Gili Islands – A small paradise in Indonesia
If you want to see a very unique and really beautiful place, then you have got to visit the Gili Islands. These small islands will absolutely blow you away. Chilled out, paradisaic place, far away from all the stress and concerns of normal life. The perfect spot to breath slowly and to sit back and relax. But you also find the flip side of the coin. Drinks, parties, crazy backpackers. Just a very vibrant combination.
Gili Islands – A small paradise in Indonesia
The Gili Islands have something very unique to them, which is hard to explain. But I try to give you a little look on what is waiting for you, guys.
These islands are quite known overseas even though they are quite small (but not to famous). If you look at Google Maps, you can barely see them. But anyway, you gotta make sure to visit them whenever you are in Indonesia.
Gili Islands – General information, costs and how to get there
The Gili Islands are lying in the balinese sea, right next to Lombok. You find them in the north west of Lombok. It’s a couple hours to get there from Bali, especially, if you start from Kuta. It will take you about half a day. If you come from Lombok, then you will not need that long (except you start from the east or south of the island). You can only get there by boat.
There are two ferries. A slow and a fast one. The cost of both vary, depending on your departure and arrival time. The boat rides themself don’t take that long (1,5 – 3 hours). I took both boats and I would recommend the fast boat even though it’s a bit more expensive. It just saves you time and energy. Whether you are travelling long term or you are just on a vacation. It’s just a good choice.
The weather at the Gili Islands it’s very good and consistent. Because of the fact, that it lies in a subtropical climate zone, it’s always warm. Besides that, it’s sunny most of the time. Of course you have a couple month of rain season (between October and March), but overall the climate is very decent.
The different islands
The Gili Islands themself have been found in a long time ago. They have been settled in the 1970’s. Today they are mainly used for tourism purposes. Only a few people really live on the Gili Islands. Why do I say islands all the time? Because it’s 3 of them. Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. I have been to Gili Trawangan. That’s where most people go, because it’s equally beautiful compared to the others and you have the opportunity to meet a lot of other travellers. You can also party there a lot! But of course there is heaps of other stuff to do as well 😉
Every single one of the Gili Islands is known for something special. Gili Air is the “Honeymoon” island, because it’s very quiet and truely beautiful. Gili Meno is the “turtle saving” island, because they have a turtle sanctuary. The last one is Gili Trawangan, which is called the “party” island, because its known for good parties and as a paradise for backpackers. Of course that’s just what I have heard 😉
And you know yourself, it’s always clichés. I can for e.g. claim that Gili Trawangan is really, really beautiful (same as Gili Air). No doubt about that. And it can also be quiet and relaxing. Just depends on where you stay and how you spend your days.
Accommodation on the Gili Islands is very cheap compared to the western world. But in comparison to the rest of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, it is quite expensive. We paid about 10 $ p.p. including a small breakfast for a shared twin room with 1 extra bed.
I stayed at the Gili Islands with two Brazilians and two French guys. I learned a lot from the Brazilians on how to negotiate with Asian people. But that’s another story. I can only say I am glad I met them, because we had a good time together. And whenyou visit the Gili Islands I promise you, you will met cool people as well 🙂
Gili Islands – Highlights and what to do
The Gili Islands are a highlight on your trip around Indonesia in itself anyway. These three islands are one of a kind and they are the perfect place to get away from what ever you want to get away from.
Scuba diving and snorkeling
A big highlight on the Gili Islands the Scuba diving. The whole area is famous for that. You will find many scuba diving schools and the prices for a scuba diving license as well as normal dives are pretty cheap. You even have the chance to see some manta rays at certain dive spots. I have met a lot of people, who did their license there and they highly recommended the local underwater world.
The second thing you need to do, is to go snorkeling. I did that too and I was absolutely blown away by what I have seen. Especially on sunny days the water is sooo clear. You could not even imagine, if you have not seen it.
Besides beautiful corals, you can also see big fish swarms and turtles at the Gili Islands. There is even one special turtle around there. I have seen this turtle at Gili Trawangan. One of the Brazilians told me about it. He has already seen the turtle 6 month before me. And he got told of it by another backpacker, who saw it 1 year before him. So this turtle never leaves its home and I guess, you can still find it till this day.
These animals are very gentle and you can easily swim along them. They do not really care. So, take your waterproofed video/ photo camera with you to get some good shots 😉
You can see what electronical gear I use in this post to get some good shots over and under water.
Night market and parties
The third thing you have to see are the local markets at night. They are very nice. You will find cheap clothes, good fresh food and other stuff. You can have a look at the fresh fish, pick one and they put it straight on the grill for you. So, you know it is fresh and you don’t have to worry about food poisoning, which is a big deal in Southeast Asia. Especially at smaller places like the Gili Islands you have to watch out usually.
These markets are also a good place to get to know other people from all around the world. Many tourists hang out there and enjoy the amenities of the Gili islands.
The fourth thing is not something for everyone. The Gili Islands and especially Gili Trawangan are known for good parties. I can recommend them. Everyone is chilled out, it’s warm at night and all the people are in a good mood. Just good conditions for a great night out. You will find various bars and restaurants to go to. Of course these bars play all kind of music. On the other two islands you don’t really have this kind of party scene. So, if you are up for it, then go to Gili Trawangan. And, if you do, be aware that some people might be a bit weard, because you can buy mushrooms on the Gili Islands in almost every kiosk at night.
What you also need to know
Short tip: Give the local rice wine a try. It’s very strong, but the local people are quite proud of it and they like their wine 😉
I would not really say it’s a tasteful wine though. But that’s up to your decision.
The last thing to have a look at is the swing at the back of Gili Trawangan. Many people like this place and use it for their Instagram profile. It’s very scenic and you can enjoy a great sunset there.
Gili Islands – What I have learned
The Gili Islands taught me something simple, but special again:
The most beautiful places on our planet don’t need to be the most known ones
Honestly guys, I personally have never heard of the Gili Islands before even though they are not that unknown. Only when I went to Australia where another fellow traveller told me about them. I actually really heard of the Gili Islands when I arrived in Indonesia. And I guess, it is the same for a lot of you. I mean, how could you have even heard of these tiny islands, right? Of course, normally you would never hear about three small islands in the middle of ****ing nowhere…
And that’s what makes it even cooler to be there. Even though it is a bit more “famous” nowerdays, it still is relatively unknown in terms of “famous places worldwide”. This is also, why it is still not that overloaded and to crowded. It’s still in development. Tourism has reached the perfect level at the moment.
The reason what I like about more unknown places is exactly the stated above. A lot of times unfamiliar places are the best ones: most relaxing and most beautiful. This is what the Gili Islands represent. A small, almost unknown paradise!
I just love that and I guess, you will do too…
Want to know more about Gili Trawangan? Read here