12 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Visit Gili Islands, Lombok, Indonesia

by Keith Yuen

Many people have asked me what are the things to do in Gili Islands, Lombok, and how does it compare to other similar places such as Bali, Phuket, or Boracay? Well, to begin with, the Gili Islands is indeed different from its other island competitors. It can be difficult to choose between traveling to the Gili islands or to Bali especially if you’ve never been to either. Although the distance between Bali and Gili Islands is merely a two hours boat ride away, but the differences between the two areas are very distinct. Bali, I would describe it as crowded and developed whereas Gili Islands is inhabited and underdeveloped. Meaning, you will expect a slower pace, peaceful and less crowded than Bali. Sounds good?


Dark Storm Lombok

The dark storm looming at the pier in Lombok!


Gili Trawangan Island

But when we arrived it was sunny and clear blue sky Gili Trawangan Island

There are three main islands in the Gili Islands archipelago, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. They are located just off the coast of North West Lombok Indonesia. This laid back remote island has a lot to offer! But as everyone has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to planning a vacation destination, I have decided to help my dear readers gain some knowledge before deciding if you want to spend your vacation in Gili Islands, so here is the checklist on 12 reasons why you shouldn’t visit the “Turtle Capital of the World”! 🙂

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Gili Trawangan Island

The peaceful Gili Trawangan Island

#1 You don’t like Island hopping via local boat

There are three main islands in the archipelago. Fancy a boat ride and hop around the gorgeous islands? You can take a public boat service and the prices range from 20,000 – 23,000 rupiah per single trip and you can buy the tickets directly at the harbour. If you don’t like island and beach vacation, Gili Islands is definitely not for you then. 🙂

Gili Air Islands

Taking the boat and hop around the Gili Islands

#2 Relaxing in beautiful beaches is not your cup of tea

The scenery and beaches in the Gili islands are unique in their own way. The blue turquoise waters against the backdrop of the Lombok mountains makes it an ideal place to chillax and rejuvenate your energy from the material world. If you think this will be a waste of time, then Gili Islands is not for you! 🙂

Waves Gili Islands

The beautiful beaches of Gili Air Island

#3 You don’t want to be alone in the photo, you love photobombers

In Gili Islands, you won’t have problems taking photos without photobombers unlike in Bali, where there are a thousand of tourists everywhere, especially when you want to have some nice beach shots or peace without people, it is rather hard! On the other hand, this is easily achievable in the Gili Islands. If you prefer photobombers and want busy crowd in your photos, Gili is not for you! haha 🙂

Gili Islands

Having the entire beach by yourself! 🙂

#4 You hate to see turtles don’t want to snorkel with them

Gili Islands is also known as “Turtle Capital of the World!”, and is renowned for its sanctuary for turtles. It is absolutely a paradise for watching wildlife turtles through snorkeling or diving. Remember, they are live turtles, NOT Pokemon! So please refrain from catching them when you see them around. Respect these sea creatures, they are wildlife and rightfully belong in the sea, not in your hands or dive bags! If you are afraid of turtles and hate the sight of them, Gili Islands is not for you. 🙂

Snorkeling at Gili Air Island

Snorkeling at Gili Air Island

Diving at Gili Air Island

Turtle radar detected!

Turtles in Gili Islands

Relax guys, this is NOT a Pokemon, it’s a real turtle! Do not catch them all! haha

#5 Staying in a nice resort is not your ideal vacation

Fancy a relaxing vacation in a nice beautiful resort? Villa Ombak may satisfy your crave! This relaxed beachfront resort amid tropical gardens is about 9 minutes walk from the Trawangan’s jetty. They offer laid-back accommodations with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and tea and coffeemakers in the room. The rooms are decorated in a modern style mixed with traditional indigenous touches like wooden huts with outdoor bathrooms and open-air living areas. The spacious bungalows offer daybeds, the cottages have terraces and the airy villas have their own private pools. The resort has 3 eateries, including an outdoor sea-view option, as well as 3 bars. Where else can you ask for a perfect vacation?

Villa Ombak Gili Trawangan

Where I stay in Gili Trawangan – Villa Ombak

#6 You like going to bed immediately after dinner

Gili Trawangan (one of the island) is famous as the “party island” among the three Gilis. Whereas Gili Meno and Gili Air are more laid back and quiet. There are so many beach bars and hang out places for you and your friends to relax, have a drink and cool your skin after a full day in the sun! Every day it feels like a weekend on this island. Perhaps this island is full of vacationer, that explains the mood! haha 🙂

Bars in Gili Trawangan Island

Chilling in the evening before bed

#7 Island shopping bores you

In Gili Trawangan (the busiest islands among the three Gilis), you don’t have to worry about running short on supplies. There are tonnes of outdoor shops stretching from the East to West around the islands. Many of them sell interesting and creative merchandise. One thing for sure, there are no Prada, Gucci or Coach, so if you prefer fully air-conditioned shopping centres or luxury goods, then I’m afraid Gili Islands is not for you. 🙂

Gili Trawangan Island Shopping

Gili Trawangan Island Shopping

#8 You are reluctant to try local snacks and bbq

If your stomach is adventurous enough, after sunset, begin your night in the Nightmarket @ Arts Market, it is a great place to sample sumptuous authentic Indonesian food with more than 50 local stalls selling cheap and delicious food. All prepared freshly like a live performance in front of you. In general, the food served here are very cheap range between $3 to $5.

