The beautiful Gili islands are located off the north-west coast of Lombok and consist of three small islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Boasting white-powdery sand beaches and clear turquoise waters, it’s no surprise that the Gilis are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia.
Explore the islands on a bicycle, soak up the sun on one of the many incredible beaches or choose to snorkel with turtles. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife or indulge in local cuisine at the diverse selection of restaurants. There are many exciting things to do in the Gili islands.
Discover the best activities with our island checklist. Here are ten exciting things to do in the Gili islands.
1. Rent Bicycles & Explore
Bikes can be rented from just about everywhere on any three of the Gili Islands. Since there are no motorized vehicles on the islands, bicycles are a fun and eco-friendly way to travel around. You can ride them to your favorite restaurant or beach on the other side of the island. Even better, cruise along the entire coast of the island to get a complete 360 tour!
Bike rental starts at 60,000 IDR per day ($4), and are readily available throughout the island. Some hotels and airbnbs even include a bicycle free of charge in their accomodation fee.
Warning: be cautious when biking around the island as the trail often fades into thick sand which is near impossible to ride on, leaving you to get off and walk for parts of the way.
2. Visit Turtle Sanctuary On Gili Meno
The Gili islands are often referred to as ‘the turtle capital of the world’ due to the sheer number of turtles that can be spotted here. If you’re planning a visit to the Gilis, don’t miss dropping by the privately-run turtle sanctuary on Gili Mino, which plays an important contribution to the survival of the turtles on the island.
The establishment is free to visit, but donations are accepted. All money goes towards preserving the center and feeding the turtles. Who knows, those turtles you see nearby on your snorkeling adventure might well be the turtles that were raised and released here.
3. Watch The Sunset
Watching the sunset from the Gili Islands is a truly magical experience. There is nothing better than lying on a beach bean bag with a cold beer or fresh coconut in your hand watching the sun go down behind Bali’s Mount Agung.
The colours differ between pink, orange or red, even when it’s cloudy the sunsets are magnificent. If you’re looking for that perfect-picture shot, Gili Lumbung has one of the island’s notorious sea swings, sometimes a live musician, and they serve excellent food. A great way to finish your day.
Some of the best places to watch sunset include:
- Sunset Gecko (Gili Meno)
- Paradise Sunset Bar (Gili Trawangan)
- Pink Coco (Gili Air)
4. Enjoy The Nightlife
The nightlife on Gili Trawangan is an unmissable explosion of entertainment, which involve everything you could ever need to let loose – with the added extra of having the beautiful blue sea all around you.
There are regular party nights with local DJ’s playing the latest hip hop, dance and house tunes, they are rotated so there is only one party a night which can go on until the early hours of the morning.
5. Island Hopping
Island Hopping is a fantastic way to experience each of the islands unique features without needing to stay overnight on them all. You can hop between the islands by using the local boat service which operates between each of the islands.
If you’re looking for a faster or out-of-hours service, then private boats are available for charter across the islands.
6. Diving in the Gili Islands
All levels of divers will find Gili Island diving exciting. If it’s your first time diving you can find great instructors situated around the Gilis. Please ensure that you use a reputable scuba diving company who are members of the Gili Dive Association. This not only means they are safe, but also committed to protecting the environment.
Additional Tip: You can contribute alongside GILA members for a beach clean-up every Friday evening on Gili Trawangan. This is a great opportunity to meet the local divers plus earning yourself a free beer!
7. Learn To Cook
While on the Gilis, why not learn a bit about the local tastes and exotic cuisine. There are various cooking classes on the islands, such as the Gili Cooking Classes, located on Gili Air. Classes are every day, and led by experienced Indonesian chefs, with meals included, obviously.
8. Visit the night market
The night market is open every evening at about 6pm in Gili Trawangan at the market square.
There are a wide variety of menu items to choose from such as seafood, grilled meats, Chinese Wok-Fries, and all-time Indonesian favourites such as Nasi Goreng fried rice, Soto Ayam Chicken Broth, and Bakso meatball soup.
9. Glass-Bottomed Kayaking
If you want to stay dry but still want to experience what’s going on beneath the waters, we would recommend hiring a see-through Kayak.
For as little as $10 you can drift out to your favourite parts of the island and enjoy watching the marine life from the safety of the boat.
10. Movies on the Beach
Watching movies on the beach is perfect for those nights where you don’t feel like partying.
There is a couple of venues to choose from, but here are just a few: