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During our visit to the Gili Islands we stayed on Gili Air.   Seriously Gili Air is heaven on an island.  The island is very small can easily be walked around in a few hours or better still hire a bicycle and stop wherever you like.   In fact bicycle, foot or cidomo (donkey and cart) is the only mode of transport on this island paradise.

 

Whilst there is a “main part” of Gili Air Island just right of the harbour for a kilometre or so, there is accommodation and cafes scattered the whole way round.

 

Along the beach road there are some great Gili Air restaurants and bars on the beach front and accommodation on the other side of the road. When I say road, I use that term very loosely – the road is nothing more than a sandy track about 2-3 metres wide.

 

The eastern side of the island is where you will find the most accommodation, beach bars and restaurants as well as fantastic views across to the Lombok’s mountainous northern coast.  Gili Air nightlife although is nothing like Gili Trawangan, is still pretty decent but its more a laid back kinda vibe.

 

Inland couldn’t be more different to the spectacular clear view waters.  Once you walk inland you are transported into a leafy countryside with wide open spaces where you will see farm animals as well as hidden villas among the trees.

 

 

Keep reading for tips on the best Gili Air Accommodation

 

Things to do in Gili Air

 

 

Whilst below is a list of things to do on Gili Air – you can do similar activities on all of the Gili islands.

 

1. Relax

 

The beauty of Gili Air or any of the Gili Islands in fact, is that there is not much to do here.  The main object of your stay should be relaxation!  Relax by the pool, on the beach, at the bar – the choice is yours!

 

2.  Eat & Drink

 

There is no shortage of gorgeous little beach cafes or restaurants to stop and grab a drink and something to eat. Most places are either on the beach or looking over the beach. We loved sitting on the bamboo beach lounges eating, drinking and soaking up the beautiful scenery.

 

Things to do in Gili Air

 

Here are a list of some of the places we ate at during our stay:

 

  • Turtle Beach Gili Air –  Great cheap local and western food. Restaurant looks out over the water with fantastic views of Lombok

 

  • Scallywags – upmarket, beautiful setting on a gorgeous beach – bean bags and tables on the beach surrounded by lanterns. Serves high quality western food – a little more pricey than the other places on the island, fantastic views across to Lombok.

 

  • Pelangi Cottages Gili Air – bamboo lounges on the beach – great spot for snorkelling and views of Gili Meno.  Great place to watch the sunset from.

 

  • Raja’s Bar and Restaurant – groovy restaurant looking out over the beach with views of Lombok.  Places great tunes if you are in a party mood.

3.  Watch a Movie on the beach

 

Gili Air Nightlife

 

Ever watched a movie on the beach?  No – well here is your chance.  Each night the Beach Club put on 2 movies – a family friendly one at 630 am and an adult one at 8.30 pm.  It is a free to watch a movie, guests are just required to purchase food and drinks.

 

4.  Gili Islands Snorkeling

 

Gili Islands snorkeling

 

Hire some snorkels and go exploring right off the beach.  Your other option is to join a boat tour for a few hours of Gili Islands snorkeling.  You can join a group tour for 100,000 IRD each (approximately $10 AUD) or hire your own boat for 900,000 IRD (approximately $90 AUD).  Whether you go with a group or in your boat they all go to the same spot.

 

We decided to splurge a little and hire our own boat.  It was well worth it – we had a great size boat, a guide and a skipper, snorkels and life jackets.  Here are details of the various stops we made:

 

  1. Our first stop was at the tip of Gili Meno.  Here we saw a turtle and a small variety of fish.

 

  1. Next we stopped off shore from Gili Trawangan where we saw a fantastic variety of fish.

 

  1. The third of stop was the highlight of the day. We stopped off shore from Gili Meno, here the whole ocean floor was covered in coral and there were stacks of gorgeous fish – definitely our highlight!

 

  1. The next stop was for lunch. We stopped at Gili Meno at Sasak Café. The restaurant was located right on the sand and the food was delicious.

 

  1. Last stop of the day was off the shores of Gili Air.  We stopped just off the beach where Sunrise Gili Air is – the fish was fantastic here, great variety.  The only disappointment was there was huge blocks of concrete dumped on the ocean floor.

 

If you have the money to splurge I highly recommend you hire a private boat. We saw a few other boats and they had around 40 people on the boat.  Once we were at the restaurant for a about 20 minutes about 4 boats pulled up with 40 people in each and the place was packed.  I understand most of the boats leave at 930 am so if possible leave earlier than this and you will stay ahead of the crowd.

