One of the 3 Gili islands, Gili Air is a great place to relax as part of any trip to Indonesia. Its famous for its laid back lifestyle and sunsets. Whilst nearby Gili Trawangan attracts a party crowd, Gili Air is all about taking it easy.
The 3 Gili islands are located off the coast of Northern Lombok, and are easily reachable from either there or Bali by boat. Gili Trawangan is famous as a party hotspot, and Gili Meno as a ‘couples’ island. The third Gili Air is the focus of this post, a laid back island for backpackers and holidaymakers alike. Its good for those who want to be social in a relaxed setting without the pressure to party hard. Backpackers and travellers often come here whilst travelling Indonesia to relax for awhile and recharge. Its also a great spot for families or couples who want to take it easy and enjoy the vibe.
The attraction of Gili Air
Sunsets, relaxation and the slow pace of life are why people head to Gili Air. The island is easily walkable, in fact the only method of transport otherwise is either pushbike or by horse and cart. And to be honest the horses don’t look well cared for, so personally I would not consider that. You can walk around the entire island in around 1 and a half hours. The beaches here aren’t particularly stand out, though the water is good for snorkelling. there are a lot of agencies here that offer snorkelling and diving classes, if that’s your thing. During the days most people spend their time relaxing at their accommodation or in one of the main restaurants/cafes/bars that the island has.
In the evenings the west side of the island is the place to be. There are multiple restaurants along the waterside that offer great sunset views. Many of these will set up seating areas on the beach with cushions and you can relax here. Sometimes there will be live music or DJ’s.
How to get to Gili Air
There are several places you can take a boat to the Gili Islands from. And once on the islands you can of course take boats between the islands,
Coming from Bali, there are several options. Amed and Padangbai are 2 harbours that offer fast boat services to reach the Gili islands. Both of these are good places to spend a day or two before you travel. You can also find options from Sanur and Serangan. Generally tour agencies and hostels across Bali will offer boat options to the Gili Islands.
The closest ‘main’ island you can travel from is Lombok. Bangsal harbor is the main route here which goes to Gili Air. There are also boats that go to and from Senggigi, the main tourist area on Lombok.
If your flying in or out of the region then Denpasar Airport on Bali offers a host of international and domestic connections. Lombok does have an airport as well but Bali offers many more options.
Where to stay on Gili Air
There are a host of options here, catering for both backpackers and those on a more luxury budget. If you don’t want far to walk for sunset then aim for the western side of the island. Several of the more budget orientated places are along Sunset Boulevard which runs up towards the north west part of the island. It is worth nothing that ‘budget’ here is still 4 or 5 times more expensive than other parts of Southeast Asia! That is just the reality of staying on an island that has no fresh water. The south eastern part of the island is the most busiest part of Gili Air. This is where the harbour is therefore a lot of local activity is congregated here. You can find the main tour offices and several shops around here too.
My personal recommendation is Begadang Backpackers. Its reasonably priced compared to what else the island offers, with a range of different accommodation. These are essentially bungalows of different sizes and luxury! It has a really nice set up with a mushroom shaped pool in the middle, and plenty of space to relax in should the main area get too crowded.
Food and drink on Gili Air
As this really a tourist orientated island, there is a whole host of different western food options on offer. Italian is particularly popular, expect to see plenty of pizza and pasta. Seafood is another common option, Gili Air is an island after all! You can find Mexican and burgers too.
Asian food is of course popular too, many places in fact sell both. These include both typical Indonesia dishes like Nasi Goreng (fried rice) and classic Asian meals like Thai Curry.
In terms of drinking as with the rest of Indonesia the popular beer here is Bintang. Its easily available, pretty much every restaurant will sell it. Other than that there are the usual drink options you would expect on a Asian tourist island such as cocktails and spirits.
This brings us to the end of this post! Thanks for checking out my blog!
If you have enjoyed reading about Indonesia then I have several other articles on the country. Covering places such as Yogyakarta, Mount Bromo and the Komodo Islands. Simply click the links to give them a read!