5 Tips on How to Choose Which Gili Island is Best for You – All Gili Islands covered!

This trifecta of paradise, only a stone’s throw from Bali, is the stuff of dreams for island hoppers, beachgoers, and snorkelling enthusiasts alike. Each island – Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno – boasts its unique rhythm and charm. But which Gili island is best suited for you? Whether you’re an adventurer at heart, seeking serene shores to unwind, or dreaming of a romantic island escape, this guide will help you decide!

Drawing from my vivid adventures on Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, My firsthand experiences across these island paradises tips, takes and insights allow me to guide you thoughtfully in selecting the Gili Island that best suits your needs. Trust in my journey to lead yours ๐Ÿ™‚

Just off the northwest coast of Lombok, the Gili Islands are a sanctuary away from the hustle of Bali. With no cars or motorbikes, the only sounds are the gentle hum of bicycle bells and the soft clop-clop of horse-drawn carts. It’s pretty much bliss.

The Unique Trio: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air

Gili Trawangan

is the life of the party, with a lively atmosphere and plenty of bars and restaurants catering to visitors looking for a vibrant nightlife scene. The largest of the three islands, it also offers a wide range of accommodations from budget-friendly hostels to luxury resorts. If you enjoy snorkelling or diving, Gili Trawangan has some fantastic underwater sites to explore.

Gili Meno

Gili Meno the middle child, is the quietest of the three Gili islands, making it ideal for travellers looking for peace and seclusion. With fewer tourists than Gili Trawangan or Gili Air, this island provides an opportunity to truly unwind and disconnect from the outside world. The pristine beaches are perfect for sunbathing or swimming in crystal-clear waters. It offers an escape into tranquillity and untouched nature.

Gili Air

Gili Air strikes a perfect balance, combining a laid-back vibe with a sprinkle of night-time fun amidst its rustic charm. This island has plenty of beachside cafes and yoga studios for wellness enthusiasts. The smaller size of Gili Air makes it feel more intimate than its bustling neighbour but still offers enough amenities to keep visitors entertained.

Each island caters to different travellers’ souls, whether you’re here for a vibrant party, a serene retreat, or a bit of both.

5 Essential Tips to Discover Which Gili Island is best for you

Exploring the Gili Islands is akin to uncovering hidden gems, each with its own personality and charm. To help you discover which island whispers your name, here are five essential tips:

  1. Define Your Ideal Vacation Vibe โœจ: Start by asking yourself what you crave most from your getaway. Are you looking to dance until dawn, find serene spots for yoga and meditation, or perhaps a family-friendly beach retreat? Gili Trawangan offers a vibrant party scene, Gili Meno is the epitome of tranquility and romance, and Gili Air strikes a delightful balance between the two.
  2. Consider Your Budget ๐Ÿ’ธ: While all three islands cater to a range of budgets, it’s wise to align your choice with your financial comfort zone. Gili Trawangan has a wide array of options from luxury to budget, Gili Air offers a mix of mid-range and budget accommodations, and Gili Meno, being the quietest, tends to offer more secluded and sometimes pricier options.
  3. Adventure and Activities Wishlist ๐Ÿคฟ: Each island has its unique offerings โ€“ Gili Trawangan and Gili Air are great for divers and nightlife enthusiasts, while Gili Meno is a sanctuary for those seeking peace or a romantic escape. List out the activities you’re interested in, from snorkeling over coral reefs to enjoying live music or engaging in wellness retreats.
  4. Duration of Stay ๐Ÿ—“๏ธ: If you’re planning a longer stay, consider splitting your time between the islands. This way, you can savor the distinct essence of each without compromise. Shorter visits might benefit from choosing one island that best matches your vacation goals.
  5. Seek Out Personal Stories and Reviews ๐Ÿ’ฌ: Nothing beats firsthand experiences. Thats why you’re here reading this right? Learn the best of the Gili islands by checking out social media posts, and accommodation reviews from travellers who who have stayed there too. Hopefully this guide solve this problem for you.

Which is the Best Gili Island?

Here’s a breakdown of what I’d consider when choosing the best Gili Islands trip for my stay:

GILI TRAWANGANGILI MENOGILI AIR
Hotel Optionsโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Snorkelling โœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Sunsetsโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Restaurantsโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Nightlife โœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Socializingโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Tranquilityโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
Divingโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ

Size and Location of The Gili Islands

๐Ÿ๏ธ Gili Trawangan, the largest, lies furthest from Lombok. The island is roughly 3km long and 2km wide, featuring a horseshoe-shaped strip of sand dotted with resorts, restaurants and shops. Due to the island having no motorized transport, If you’re strolling, it will take about an hour to walk around the island – a pleasant way to explore.

