With direct ferries from Bali, the Gili’s are an unforgettable paradise you do NOT want to miss! Gili Trawangan is the largest of the 3 islands, and the most infamous among the travelling community for it’s party scene. Gili Meno is the smallest and most remote, and is also nicknamed ‘Honeymoon’ island. The third, Gili Air, is super relaxed, and the perfect place to chill for a night post Gili T!
You can reach Gili T by boat from Padangbai, the ferry port on the mainland. We got the fast boat across which takes about 1.5-2 hours, and is worth the extra few pounds. Friends of ours took the slow boat and said the journey was mildly terrifying! For the fast boat, you should be paying 500.000 Rupiah (about £25) for RETURN. Make sure to haggle their original price and not pay any more than this. Once on dry land there are no motorised vehicles, so find your hostel before on Google Maps to avoid stress on the other end. Getting around on the island is done by hiring bikes, walking, or catching horse and cart (though do beware as the horses are not always treated as they should be.)
As a backpackers paradise, there are SO many hostels. We chose to stay at ‘My Mates Place’, which was a great option for our 5 nights. The rooms of 3 had AC and it was really sociable. If you want to steer away from the party hostels, there are so many homestays or great Airbnbs on the island. A friend of ours stayed at Palmeto Village which was gorgeous and on the side of the island where the sun sets.
There are so many fun things to keep you occupied on the Gili Islands. Our best day on the island was by far the snorkel trip, which takes you on a boat around the islands where you hop off at various points. The water is so clear we were literally swimming alongside 2m long sea turtles! We also snorkelled to see the new underwater sculpture by Jason deCaires Taylor, which shows a circle of 48 life size people, standing together and curled up on the ground. His idea is that the statue will slowly as the years go on become coral reef. It’s beautiful and you can literally swim right up close and touch it. We also stopped to get off on Gili Air for lunch, which was nice to experience the more relax, tranquil island for the afternoon. As a group of 4 we booked a private boat to do the snorkel tour which cost 1.000.000 rupiah altogether, so about £12 per person!
Partying on Gili T is second to none… The front strip is lined with restaurants, bars, and clubs which you can hop in and out of until the small hours. Be sure to try the local ‘Joss shot’ - essentially a shot of vodka which comes served with a sachet of fruity tasting sherbet. You combine the two, and it essentially can be compared to a crushed up Berocca, so you’ll be buzzing a little after.
The beaches on Gili are just incredible, they almost don’t seem real. The sea is this bright clear blue colour, and it’s warm! Even Rissbrook managed to get in, so it must have been nice. There’s loads of beds, bean bags etc all the way up you can spend the day lounging out on.
Watch the sunset! Round the other side of the island (which is only 20 mins walk through the island), there are bars lining the beach front, with happy hours galore, swings in the ocean, and bright coloured cushions littering the sand, ready for those daily dreamy sunsets. You can pretty much guarantee that every single evening you’ll see a jaw-droppingly amazing sunset.
If you’re looking to do some scuba diving, either for fun or to complete your PADI diving course, Gili T is the place. There are so many dive schools and offers as you walk along the beach front.
WHERE TO EAT:
Like everywhere in Bali, there are so many great restaurants offering fresh produce for budget prices.
Fat Cats - our favourite restaurant on the island, sit in chairs on the sand under fairy lit trees, eating fresh fish for under a fiver
Casa Vintage - stylish, go for brunch or tapas and sit upstairs
Scallywags - BBQ style restaurant, pick your meat/fish which is cooked fresh, and enjoy the all you can eat sides and salads self serve
Gili T Night Markets - for a cheap feed be sure to go to the night markets, where you can fill up on delicious local cuisine for £2
Le Pirate - a beach club on the other side of the island, great for cheap food and to watch the sunset