Gili Islands

Gili Island - Island Overview

The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands — Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air — just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia.

The islands are a famous destination for tourists who are looking for a remote island experience. Each island has several small resorts, usually consisting of a collection of huts for tourists, a small pool and restaurant. It is also popular for Bali tourists to hop over to as it is nearby.

Most locals live on Trawangan in a township stretching along its east side. Motorized vehicles are prohibited on the islands by local ordinance, so the preferred method of transportation is by foot and bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage called ‘cidomo’. Diving is popular here for the untouched corals and abundant sea life.

A few years ago, sailors from Bugis, Mandar and Makassar (Sulawesi) occupied Gili Air and establish coconuts plantation and expend the fishing activities. As visitors started to visit Lombok and some came to the Gilis on day trips and then began to stay longer periods in local homes.

The islands have become enormously popular. Their popularity may be a problem, as numbers sometime exceed the available rooms and put pressure on the island environment, especially the supply of fresh water and the capacity of septic system to cope with waste and there is always pressure to build more and better facilities.

Big business interests are trying to cash in on the popularity of the Gilis and the local government is keep to promote up market tourist development. Gili Air and Gili Meno retained much of their unspoilt quality, but Gili Trawangan has become more touristy and pricy. The islanders are majority Muslims and visitors should respect their sensibilities. In particular topless or nude sunbathing is offensive to them, even though they won’t say so directly. Away from beach, it is polite for woman to cover their shoulders and thighs.

Mount Rinjani

Trekking Mount Rinjani in Lombok Island track is one of the best kept secrets Indonesia. Comparable with the more famous mountain tracks, Rinjani offers adventurous respect scenery, waterfalls, rain forest, wildlife, hot springs, caves, demanding trekking, pristine lake, interesting culture and of course the volcano. Famous for its extraordinary beauty and eerie isolation, Mount Rinjani is the second highest mountain in Indonesia outside Irian Jaya. Although the dominant geographical phenomenon, its peak is rarely seen from the lowlands, as is often shrouded in clouds

Several operators on the Gilis arrange tours to Rinjani and can also help you with equipment. Prices and trip lengths vary from 1 day/1 night to week long trekking trips. You generally get what you pay for, so it might be worth paying a little extra to get a decent guide and an upgrade on the food.


Take a daytrip to Lombok where you can trek to waterfalls or explore the local villages. Lombok is much less touristy than Bali and has it very own culture worth experiencing. No matter where you are staying the staff should be able to help you organize a tour.

【Snorkel with sea turtles】

The Gili islands do a great job in preserving sea turtles – if you visit Gili Trawangan you can’t miss the hatchery right on the main beach. If you are in one of the right spots you can spot sea turtles when snorkeling right off the beach. Fins and masks can be rented almost everywhere.

【Sea kayaking】

Explore the Gili islands from a sea kayak. If you are lucky you might end up paddling with manta rays or sea turtles next to you.

【Scuba Diving】

One of the major attractions on the Gili islands is Scuba diving and with more than 20 different dive sites around the islands there is something for everyone. Swim with sharks and turtles, go for a drift dive or explore the Gilis macro life.

【Party under the stars】

Gili Trawangan is known for being the “Party Island”. Nightlife used to be restricted to only Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but these days the island seems to come alive every night up to 4 am. Thursday is usually quite due to Muslim customs.

【Bike around the island】

You can bike around any of the three Gili islands in less than an hour, the price to rent bike start from Rp25.000,00 per hour and can be rented almost anywhere It’s also great for exploring the inland areas, where you can see a lot of cows, goats and chicken as well as local homes.

【Have a plate of fresh caught seafood】

Lobster, shrimp, tuna, mahi mahi, snapper or squid, pick your favourite among the many seafood’s available on the Gili islands. For traditional dinning, walk by the many restaurant with fish on display and pick the one where the fish look the freshest. For a more local experience, visit the square on Gili Trawangan where local fishermen barbecue the catch of the day and serve them up.

【Island hopping】

The public boat leaves Gili Trawangan around 9:30am twice daily to the other two islands and return in the afternoon. Depending on where it goes, the prices range from 20,000 – 23,000 rp (one way). You can buy the tickets directly at the harbour or in any travel agency and ticket booth on the islands.

Watch the sun set

Head to the west side of the island to enjoy the sunset and hear the sound of the waves. On Gili Trawangan there are two popular sunset bars about half and hours walk or 10 minutes in bike from the pier (head south along the coast road), where people gather for a drink before the sunsets

Horseback Ride along the Beach

Horse riding may not be a popular activity for guys, but definitely a fun activity 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.

