Which of the Gili Islands Should You Visit?

Which of the Gili Islands Should You Visit?

Gili Trawangan, Gili Air or Gili Meno? If you can’t decide which to pick, this brief overview of each of them will help you.

The Gili Islands, off the coast of Lombok, is a series of three tiny islands where everyone from backpackers to honeymooners flock. They are about one to two hours away from Bali by fast boat. Motorized vehicles are not allowed and pedestrians, bikes, and horse-drawn carts rule the streets. Boat tours that take you to each island for snorkelling and diving are popular and available on all three islands. You can relax on the beach, snorkel, scuba dive, and find great food and tropical drinks on all three islands, but each one has its own unique vibe. If you’re wondering which of the three Gili Islands to pick, here’s a guide that will help you:

1. Gili Trawangan

Image credit: Maarten van der Bent

This island is ideal for anyone who is looking to party.

Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, is the largest and most popular island. There are bars and party hostels around every corner, all filled with young backpackers ready to have a cheap and wild night out. Booze*, beer, and mushroom shakes are abundant here. When I was on Gili T, I spent my days bicycling around the island, chilling at the beach, and partying with hostel-mates at night.

*SAFETY WARNING: Drinking hard liquor in Indonesia is not recommended. Methanol poisoning is common, even at popular bars. Due to high demand for cheap alcohol, homemade booze is being made cheaply and sometimes put into name-brand liquor bottles. Methanol poisoning is extremely dangerous and can be deadly.

2. Gili Meno

Image credit: Blue Barnacle

This island is ideal for honeymooners, couples, or anyone who just wants to get away from it all.

Gili Meno is the smallest and quietest island. There is not much nightlife here and days are slow. It’s a perfect destination to unplug from the rest of the world, recharge, and relax. With an abundance of beautiful beachside resorts and its slow pace, this island is popular with honeymooners. Highlights of Gili Meno island are Turtle Point, a great snorkelling location, the Gili Meno Bird Park, and the Gili Meno Sea Turtle Sanctuary.

3. Gili Air

Image credit: Terry Chapman

This island is ideal for anyone who wants a relaxing beach getaway with some nightlife, but nothing too crazy.

Gili Air is the perfect mix of relaxation and fun, and my personal favourite. Just like Gili T and Gili Meno, this island has beautiful beaches and snorkelling. It also has several diving schools that offer courses in all languages. You can take a beginner’s course, get your PADI Open Water certificate, PADI Divemaster certificate, participate in “fun dives,” and more. Gili Air is also home to the famous seaside swings where you can capture magical Instagram-worthy sunset photos.

Getting to the Gili Islands

From Bali: You can either take a fast boat, which is most popular with tourists, or take a local ferry. Fast boats with shuttle service to Padangbai, the departure location, can be booked online or with tour operators in Kuta, Denpasar, or other locations. They can cost anywhere from IDR 450,000 to 750,000 (USD 33 to 55) one-way. The fast boat takes one to two hours, depending on which island you are going to and what the operator’s schedule is, as they drop people off at all three islands as well as Lombok.

The public ferry, also departing from Padangbai, takes several hours, but costs pennies compared to the fast boats. First, you take a five-hour journey to Lombok for IDR 40,000 (USD 2.90), then wait and catch another ferry to the Gili Islands, so total time spent will likely be around eight hours.

Image credit: SarahTz

No matter what kind of island experience you are looking for, the Gili Islands has something for everyone. Check out all three and let us know which your favourite one is!

About Author

Emily Gnefkow
Emily Gnefkow

Emily was born and raised in Kansas, USA and quit her job to travel the world in 2016. She loves exploring new cities big and small, street food, street art, live music, hiking, camping and nature. She used to be shy but travelling solo forced her to break out of her shell; she has made friends from all over the world and is making new ones every day! Find her on Instagram @kansasgirltravelsworld and @_willtravel_forfood_

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