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Gili Islands

If you want to get away from all the traffic, hawkers in Bali, and take a step back in time, we suggest you visit the Gili Islands. The islands are a popular destination for Western tourists looking for a remote island experience.

The Gilis are just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Bali's neighbor island. Established daily services fast boat service departs from Benoa and Serangan Island in South Bali and Padang Bai in East Bali. I recommend that you bring sunscreen and sit on the top of the boat to enjoy the beautiful views. We recommend that you use an express boat company that has a good safety record and routinely services their boats. You can also travel by plane to Lombok, the large island nearby and then take local ferry to the nearby Gilis.

Each island has several very small resorts, usually consisting of huts, or hotels and villas and a restaurant. Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on the islands, so the preferred method of transportation is bicycle or the horse-drawn carriage. There are increasing numbers of westerners living on the Gilis, and operating businesses ranging from dive companies to resorts. Very experienced divers claim that the diving around the Gili's has some of the best Indonesia has to offer.

Crystal clear water, a step back in time, no hustle and bustle, a couple of superb hotels, amazing villas and great seafood restaurants await you in these beautiful islands.

THE THREE ISLANDS

  • Gili Air: is closest to the the island of Lombok and the second smallest of the Gili islands. This island is quiet and tranquil, perfect for honeymooners. On the East coast there is excellent snorkeling and diving.
  • Gili Trawangan: is 3 km long and 2 km wide and is the largest and most visited of the Gili islands. The eastern side of the island is the most crowded. If you are seeking a quieter place to stay there are bungalows in the north. This Island is also known as "Party Island".
  • Gili Meno: is between the two better known and larger islands but has the nicest beaches. This island is very quiet and also has an impressive bird sanctuary.

Bottled water is the only water to drink in the Gili's and in all of Indonesia for that matter. The tap water is salty and even after a few days a "Real shower" would be welcomed.

Please note the religion of the Islanders is Muslim. Never swim nor sun bathe nude, and dress modestly when off the beach.

Climate: The rainy season is roughly from November to April, but it doesn't rain as much as in Bali. The peak tourist seasons are July-August and December-January.



TIM'S PICKS FOR THE GILI'S

Dive and Yoga Center: If you are looking to channel your chi, whether by intense yoga with Kate or learning how to free dive with Mike, go to Free Dive Gili as it is the only company that handles both. This dynamic couple has found their niche, and any instruction from them is by far the best this area has to offer. Where else can you do yoga, then learn how to free dive, and then sit on a white sand beach and enjoy an island with no motorized vehicles?! Highlights: Turtles Point, Meno Wall, Shark (harmless) Point Gili

Yoga

Surf Gili Trawangwan: The surf on this island breaks about 45% of the time, but when it does it is firing. Bring your board and if the surf is down chill on the beach with a Bintang and enjoy the white sand beach and blue water while you wait for the surf to come back up.

surf gili

GETTING TO THE GILI'S

Blue Water ExpressBy Boat: Blue Water Express is the best and most reliable way to get to this Gili islands and Lombok. If you value safety, service and on time departures and arrivals then Blue Water Express is your only choice. Their office in Benoa Harbor, which is close for any one staying in Nusa Dua, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak or Canggu, makes the trip over a breeze. For travelers coming form Ubud or anywhere else in the east, Blue Water Express can pick you to up in Padang Bai. They are by far the best company and our only choice when sending travelers to the Gili's and Lombok.

By Plane: There are no airports in the Gilis. The closest airport is on mainland Lombok. You can fly to Lombok from Bali using Merapati, Garuda or Lion air.

GILI RESTAURANTS: Be selective when making a decision where to eat in the Gilis. The low season tourism is slower and some restaurants don't turn over their food so stick to the main places and our recommendations. We have taken the time to go through all that the three islands have to offer and put our top choices here:

Gili Restaurants

  • Scallywags: Scallywags has some of the freshest seafood on the island and has an amazing fresh ice cream bar that should not be missed. They have two locations, one on Gili Trawangan and one on Gili Air.


  • The Beach House: Great atmosphere mixed with great food. The Beach house will deliver lasting memories every time.


  • Ko-Ko-Mo: The best fine dining that The Gili's have to offer. The food at Ko-Ko-Mo is directed by a well known Australian chef and has a very high standard. If it is a romantic dinner on the beach this is the place to dine.


HOTELS and VILLAS: Accomodations are in demand in the Gili's so prices are higher than in Bali. It's best to make reservations in advance for those properties that take them, especially during June through August and in December.

The Gili's have places to stay from $12.00 a night for backpack style, to rooms with AC for $50 a night, and high end villas and hotels $100 to $500 a night. You will have a hard time booking the budget (backpacker) hotels in advance so be sure to take the early fast boat or ferry to give you the opportunity to look around.


HOTELS AND VILLAS THAT ACCEPT RESERVATIONS WE RECOMMEND:

Villa Ananda VILLA ANANDA: located just inland, less than 5 minutes walk from the beachfront, providing a peaceful haven away from the bars and crowds on the beachfront but keeping you in easy reach of all the action!
Villa Kelapa VILLA KELAPA: situated on the North-West corner of Gili Trawangan, in a coconut plantation, Kelapa Villas was especially chosen for its location ensuring guests total peace and tranquility.
Villa Ombac VILLA OMBAK: The Hotel Villa Ombak features the traditional building style of Lombok, and its neighboring islands, to blend harmoniously with the island's landscape.
beach house resort The Beach House Resort: The 4 Bedroom Villa has its own private courtyard and freshwater pool. 2 Bedroom Villas have private sundecks with freshwater pools. 2 Bedroom Bungalows feature a refreshing freshwater plunge pool.
KoKoMo Resort Ko-ko-mo Resort: offers guests the chance to relax and unwind in superior quality accommodation on the idyllic tropical island of Gili Trawangan.





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