Gili Air is one of the three famous Gili Islands which are part of Lombok. Gili means “small Island” in the local language Sasak, and there are many Gili Island around Lombok. But the three most famous Islands are Gili Trawangan (busiest Island, good for young people and parties), Gili Meno (smallest and most quiet Island, great snorkeling and honeymoon Island), and Gili Air (great vibes, lots of cute cafes, perfect for couples).
Gili Air is our personal favorite of these three Gili Islands because it is the perfect mix of both relaxing and still a lot to do.
Best time to visit Gili Air
Lombok has a tropical monsoon climate, and that means the temperatures are pleasant all year round. There are two seasons, which are the dry season from May to September and the rainy season from October to April. That means the Gili Islands can be visited all year round because every season has its advantages. During the dry months, the temperatures are a bit cooler, and there will be less rain but usually more people as well.
We have been to the Gili Islands twice. Once in September, when we had the perfect weather for days and stunning sunsets, but the Island was also busy. The other time was in March, and the Island was almost empty, and we had beautiful sunrises and sunny mornings. Still, it mostly got cloudy and rainy in the afternoon/evening, so we didn’t have any sunsets to enjoy. The weather certainly is not always the same because we all know how unpredictable tropical weather is, but it might give you a reference point.
How to get there
The Gili Islands can either be visited from Bali or from Lombok. From Lombok it only takes you around 20 min to get to Gili Air with the local ferry and it costs you 15K IDR per person (1 $).
From Bali you can get to the Gili Islands by fast boat in around 2 hours from the port in Padang Bai. We recommend you the boat company Eka Jaya Fast Boat. Expect to pay around 400K IDR (35 $) per person for a one-way ticket. You can book your tickets using Bookaway or 12Go.Asia.
Visa to enter Indonesia
To visit Java or other places in Indonesia you can easily get a 30 days single entry at the airport without a visa when you arrive in the country. If you want to extend your stay up to 60 days you have to get a Visa On Arrival (VOA) at the airport which is as well valid for a 30 days stay, but can be extended and costs you 37$.
You have to go to the immigration office to extend your visa, which is a bit time consuming and costs you another 35$. If you come to Indonesia from home and know already that you want to stay in the country for 60 days you can get your 60-day visa back home at the Indonesian Embassy in your country and don’t have to go through the extension process.
Top things to do on Gili Air
Go snorkeling with Turtles
The Gili Islands are famous for turtles. There are many turtles around all Islands, and it’s a fantastic experience to see them.
If you are staying on Gili Air, the turtle point is on the northeastern part of the Island. You can snorkel there from the shore to see them. On Gili-T, we even saw the turtles just in front of the beach.
When you go on a snorkeling tour, they will take you to turtle point, which is somewhere in between Gili Air and Gili Meno and an excellent spot for turtle watching too. Aren’t they just the cutest?
Make a snorkeling boat tour
There are several group snorkeling tours that you can book on Gili Air. Most accommodations will organise this for you or tell you where to go. A group snorkeling trip will costs you around 90K IDR (6 $).
There is also the possibility to book a private boat for a snorkeling tour. We did this because it allowed us to start at sunrise and get to the underwater statues in Gili Meno before everyone else. Our hosts at the place we stayed helped us organizing the private tour. There are no companies for this, just the boatmen on the Island. We paid 700K IDR (45 $) for a private boat. Of course, it’s best if you can share a boat with friends.
If you want to snorkel from the beach and don’t go on a snorkeling trip, there are many small places along the beach where you can rent snorkeling gear. Be aware that the reef around Gili Air is dead, and there is a lot of broken coral that you have to cross until you get to the drop where you will find all the sea life. That is why we recommend going on a boat tour to snorkel.
Take a Yoga class
We found that Gili Air is such a peaceful and relaxing place and what really makes it perfect is to do some Yoga during your stay. We recommend you to take a Yoga class at Flowers & Fire Yoga.
Go SUP or Subwing
There are several places on the eastern side of the island where you can rent a SUP (stand-up paddleboard). We love to paddleboard and think it is a fun thing to try when on Gili Air. Blue Marine Dive even offers Yoga classes on the SUP, which we would have loved to do when we had enough time.
Another thing that you can try on Gili Air is Subwing. We haven’t tried this personally but would definitely like to do it in the future. It looks a lot of fun.
Enjoy the beaches
There is pretty much beach all around the Island of Gili Air. We found the beaches up north the most relaxing because there were the least other people around.
The beaches on the beaches on the Eastern side of the Island are best for sunrise. On this side, you will see the sunrise behind the Vulcano Mount Rinjani, which is magical.
On the Western side is are the best beaches for beach vibes, bars, and sunset. There you will see the sunset behind the Vulcano in Bali. Something that we found extraordinary about Gili Air.
