Grant and visited the Gilis years prior and raved about this fun and gorgeous archipelago. It’s a must do on the Indonesian backpacker circuit. I had also recently read Eat, Pray, Love, and had romanticized the Gili islands so here we were!
Which Gili is right for me?
While we love a good party and were backpacking with the best of ’em, we were also 29, 31, and married so the shroom filled parties of Gili T didn’t really fit our needs. On the contrary, Gili Meno seemed a little too sleepy for us. Gili Air was the perfect fit!
Gili Trawangan (Gili T): If you’re looking for hostels, more people, and a party this is for you! It also has incredible scuba diving and beach clubs. (We did a day trip to Gili T.)
Gili Air: If you’re looking for cute hotels, restaurants, beautiful sunsets, and a more relaxed vibe, Gili Air is for you! (We stayed on Gili Air!)
Gili Meno: If you’re looking for the least amount of crowds and seclusion, this tiny Gili is for you! (We didn’t make it to Gili Meno.)
Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali
Getting around the Gili Islands
Take a car from Ubud to Padang Bai and hop on the ferry to the Gilis. It stops at all three. This ferry was so fun! It was such a good vibe with everyone in vacay mode and we sat on the roof and had beers. We thought the roof seats were full and we were stuck inside downstairs but thankfully a big group decided it was too windy up top, leaving spots for us! Score!
To get around the Gili Islands you take little pangas packed with backpackers! It’s cheap and efficient enough.
Gili Air Travel Guide
Where to stay on Gili Air
I loved our hotel on Gili Air. (All of our Indonesia hotels were awesome!) We stayed at Gili Air Bungalows for about $40 a night and it was perfect. We especially enjoyed lounging by the nice pool.
What to eat on Gili Air
There was decent food for an island this size. Here are some of our favs:
- B52 Cafe for coffee
- Coco Loco for smoothies bowls
- The Mexican Kitchen for Mexican food
What to do on Gili Air
Go snorkel and dive!
We did both and it was beautiful. We booked a glass bottom snorkel boat on day 1 and jumped in! The vis was great and since we brought our own gear this was an inexpensive way to snorkel. Or if you have your own gear and want to go for free jump in near Scallywags and swim to the right to snorkel with turtles!
The Gilis are one of the most popular spots in the world to get scuba certified and it’s easy to see why. The water is warm and gorgeous with abundant wildlife! We probably should have got our advanced certification but we were too cheap. On our dive (which I think the dive site was technically in Gili T) we saw sharks and huge turtles (almost Galapagos size!) mating or fighting (Is it troublesome that the two looked similar?!). Super cool! Unfortunately our GoPro was still broken so we didn’t get any pictures.
Hang at the beach club
We loved laying out and sipping drinks at Sunrise Beach Club. Pink Coco Beach Club was nice too. For sunset, Cheeky Monkey is the best.
Take a day trip to Gili Trawangan
See all the details about our day trip below.
Get a massage!
You know this is one of our favorite things to do in SE Asia. They’re always cheap and amazing! It’s the perfect post-dive activity.
Day Trip to Gili Trawangan
We took a day trip to check out Gili T and it was honestly a lot more mellow than I had imagined (there were just goats lounging everywhere!). Maybe it’s wilder at night. We rented bikes and road around the island stopping for swims and at beach clubs along the way. We liked Malibu Beach Club the best and ended the self-guided bike tour with ice cream from Honeyst.
The Gilis are a must-do when planning an Indonesian adventure (especially if you’re into snorkeling and diving!)
Giddy in Gili,
Note: We visited the Gili Islands in April 2019.