Gili Air is one of the three islands located near the north west coast of Indonesian island Lombok. This tiny island mainly consists of white sand and palm trees and is surrounded by crystal clear blue water. Gili Air is the the ultimate island if you are looking for some time to relax and enjoy the laid-back island vibe of Gili Air. Whereas Gili Trawangan is known as the party island and Gili Meno as the honeymoon island, Gili Air is the perfect combination of both. Although the Gili Islands are part of Lombok, it is only a 2-3 hour boat ride from Bali making it the perfect stop to add to your Bali itinerary. This Ultimate Island Guide for Gili Air shows you how to get to Gili Air, where to stay and what to do in Gili Air.
Top things to do in Gili Air
Gili Air is only a small island and you can walk around the whole island in over just an hour. The island does not have any roads and cars are not allowed (and needed) on the island. The only way of transport on Gili Air is by foot, bike or horse taxi. It is strongly advised to not take a horse taxi as the horses are generally not treated well. When you arrive at Gili Air you can best walk to your accommodations through the center of the island as the paths are easier to walk compared to the paths along the beach side.
1. Snorkel with turtles on Gili Air
The Gili Islands are well-known for its great underwater life, making it a popular place for snorkeling and diving. If you want to snorkel at different spots, it is recommended to book a snorkel tour around all three islands. You are guaranteed to see turtles, fish and coral and most tours also stop at the famous underwater sculptures between Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno.
If you want to keep it more low-key and explore the underwater life of just Gili Air, then it is important to know the best snorkeling spots on the island. The best snorkel spots on Gili Air are on the north east side of the island. The best moment to snorkel is at high tide, so make sure to check the tide charts or ask the locals.
Tip! If you head into the water north of Bambu Cottages, you are guaranteed to spot at least one turtle, many colourful fish and corals! Bonus: you will most likely have t his spot to yourself instead of share it with other people on a tour.
2. Bike around the island
Rent a bike and explore the best spots on the island. Take the beach side to discover cool beach clubs and snorkel spots, but keep in mind that you can not bike along the beach all the way around. Hence, keep in mind that there are parts where you will have to walk with your bike. The paths in the center of the island are easier and let you experience the local life of the island. The main street with shops and restaurants also runs from the harbour into the center of the island.
3. Watch the sunset on the west side Gili Air
The best sunsets are on the west side of Gili Air. This side of the island is more quiet compared to the east side, even during sunset. Watch the sunset on an empty beach or enjoy it at one of the beach clubs on this side of the island. The best beach club to watch the sunset is at Pink Coco, which is less crowded than in the south part of the island. A bit more south you can watch the sunset best at Gili Lumbung or Mowie’s.
4. Live music at the beach
Gili Lumbung is the place to be for live music at the beach. The good thing is that have live music every night of the week. This is the place to watch the sunset with a Bintang with live music in the background. They usually play until late at night so it could also be a great spot for some drinks after dinner.
5. Shopping in Gili Air
If you are looking for colorful bracelets or the famous shell necklaces, make sure to buy them in Gili Air. Here you will find them much cheaper compared to most places in Bali such as Ubud Market or Love Anchor market in Canggu.
For the best deals, head to the south of the island and walk past Kenza Cafe towards Scallywags. Here you will find a small stall with many different kinds of bracelets and necklaces made by a really friendly woman named Silvia. I bought three shell necklaces for only 45.000 IDR (€3 EUR). In comparison, in Bali I have not found one for less than 50.000 IDR each. Other places in Gili Air would ask at least 25.000 IDR for one necklace, so this is a real bargain! Do yourself a favour and visit Silvia as she was not pushy, she makes it custom to your wishes (if needed) right away and the quality is great too.
6. Swing at the beach
On the west side of Gili Air you will find a few swings in the water to take the perfect shot for Instagram. My favourite swing is the pink swing at Pink Coco, especially during sunset! Best thing about it? No waiting lines!
Other swings can be found at and around Gili Lumbung in the south west of Gili Air.
7. Spa time in Gili Air
Get accustomed to the island life and pamper yourself at one of the spas in Gili Air. The best and most popular spa on the island is Slow Spa, where you can recharge and relax in their beautiful bamboo spa. They offer various treatments such as massages, facials and manicures at reasonable prices.
Other than Slow you will find spas at most other luxury hotels and villas, such as Pink Coco. Alternatively there are other more basic spas to get a treatment at lower prices.
Best time to visit Gili Air
The best months to visit Gili Air based on weather is between early June and late September. During this period the chances of rain are the lowest, whereas October until April has the highest chance of rain. However, in general the weather is great in Gili Air, even during the wet season.
Most tourists visit between July and August and December and January. However, I have been in Gili Air is July as well as August and never experienced it as too crowded on the island. In conclusion, you can visit Gili Air anytime of the year!
How to get to Gili Air?
You can get to Gili Air from Bali as well as Lombok. Visiting Gili Air from Lombok could be a good choice if you get seasick easily, as the boat ride from Lombok is a lot shorter than from Bali. Coming from Bali, this means you would have to fly to Lombok and from there take a taxi to one of the harbours of Lombok. The taxi ride takes approximately 1-1.5 hours.
How to get from Bali to Gili Air
From Bali boats run from the harbours of Amed, Padang Bai, Sanur and Serangan. The fast boats from Bali usually take 2-3 hours, depending on the departing location and sea and weather conditions. Prices for a return ticket including hotel pick-up vary between 400.000 IDR (€27 EUR) and 1.500.000 IDR (€95 EUR) depending on company, luxury and season. I recommend spending a little more for a comfortable journey.
I prefer to use Blue Water Express, the only company I did not have any bad experiences with. The staff is friendly and experienced, they will offer you free water, sickness pills and the boats are relatively new and clean. This is the best and most popular company you can choose, but also the most expensive one. Hence, book online far in advance to be sure of a seat at often lower prices. A second best alternative is to book with Gili Getaway.
Tip! Since 2019 Blue Water Express has a direct connection from the Gili Islands to Nusa Lembongan. If you are traveling around Bali, the Gili Island and Nusa Lembongan can be combined perfectly without losing too much time by heading back to Bali first and then take a boat to Nusa Lembongan.
How to get from Lombok to Gili Air
From Lombok boats run from the harbours of Bangsal, Senggigi or Teluk Kode. You can book a fast boat from either of these harbours, but you can also take the public ferry from Bangsal. This boat will cost you no more than 25.000 IDR (less than €2 EUR) and takes you to Gili Air within 30 minutes. Be aware: the boat leaves when it is full and does not have departure times. Tickets can be bought at the ticket office in the harbour, so do not buy anything from vendors!
Restaurants in Gili Air
There are plenty of options to eat in Gili Air, from cheap local warungs to fancy beach club restaurants:
- Pink Coco Restaurant (€€)
- Pink Coco Tapas del Mar (€€)
- Mama Pizza (€)
- I am Bagus (€)
- Ruby’s Cafe (€)
- Mowie’s (€€)
- The Mexican Kitchen (€€)
- Sharkbites (€€)
- Pockets & Pints (€)
- Musa Cookery (€)
Where to stay in Gili Air?
Gili Air offers accommodations for every kind of budget, from boutique hotels to private villa’s and local guesthouses.
My all-time favourite accommodation in Gili Air has to be Pink Coco on the west side of the island. From the moment you check-in you get pampered and taken care of. The rooms are beautiful, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful, the facilities are the best you will see in Gili Air, the food is great and the views are breathtaking. If you want to spoil yourself on this tropical island without spending a fortune, look no further!
Looking for more inspiration for planning the perfect trip to Bali? Check out other Bali blogs on Jenny Christina!
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