25 things you can do on the Gili Islands

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The Gili Islands are primarily known for 3 things: party, diving and snorkeling. But there are much more things you can do here and probably many visitors don’t even know about them. Hence, in this article we put together 25 activities.

Gili Islands: 25 activities and must-dos


Diving and snorkeling (learning)

It’s probably the classic at the Gilis. No wonder, because the islands have a very interesting underwater world. There are diving schools on each of the 3 islands, although most of them are on Gili Trawangan. You can borrow snorkel equipment almost on every corner.

Circumnavigate the islands

You can walk around the Gilis in about 1-2 hours. On Gili Trawangan you should rent a bike, which you can get almost anywhere (prices are negotiable). Often, however, the accommodations have their private bike rental.

Be sure to bring a lock and use it when you want to stop somewhere! If no lock exists, never leave your bike unobserved. Gili Meno you can perfectly circumnavigate on foot, because the majority of the paths run along some lonely dream beaches.

Beach on Gili Meno, Indonesia
When you walk around Gili Meno you can see such beaches all the time

Island hopping

2 times each day the public boats leave to the other two islands. Around 9:30 a.m. the boat leaves Gili Trawangan to the other islands. Later in the afternoon it will return from Gili Air over Gili Meno back to Trawangan. Depending on where it goes, the prices range from 20,000 – 23,000 rupiah (one way). You can buy the tickets directly at the harbor (where the boats leave), otherwise in any travel agency and ticket booth on the islands (but probably you will pay more because of the commission).

Alternatively, you can also charter a boat, which will cost about 190,000 (one way) or 350,000 rupiah (return). This may be worthwhile if you’re traveling with a group of about 10 people or more. Then you definitely travel more effective and convenient than with the public boats.

Island hopping boat on Gili Meno
Island hopping boat on Gili Meno

Water sports

Very popular is the standing paddling, also known as “Stand Up Paddling” (SUP), which lets you comfortably paddle along the island. Or you can rent a canoe/kayak for one or two people. Karma Kayak for example, offers a day trip to the islands (including food and guide) for around € 20. Also kite surfing or wakeboarding is offered on the Gilis. During all activities in the water it is very important to never underestimate the sometimes very strong currents.

Surfing

There are a few surf spots on the Gilis, mainly in the southeast of Gili Trawangan, but also on Gili Meno and Gili Air. Nevertheless, the better and more popular ones can be found on Lombok.

Fishing and BBQ

Often fishing tours are offered, where you will be driven out by boat and can catch the fish yourself and then grill it. It doesn’t get any fresher and tastier! Even spear fishing is possible.

On tour with the Glass Bottom Boat

Another way to explore the underwater world. It’s usually offered together with island hopping, snorkeling or diving.

Going out and party

Gili Trawangan is clearly most suitable and best known for partying! Mondays (Blue Marlin), Wednesdays (Tir Na Nog or simply known as the Irish Pub) and Fridays (Rudy’s) are always having the big parties. You cannot overlook or miss it, simply follow the crowd. Or you can go to my favorite bar, the Sama-Sama, where every now and then well-known Indonesian bands like Steven & Coconut Treez perform with brilliant live Reggae music.

Rudy's Pub, Gili Trawangan
During the day it’s a relaxed restaurant, on Friday evening it becomes the party highlight on the island: Rudy’s Pub
Sama-Sama Reggae Bar, Gili Trawangan
The Sama-Sama Reggae Bar
Tir Na Nog (Irish Pub), Gili Trawangan
Tir Na Nog (Irish Pub)

South Sea Nomads also got a party boat and offers for $ 25 a trip from noon/afternoon to sunset around the Gili islands, snorkeling equipment and food included.

You will even find a Full Moon Party celebration on Gili Trawangan. Of course with its size it doesn’t come close to the infamous Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan/Thailand (so many people probably don’t even fit on Trawangan), but its still worth a visit.