๐Ÿ  Gili Meno, the smallest among the trio, is just under 2km long and 1 km in width, with a population of roughly 400 people. Despite its size, it still has plenty to offer travellers looking for an authentic island experience. If you’re a leisurely walker, it will take around 40 minutes to complete the loop.

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Gili Air sits in between the two, approximately 5km from Gili Trawangan and 2km from Gili Meno. Its size is similar to that of Gili Trawangan, but it feels more compact with a smaller population.

Despite their sizes, each island can be circumnavigated by foot or bike, offering intimate explorations. All Gili islands are also easy to get to by speedboat/ fast boat- which I’ll discuss later in the post.

Gili Trawangan: The Island of Vibrant Sunsets and Lively Nights

For those whose ideal holiday includes lively beach bars, vibrant markets, and spectacular sunset views, Gili Trawangan is calling your name. Fondly referred to as ‘Gili T’, this island is the largest and liveliest of the three. It boasts a rich underwater world that makes for unforgettable snorkelling and scuba diving experiences. After a day at sea, you can enjoy a vibrant nightlife scene that’ll have you dancing barefoot on the sand beaches under the stars.

But if you thought Gili T was only for the backpacker and party peeps – you’re definitely mistaken. The East coast of the island may be for the more social, but the west coast definitely offers some reprieve from the party atmosphere. There’s also now a wide range of hotel accommodations ranging from the more high-end to the easy-going backpacker.

Things to do on Gili Trawangan

  • Snorkel with turtles and colourful fish at Turtle Point.
  • Enjoy a spectacular sunset view from the iconic swings or Pink Coco Beach bar on the west side of the island.
  • Have a laid-back beach day at the quieter east-side beaches.
  • Enjoy some local shopping at the market showcasing plenty beach clothes, dresses, curious and snacks
  • Explore the food scene at the seafood market and try some delicious local street food.
  • Dance with your toes in the sand at one of Gili T’s many beach bars
  • Enjoy some cocktails or shisha at one of the many bars and restaurants on the West side

Best Places to Stay in Gili Trawangan

If you’re not sure where to stay – Gili Islands has your paradise covered. As mentioned above Gili Trawangan hotels now offer something for all types of travellers, although previously seen as backpackers or party island, there are now some super high-end and mid-rane options for travellers seeking a bit more privacy, seclusion and room amenities. These are some of my top picks on where to stay in Gili Trawangan:

โญ Hotel Vila Ombak – high-end luxury villas with private pools and beachfront views. (Rated: 8.2 | 3485 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Pearl of Trawangan – a mid-range resort with beautiful garden settings and easy access to the beach. (We stayed here and I loved it – It’s definitely one of the best Gili island hotels) (Rated: 9 | 4188 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ PinkCoco Gili Trawangan โ€“ for Cool Adults Only – a mid-range resort that is INCREDIBLY instagrammable and has an amazing beach bar with amazing sunset views. (We also stayed here and the evenings were such a great vibe) (Rated: 9 | 4188 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Santorini Beach Resort – a budget-friendly hotel with clean rooms and friendly staff, known for its epic sunset location. (Rated: 9.2 | 1606 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

Travel tips for visiting Gili Trawangan

  1. Opt for a Bicycle ๐Ÿšฒ or Horse-Drawn Cart ๐ŸŽ: The island’s no-motorized-vehicle rule is part of its charm. Rent a bike or hop on a cidomo (horse-drawn cart) for an authentic and eco-friendly way to explore. Itโ€™s not just transport; itโ€™s part of the Gili T experience.
  2. Prep yourself for the fast boat trip ๐Ÿšค: While the speedboat ride from Bali or Lombok to Gili Trawangan is an experience in itself, it can be a little bumpy on windy days. If you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to take some medication before boarding.
  3. Cash is King ๐Ÿ’ต: Previously there were no ATM’s on Gili Trawagan, but thankfully there are now. You’ll also find that there are money changers too. I don’t really remember using my bank card to pay at cafes/ restaurants and personally, I wouldn’t.

Gili Meno: The Untouched Beauty for a quiet escape

Ah, Gili Meno, the smallest and offers an escape into tranquility and untouched nature. It seemed like this is the island for couples and those chasing peaceful solitude. With its beautiful beaches, Gili Meno offers a serene environment thatโ€™s ideal for honeymooners or anyone wanting to bask in undisturbed nature. The waters around Meno are known for their vibrant coral gardens and the famous underwater sculptures (The Bask) โ€“ a haven for snorkellers and divers seeking beauty in tranquillity.

