Situated off the coast of Lombok and East of Bali are the famous Gili Islands. The ‘Gilis’ are a collection of 3 tiny islands in the province of West Nusa Tenggara. These 3 islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. The islands are easily accessible from Lombok or Bali by daily speedboats packed with eager tourist’s bikini-clad and ready to party. The popularity of these tiny islands has exploded in recent times thanks to their white sandy beaches, turquoise shores, vast marine life and instagramable sunsets.
These islands can be a paradise oasis or non-stop party depending on your preference. I have compiled this post into an all-inclusive guide on all you need to know before you plan your speedboat down to the Gilis.
Once on the island, Transportation is only by Horse cart or Bike
To maintain the islands serenity and combat pollution; motorized transport is completely banned on the Gili islands. As a replacement, horse-drawn carts are still in use. Although the idea of chiming bells and trotting hooves is much preferred over honking horns and revving engines, the sight of these parched and sometimes overworked horses wasn’t easy for me. Given my animal welfare stance, I opted for bike hire whilst island-bound and suggest to you the same. Renting bikes is as cheap as $5 per day and provide you access to every location on the islands at a quicker pace than what you can expect walking.
Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, and Wild Turtles
The isles of shopfronts lining the outskirts of the island are home to many dive schools eager for students looking to complete their scuba certifications on the island. Day trips for qualified divers can be arranged, and so can an island hop for snorkelers. For the best experience snorkeling or diving, I would recommend a day trip out to Gili Meno for an experience of a lifetime swimming with sea turtles. Thanks to the conservation efforts of the Gili Eco Trust, a non-for profit organization situated on the island, the island marine balance and the cleanliness of the oceans have been sustained and remained a popular breeding location of wild turtles. I was lucky enough to spot a turtle whilst snorkeling and although I dared not to get too close, the opportunity to be of presence to such a graceful and beautiful animal was an incredible opportunity.Open gallery
Rainbow Smoothies and Blueberry Cheesecakes
Gili Trawangan, which is renowned to be the most cosmopolitan of all islands, has a vast array of dining options for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners lining the islands sandy shoreline. Cafes, restaurants and street food options are all at a walking distance of any hotel or hostel on the island. A favourite of mine was the Banyan Tree café, which served triple layered smoothies, raw desserts, and vegetarian and vegan-friendly mains. The cafes colourful and well-presented dishes make a great photo, which I used to lure in my non-veg friends along to my second visit. They all loved the food until one member of our group had an allergic reaction to a blueberry cheesecake which brings me to my next point, there are medical facilities available on the island.
Doctors and Pharmacy are available on the Gili T Island
After an unexpected anaphylactic shock drama with my friend Khalil thanks to a very delicious blueberry cheesecake (thank god I was greedy and ate most of it) to our relief we discovered and experienced the medical facilities of the island first hand. Beds, a qualified doctor, medicine, and pharmacy are all situated on the island. The doctor was very well rounded and professional, whilst in thongs and a singlet in true island style. So fear not of your depleting amount of mosquito bite cream, you’ll have the opportunity to stock up, even on the remotest of locations.
Gili Trawangan is known for its wild nightlife and although quiet during the daytime, south of the island at ‘sunrise point’ becomes a bar hopping dream for party-loving tourists after sunset. Cocktails can be as cheap as $2.50, and 2 for 1 deals can be found at most bars across the island. The island is known for its parties which usually happen on schedule basis with the exception of the month of Ramadan. Favourites for me were Jiggy Jig, a club of sorts with close to home hits on repeat, Sama Sama for live reggae music performances and Evolution Bar for beer pong and endless free bowls of popcorn. (yes free!)
Be prepared for the constant echoes of phrases such as ‘mushroom’ ‘shrooms’ whispered to you as you walk by on several corners of the island as you may be offered to purchase illicit mushrooms. Some shop fronts being not as subtle as street vendors with chalkboard signs expressing ‘no women, no cry, no mushroom, no fly’ or even ‘we have bloody f*cking fresh mushrooms’. All though funny to see the contrast in the subtlety of drug selling in sign from when compared to back at home, there was no way I could be persuaded in partaking!
Be prepared to wait in line for that Sunset and Swing money shot
The Gilis have reaped fame and been of cause to much vacation envy after the trend of ocean swing chairs hit its shoreline. At ‘sunset point’ North of the island Gili T is now home to around a dozen wooden rope swings fastened into the edge of the ocean’s shoreline. These swings make a great photo when paired with a famous Gili sunset, however, don’t let these carefree photos foul you. To get a photo right before the end of sunrise you’ll have to wait in line, and don’t expect to get to have a swing.
The Gilis are a picturesque paradise. Including the above listed- surfing, yoga, cooking classes, massage parlors and island hopping boat tours are also available. With so many activities on offer, the Gillis are hard to miss destination for your next Indonesian vacation.