For vegetarians: Only restaurants on the island served vegetarian fried rice, pasta or pizza. Some local stalls can prepare vegetarian Indo mee (without the seasoning), but only for the adventurers! haha

BBQ in Night Market @ Arts Market Gili Trawangan Island

BBQ in the night market

#9 Local warriors engaging in stick fighting is just not your thing

Presean is a traditional combat fight between two warriors/fighters with each holding a stick and shield. This is a traditional popular sport practiced by the Sasak people living on the island of Lombok and Gili Islands. You can catch the fight / performances on Sundays in the market area on Gili Islands or in Lombok’s Sade Village.

Sasak Stick Fight

The Sasak Stick Fight

Sasak Stick Fight

The Sasak Stick Fight

#10 You are not into water sports, especially stand up paddling

Standing paddling or Stand Up Paddling is a very popular activity in the Gili Islands. This sport lets you comfortably paddle in the sea, but you need a good balancing skill to maintain your balance and stay afloat out in the open sea! A piece of advice, never underestimate the underwater current, sometimes it can be very strong and a change in current may turn you upside down without a moment’s notice. haha 🙂

Stand Up Paddling Gili Islands

This is Stand Up Paddling but she was squatting down! haha

#11 You are too cool for magical sunsets and #12 Hanging out at a swing in the sea is not your thing

In my opinion, this is a MUST DO activity if you are on the Gili Islands! I repeat and re-emphasize, you CANNOT miss the sunset in the Gili Islands. It will be a shame if you miss it! Especially sitting on the swing in the middle of the sea, with the sunsets beside you, does it sound unreal and surreal to you? LOL To be honest, this was one of my major highlight for the things to do in Gili Islands. It was truly magical and sensational. A live performance by mother nature. So don’t miss it! 🙂

Sunset in Gili Islands at swing in the sea

One of my best highlight in Gili Islands

Sunset Gili Trawangan things to do in Gili Islands

The magical sunset at Gili Trawangan

Sunset Gili Trawangan

Like an egg yolk sunset at Gili Trawangan

Sunset Gili Trawangan with Swing

Sunset Gili Trawangan with swing

A friend of mine collated a collage of all the swings around Gili Trawangan. There are a total of 8 swings in Gili Trawangan. If you wanna take a swing, remember to catch them all! haha

Gili Islands Swings

All the swings in Gili Trawangan Island – collage by Pearlyn Tan

Tips and Warning: Remember to check the timing for sunset and be at the beach early. There will definitely be a queue at the swing, especially during sunset time! Make sure you time yourself well for that perfect sunset. Let say one person takes 3 minutes, if there are 10 people in front of you, it will be 30 minutes of waiting! 🙂

The swing sunset at Gili Trawangan

Look at the queue during sunset! haha

Getting there

If your answers to the above are all YES, then you most probably should give the Gili Islands a miss. But if you like the fun in the sun and sea, experiencing local culture and culinary as well as exploring less touristy destinations, get on a plane to Bandara Internasional Lombok now and then take a ferry to Gili Islands via Teluk Nare pier. Alternatively, you can travel from Bali instead and take a direct ferry from Serangan or Benoa, South Bali tourist hub or Padang Bai, East of Bali to the Gili Islands. 🙂

Gili Islands

Either boating to Gili Islands

Speed boat to Gili Islands

Or take a speed boat to Gili Islands

Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport!

Do check out Travel Inspiration 360‘s facebook and instagram post for more #WonderfulIndonesia and #TripsofWonders information and stand a chance to win a trip to Bali Indonesia! Hurry before it ends on 5th October 2016! 🙂

Wonderful Indonesia

Thank You Ministry of Tourism Indonesia


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Lintas Nusa December 20 - 10:20 am

Originally planned for 3 nights but stayed for 4 because it was so nice – and will be coming back in February next year. The island itself is so chilled, you can do whatever you want for very little money and just have a great time.

I’d recommend staying at a hostel/hotel a few streets away from the beach to keep costs down and find somewhere less busy (Panda Cottages was really nice and cheap). Eating and drinking out is also cheaper a few minutes inland from the beach.

Will definitely be coming back many times

Bromo Ijen Tourism August 19 - 4:20 pm

nice tips, pics so owesome, thank you for the review about gil island so useful for other traveller who will come there

Snorkeling Probolinggo June 13 - 1:34 pm

I have gone to gili, the view is really good, there are several travel agents who offer packages there, such as to lombok, bali and Gili Ketapang, The prices are cheap and satisfying. you can buy the package to https://giliketapangadventure.com/


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