Although Gili Meno is the quietest of the three islands, I absolutely loved it. With fewer tourists than Gili Trawangan or Gili Air, this island provides an opportunity to truly unwind and disconnect from the outside world – no crowds, no queues, no pumping music – it was a true natural escape. The pristine beaches are perfect for laying on the beach, snorkelling you heart out or simply a gentle stroll around the island.

Things to do in Gili Meno

  • Snorkel among the vibrant coral gardens and the famous Bask underwater sculpture.
  • Enjoy a romantic dinner on the beach with your loved one or on your own (because – why not?).
  • Take a walk around the island, admiring its untouched beauty.
  • Visit the Gili Meno salt lake for a unique experience.
  • Relax and unwind at one of the many spas offering traditional treatments.

Best Places to Stay in Gili Meno

When it comes to find great Gili Meno hotels, you’re spoilt for choice with some stunning sea view places. Although some may say the accommodation is pricier on Gili Meno – I completely disagree. There’s definitely great options for all budgets and traveller types. These are some of my top picks:

โญ Mahamaya Resort – Offering luxurious accommodation with a private beach, this resort is perfect for those seeking a romantic escape. (Rated: 9 | 626 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Le Pirate Gili Meno Resort – A midrange to budget-friendly resort with cozy bungalows and an ocean-front view. (Rated: 9.4 | 133 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ BASK Gili Meno – This high-end resort offers stunning villas with private pools and a tranquil setting. (Rated: 9.4 | 18 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Seri Resort Gili Meno – A family-friendly resort with comfortable rooms and easy access to the beach. (Rated: 8.6 | 828 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

Travel Tips for Visiting Gili Meno:

  1. Pack light ๐Ÿงณ: As there are no motorized vehicles on the island, you’ll have to carry your luggage from the boat drop-off point to your accommodation or you’ll have to wait for the horsecart that aren’t always frequently there. Pack light and bring only the essentials.
  2. Bring cash ๐Ÿ’ต: Similar to Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno also has limited ATM availability and is mostly a cash-only island. Make sure to have enough cash on hand for your stay.
  3. Don’t forget mosquito repellent ๐ŸฆŸ: As with any tropical destination, mosquitoes can be a nuisance. Bring some bug spray or mosquito repellent to keep them at bay.
  4. Take advantage of the quiet beaches ๐Ÿ–๏ธ: Gili Meno is known for its tranquil and untouched beaches. Take some time to relax, unwind, and enjoy the peaceful environment.
  5. Try local cuisine ๐Ÿœ: Don’t miss out on trying some local dishes while on Gili Meno. From fresh seafood to Indonesian specialities, there are plenty of options to tantalize your taste buds.
  6. Protect the marine life ๐Ÿ : The waters around Gili Meno are home to diverse marine life, including sea turtles. Make sure to follow responsible snorkelling and diving practices to protect the marine ecosystem.

Gili Air: Where Slow Living Meets Aquatic Paradise

Gili Air strikes a perfect balance, combining a laid-back vibe with a sprinkle of night-time fun amidst its rustic charm. This island strikes a balance between relaxation and activities, with plenty of beachside cafes and yoga studios for wellness enthusiasts.

The smaller size of Gili Air makes it feel more intimate than its bustling neighbour, but still offers enough amenities to keep visitors entertained. Yoga retreats, snorkelling in crystal-clear waters, and enjoying the local cuisine at a seaside cafรฉ are the norms here.

Gili Air combines the perfect mix of relaxation with a decent dash of night-time fun, minus the intensity of Gili Trawangan. It’s the island that lets you recharge, both spiritually and physically.

Things to do on Gili Air

  • Attend a yoga retreat or class for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
  • Snorkel around the island, exploring its vibrant coral reefs and marine life.
  • Take a cooking class to learn how to make traditional Indonesian dishes.
  • Rent a bicycle and explore the island on your own time.
  • Indulge in some retail therapy at the local markets selling handmade goods.

Best Places to Stay in Gili Air

Gili Air hotels provide a mix of accommodation options, appealing to friends, families and couples alike – literally something for everyone.

