lembongan the trip is a bit a longer. The two most popular ways to go to Gili Air:
From Sanur: Around 30 Minutes from Canggu to Sanur with the car and then around three hours with the boat to Gili Air. I suggest going with Scoot boat company.
From Padang-Padang Bay: Around 1 to 1.5h hours from Canggu with the car (deepening on Bali traffic) and 1.5 hours on the boat.
This is my preferred way because the boat trip is quite bumpy to the Gilis and then I rather am in a car – sitting in the front, of course.
Be careful: Some boat companies offer free pick-up from Canggu or Seminyak. Make sure to ask them first, if this is a direct transport! Mine wasn’t which meant I spent over three hours in a car because we went to Sanur first instead of driving directly to padang-padang. Lesson learned. You can either get your own private driver or take an Uber to the port.
Alternative you can also fly to Lombok which takes you around 30 minutes and is super cheap, then you take a boat from there which is max. 20 minutes. This is definitely my next option to try because I am not a huge fan of those long bumpy boat trips.
Best places to stay in Gili Air
There are many cool beautiful places to stay in Gili Air and I will go back and try them all. For now, I share with you my top three places.
This place is actually advertised as a hostel (there are open-air dorms..) Well not completely open air, but there are no walls and therefore no AC so it can get quite hot.
It does make my top 3 though (in fact if I could pick ONE it would be this one!) so let’s get on to the reasons why! 🙂
The little bungalows at this place are just too cute AND they have amazing double bedrooms.
Take a look for yourself here! (Pretty cool right?!)
You can sit on your veranda..
read a book..
or even work, because their Wi-Fi is great which is a rarity on the island!
They don’t use milk, only coconut milk, to cook (hallelujah) and offer you gluten free options.
Their food is healthy and so yummy, so even if you don’t stay there, go for an Acai Bowl or a vegan cheesecake!
The Location is also a HUGE plus.
This side of the island it is much quieter and it is called the sunset side because obviously this is where the sun sets. There are restaurants and cute sunset bars, but it’s a bit quieter and has this nice chilled vibe.
Double rooms, Single rooms, and even a 3-bedroom Jogolo Scallywags has it all.
The resort is located near the port and has an amazing restaurant with seafood BBQ.
Scallywags offers dive and hotel packages so if you’re into diving, this is the place to go for you.
Do you want to have your private villa?
Be sure to take a look at Slow Gili Air!
This place boasts 10 luxury private villas..
You can choose between a one or two bedroom villa and you even get your own private pool.
They also have a spa and everything is created to slow down.
For a more high end option the prices are surprisingly good too – check them out here!
Where to eat & drink
For healthy food, acai bowls, or people with food intolerances like me. Since I stayed there I had also breakfast there every day and absolutely loved it.
This place turned out to be so good that I went there more than just once. The food is absolutely incredible and perfect for after sunset. Your table is in the sand while you listen to acoustic music and the best part: it is not expensive at all. A must go dinner or lunch place. It is also located on the sunset side of Gili Air.
Sunrise Beach Club Restaurant
Try Seafood BBQ. I had an amazing experience in this Restaurant. If you try the BBQ option you can choose your fresh fish, lobster etc. and a side of baked potatoes and all you can eat salad bar. I had the snapper and paid only 9K yes only 9AUD and the food was delicious. Highly recommend going there for dinner
Location: This place is on the other side of the island near the port. I walked all the way from captain coconut and it took be about 15-20 minutes.
This wonderful Italian Restaurant is located just next to Captain Coconuts and seriously surprised me. I had no idea that you could find such great Italian food on a tiny island, but I did. The pasta I had was amazing even the bread was great. Yes, if you are craving some carbs, you need to go there. Seriously.
This place is great for lunch! I had an amazing sandwich and salad. They have a big menu with both healthy options and burgers. It is located in a small gang right near the port, so perfect for lunch when you took the morning ferry.
Gili Air: What to do
What to do on a tiny island like Gili Air you might think. Well, there is a lot and I need to go back just to try everything.
First of all: get yourself a bicycle and cruise around the island. I don’t know about you but it gives me the ultimate island feeling when there are no cars and you can just drive around barefoot on your bicycle
Snorkeling & Diving
Ok, I don’t dive, so I can’t give you many authentic tips on that, but there are many dive centers and the Gilis are also a perfect place to learn. If you are like me and you like to see some colorful fishes, but don’t like the deep blue see, Gili Air is perfect!! The water is so clear, the reef is just breathtaking and here comes the best part: TURTLES! Yes, there are many turtles and it was seriously on of my favorite snorkeling experience.
I highly recommend renting a private boat. I rented mine through reception at Captain Coconuts and we paid 600K for a 4h trip. If you are, like me, with a few friends this is the perfect option. The guide takes you to Gili T, Gili Meno, and Gili Air and knows where the good spots and the turtles are.
I also so a public boat (around 150K per person) with like 30 -40 people on it and they are all in the water at the same time. Bye Bye turtles.
On Gili Air, there are two yoga places where you can practice and they both offer drop-in classes.
These places offer yoga and meditation and you can even book a retreat or package.
Definitly a must try. Mandalablue offers sea view yoga. Practice your yoga and watch and have an overview on the beautiful ocean.
Good to know
Like I mentioned, in the beginning, there are no cars on this island. There are horse-cars which are small wagons with a horse in front. I honestly don’t like it all, but it is your only option if you don’t want to carry your suitcase – or just travel light.
Once arrived at your hotel just grab a bicycle and cruise around the island.
There is an ATM on the island and most of the hotels you can also pay with credit card, but still, take some cash with you – you never know when the ATM is empty.
Since it is a small island they do have to save energy and it is possible that you will experience a power cut once in a while. So just chill and go to the ocean.