On Gili Air people are celebrating as well, for example in the Legend Bar (Reggae, House, etc.). Who is into psychedelic stuff may party like an alien in the Space Bar.

Jamming and live music

Good live music is played every evening at Sama-Sama, but also during daytime from time to time jam sessions take place and everyone can participate. In addition, you can for example jam in the Sasak Island Cafe on Gili Meno while having a cold Bintang every night with the boys. Usually – how could it be otherwise? – Reggae classics are played. Fun guaranteed! The beach bar is located in the west of the island and can also be seen from Gili Trawangan.

Jamming at Sasak Cafe on Gili Meno

Gili Trawangan view point

The highest point of the island where you can have a superb view on the other Gili Islands, Lombok with the Mount Rinjani and Bali with the Mount Agung. The view point is located at the southern part of the island and is also very suitable for watching the sunset.

Horseback ride along the beach

Maybe not the most classic activity for us guys, but suitable for families or couples. It is a nice break to ride along the beach at sunset and partly in the water. Available at Stud Horse Riding Adventures or Sunset Stables.

Horseback riding at sunset on Gili Trawangan

Visit the night market

About 6 p.m. daily at the market square in front of the boat pier on Gili Trawangan the night market takes place where you can eat well and cheaply. It’s impossible to overlook or miss it!

A wide range of various specialties is offered such as fresh fish, seafood, Sate of all kinds, different rice and noodle dishes, vegetables, grilled corn on the cob and much more. Highly recommended is the Nasi Campur stand near the entrance which is closest to the pier. Nasi Campur is a typical Indonesian rice dish with vegetables, eggs, some meat, tofu, peanuts and fried noodles. At this booth they offer the Nasi Campur in the form of a buffet where you can choose what you would like to have. At other booths you should definitely try a grilled Red Snapper, which costs about 100,000 rupiah (about € 8), including rice, vegetables and tofu for 2 people.

Treat yourself for dessert with a grilled, spiced with chili sauce (Sambal) corn on the cob for only around € 1.

Nasi Campur stand at the night market of Gili Trawangan
Here you can find delicious Nasi Campur!
Fresh, grilled seafood at the night market of Gili Trawangan
Fresh, grilled seafood

Watch a “Stick Fight” tournament

A “Presean”, as it is called in the language of the Sasak, is a traditional combat between two randomly selected fighters with stick and shield. It is musically accompanied of so-called “Beleganjur” players. Even if it seems sometimes a bit brutal (flowing blood is not excluded), it is just a popular traditional sport and the fighters have always have a good relationship with each other. In between there is dancing and laughing sometimes.

Tourists can join but should not be surprised if they get a few neat hits. The tournament always takes place Sunday afternoon at the marketplace. Here’s a little video on YouTube to get an idea.

Stick Fight (Presean) on the market place of Gili Trawangan

Going to the movies

At the main beach of Gili Trawangan in the evening there is the possibility to watch movies at a kind of mini open-air cinema. A good alternative to the party life, especially if you are hungover and want to do something quiet.

Relaxing or eating at the beach

Most bars and restaurants offer sun protected loungers or giant cushions on the beach where you can simply enjoy a delicious, cool Bintang or a fresh fruit juice and of course eat something while marveling at the wonderful view. Prices for Western Food start mostly at 40,000 rupiah while local food such as Nasi Goreng is slightly cheaper.

Or for less than one Euro you can buy fresh fruits, grilled Satay skewers or Tempeh/Bakwan (fried vegetables, highly recommended!) as a snack at the small Warungs (stalls). Get it wrapped up and off to the beach!

Marcel at the beach on Gili Trawangan

Sunset watching

Watching the sunset in one of the beach bars with chill out music and a Bintang is certainly a must on the Gilis. This is, for example, wonderful in the Sunset Bar in the southwest of Gili Trawangan. It is best to go a little earlier, as you can imagine the bar is packed around sunset. If you like it more quiet and lonely, you just need to drive or walk along the beach a little further and you surely you will find one or another deserted stretch of beach.

