Sometimes there are places that we visit with the idea to stay a few days and move on, but we end up staying there weeks. Gili Air is one of those places. I fell so much in love with the tiny Indonesian island, that this might turn out to be one very biased post, but I’ll still share it anyway. If you don’t believe me, just check out the pics.
“Never Try, Never Know”
This is a phrase that the locals use a lot and that really changed the way I think about life. There’s so many reasons to love the island, that I don’t even know where to start. It’s the golden middle between Gili Meno’s super chilled vibe and Gili T’s crazy party vibe. No motorized transport, super delicious food for cheap, good vibes, party nights, amazing snorkeling and scuba diving, pristine waters and unbelievably friendly people.
Whether you want to relax at a quiet place or dance the night away while sucking on a magic shroom shake, you’ll find what you need. Life on the island is very relaxed and there’s no actual police, which gives it a very hippie vibe. Chances are that locals invite you for a spliff and a chat at their restaurant, welcoming you as a sister or a brother. Chances are that three days later you’d know most of the people around, which will inevitably make you feel as a part of a community. Just smile and enjoy.
How to Get To Gili Air
There are daily boats that run between Bali and Lombok, having a stop at each of the Gilis. You can book a full transfer from pretty much any homestay or tour agency. Prices vary, but a full transfer from my homestay in Ubud to Gili Air, cost 250,000 IDR, which is roughly 18-19 USD. I think it’s a good price for a scary minibus ride and a few hours on the speed ferry 🙂
Things To Do On Gili Air
Having in mind you can walk around the entire island in about 2 hours, it’s not like there’s tons of sightseeings. Life in this paradise is mostly revolving around a few things:
Scuba – Snorkel – Repeat!
Indonesia offers one of the best diving conditions in the world and this is also the main activity on the island. The beauty you see above water is nothing compared to the wonderful world below. I volunteered for a clean-up dive with Seven Seas Dive Center, but I loved it so much that I did quite a few dives with the guys there. All their instructors and guides were superb, fun loving people, and will make you feel at home.
Here’s a short video from a single dive. Unfortunately I didn’t have a red filter and the colors are not as bright, but this mistake is now corrected 🙂
Explore the Gilis Day Tours
There are plenty of agencies on the island that offer all sorts of day tours. Exploring the rest of the Gilis, snorkeling or partying at Gili T – all of this is possible. Just pick your tour and have fun 🙂
Enjoy A Sunset Cocktail … or 2
Some of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen were on Gili Air. Just pick one of the beach bars on the sunset view side and get stuck into a beanbag. It’s funny and entertaining to watch all the people lining up to take a beautiful picture on the double swing in the water, trying to strike their best Instagram pose.
While Mowie’s Bar is the most recommended spot, I found it a bit pricey and not much better than the neighboring Sapari’s Sunset Bar or Lucky’s Bar. Actually I’ve had quite some fun at those two 🙂
Enjoy the Indonesian Food
There’s several restaurants which offer great menus, atmosphere and views. Sitting on the beach, enjoying a massive fresh seafood BBQ for around $10 is not bad at all. I had more than a few amazing meals and great cocktails at Chill Out Restaurant, right on the beach.
The locals warungs (local restaurants) offer super delicious Indonesian food for around $1.5. Best food I’ve had in Warung Kampung – it’s a family run restaurant where you might need to wait a bit for your food, but it will be absolutely worth it.
Indonesian food is amazing so try as much as you can. Nasi Goreng, Mi Goreng, Cap-Cay, Olah-Olah, Gado-Gado, Tempe Cabe Ijo, fresh sea food BBQ, just try and find your favorite. A lot of the beach bars and restaurants also offer live music nights and impressive fire shows.
Get To Know The People
Probably the best things about Gili Air is the people. Locals and travelers alike live in perfect harmony as friends. You know how sometimes you have to beak the ice with people? Well, there’s no ice there – everyone will great, smile and be friendly. I know it sounds quite hippy and maybe it is, but in the best possible way! I like to think that it’s not hippy, but just happy, and we were all HAPPIES over there (seriously, I’m gonna make this a word now).
Be prepared to meet some incredible people, make some long-term friendships and even fall in love. I fell in love with absolutely everything the island has to offer, including the people.
Dance Until The Sunrise
Almost each night, there’s a party somewhere on the island. As it’s a small island, so all you need to do is ask around and undoubtedly, someone will know. I must say that I was quite surprised by the quality of the night life on such a small island, but those people definitely know how to party!
The island is a home of the Gili Air Festival and Burning Island Festival, along with many other smaller events. Tourists and locals alike get together on the beach to dance the night away. Nothing but smiles and happy faces, topped up with some good quality music. (I had one of the most amazing nights of my life at the Gili Air Festival, but that’s another story :))
Where To Stay in Gili Air
The small island has many accommodation options, from hostels to high-end resorts. The closer to the beach you are, the more expensive it is, but having in mind walking from one end of the island to the other takes 30 minutes, nothing is really far. I personally prefer the local homestays as they offer beautiful set up, personal approach and are open for discounts for longer stays. All you have to do is be nice and negotiate. “Never try, never know”.
I ended up spending 20 days at Mama Homestay and paying much less than the official price on Booking.com. However there’s plenty of spots on the island for you to choose from.
Leaving Gili Air
This part is the hardest. And not because the lack of transfer options, but because of the sadness and slight panic attack that you get when you even think about leaving. When you visit the island keep in mind that you might want to stick around for a while and allow it a few more days than initially planned.
This is the place where I chose to spend the last days of my 8-months long trip around SE Asia and they couldn’t have been any more perfect.
Gili Air is one of my most favorite places in SE Asia, so make sure you visit if you’re around. I’m pretty sure it will not disappoint you 🙂
Also, if you find this post useful, Like & Share and spread the word about this gorgeous little gem.
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