The Ultimate Gili Air Guide
Ah, Gili Air. The second-largest, and what I’d consider the Goldilocks of the idyllic trio of eco-islands, nestled between Bali and Lombok. With just the right amount of quiet of Gili Meno and just the right amount of party vibes of Gili Trawangan, it offers the perfect balance. Thinking this sounds like your kind of place? This Gili Air guide will tell you everything you need to know – from top things to do on Gili Air and where to stay to the best restaurants and bars and how to get there.
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Top things to do – Gili Air guide
Do a snorkelling tour
The shallow shores of the Gili Islands are blessed by an abundance of beautiful marine creatures and coral reefs. And the best way to see it all is to do a snorkelling tour which will take you to the best underwater worlds that all three islands have to offer. Most tours last half a day and will include a stop off at the famous sunken statues at Gili Meno, Turtle Point to swim with the turtles and a few coral sites.
Go to a Yoga class
If Gili Air isn’t already chilled enough, you can head along to H2O Yoga Studio to release your inner zen. The studio has a full weekly schedule of both yoga and meditation classes to soothe your spirit and mind. Classes are just 120K with beginners, seasoned yogis and anyone in between all welcome.
Cycle around the island
In case you didn’t know, there are no motorised vehicles allowed on Gili Air. Instead, the most popular mode of transport is bicycles. Though with the island being just 3km long and 2km wide, this is hardly an issue. In fact, hiring a bike and cycling around is a great way to explore the island, with its circular route taking a couple of hours at most with some stops along the way. Bike hire is also cheap and can be done from most hotels or hostels.
Have a spa treatment
If you’re after some proper relaxation then one of Gili Air’s many spas might just be the answer. For an island so small, there are certainly lots to choose from. But Slow Spa and Jasmine Spa are the best-reviewed, both with a menu of bespoke massages, facials and other treatments to indulge in.
Watch the sunset at Sunset Point
The sunsets on Gili Air are epic! As the island is surrounded by an oasis of calm water, come sunset both the sky and sea turn into an amalgamation of fiery oranges, hazy purples and dusky pinks. You can catch the sunset anywhere on the west side of the island, but the beach area around sunset point is the best. Just settle yourself into a beanbag at one of the bars on the beach, grab yourself a Bintang and watch the show.
Go for a swing in the sea
You can’t go to Gili Air without having a go on one of these swings! They are located all around the island, either on the beach or in the ocean itself and make for some great photos, especially at sunset.
Where to stay on Gili Air
There’s plenty of accommodation to stay in on Gili Air. From high-end resorts to mid-range cottages and bungalows and hostels, there’s something for all budgets.
I stayed at Balengku Dua Homestay which I would highly recommend. There was only five Bungalows in the whole complex so it was really private. The bungalows all overlooked the pool and were minimal, clean and had a quirky outdoor bathroom. You could also book tours and hire bikes through reception.
Restaurants and Bars – Gili Air guide
Pink Coco Gili Air
With pink beanbags, a pink boat and pink sea swing to boot, Pink Coco’s little section of beach is very photogenic. Offering service on the sand, the bar menu itself offers a great range of drinks and international bites to eat. And although it’s a little more pricey than some of the other bars along the beach, it has some of the best sunset views on the island.
Scooperific hands down have the best gelato on the island. There’s a great selection of mouth-watering flavours to choose from and their shop is next to the beach. You can’t get more perfect than that!
Gili Lumpung Bar
This was my favourite beach bar hangout on the whole island. Only a little further along the beach from Pink Coco, the sunset views are also fabulous here. Sit back and relax on the sand in one of their colourful bean bags, where you can enjoy great happy hour cocktail deals, tasty food and live music on weekends.
Pockets and Pints
Set along one of the main tracks of the island Pockets and Pints know how to create a good combo. Serving up the most delicious Greek-style pitas, complemented with a selection of great craft beer. Not forgetting board games to keep you entertained whilst your food’s cooking. The best things really do come in threes you know.
Coffee and Thyme
If you’re needing your caffeine fix, then Coffee and Thyme have got you covered. Located directly opposite from the main ferry port, it’s a great pit stop for after you’ve just arrived with both outdoor and indoor seating to choose from. And it’s not just the coffee that’s good here, with a menu of delicious lighter bites and mini sliders to keep your hunger at bay too.
How to get around Gili Air?
As mentioned earlier there are no motorised vehicles allowed on Gili Air, so your only options are to cycle or walk to get from A to B.
There are also horse-drawn carriages on the island to ferry tourists around. But if you don’t need to use them, then don’t, as the horses are often overworked and made to stand out in the hot sun all day.
How to get to Gili Air?
The easiest way to get to Gili Air from Bali is by fast boat. Several companies depart throughout the day from three main points: Padang Bai, Serangan, and Sanur. You can buy tickets for a fast boat to the Gili Islands from all tourist areas in Bali, with most also including transport to the boat in the price. The journey takes between 1 ½ – 2 hours depending on where you depart from and will stop off at both Gili Air and Gili Trawangan.
To get from Lombok to Gili Air, you have two options, the public ferry or a fast boat. The public ferry is the cheapest option and leaves once in the morning and afternoon from the port of Bangsal. Whilst the fast boat is the quickest option, taking just 15 minutes to reach Gili Air from Teluk Nare Harbour. If choosing the fast boat option, be sure to research the company first though. Gili Getaway is recommended as a safe company to travel with but many others operate dangerously, overfilling boats and travelling in bad weather.
This Gili Air guide should cover most things you need to know about visiting this beautiful slice of paradise. If you’ve already visited Gili Air, let me know your thoughts in the comments!