 

5.  Diving

 

Do you love to dive?  Or want to learn how?  The island is full of diving places which will take you out on a tour or teach you to dive in their pools.

 

6.  Hire a Bicycle

 

What to do in Gili Air

 

Prices on the bikes really depend on what sort of bike you get – meaning a crap bike or a good bike.  My recommendation is to get a decent looking bike to make your ride easier.  The bikes we hired had a little cushion on the back where Myla could sit.  These bikes cost us 50,000 per bike for 24 hours.

 

You can ride your bicycle around the entire island.  The path is sand, but in most places it is well compacted and you can ride it with ease.  However there are few areas where you will need to get off and walk your bike – but not too often.

 

This is a fantastic way to explore the island and its many gorgeous beaches and cafes.

 

7.  Island Hop

 

From Gili Air you can easily access Gili Meno, Gili Trawengan or Lombok.  So why not check out some of the other islands for a change in scenery.

 

 

8.  Massage

 

What to do on Gili Air

 

Like in most places in South East Asia there is no shortage of places to get a massage.  Massage prices start at 150,000 IRD (approximately $15 AUD) for a 1 hour body massage.

 

We enjoyed lovely massages at Blue Lotus Spa located in front of 7Seas Hotel.  They set you up right in front of a huge window looking out across the islands.

 

 

9.  Swim

 

There are plenty of places to swim here whether your preference is a pool or the ocean.  Many resorts have a pool and allow you to swim there provided you purchase food and drinks from them – a great way to try out a variety of pools and resorts.

 

Of course you can enjoy the ocean for swim, but a great way to experience a variety of spots around the island is by timing your swim around meal times so you can use their shady tables and chairs for free provided you purchase some food as well.

 

Swimming around the island, both in the ocean and various pools was one of our main pastimes during our stay on Gili Air.

 

10.  Cooking Lessons 

 

If you love cooking, or want to learn how to cook some great Indonesian food, pop down to Gili Cooking Classes, located just by the harbour.  Classes run 3 times a day.

 

11.  Clean up the beach

 

Gili Air activities

 

Every Thursday night you can join the crew at Scallywags between 5 pm to 5.30 pm for a quick beach clean up.  A great initiative to help keep the beach clean.  They will even give you a free beer for helping out.

 

12.  Watch the Sunset

 

things to do Gili Air

 

The west side of the island is the perfect location for watching the sunset.  Most of the restaurants on this side of the island make the most of this free show put on by mother nature by bringing out bean bags on the beach and serving cocktails to the guests.  They even provide free popcorn!

 

We watched the sunset from Pelangi Cottages Gili Air.

 

13.  Go exploring inland

 

Things to do in Gili Air

 

Whilst most people come to Gili Air for the gorgeous beaches – us included – but don’t forget to spend at least a few hours exploring inland.

 

Inland of Gili Air is full of gorgeous little lane ways, past some lovely countryside.  Inland you will find where all the locals live, as well as quite a lot of stray farm animals.  There are also some gorgeous hidden villas inland.

 

 

How long to stay on Gili Air

 

During this trip, we stayed for 4 nights but I could stay here for a few weeks.  For a family trip I would stay anywhere between 3 -10 days, really just depends how many days you can handle relaxing and chilling out.

 

Gili Air Accommodation

 

There are plenty of quaint little bungalows, villas and guest houses to choose from for your Gili Air accommodation.  Most of the accommodation is not beachfront, however there are a few with the bungalows directly on the beach which look amazing!

 

Really you can’t pick a bad spot to stay for accommodation in Gili Air – everywhere is surrounded by gorgeous scenery whether it be the beach or the leafy countryside.  Given the small size of the island everything is within easy walking distance or a short bicycle ride away.

 

The main area of Gili Air is to the right of the harbour for a kilometre or so.  This is where the most accommodation, restaurants and shops are located.  But there are restaurants and shops across the entire island so pick wherever has the kind of accommodation you like and with a great rate.

 

Check out these options for where to stay on Gili Air:

 

I have listed these in order of their TripAdvisor rating – with the best rated first.  When looking for a place to stay I generally only consider places with more than 50% of people rating it on TripAdvisor as either excellent or very good.

 

All of the places accommodate 2 adults and 2 children.

 

Gili Air Escape

 

  • Located slightly inland to the north of the island, this is a gorgeous small modern-day resort
  • Includes pool, breakfast, free wifi
  • 92% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $227 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Booking.com.

