Gili Air: Tropical Paradise

Turquoise water, white sand, palm trees and stunning sunsets. This is what made us put Gili Air on our Bali itinerary (Gili islands are actually part of Lombok) and it turned out to be a perfect tropical paradise for relaxed vacations, that we were looking for.

We spend 4 days on the island not doing much, just chilling, wandering around, eating good food and getting a tan in the meantime. Staying at Island View Bar & Bungalow made it so easy for us to enjoy sunsets from their sunbeds on the beach and having delicious breakfast with gorgeous views of the sea and Mount Agung on Bali in the distance by just short barefoot walk from our bungalow to the beach. You will be staying in one of the many little or not so little bungalows with hammock at the entrance, palm trees over your head and we also received complimentary orange juice on arrival. Our tiny bungalow was very basic, but with everything we needed, comfy bed with mosquito net, AC and outside bathroom for a very affordable price (105 EUR / 4 nights).

Gili air paradise (1)

Gili Air paradise (18)

We enjoyed breakfast on one of these sunbeds every morning and also some cocktails one day. You can also get barbecue dinner for 150k per person, which we didn’t because that was a bit much in comparison with restaurants we did go to where we both ate for less than that. But it is definitely convenient, especially when this is the view you get with it.

Gili Air paradise (17)

Beaches on Gili Air are beautiful with white sand, but once you get in the water there are tons of dead corals, that make it extremely hard and painful to walk, especially since water is very shallow a long way into it. This was probably the only not so great thing about this island, because we love to be in water and swim. But we did love all the sunbeds, bean bags, swings and cocktails happy hour at sunset.

Gili air paradise (10)

Gili Air paradise (13)

Travel tip: if you really want to spend lots of time in water then go to a hotel with a pool or get some shoes for water, which will probably make it a bit less painful to walk further.

Even though our hotel didn’t have a pool, we still got to enjoy it at Puri Air Beach Resort, after delicious lunch. Some other hotels will also have a possibility for you to use their pools, even if you are not their guest, just pay attention when wandering around the island and ask before using it. We found all people extremely friendly, kind and willing to help you out.

Another way for you to enjoy the water is going on a snorkeling tour. I used to snorkel all the time when I was a kid and the underwater area around Gili islands is truly amazing to explore. You will get to swim with turtles, see the underwater sculptures by Gili Meno, tons of colourful fish and other sea creatures. Our hotel offered us private snorkeling tour for 700k IDR for both of us, but we decided to go with tour for 150k IDR per person. Don’t worry about booking these things well in advance, you can do it an evening before, or even in the morning before they set sail around 9 a.m. at one of the many stalls around the island that offer these tours. We got all the equipment, stopped at 4 different points, saw lots of turtles and really enjoyed our time. The only crowd was by the underwater sculptures by Gili Meno, everywhere else it was just our group with other boats quite far away. 

You won’t find any motorized traffic on Gili islands, you can walk, ride a bike or take a “taxi” aka poni pulling cart. When planning a trip I went through tons of blog posts and often read that ponies and horses on Gili islands are not treated right and we should avoid using their services. We didn’t use it, because Gili Air is very small and it is so easy to get around on foot, but I also didn’t notice all those terrible things happening to horses I read about before going. Later I came across this blog post The Horses of Gili T – What is the Situation & Treatment like NOW? by Ellie from The Wandering Quinn where she beautifully explains the current situation, so I suggest you read her post for more information and insight.

I am sure you will also notice cute cats with weird tails everywhere around the island and no dogs. I guess cats are allowed because they are so chilled? I found these cats super chilled, very similar to ones in Istanbul. And if you are wondering why some of them have weird, short or no tail at all, let me ease your mind by saying that no one is harming these cuties, this weirdness comes from genetic mutation, because they live on such a small island and breed among themselves. If you want to help cats of Gili Air check out this website: Cats of Gili.

