The Gili Islands – which one to choose?

Just 90 minutes by boat from the East coast of Bali or a ten minute boat trip from Lombok, lays three tiny paradise-like Islands – the Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno – that you don’t want to miss if you are travelling Bali or Lombok.

Beside the Islands perfect looking beaches the main draws to the Islands is the laid back lifestyle, enhanced by the Gili’s no cars and motorbikes policy as well as the many sea turtles that you can swim with straight from the beach.

From a distance the three Islands looks very much the same with their inviting white beaches and clear blue water, but all three have a distinct feel to them and your Gili Islands experience will depend very much on which Island you stay on – so which one should you chose?

Gili Trawangan – The popular choice.

Even though Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three Islands, a walk around the coastline can be done in 90 minutes. Rent one of the many bikes available and you will be able to make the trip in half an hour.

The Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan is by far the most hectic of the Gili Islands. Along most of the Eastern coast of Gili Trawangan numerous restaurants offer everything from cheap local street food to French inspired gourmet dishes and of course the Gili Island classic, grilled seafood from the local waters. At night, several bars attract the party crowds and the last customers usually don’t leave before the sun starts rising.

Gili Trawangan is also the Island with the widest range of accommodation options, from small cheap bungalows to grand villas with private pool (you can find villas on the Gili Islands through Vilondo, that also has several comprehensive guides to the Gili Islands), which should make it easy to find something suites your budget and preferences.

Why Choose Gili Trawangan?

Choose Gili Trawangan if you prefer to dine well, if you are looking for luxurious accommodation options or would like to party until the early mornings.

Gili Meno – an Island of calm

Gili Meno is a charming little Island and the complete opposite to Gili Trawangan. Only a few tourists find their way to Gili Meno and there really isn’t that much to do apart from spending quite days on the beach with a book or lazing in the water, and that isn’t bad as all as Gili Meno has the finest beaches, with incredible white sand and blue water, of all the Gili Islands.

The Gili Islands

If you feel overwhelmed by the urge of doing something, a popular activity is to take a walk around the island and explore Gili Meno’s salt water lake. Another option is scuba diving, which Scuba diving is excellent around all three islands. Gili Meno’s has a couple of dive schools that can take you on an underwater adventure or teach you how to scuba dive.

Apart from a the quite classy Mahamaya restaurant the dining options on Gili Meno are fairly basic, but you won’t have trouble in finding a places that serve barbeque seafood or Indonesian and Western classics.

Why choose Gili Meno

Gili Meno is a great place who want to spend some slow-paced days together or anyone looking for a calm tropical beach getaway, where you easily can find your own “private” beach and spend the day and the quite night soaking up the tranquillity.
Remember to bring cash as you won’t find an ATM on Gili Meno.

Gili Air – the best of both worlds

Gili Air offers the best of both worlds. It is not close to being as popular as Gili Trawangan, but is does offer more than Gili Meno when it comes to dining options and activities. Among the activities that are exclusive to Gili Air is the islands kite surfing school and its yoga and meditation school.

Ali Baba Cafe at the Gili Islands. Indonesian Island Resort.

Another characteristic of Gili Air is the relative large local population living in the islands village, which gives the Island a unique vibe. The locals welcome tourists to Gili Air, but are doing it in a way where they don’t lose their identity, which is a strong contrast to Trawangan, where everything seems to evolve around tourism.

The nightlife isn’t anywhere near that of Trawangan, but Gili Meno has several bars where you can drink, laugh and share scuba diving tales with fellow travellers. It is not uncommon to find a local band playing reggae music, which for some reason is extremely popular on the Gili Islands and occasionally you can find an all-night party on Gili Air.

Why choose Gili Air

If you are looking for and quite getaway, but are afraid the days and night will be too long on Gili Meno – or if you are dedicated kite surfer, you should get off the boat on Gili Air. In general travellers to Gili Air seem to be a little older than Trawangan and it is a popular Island for expats as well.

For more information about getting a Villa on the Gili Islands, visit Vilondo:

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