There are three small islands situated between the larger islands of Bali and Lombok in the Indonesian archipelago. Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan seem to shoot off the northeast corner of Lombok, swirled in bright blue water. The largest of the three island is the one closest to Bali, named Gili Trawangan. Besides the difficult to pronounce name, it is perfect. This small spec of land was the last stop on our honeymoon to South East Asia. We fell hard for this place and wish we would have had a few more days of paradise here.

Great Vibe

We fell in love with Gili because it has a great young, backpacker feel. The majority of the island is filled with locally owned small hostels, so there is no problem finding a cheap bed. The south end of the island has a few higher end resorts and private vacation homes popping up. There is a good mix of people and filled with a ton of interesting travelers. The bars on the island are on a rotation as to where the party is on a given night. After 10 pm everyone finds there way to the designated bar and drinks the night away until as late as 4am. If you are up early for a sunset you can definitely find some people wandering around still up and under the influences of the night before.

Cheap Fun

Where else in the world can you rent snorkel gear for $2 for the day and walk straight off the beach into world class snorkeling? We found our favorite beach of the island on the north end of the eastern shore. There were chairs for rent but if you bought drinks they were free, even if you only ordered there $.50 waters. Every night a majority of the island comes together in the city center for the night market. The market is full of food options, everything we had was tasty and just a buck or two. Patio tables set in the center make for great places to start up conversations with other travelers. Bonus you can bring your own drinks, which also helps to keep costs down.

The Night Market

$.10 per stick!

The few down sides

We found that on average beer and alcohol were very expensive throughout Indonesia, and even more so on the Gili’s. If possible bring some into the country from a duty free shop if you want to partake on the cheap. We visited Gili after spending time in Thailand and Bali working on our haggling skills, but to our surprise these skills proved almost useless. We ended up paying over $12 for a T-shirt to commemorate our trip (a far cry from the $2 on Khao San road).


The is not even a car on the island, the only means to get around is by foot, bike, or horse. On Gili you just don’t see the trash laying about or in the water as you do in other tourist spots. All of the hotels on the island are at most two stories and don’t impose on the natural sky line. When you are here you truly feel like you have found something not many travelers have found yet.

Get there soon!

Unfortunately we were not the only ones to discover the beauty of this island. Apparently some resort developers have too. Developers have started to put some major hotels on the previously under-developed west side of the island. The resorts are not open yet but look to be finishing soon. So if you want to see the Gili we fell in love with, I’d get there before they put up a Margaritaville. Hurry!


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  1. wow awesome. really jealous about your trip :). one day i’m gonna going there.
    nandito recently posted..Banjir JakartaMy Profile

  2. Nandito – Our time in the Gili’s was great, it felt like a place not many people knew about. I would recommend getting there soon before all the new resorts open up and it changes!

    Safe Travels!
    Hannah recently posted..Adam’s mild obsession with Beer…My Profile

  3. Gili T sure is a great spot. There are those that went there 20 years ago that say it’s ruined, but to those going there for the first time it still is lovely – it is what it is. Probably with more development it will still please plenty and it will be some time before those dozens of cheap homestays are gone.

    Just one note – Gili Trawangan is not “closer to Bali” It is in fact more than 60 kms from Bali. It sits about 5 kms off the coast of Lombok. The 3 famous Gilis are part of Lombok, both geographically, culturally, and come under the Lombok government.

    • While we were there we saw a few bigger resorts going up on the other side of the island. I agree it will be built up and super touristy in no time. You are correct Gili T is closest to Lombok, but Gili T is the closest of the Gili islands to Bali.

      We can’t wait to return to Gili T on our upcoming RTW trip!!! We plan on venturing to the other Gili islands & Lombok too!
      Hannah recently posted..Last Stop Munich!My Profile

  4. We loved Gili T! I just wrote about it actually :)

    My husband learned to dive there and I just loved riding my bike around the island everyday. Just beautiful!
    Casi @HeyNoobz recently posted..Part 2: Gili Trawangan Edition – Of Why You Should Immediately Empty Your Bank Account And Go To Bali Right NowMy Profile

    • Too funny! Adam actually did his 2nd discovery dive in Gili T and I too just rode my bike around the island and sun bathed! We will be back April/May 2014 and Adam will be certified so we he will be back diving and I will be strolling around on my bike!! Curious to see how much has changed in the last 2 years!
      Hannah recently posted..30 years old and living in my parents basement…My Profile

  5. Beautiful. Our good friends Kim & Brian from So-Many-Places & Wandering Sasquatch were just on Gili Meno and loved it as well.
    Rhonda recently posted..Fear and a Mothers DreamMy Profile

  6. There is always next time! We didn’t make it to Gili Air but we plan to on the next trip! We were afraid Gili Air would be a little to quite for our taste, even though we read a lot about Gili T being loud and party place, we didn’t see it that way at all. Definitely check it out next time you are in Indonesia! Feel free to email us if you have any questions!
    Hannah recently posted..What to do in MilwaukeeMy Profile

  7. You gave us ample reasons to travel to the island. Great write up.

  8. Brings back great memories! We spent a week on Gili T and a week on Gii Air. Loved the night market, Eastern beach/snorkeling, and healthy food on Gili T but ended up preferring Gili Air. Gili Air was much quieter but still had a fun scene. Gili Air is developing fast but still chilled out. There are some great live music and reggae bars – definitely leaning to the hippie side.
    Brandon @ The Yoga Nomads recently posted..Yoga Nomads Guide to Ubud (Bali, Indonesia)My Profile

  9. Nice post and images!
    You have to explore more places in Indonesia.
    Keep writing and goodluck. ;)

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