No matter how you get around Gili Air you will come across restaurants, cafés, bars, spas with massages, other hotels, tour and shops. For being such a tiny island you will find ton to do, lots of delicious food to eat, from vegan to normal, from Indonesian to international, very cheap and a bit more expensive but still affordable. For more food related information check out one of my previous posts Mini Gili Air Food Guide.

One of the top things to do on the island that doesn’t cost anything is watching breathtaking sunsets from the beach. Sunsets are colourful, warm and truly incredible, one of the best ones I ever saw. On a clear day you will even be able to see Bali’s Mount Agung in the distance. So don’t miss any opportunity to experience the most wonderful  sunsets of Gili Air. Get comfy on the beach or at one of the many bars along the west coast of the island, with cocktail in your hand and enjoy the evening show. All bars have happy hour (2 for 1 mostly, which is usually between 75k IDR to 100k IDR) so treating yourself to cocktail won’t break your bank.

Gili Air paradise (14)


How to get to Gili island?

We booked our transportation at one of the many tourist agencies in Ubud that offer those. We paid 800k IDR (around 53 EUR) for both, which included a pick up in Ubud by mini van, speed boat to Gili Air and back to Bali and a ride from Padang Bai Port to Canggu by bus. There are few different speed boat companies operating the line, we went with Karuniya Jaya Speed Boat. On our way back we decided to go with a private ride, because it would take forever to go with a bus (Canggu is the last stop) and for that we paid 500k IDR (around 33 EUR) and got delivered to the hotel in around 2 hours.

Which Gili island should I pick?

Let me start this by saying that we’ve only been to Gili Air (and a short stop on Gili Meno) and everything here is just from what I read about the other two islands.

Gili Trawangan or Gili T is the largest of the Gili islands and it’s known as a party island, which attracts younger population, backpackers and if you are very outgoing and into partying that will make it very easy to meet other travelers.

Gili Meno is much more quiet and known to be a honeymoon destination. So if you are looking for a quiet romantic escape to tropical paradise then this might be your choice. Gili Meno seems a lot less developed that the other two islands, also due to the 2018 earthquake so you might not find all the comfort and plenty of different bars and restaurants to choose from.

Gili Air in my opinion is a lovely mixture of other two islands. It has plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from (which was probably the biggest plus for us) but still feels very laid back and has a nice romantic feel to it, especially if you find a perfect hotel with pool and spa.


As said we were staying at Island View Bar & Bungalow, which is a very nice hotel, friendly service, great breakfast, scenic and with great access to the beach. Still, while wandering around the island we came across few hotels that are more luxurious, and we would love to stay there in the future. Here are two that really stuck out:

Slow Spa & Yoga looks like the most peaceful and zen place on earth. If you are looking for a spa and yoga retreat then definitely check out this place.

Pink Coco Gili Air is perfect for you if you are a pink lover and search for those special quirky hotels. We visited their tapas restaurant Tapas del Mar and had the most amazing time and food there.

Money exchange

There are few ATM’s on the island, we used the CIMB NIAG ATUM by the Blue Marlin Dive Gili Air in the north of the island. We didn’t have any problems with it, buy I’ve read that sometimes ATM’s don’t work or there is no more money in them, so try to bring enough cash to get by during your stay there. And always check ATM before using it, if it looks sketchy or a bit broken don’t use it.

Have you been to Gili Air? What was your favourite thing to do there?

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20 thoughts on “Gili Air: Tropical Paradise

    1. It is a really lovely place for vacations so if you will ever get a chance to go to Indonesia, even if you don’t go to Gili islands, I am sure you will love it. I hope I will be able to return one day to explore more.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. O my goodness, I can easily see why you wanted to explore Gili Islands, I don’t think I’ve seen more beautiful palm trees! I am glad you had a great time and thanks for sharing. Aiva


  2. I am in awe of the scenery and all the opportunities for adventure ay Gilli Air. Thank you for the tip on shoes if I plan to spend time in the water, due to the coral.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gilli looks great! My husband and I weren’t a huge fan on Bali minus the food, we felt like we didn’t get to experience the whole culture due to it feeling like it was all about social media there, but we didn’t get out Gilli, but now wishing we did!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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