โญ PinkCoco Gili Air – A unique and colourful hotel with a luxurious pool, perfect for those looking for a trendy and super Instagrammable accommodation. (Rated: 9.4 | 1543 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Koho Air Hotel – Offering cozy bungalows with a great location right next to the harbour, its perfect for island hopping and easy on the pocket as a midrange option too. (Rated: 9.5 | 887 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ 7SEAS Cottages – With its prime beachfront location and serene atmosphere, this budget accommodation is perfect for a romantic getaway or solo traveller seeking tranquility. (Rated: 7.9 | 877 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Tipsy Turtle Gili Air – A budget-friendly option with comfortable rooms and a lively social atmosphere, great for solo travellers or groups looking to make new friends. (Rated: 9 | 348 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

โญ Gili Air Escape Adult Only – For those seeking ultimate relaxation, this high-end hotel offers an adults-only beachfront retreat with stunning ocean views and a peaceful ambience. (Rated: 9.2 | 311 Reviews) โžก๏ธ Check Availability

Travel Tips for Visiting Gili Air

  1. Embrace the island life ๐Ÿ๏ธ: The slower pace of Gili Air is part of its charm. Embrace it and let go of any stress or worries.
  2. Bring cash ๐Ÿ’ต: Like Gili Meno, Gili Air also has limited ATM availability and is mostly a cash-only island. Plan accordingly and bring enough cash for your stay -most high-end hotels will accept card payments though.
  3. Try the local seafood ๐Ÿฆ: With an abundance of fresh seafood available on the island, don’t miss out on trying some delicious grilled fish or seafood dishes at one of the beachside restaurants.
  4. Watch a sunset ๐ŸŒ…: Gili Air offers some stunning sunsets over the ocean. Find a cosy spot along the beach and watch the sky light up in shades of pink, orange, and purple.
  5. Get your snorkel on ๐Ÿคฟ: The waters around Gili Air are teeming with marine life. Rent some snorkelling gear and explore the colourful underwater world.
  6. Try your hand at some Stand up paddle boarding or Kite surfing ๐Ÿ„: For those looking for some water sports, Gili Air offers opportunities to try stand-up paddle boarding or kite surfing. So, don’t miss out on the chance to try something new and exciting!

Comparing Gili Islands: Tailoring Your Gili Experience

Deciding the best Gili Island for your adventure comes down to what you seek from your island escape.

๐Ÿ๏ธ Gili Trawangan offers the best in terms of nightlife and dining, while

๐Ÿ–๏ธ Gili Air provides a balanced blend of relaxation and social opportunities.

๐Ÿ  Gili Meno, on the other hand, is your go-to for a quiet retreat amidst natural beauty.

No matter the choice, each island promises azure waters, soft sandy beaches, and the kind of scenic views that postcards are made of.

From cozy bungalows to luxurious villas, the Gilis cater to every taste and budget. And with a feast of fresh seafood and Indonesian delicacies to savour, your culinary cravings will be well catered to.

Gili Islands’ Proximity to Other Destinations

Hopping between the Gilis is easy, with quick boat rides allowing you to experience each island’s distinct vibe. Their proximity to Lombok and Bali also makes day trips and further explorations a breeze, providing a versatile holiday experience. Here are the Slow Public Boat and Fast Boast schedules between the Gili Islands and Bangsal Harbour (Lombok)

Gili Island Public Boat Schedule

Gili island public boat schedule times and pricing

Gili Island Fast Boat Schedule

Gili island fast boat schedule

How to Get Around the Gili Islands

โžก๏ธ Gili Trawangan: The most popular mode of transportation is by bicycle, which can be rented for a day or longer. Horse-drawn carriages, known as cidomos, are also available for short distances. Walking is another great way to explore the island.

โžก๏ธ Gili Air: Similar to Gili Trawangan, bicycles and walking are the main modes of transportation on the island.

โžก๏ธ Gili Meno: Bicycles, walking, and cidomos (Horse Carts) are all available for getting around the island.

So Which Gili Island is Best?

Each Gili Island has its own distinct personality that caters to different types of travellers. The Gili Islands offer something for everyone โ€“ from the party-goer in Gili Trawangan to the solitude-seeker in Gili Meno, and the best-of-both-worlds traveler in Gili Air. Reflecting on your preferences and what you wish to get out of your holiday will guide you to the island that promises to fulfil your dream getaway.

My ideal scenario would be to visit at least two of the islands, if you’re short on time make it a day trip! I loved The combo of Gili T and Gil Meno for that vast contrast – but your needs may be different.

Have you visited the Gili islands before? Which one stole your heart? Share your stories, tips, and hidden gems – I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Remember, the best Gili Island is the one that calls out to your spirit of adventure, relaxation, or romance.

Affiliate Disclosure: Some of the links in the article have affiliate links, what this means is, if you click a link and make a purchase I may earn some money to buy a coffee (whoohoo!). Thanks for the support, I’d love to keep making this content freely available to all. As always opinions and thoughts remain my own.

Which Gili Island is the Best FAQ

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