The Gili Islands are an archipelago of three small islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air) just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. This popular tourist destination is well known for scuba diving and free diving due to the abundance of marine life and attractive coral formations. You can get to the Gili Islands from Bali by speedboat (2-3 hours) from either Serangan Pier or Padang Bai Port. The sea can be a bit rough on this boat ride so if you get seasick, it definitely makes sense to take medicine before the ride. In this guide to Gili Air, you’ll find some insight into our lodging, where to eat, things to do in the area and where to volunteer!
During our time on Gili Air, we stayed at Rangga Homestay and loved it. It’s a very new guesthouse with very nice and friendly owners. The room and bathroom were gorgeous and spotlessly clean and the breakfast every day on the front porch area was a great way to start the day! Gili Air is a very small island and while there are no motorbikes, you can rent bicycles for 35K IDR/$2.50 USD per day, which is great to cruise around the island. There are also horse pulled carriages that you can take from the port area to your accommodation.
While we were only on Gili Air for three nights, we could have definitely spent more time here and explored more of the area (including Gili T and Gili Meno). In any event, here are some things to do during your time in Gili Air:
Scuba Dive with Turtles – Dan ended up doing five fun dives with Blue Marine Dive Resort. In addition to the awesome staff/dive masters/instructors, he had some amazing dives at Turtle Heaven*, Hans Reef*, Meno Corner, Air Wall and Simons Reef (* favorite dives). You can also get scuba certified to explore a whole new world or head out for some fun dives!
Rent a bicycle – As mentioned above, Gili Air does not have motorbikes for rent on the island. This is the perfect reason to rent a bicycle and cruise around the island exploring the back roads and alleys. You really will get an idea of how the locals live and we loved just riding around on bikes here! It definitely reminded us both of the good old days before technology took over! Just be careful as some of the roads along the beach are sandy and/or rocky so watch where you are going!
Sunset at Pink Coco or Mowie’s – This entire stretch of beach is great for sunset. There are various bars and restaurants to grab a drink or smoothie and watch the skies light up with color. Grab a bean bag chair and a Bintang/mango smoothie and just soak up golden hour!
Join a beach clean up – We try to join beach clean-ups whenever we can and luckily there are organizations like Trash Hero who organize these weekly! It is a great way to meet people and only takes one or two hours out of your day. It is a simple way to help try to keep our beaches and oceans clean. Check out TrashHero Gili Air if you are in the area to find out about their scheduled clean-ups!
Snorkel trip to underwater statues – We’ve all seen the unbelievably beautiful instagram pictures of that perfect shot swimming with the underwater statues. After hearing stories about way too many people trying to get the instagram famous shot at the same time, we elected to skip this. If you do want to go, we would suggest going VERY, VERY early in the morning in order to get there before the masses arrive. Let us know how it goes for you!
If you’re traveling anywhere in Asia, TripAdvisor is without a doubt the best place to check out restaurant reviews. Dan’s TripAdvisor page has a more robust amount of reviews and pictures of our meals.
Coffee & Thyme – We came here twice for lunch and enjoyed it both times. It’s an open air restaurant located right by the boat pier. They serve delicious food, good music playing in the background and great service. We both got the Nasi Goreng with chicken dish. It was a big portion and most importantly tasty!
Ruby’s Cafe – We came here for dinner one night and it did not disappoint. It is a restaurant with home cooked food and served with love. There is no WiFi as they believe people should talk to each other instead of being on their phones – something we agree with! We got pasta and the butter chicken dishes – they both were delicious!
Warung Sunny – We came here for dinner one night and while it doesn’t look like much when you walk into the restaurant, the food was very good, especially for the price. We really loved the satay manuk!
During our brief time in Gili Air, we did not get the chance to volunteer, however, we heard wonderful things about the below organizations:
Project Why Not – Indonesia – Project Why Not currently works on a number of projects including supplies to schools, creating a learning centre in Klui Village and providing emergency relief for the recent earthquakes in Lombok. Visit their Instagram page @project.why.not or their website at www.projectwhynot.com for more information on how you can help.
Gili Shark Conservation – Before arriving at Gili, we did some research and found this marine conservation organization. While it appears that they do great work, the prices seemed to be pretty steep in order to work with them. In any event, they have a collection box outside or their building to donate anything you might want to get rid of that someone else would be able to use!
Trash Hero Gili Air – As mentioned above, Trash Hero is a national organization organizing consistent beach clean ups with local chapters in various locations. Check out Trash Hero Gili Air if you are in the area to find out about their scheduled clean-ups and events!