By Air from JAKARTA

There are many daily flights from Jakarta - direct or via Surabaya - stop over. If you arrive at night, you may need to stay over in Mataram or Senggigi before crossing over to the Gilis. You may then take a taxi in the morning to Bangsal harbor to catch the boat to Gili

By Air from SINGAPORE Silk air fly 4 times a week from Singapore to Lombok’s new international airport, Bandara Udara International, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, journey time is 2 hours and 40 minutes. It takes another 1 hour 30 minutes drive from airport to Bangsal Harbour to take a boat to Gili Islands.

By Air from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) Air Asia fly direct to Lombok twice daily AK308 (ETA: 11:45am) and AK306 (ETA 18.45).

It is best to be on a flight that arrives no later than 13:30 local time. From the airport, there are taxis that can take you to Bangsal harbour, you may also charter vehicles if you have big group of people. You then can cross to the island with the public boat or you can charter a boat or book a private transfer service in advanced - pre-booking transport avoids a lot of hassle.

By Boat: From Bali A fastboat ticket will cost you around 400,000 Rp, but you can save a few bucks by getting a return ticket. The trip takes around two hours.

By Boat: From Lombok A public ferry will take you from Sengigi to Gili Trawangan in two hours for 100,000 Rp. You can also opt for a speedboat which only takes 30 minutes, but costs 500,000 Rp

Best Time to Go

Most of the time in the year, Gili Islands have a good weather with a mix of dry and hot in the day and slightly cool in the night. Going on a dry season gives you tropical islands experience.

September to November is best time to go with good weather and yet not packed with tourists. Avoid the rainy season from November to April. The peak tourist seasons are July-August and December-January.

The islands can get very full during peak tourist season so you are advised to book your hotel in advance. Prices tend to double or triple during the peak season. If you are planning for a night party getaway, avoid the Muslim holidays and Ramadan season as the party scene is a little more toned down.

【Visa requirements】

Visa requirements have changed dramatically in 2015. You are advised to check with the Indonesian embassy in your own country to check the latest rules. Currently (Nov 2015) there is no visa required for a stay of up to 30 days for 90 countries, which includes most of Europe, Asia and north Americas. The most notable country not on the list is Australia, who must pay US$ 35 for a 30 day visa.

If you want to extend longer than 30 days you must apply 7 days before your visa expires. On arrival you also have the option to pay for a visa longer than 30 days. All visitors must have proof of onward travel and passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia and have at least 2 blank pages available for stamps.

Don’t try to swim between the islands. They may not look that far apart but the currents that run in the channels between the islands can be very strong and unpredictable. There are plenty of cheap local boats to get you across.

Never sunbathe nude or topless, and cover up away from the beach (no bikinis). Although it may feel like Bali, the locals are Muslims so it’s good to show some respect.

When snorkelling or diving you should avoid touching the coral or any other marine life…take only pictures, leave only bubbles!

Malaria and dengue are found throughout Indonesia and although the risk is minimal in the immediate region, there are plenty of mosquitoes. Staying covered around sunrise and sunset and using repellents (DEET 50%) throughout the day and night will ensure your stay isn’t an itchy one.

Avoid locally distilled spirits such as Arak, as well as cocktails containing local spirits. There have been a number of cases of Methanol poisoning in 2012/13, the most recent being at Rudy’s Bar on Gili Trawangan which was fatal. Stick to beer and wine.

Here is some travel information that good to know before your trip to Gili Island. 


Your passport must have at least 6 months left before expiry. 

Visa On Arrival

A 30 day visa on arrival for US $25 is available at Lombok International Airport for visitors from 63 different countries. 30 days Visa free for travellers from China. 

Smart Traveller

Check smart traveller for warnings prior to going to Lombok and register your details on the website so you can be accounted for in case of emergency. 


The official language of Lombok is Bahasa Indonesian. However many of the more traditonal and/or remote locals speak Sasak langauges. English is spoken in tourist areas and resorts. 


Make sure you notify your bank before you go away of the dates and location of your holiday. Most banks will cancel your credit/debit cards if used overseas without notification or if they cannot contact you immediately to verify. 

Health and Medications

An important thing to do before you fly, is get a letter from your GP listing your prescription medications, and keep this with your medications. Please see Lombok Health for further detail. 

Travel Insurance

This is a must. As the old saying goes, “if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel”. It’s really not worth the risk, on so many levels, to skip this part. Compare the different policies available to find the one that suits you situation the best. 

Electric Plugs

Lombok Electricity is 220V/50Hz. So you will need a two pin adaptor to use your appliances in Lombok. 


In Lombok the currency is Indonesian Rupiah.
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