Sunset on Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
Sunset on Gili Trawangan

Yoga

There are also some Yoga courses offered on the islands, either once as a trial or for more days and weeks. Whole retreats are offered, too.

Get a Tattoo

You can do that here as well. On Gili Trawangan for example, there is a tiny little tattoo parlor on the way from the marketplace to the village. Or from Noa, who does it traditionally with bamboo.

Taking Mushrooms

They are offered almost everywhere, even in some restaurants and bars (also applies to Ganja). Order at Rudy’s a normal Mushroom pizza and I’m 99% sure you’ll be asked: “Magic?”. Well known are also the Mushroom cocktails. According to statements by some locals, Mushrooms are even legal on the Gilis because they simply grow wild. How does it feel? Well, I have no idea, I’ve never tried it – seriously.

Participating in beach clean-ups

Beach clean-ups are regularly held on all 3 Gili Islands. You can do your part in a sociable round to help the islands become cleaner. Honestly, the Gilis are in dire need of that.

Trash Hero, for example, organizes clean-ups on Gili Meno. More information can be found on the official Facebook page.

Massages and fish pedicures

If you like to have a traditional massage for a change, there are ample opportunities here in one of the massage parlors and spas. Or how about a fish pedicure, where hundreds of small fish nibble on your feet?

Turtle sanctuary on Gili Meno

In order to protect them from other wild animals, the turtle eggs are collected and incubated at Bolong’s Turtle Sanctuary. The baby turtles are then raised in the small pool and after about 8 months released into the wild on the beach. For a donation of 100,000 rupiah you can even choose a turtle and then release it yourself on the beach. A good thing that should be supported so that the turtles do not become extinct in the waters of the Gilis!

Bird park

The Gili Meno Bird Park hosts, among others, parrots, peacocks, pheasants, pelicans and small eagles. Well, it’s certainly no highlight but maybe a nice activity for a change.

Traditional dances

Sometimes traditional Sasak dances (= “Joget”) of Lombok are brought to the Gilis. In this case, one or more women are dancing in a traditional outfit to live music and there is a small fee to dance with them – a kind of dance prostitution. The bills are initially waved around quite provocative in front of the girls until they finally get the “reward”. To get an idea how it looks like, check it out on YouTube.

For example, the Sasak Island Cafe on Gili Meno organizes every now and then big celebrations where you can watch the whole thing and join as well. But also on the other islands from time to time such dances will be seen for sure. Simply look for “traditional dance”.

Traditional Sasak dance on Gili Meno

Trip to Lombok

In terms of nature and culture, Lombok has to offer everything. It doesn’t matter whether dream beaches, a volcano, waterfalls, rice fields, mosques or Balinese temples. It is definitely worthwhile to stay there for a couple of days.

See also: 15 things you should see on Lombok


Accommodations on Gili Trawangan – our recommendations

The Gili Islands belong to the most visited places in Indonesia and are especially in the high season really crowded. No matter if for backpackers or luxury travelers, the Gilis (especially Gili Trawangan) have suitable types of accommodation for everyone. In any case you should book your hotel in time if you wanna go there in high season (roughly June to September).

Here are recommendations from us for some really nice accommodations on Gili Trawangan in the mid-range price segment.

Gili Nyepi

Gili Nyepi, Gili Trawangan

Also the Gili Nyepi is situated in the calm Sasak village and offers 4 small bungalows next to a beautiful and constantly maintained little garden. Each room has a terrace with garden view where you can enjoy your delicious breakfast every morning. The rooms are quite new and clean and the beds have mosquito nets, too. You will feel very well here from the first moment on. I’ve stayed in the Gili Nyepi many times already and I gladly come back every time. Our absolute top recommendation! Book Book

