Unknown Gem: The Gili Islands

11 Jan Unknown Gem: The Gili Islands

The Gili Islands are unknown gems in Indonesia. Here, pristine white sand beaches melt into clear turquoise waters.

Sea creatures bask beneath the shimmering blue. The islands are completely walkable, and everyone is happy. You can ask the turtles if they’re happy; you ask the birds if they are happy. Everyone is happy. And that’s paradise.

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There are 3 islands that make up the Gili Islands: Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Gili Trawangan. Gili Trawangan is where all the happenings take place. and is the perfect place if you’re looking to escape the hustle of everyday life.

What To Do

Snorkeling

Cost: 100,000 IDR (approx 10 SGD)

Location: Booths everywhere in Gili Trawangan

snorkellingThe Gili islands boast one of the most gorgeous reefs in the world thanks to the island’s conservation efforts. Snorkel to discover the display of breathtaking amounts of live coral sprawled around the islands.

Snorkelling in Gili is the most popular activity in the islands. You can get a standard snorkelling package from booths everywhere. A typical day of snorkelling takes about 5 hours, with about 4 stops. There are incredible things to see. The beaches of GIli Islands are rich in vibrant corals and marine life. Colourful garden fish can be easily spotted.  You can get amazingly close to a huge shipwreck and get close to a beautiful turtle as it basks in a shimmering blue, a sight to behold.

turtles

Diving (and learning)

Price: 2,000,000 IDR (Approx 200 SGD)

It’s probably the classic at the Gilis. No wonder, because the islands have a very interesting underwater world. Most of the guided boat dives and diving centers are located along the main strip of Gili Trawangan.

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Explore Gili Trawangan on bike

Price: 50,000 IDR (approx 5 SGD) per bike for a full day

Address: Town Center or at your hotel

Gili Trawangan is a small island and completely walkable. Rent a bike for a full day to explore parts of this paradise other than its very happening front harbour. There lies other beaches, tons of starfish, little crabs,  and “Instagrammable” swings and hammocks.

cycle

There are so many beautiful places – every corner has something refereshing to see.  Soak in the cool therapeutic waters as you take a break from cycling – don’t forget to grab an exotic juice drink too, they can be found in restaurants and bars sprawled around the island.

Watch The Sunset

Head to the west side of the island you are staying on, find a spot in the sand or a chair in a beach bar and watch the sun paint the sky orange as the sun sets.

On Gili Trawangan, Sunset Bar is a great place to watch the sunset. About a half and hour walk or 10 minutes on bike from the pier (head south along the coast road), people gather for a drink before the sunsets. The Sunset Bar in the southwest of Gili Trawangan. It is best to go a little earlier, as you can imagine the bar is packed around sunset.

If you like it more quiet and lonely, you just need to drive or walk along the beach a little further and you surely you will find one or another deserted stretch of beach.

sunset

Horseback Riding

Address: Stud Horse Riding Adventures or Sunset Stables

Price: 100,000 IDR (approx 10 SGD)

A classic activity suitable for families or couples. It is a nice break to ride along the beach at sunset and partly in the water. Available at Stud Horse Riding Adventures or Sunset Stables.

Experience Gili Island Nightlife

Gili Trawangan has always had the stigma for being the ‘Party Island’ of the three Gilis and there are numerous restaurants and bars open until 2am along the main strip and the beach, however most kitchens close around 11pm.

There are regular party nights with DJ’s spinning the latest hip hop, dance and house hits, they are rotated so there is only one party a night which can stay open until 4am.

Mondays: Blue Marlin Rave party

Wednesdays: Shipwrecked Bar

Fridays: Rudy’s Bar

Tuesday, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays: Sama Sama Bar

These bars are located within walking distance of the main strip of the beach.

Outdoor movie screenings

Price: 50,000 IDR (approx 5 SGD)

movie

At the town center, there will be outdoor movie screenings. The screen is set, and comfy cushioned chairs are ready.

It’s a good alternative to the party life, it gets a bit cold at night so bring a cardigan.

What to Eat

Food is top-notch here! The food ranges from Indonesian to Italian cuisine.

Ko Ko Mo Restaurant

Address: South Beach, Gili Trawangan, Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Price: $$

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Rated on the food alone, Ko Ko Mo isa favourite restaurant on the Gili Islands, and when it comes to ambience and atmosphere, few places (if any) can compete with Ko Ko Mo’s location right on the beach.  The duck is to die for. It can be hard to choose from a menu that includes oysters, scallops, crab ravioli, lamb rack and tuna steaks so you might end up visiting more than once. Prices are higher compared to other restaurants on the Gili Islands, but compared to similar restaurants around the world, the value is extremely good.

The Beach House Restaurant

Address: Gili Trawangan, Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Price: $$

The Beach House has a splendid BBQ display of a large variety of fresh, locally daily caught seafood – so it is direct from the sea to the barbecue. The Beach House chefs cook the seafood to perfection, accompanied by a selection of sambals, sauces and a salad bar that, in itself, provides a fantastic meal. Imported wine is available as well. The Beach House’s strategic location allows most guests to catch turtle sightings swimming in the sea.

Pesona Indian & Sheesha Restaurant

Address: Gili Trawangan, Lombok Utara, Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Price: $

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Pesona Indian & Sheesha is a restaurant that serves healthy and delicious Indian food reflecting the freshest ingredients. This restaurant offers a selection of vegetarian dishes, as well as kebabs and naans; complete your tasty meal with cocktails and sheesha for a reasonable price.

Where to Stay

Gili Teak Resort

Price: $$

gili teak

Gili Teak Resort offers a modern and cosy tropical beachfront getaway.It takes around a 10-minute bicycle ride from the property to Gili Trawangan Harbour,The rooms at Gili Teak Resort are all beautifully designed and fitted with all the amenities you need. At Gili Teak Resort you will find a private beach area, daily housekeeping service, and bicycle rental.

Pearl of Trawangan Resort

Price: $$

pearlSet 500 meters from the excitement of the city, this 4-star hotel commands an excellent location and provides access to the city’s biggest attractions. With its convenient location, the hotel offers easy access to the city’s must-see destinations. Pearl of Trawangan boasts a beachfront location and an outdoor pool with a swim up pool bar, Pearl of Trawangan is located on the beautiful island of Gili Trawangan. The island’s traditional market and boutiques are available about 800 metres away.

The Gili islands are extremely tourist friendly. It is enough to be able to speak english to communicate with locals. The staff are friendly and polite; and sanitation is pretty well-maintained too. A recommended 3 days would be enough to finish exploring this little paradise. Here’s a brief itinerary on how you can spend your days:

Day 1: Explore Gili Trawangan on bike and relax in the beaches

Day 2: Snorkelling/Diving

Day 3: Explore Gili Air and Gili Meno

Here is a great paradise that promises not to burn your pockets, so don’t forget to take this down on your bucket list!

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