There are three Gili’s: Trawangan, Meno and Air. Trawangan is said to be the party island, Meno the island where you go to when you want a really rustic place and Air is a mix of both. Our initial choice was to go to Meno and Air, but if you want to get to Meno, you have to go to Tranwangan first, and get another boat from there to Meno. Since we had to go to Trawangan anyway, we decided to stay here for a bit as well.
The Gili’s are 3 islands at the north western part of Lombok and is visited a lot by people coming from Bali. It is famous for the white beaches, blue water and snorkeling with turtles. Diving is supposed to be quite good as well. There are plenty of diveshops on all 3 of the island and if you don’t want to visit all three of them separately, you can go on a snorkeling trip to all of them in one day. There are no motorized vehicles allowed on the island so either you have to walk, rent a bike or go by the traditionally horse-driven cart, locally known as cidomo.
From Bali - Kuta to Trawangan we booked a package deal for 300.000 Rupiah p.p. including pick up at our guesthouse and the fast boat to Trawangan.
Going to Meno or Air is the same price, coming from Bali. The boat leaves twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. And it will take you about 5 hours to get to Trawangan from Kuta.
From Trawangan to Meno we took the public ferry. We paid 45.000 Rupiah p.p.
You can buy your ticket at one of the offices at Gili Trawangan, or just go to the little office at the harbor and buy your ticket there. It will probably be cheaper than what we paid. You can also buy a return (for one day or an open) ticket if you want to go visit Meno for one or ore days and return.
If you want to go to Air from Meno, you can take the public ferry. The price is 50.000 Rupiah p.p.
Maybe it is possible to buy a ticket at your guesthouse, but you can also just walk up to harbor and buy your ticket there. You don't have to buy it in advance. At least, not in low season. If traveling in high season it might nog be worth the risk so book in advance.
Arriving at Gili Trawangan, we didn’t book anything because we knew there would be plenty of accommodation options on the island. Coming from the boat, someone told us about their place, the price was right and we followed. It was close to the harbor (we didn’t feel like going for a long stroll with our backpacks in the heat), they had aircon and breakfast was included for 200.000 Rupiah. The name of the place is Salsabila and is nothing special, but fine for 2 nights.
There are enough places you can go to, to get food. There is one mainstreet around the island and there are cheap warungs and expensive restaurants. Or try the local food at the night market. There are plenty of bars for those who want to party and for those who want more rest, you can go to the sunset side.
** You can find them on booking.com
Arriving at Gili Meno we felt a bit lost. We got of the boat between luxurious tents, which is nice if you want to go glamping. This looked like it was way over our budget so we started walking. We were hoping to find a nice bungalow at the beach, but you won't find them on this island. And the ones really close to the beach, were over budget. We ended up at the sunset part of the island, at Gili Garden. A local run guesthouse which has appealing little A-frame cabins with roofs made of coconut leaves. Nice bungalows with both aircon and fan, big bathroom with hot water shower and nice and quiet, except for the husky rooster. We paid 250.000 Rupiah, including breakfast.
The breakfast, and especially the pancakes, are great. There are plenty of other places to eat as well near the beach.
** You can find them on booking.com
We wanted something different from our normal backpacker bungalows and other places we stayed. Staying at a nice island, getting some work done and relax at the same place, needs a good resort. Looking at their Instagram feed, we already had the feeling that Sunrise Gili Air would be a good fit for what we wanted. And it was a perfect match! Their eye for detail is perfect. Flowers everywhere, great decoration (it made Marije greedy to buy everything in the souvenirshop) and a really relaxed atmosphere. The staff is friendly, helpful and always smiling. In the first minutes, we knew we were gonna have a great time here.
We moved into one of the three rooms of a fantastic private villa (called Sunrise Villa Taba). It is secluded from the rest by an archway with wooden doors and behind you’ll find a nice garden with sunbeds and an open bungalow where you can sit down on one of the pillows and relax and on the second floor there's even a sundeck. With it’s concrete kingsize double bed, fantastic shower and best smelling shampoo we ever had, it is a perfect place!
And not only the accommodation is great, you really have to try the food. It is fantastic! The colorful restaurant is overlooking the beach and Lomboks powerful Gunung Rinjani. A first-class view! We didn’t eat anywhere else during our stay here and tried something different every time. And they didn’t fail us. One of the things you really need to try, is the strawberry cheesecake. Heavenly! So even if you’re not staying at Sunrise Gili Air, you have to go here for lunch or dinner or both.
** You can find them on booking.com
We also stayed one night at 7 seas Cottages, where we would have liked to stay a bit longer to participate in their Project Aware. But with Lombok, Sumbawa and Flores still on our to do list we where running out of time.
The 7 Seas Cottages are ideal for backpackers on a budget to luxury travelers or families. They offer diving packages and all sorts of diving courses. And we are sorry to missed out on this but every Wednesday, 7 Seas organizes a sea clean up called Project Aware. When participating your dive is free and all you have to do is, what you normally hopefully do as well, and that is collecting the plastic and other trash you see floating around in the sea. A great initiative because you see everybody cleaning up the beaches in the morning, but not all the trash makes it to the beach. And unfortunately there is a lot of plastic that needs to be removed from the ocean. So when you go to Gili Air, are a diver and want to do something good: follow their steps and go the 7 seas diveshop and clean up the ocean! We already love you for that.
You don’t have to get bored on Gili T, that’s for sure. You can go for a walk, run or bike ride around the island which is 6 kilometer. During this trip around the island, you can stop at the turtle hatchery and learn a bit more about their program. You have to go to the sunset side, lay down on a bed and watch the sunset. Or even more fun, and can be done at the same time, is looking at all the people standing in line to get their shot of themselves sitting or standing on the swing. The photos always look great, and it looks like you were there all alone, but we know better now! In the evening you get some food at the night market and catch a open air movie afterwards at the beach.
Gili Meno has a small turtle hatchery as well. Nothing really special but it is cute to see all the little turtles swimming around. You can also book your snorkeling trip here. Besides snorkeling, getting some tan, swim a bit, eat, drink and sleep, there is not much to do. The best beaches are on the eastern part of the island, although it is a bit rocky in the water. At night you can enjoy a free movie at Adeng Adeng.
Gili Air is our favorite island out of the three. There is a great atmosphere, plenty of restaurants, people are friendly and smiling and we like that it is a mix of Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. We liked the beaches at Gili Air the best, you were able to get in the water without cutting your food on the rocks. So if you have to choose between the islands, we strongly advise to go to Gili Air!
It is nice and quiet and really worth spending some time here! And go and try the food at Sunrise Gili Air!