Le Pirate Beach Club

Le Pirate Beach Club Gili Trawangan

This recently opened bungalow resort makes a really good impression in every way, from the first moment on. The tiny white bungalows are simple but clean and most notably very stylish. Aircon and hot water is also available. There are 2 nice pools, one of them is located next to a cool bar with a beach view. The Le Pirate is situated on the other side of the island where it’s totally quiet, plus you can enjoy breathtaking sunsets and have a view at the Mount Agung volcano on Bali. The staff is friendly and the food is superb! Book Book

Rumah Saga

Rumah Saga, Gili Trawangan

This lovely little guest house offers 4 rooms that are neat and tidy (you can choose between aircon and fan). Also, every room has hot water, a TV and even 2 beds (single bed + double bed), so that families and friends can stay in one room as well. The small but well-kept garden has a swimming pool where you can relax calmly, because the Rumah Saga is located in the village where it’s a little bit more quiet. But to the beach it’s only 5 minutes of walking. The staff is really friendly, too. Book

Photo 11 (Sunset): Anna & Michal/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Have you been to the Gili Islands? What did you experience or what did you enjoy most?

About Marcel

Hi, I'm Marcel! Blogger, author, web & graphic designer and digital nomad. I love traveling in Southeast Asia and exploring wonderful beaches and trying delicious food. My home base is Koh Phangan, Thailand. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter oder Instagram.

Categories: Countries & places Gili Islands Indonesia Lombok Southeast Asia

40 comments on "25 things you can do on the Gili Islands"

  1. hi!

    How much does a blue bird taxi normally cost from Lombok airport to the harbor?
    i’m going there next week and travelling alone hence don’t wish to pay too much for a driver!

    1. Unfortunately, you can’t take a Blue Bird taxi from Lombok Airport (correct me somebody if that has changed meanwhile). You can use one of the taxi counters at the airport from different companies. Or you call a Blue Bird and walk a little bit outside the airport main area.

      Which harbor are you referring to Kelly?

  2. hii marcel
    nice to read your personal about gili island.
    even iam an indonesian. i never go to gili but next week i wanna go there with my friends. can you give me recomendation about hotel or villas’s in gili (trawangan,meno,air) that have a good view.
    and a good price actually
    thank you

    1. Hi Ilham,

      You can find some good accommodations at the bottom of the article. Not so easy to give specific recommendations since everybody has a different budget. Basically, I can say that if you’re looking for lower budget hotels and villas, you should check out the Sasak village on Gili T. In the village there are plenty of affordable nice accommodations, whereas the hotels at the beach are always more expensive.

      Best regards
      Marcel

  3. Hi
    We are travelling to the Gili Islands end of December and have two main worries.

    Firstly, I realise it is rainy season, but how ‘rainy’ is rainy season? By that I mean, does this rule out sunbathing and swimming in the sea, will we be drowned out with torrential rain all day, or is it similar to Thailand where it rains for a short while and then the sun comes back out and you can carry on with your sunbathing?!!

    The second problem we are worried about is the Temples and the calls to prayer. I have heard these are extremely loud, go on for a long period and are at stupid times very early morning before sunrise.

    Can you advise on either of these please?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi,

      Kindly read here about the rainy season on Lombok and the Gilis: What is the best time to visit Bali & Lombok?

      There are no temples on the Gilis but indeed some mosques. On Gili T there are even 2 which can be very loud if you stay nearby the mosque. But the calls to prayer are not really long as a matter of fact. Just a few minutes, 5 times a day. You can get used to it as it is part of the local culture and religion. If you want to have it more quiet, I would advice you to stay on the other side of the island, for example in the Le Pirate.

      Marcel

  4. Nice blog Marcel, rounding up all the activities in Gili Island! Well I was in Bahama’s island last year. I was planning somewhere nearby Bali this time around Jan – Feb 2017. Please suggest me the weather the timing matters much both for weather wise and cost wise?

    1. Hi Arif,

      Thanks. Unfortunately, January is the deepest rainy season, but you can basically still visit the islands since the weather is sometimes different than on the neighboring Lombok island. There are showers now and then but they pass more quickly than on the big island of Lombok. The sea might get more rough though. In February, the rainy season slowly ends but you can be lucky with the weather or not.

