When you visit Bali or Lombok, a trip to one of the Gili Islands should not be missing. The three islands; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air are approximately 35 kilometers from Bali and 14 kilometers from Senggigi in Lombok.
Do you love clear blue water, white beaches, palm trees and huts on the beach? Then this is the ultimate place to enjoy all this beauty for a few days. As if that wasn’t enough and you want more like parties, diving or snorkeling then the Gili Trawangan is the perfect island for that.
The history of the Gili Islands:
‘Gili’ literally means ‘small island’ and there are more than 30 Gili’s around Lombok. Gili Trawangan, Meno, and Air are the most visited far away and when we talk about the Gili Islands, then basically everyone is only talking about these three islands.
About 200 years ago, fishermen from Sulawesi arrived on the Islands and settled here temporarily. This is due to the large amount of fish in the waters around the Gili Islands and the presence of fresh water on Gili Air. However, these nomads stayed longer than they originally intended and started growing vegetables and fruit that they sold on Lombok. This was the start of society in the Gili Islands.
In 1984 the first Western traveler arrived on Gili Air. When Bali began to become an increasingly popular holiday destination around 1994, the Gili Islands became an off the beaten track destination for backpackers.
During the Second World War, it was the Japanese who occupied the Gili Islands and used it as a prison. The residents had to perform forced labor. On Gili Trawangan, you can still find a bunker from this time, on top of the hill in the south of the island.
How do you get from Bali to Gili Islands?
From Bali to the Gili Islands it is best to take the fast boat. This costs around 300,000 to 400,000 IDR (€ 25 to € 30) and it takes 1.5 hours. If you are in the east of Bali then the boat leaves from Padangbai and Amed, if you are in the south you can better take the fast boat from Sanur.
Which Gili Island is the best to visit?
Gili Trawangan: Gili T is known as the party island. This is the largest and busiest island of the Gili’s. It is full of nice bars, restaurants, and small-scale resorts, and you can party well every night. The nightlife in Gili Trawangan is bustling and many people come here to party.
Gili Meno: This is by far the quietest island of the Gili’s. The island is small that you can walk around it in just an hour and there are relatively few tourists. You don’t come here for the nightlife, but mainly for relaxing. Gila Meno is therefore also known as the honeymoon destination among the Gili’s.
Gili Air: Gili Air is closest to Lombok and combines the best of the above islands. It is quieter than on Gili T, but there is more choice of hotels and nice restaurants than on Gili Meno. Gili Air is also known for its beautiful beaches and good places for snorkeling. However, the nightlife cannot be compared to that on Gili T. There are no discos, for example, but you can drink a cocktail at the many bars on the beach.
THINGS TO DO IN GILI TRAWANGAN:
Diving and snorkeling:
It is not for nothing that this comes first in this list. Snorkeling and diving in the Gili Islands are very beautiful. For an afternoon of snorkeling, it is best to simply book a snorkel tour that will take you past all the good snorkeling spots.
You also have the famous ‘Turtle Point’ at La Moomba restaurant where you can rent a snorkel. As the name suggests, it is almost certain that you will face several turtles. Of course, you can also get your PADI in the Gili Islands or if you already have one, make some nice dives.
Parties at Gili Twawangan:
For the nicest evenings and parties, you should definitely visit Gili Trawangan. At the beach, you can find several nice bars and for nice live music, go to the reggae bar.
Explore the island by bicycle:
Everywhere on the island, you can rent a bike for around 40,000 IDR (€ 2.70) per day and this is the ideal way to move. You will cycle around Gili Trawangan in about 1.5 hours, passing by deserted white beaches and lots of nice stalls and tents for relaxing and shopping.
If you love Yoga, you can participate in a morning yoga class on one of the beautiful beaches while the sun rises.
Outdoor cinema on the beach:
There are several open-air cinemas on Gili Trawangan where about two films are shown every night.