 

Click here for the best rates for Gili Air Escape 

 

Gili Air Bungalows

 

  • Located close to the harbour on the beachfront
  • Includes breakfast, free wifi and pool
  • 92% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $90 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Agoda.

 

Click here for the best rates for Gili Air Bungalows.

 

Elephant House Bungalows

 

  • Located a 15 minute walk away from the harbour on the south of the island in a quieter area but still with restaurants close by.
  • Includes breakfast, free wifi and pool
  • 91% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $85 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Booking.com.

 

Click here for the best rates for Elephant House Bungalows.

 

Chill Out Gili Air

 

  • Located close to the harbour on the beachfront
  • Includes breakfast, free wifi
  • 88% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $127 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast direct with Chill Out Gili Air.

 

Click here for the best rates for the Chill Out Gili Air

 

Turtle Beach Gili Air

Turtle Beach Gili Air

  •  Located a short 10-minute walk from the harbour in close proximity to several restaurants
  • Includes pool, breakfast, free wifi
  • 83% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $142 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Agoda.

 

This is where we stayed – you can check out our full review here.  Great hotel – highly recommend it.

 

Click here for the best rates for Turtle Beach Gili Air.

 

Sejuk Cottages

 

  • These rustic cottages are located in the north east of the island, in a quieter area, on a spacious tropical property.
  • Includes pool, breakfast, free wifi
  • 76% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $61 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Expedia.

 

Click here for the best rates for Sejuk Cottages.

 

Bel Air Resort and Spa

 

  • Bel Air Resort and Spa is located a short walk from the harbour in close proximity to several restaurants
  • Includes pool, free wifi
  • 75% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $161 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids on Booking.com, breakfast is an additional $5 per person.

 

Click here for the best rates for the Bel Air Resort and Spa.

 

Sunrise Resort Gili Air

 

  • Located in the main part of Gili Air, surrounded by a variety of restaurants, also located on once of the nicest beaches
  • Includes pool, breakfast, free wifi
  • 62% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $205 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Expedia.

  

Click here for the best rates for the Sunrise Resort Gili Air.

 

7Seas Gili Air

 

  • 7Seas Gili Air is located close to the harbour on the beachfront
  • Includes pool, breakfast, free wifi
  • 54% of those who rate this hotel on TripAdvisor, rated it as either excellent or very good.
  • At the time of publishing rates were from $57 AUD per night for 2 adults and 2 kids including breakfast on Hostelworld.com

 

 Click here for the best rates for 7Seas Gili Air.

 

Getting to Gili Air

 

Bali to Gili Air

 

It is relatively easy to get from Bali to Gili Islands or from Bali to Gili Air.  You will need to arrange tickets for one of the fast boats, like Gili Gili fast boats.  We booked with Gili Gili Fast boat online, they picked us up from our accommodation in Kuta and drove us by mini bus to Padangbai Harbor.  The ride to the harbour took about 90 minutes and it was another 90 minutes over to the Gili Islands.

 

The Gili Gili Fast boat is a relatively small boat and is nothing fancy but comfortable enough all the same.  The ride to the Gili Islands took about 90 minutes and apart from a few bumpy parts was smooth sailing. On the boat, we were given a small bottle of water and small cake.

 

The Gili Gili Fast Boat first arrives at Gili Trawangan, then Gili Air and then Lombok before returning to Bali.

 

We found the hole process with Gili Gili fast boat very smooth from booking online, picking us up and getting us on the boat – I would highly recommend them for getting to the Gili Islands.

 

The other option of coming from Bali is to fly to Lombok and then get a boat from Lombok to the Gili Islands.  I looked into this option but it worked out much quicker to do it the way we did, although you will most likely find flying cheaper – yes that’s right cheaper!  The airport on Lombok is quite far from the harbour and by the time you add in getting to the airport early etc – I found the fast boat a much more efficient mode of transport.

 

Gili Gili Fast Boat

At the Gili Gili Fast Boat office at the harbour

 

Lombok to Gili Air

 

It is only a 10 – 15-minute boat ride from Lombok to Gili Air and you can do this via one of the many fast boat operators or the cheaper public boat.  Fast boats leave from Teluk Nare north of Senggigi or the public boats leave from Bangsal Harbor.

 

We caught the public boat to Lombok from Gili Air and just a few words of warning, the boats do not leave until they are full (we waited for about 20 minutes to leave), the boats leave from the shore (so be prepared to wade through water) and lastly they fully pack out the boats so be prepared to packed in like sardines!

 

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