      Marcel

      1. Hi Marcel,

        Very well described article in detailed information for the people who want visit Gili islands. We are planning to go Gili Islands in 1st & 2nd week of December this year is it a good time to visit??

  5. Hey Marcel,

    great report! We believe that it is a good idea to read your article before heading towards the Gilis. It has all the information you need. We also stayed a couple of nights on Gili T and visited Gili Meno. The Gilis are defintely a great get-away, but we believe that there are some parts of these islands that we wouldn´t miss if they were gone. But there are still those dream beaches and alternative cafés and restaurants right on the beach, that people imagine when thinking of the Gilis. Maybe you would also like to read about our experiences on the Gilis 🙂
    https://weareleavingtraces.com/2016/08/30/gili-trawangan-gili-meno-indonesia/

    CU and safe travels!

  6. Hello Marcel,
    I would like to know how many days are needed to go for island hopping? I want to be based on Meno or Air but would like to visit Trawangan as well. I will be travelling with kid (3 yr) and baby. I only want to relax on the beach and maybe visit or do activities which are suitable for kids.
    Good blog you have by the way guys! Really helpful!

    1. Thanks 🙂

      I think it’s a good idea to plan one whole day per island. That’s how we did it. This way you don’t have to rush and can enjoy each island with its snorkeling spots and beaches.

      Marcel

  7. Hey,
    has anyone ever been in January?
    Me and my partner are booking for then so just curious 🙂
    I know it’s rainy season so probably wont be too popular.

  8. Hi,

    Thank you for the helpful guide! In mid August 2016 we will be visiting Lombok. The 2 of us would like to see Gili Island but do you know if there is a return boat from Senggigi (Or Bangsal harbour) to Gili T and back? If so, do you know the times? I can only seem to find the departure time and ticket from Bangsal Harbour, but not the return time and ticket.

  9. Hi Marcel, Can you tell me how much a cidomo cost from the jetty in Trawangan to Pearl of Trawangan, the hotel I will be staying in?
    Also what’s the rental rate for a bicycle be per day? Snorkel set? life jacket? fins?

    1. Hi Lily,

      I’m sorry, I don’t remember all the prices. But the Cidomos are quite expensive on the Gilis. You might pay 50,000 Rupiah upwards, which is way too much, compared to the regular (local) Cidomo prices on Lombok. But it’s a tourist island, so there will be always higher prices for tourists.

      IF you use a Cidomo, please check the health status of the horse before. If the horse looks sick or very exhausted etc., don’t use it and tell the driver that he should take care about his horse. Unfortunately, there have been some cases recently, where the horse just collapsed due to lack of drinking water.

      Marcel

  10. Thanks to tobi and marcel for this gili trawangan articles.. As a addtional info, you can learn as a silver smith on one silver shop (close to the gili trawangan sea port). You can learn how to make jewelry with pearls as a base metals and south sea pearls as the additional accessories on those jewelry. #cheers

  11. Gili inland will surely make you visit memorable and exciting. It will give you so much things to experience. Water activities and many more. The beauty of Gili island is one of a kind.

  12. hi, i would like to know how we gonna go to Gilis from Lombok Airport?
    We travel there on 30th June to 3rd July

    1. Hi Yumie,

      There are more options and it’s depending on your budget. The fastest way would be probably going with speed boat and then hire a (metered) BlueBird taxi to bring you to the airport.

      Instead of speed boat, you can also go with the public boat to Bangsal (cheap, but uncomfortable). Keep in mind that the people in Bangsal can be very annoying selling you a transport etc. If you want to go by taxi, you will have to walk from Bangsal to the main street in Pemenang (about 10 minutes of walking), from where you can look for a metered taxi. Of course you could also use a transport one of the guys in Bangsal will offer to you, but keep in mind that it’s way more expensive.