Watch the sunset from a beach swing
Another remarkable thing about the Gilis are the many amazing beach swings that are in the ocean and the perfect place to watch the sunset. There are many swings on the Western side of the Island, which is the sunset side.
This swing on the photos is located in the north of Gili Air and the only beach swing, which is excellent for sunrise.
Visit the neighbour Islands Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan
It’s easy and cheap to hop between the Gili Islands with the local ferry. When you book a snorkeling trip with a private boat, you can also let them drop you on one of the other Islands and then come back to Gili Air by local ferry.
Gili Meno is smaller and quieter, but it’s the best Island for snorkeling and also where the famous underwater statues are located.
Gili Trawangan (or Gili-T) is the biggest of the three Islands and is busier and more of a party Island. But there are also a few lovely restaurants and beautiful beaches to explore. One of our favorite places on Gili-T was Casa Vintage, a cute beach restaurant.
Where to eat on Gili Air
- Musa Cookery (our favourite Restaurant on the Island, all vegan/vegetarian)
- Pachamama Organic (bohemian style lunch spot with delicious salads and smoothie bowls)
- Good Earth Cafe (Vegetarian Restaurant, delicious pesto pasta and more)
- Gili Bliss (best smoothie bowls, cute restaurant)
- Hello Lumbung Warung (completely vegan and very delicious local Restaurant)
- zZz Warung (very cheap and delicious local food)
- Mama Pizza (super delicious and authentic Pizza, run by an Italian – we normally barely eat Pizza or similar food when we travel in Asia but this one was really worth the try – we had the vegan Pizza)
Where to stay on Gili Air
We stayed at the exceptional Serenity Villa on Gili Air. It’s the perfect place to stay for a group of friends or a family. We cooked our own dinners most of the time and really enjoyed to have comfortable home away from home.
A more budget option we stayed too and can highly recommend is The Hangout Gili Air. It’s run by a lovely french Family and as well a place we felt very much at home.
How to get around
What we loved about the Island is that there is no traffic at all. The only way to get around is by walking or by bike. Having no traffic is something that brings you immediately in a relaxing mood when you arrive on the Island.
There are also horse-carriages, but please do not support this way of transportation because it is known that these horses aren’t treated well. Things like that can only stop if tourists stop using it; that is why every person counts.
Budget for Gili Air
Traveling in Indonesia is quite affordable. We have listed here an average budget when visiting Gili Air from Bali. Of course, this can vary a lot with the choice of accommodation and transportation.
- Costs for food per day: 15-20$ for two people
- Costs for accommodation: 30$ per night for a simple room or bungalow
- Costs for speed boat from Bali: 70$ per person for a return ticket
- Costs for snorkeling tour: 45$ for a halfday private boat tour
Internet access in Indonesia
Internet access in Indonesia is almost everywhere available and usually fast. As most of the cafes are offering free high-speed WiFi, we typically use this kind of internet connection in the first place.
If you’re traveling around and need internet access while on the road, getting a local SIM card will be the most comfortable and cheapest way. We usually have a spare phone with a local SIM card installed as well as our Skyroam Solis X with us. Both can be used as a hotspot when there is no WiFi available.
Getting a SIM card in Indonesia is simple. You can either buy one at the airport or a cellphone shop on the streets. We suggest the latter, as it’s the cheaper way. Just watch out for stores that sell cell phones, and there you’ll find SIM cards from all major companies.
Indonesia has many telecom providers, but Telkomsel is the biggest and most reliable. A little bit more expensive than the others, but from our experience, it’s worth spending the extra money. The initial cost is around 9 $, including the SIM card and 9 gigabytes of data. Additional data packages can be purchased online when required. Prices range from 1.50 $ for one gigabyte to 3 $ for fifteen gigabytes.
People & Culture
People on Gili Air are very friendly and welcoming. Gili Air is part of Lombok and like in most of Indonesia, People in Lombok are mainly Muslim. This means the prayers will most likely awaken you through the minarets in the mornings during your stay in Lombok.
Unfortunately, a big part of the reef around Gili Air died. There is a lot of dead coral when you swim out from the beach. Further out at the drop and at some snorkeling points around Gili Meno, which the boatmen will take you during a snorkeling trip, the corals are alive and colorful. You will be able to see colorful tropical fish everywhere and turtles. So the marine life is still amazing to see.
Be aware that Gili Air is a very small Island and has no such thing as a trash system whenever we visit Islands like that; we try to make no plastic trash at all. It can be quite fun to make a challenge for yourself out of it 😉 However, most waste that is made on the Island will stay there and may pollute the ocean, so this is very important. If you like to know more about sustainable travel, check out the following post.