Gili Island Paradise
There are a group of 3 small islands known as the Gili Islands just off of the coast of Lombok, Indonesia. The Gilis are easy to access from Bali, and they are an absolute *must* when planning your next trip to Bali! Bright white sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and tons of nearby coral reefs, it's no surprise that the Gilis are known for having some of the very best diving and snorkeling spots! Zach and I knew we wanted to visit the Gili Islands at some point, and were so excited when some of our new friends invited us to join on their weekend trip! We recently met another travel blogging couple who are living in Bali from the Ukraine, named Helen + Nikita. They were heading to Gili Air to celebrate Helen's birthday, so we tagged along to celebrate with them and had the best time-- enjoying the island as well as the company of new friends! :) I've decided to give you the rundown of our trip to help plan your own, because we had such a great experience and sometimes it gets so overwhelming trying to research + plan your own adventure with so many different options/opinions!
How to Get There?
We heard so many crazy stories about getting to the Gilis, and were a little bit nervous for the ride over! There are so many fast boat companies that can take you there super quickly, but not all of them are the safest options. We found a great company called Gili Fast Boat that was perfect for what we needed! We were picked up from Seminyak (depending on where you stay, a driver can actually pick you up from your hotel/villa), and then they drive you to Padang Bai. Padang Bai is right along the eastern coast of Bali, and this is where you get your ticket, check in, and board the boat to head to the islands. The boat ride over was actually so much fun! You can sunbathe up on the top deck, order drinks, and enjoy the throwbacks they play as you ride over. I am a sucker for old 90's hip hop, and literally took the boat ride as a chance to sing every lyric as loudly as possible since no one could hear me over the wind + music, haha. It was amazing! It took about 1.5 hours or so, and then we arrived at Gili Air! Gili Trawangan is the largest island and has more of the party crowd, Gili Meno is the smallest and is most popular for backpackers and divers, and Gili Air is more quiet and romantic-- perfect for couples and honeymooners. :)
Where to Stay?
We stayed at the cutest bungalows called Omah Gili. To be honest, I didn't do tons of research before choosing this place to stay since we were joining our friends, but I'm so happy we stayed here! It was quiet, quaint, and the perfect islander experience. It was the first time either Zach or myself had stayed at a bungalow (which were actually traditional Indonesian Lumbung and Joglo style), and we really loved the simplicity and authentic experience here. We were provided a nice breakfast every morning, an A/C unit in our room, free wifi, pool access, and we even had a cool outdoor bamboo shower. It was a great and affordable place to stay that I would come back to!
What to do?
Motorized transport is not allowed at all on the island, so you either walk or ride a bicycle to get from place to place. I loved everything being so walkable and that was one of my favorite things about our trip! I feel like you really see so much more of a place when you do your exploring by foot. One of the beauties of the Gilis is being able to rent a snorkeling mask, jump in the water, and see SO many beautiful underwater creatures + colors! Depending on where you enter the water from, it can be a bit rough walking out when the tide is low because there are so many rocks to walk over, but once you're out there, it is totally worth it. I can't even count the schools of fish we saw, beautiful colors, and even rainbow fish!! My favorite!! And we didn't even have to pay for a boat tour or anything like that. It was such a memorable part of the trip.
Where to eat?
Helen + Nikita stumbled upon the best beach BBQ on day one, and we ended up coming back for dinner BOTH nights of our stay! The dinner was put on by Hotel Ombak Paradise and it was incredible! They offer meat, vegetarian, and fish skewers as well as an unlimited salad bar with dessert! It was soo declicous! The fish and tofu were my favorites, as well as the watermelon at the salad bar. Something about it was just so good! It was the perfect place to enjoy dinner while watching the sunset... and let me tell you, the sunsets from Gili Air were some of the greatest I've ever seen! At 8pm they would show an outdoor movie right on the beach. Honestly, it was such a magical experience that we just had to take advantage of it for both of the nights of our stay. I loved it!! The first night we watched Lion, which I still cannot get over, and the second night we watched Eat Pray Love. I cannot recommend this experience more highly!!
Overall, our trip to Gili Air was incredible. I cannot wait to go back because there is so much more I want to do!! Number one, swim with turtles!! There are sea turtles everywhere, and they are mostly spotted off of Gili Meno. Next time that excursion will be at the top of my list for sure! :)
I hope this post helps you plan your next trip to the Gili Islands or maybe even inspires you to book a spontaneaous flight!! I'm sure you won't regret it! ;)