      Another option, instead of public boat, is chartering a private boat. This is obviously more expensive but can be worthwhile with more persons.

      I hope I could help you. If you have further questions, feel free to ask.

      Marcel

  13. Gili Islands Is beautiful island in indonesia..
    Gili possess a special attraction, such as beautiful beaches, can enjoy the sunset and sunrise, Gili Trawangan thick with the feel of the party, and tourists who come to Gili many scuba diving activities and snorkling. From Bali We can booking fast boat service to gili Trawangan..
    for online booking fast boat we can book on http://www.giligilifastboat.com
    🙂 Have nice holiday 🙂

    1. Maybe this is just the photo. 😀 BUT, there are indeed some beaches on and around Lombok that have a shade of pink. The most famous one is obviously the Pink Beach in the southeast of Lombok. It’s worth a visit!

  14. Hello that’s interesting article. After read that, makes me want to go to gili so badly.
    I’m Indonesian but I don’t know so many info about my own country. And this year I planned to travel around Indonesia a lot 🙂
    Btw, I have planned to visit kuta for Bali Marathon on this 30 August. As I mentioned after read your article about gili. I have plan to go there on Sunday after do Marathon. Do you have any advice how to get there from kuta?and how much it costs? And how long it takes?
    I think I just drop by for a while in Monday. And go back to kuta. Because my flight on the Monday afternoon heading to Surabaya, my city. Can i make it just for half day? Many thanks for your advice 😉

    1. Hi Vania,

      Thanks for your comment. Do you actually mean Bali Kuta or Lombok Kuta? From Lombok Kuta you can easily book a driver or a private transport to Gilis (or rather the harbor where the speed boats or public boats depart). Not easy to get a public taxi from Kuta.

      For Kuta Bali, this might be helpful for you.

  15. Hey Marcel,

    Thanks for the useful info. Im going to Lombok end of the month with my gfs and plans to stay at Svarga Resort. We plan to visit Gili Meno, do some island hopping, check out the night market and maybe the day market and have a spa or two and if time permits to visit a temple or two. Its a rest & relax trip for us and we have 4d3n to spare. Any insights on how we should utilise our time and any recommendation on resonably priced spa and must visit temples (if any)?

    1. Hi Kelly,
      What about a day trip to Gili Nanggu? You could relax there perfectly at the beach 😉

      When it comes to temples, we have an article with the best temples on Lombok (sorry, still in German but English version is coming soon). Pura Gunung Sari is my favorite but it’s very unknown and not easy to find. Suranadi and Narmada are also nice.

      Unfortunately, I don’t go to Spas very often here, but I think the Orchid Spa in Senggigi is quite popular. I’ve never been there so I don’t know if it’s good or not. They offer 1 hour traditional massage for 60.000 IDR. 2 hours massage with body scrub etc. for 150.000 IDR. This is quite reasonable I think.

      I hope this was a little bit helpful for you 🙂
      Marcel

      1. Thanks marcel. Shall look up at ur recommendations! Anyway i do hope the volcano issue in bali does not affect my trip to lombok.

  16. Interesting information. I do not think there are many things that can be done on the island of Gili. Gili is an exotic tourist locations other than Bali. and highly recommended for anyone local or foreign tourists. the interesting thing about Gili Island is an exotic natural environment and natural. nice post. thanks.

    1. Hi,
      Yes, I do know about the other Gili Islands around Sekotong and Lombok Timur. 😉 But this article is specifically about the 3 famous Gilis.

      Marcel

  17. hey, nice round up, i was planning to go last time we drop in Bali but i was short in time and cannot make it. the list of possible activities is impressive and the picture are stunning. i wonder if the place still calm and not push slowly to a tourist trap fill of foreigner newly open business.

    1. Thanks Bobby,
      Well, it’s certainly not like it has been a couple of years ago as some older tourists told us once. But for me it’s still a lovely getaway and I enjoy it every time I come back to the Gilis. Especially Gili Meno still has many many calm spots to offer.

      Marcel

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