Gili Air is one of the three small Gili islands in front of the north-west coast of Lombok. It is the closest one to Lombok and a layed-back and chilled place. You’ll find less party then on Gili Trawangan and more life than on Gili Meno. There is everything a person needs to relax, from good food to yoga classes, diving and massage, but no cultural sightseeing or nature on the island.
Since we were here before, about three years ago, we saw big changes on the island: many more restaurants, shops, hotels – everything got bigger and bigger. And those who already existed were somehow upgraded. It looked like the layed-back-chilling-care free-holidays-relaxing vibes even got stronger, or simply part of the islands marketing strategy… At the moment there are still many backpackers coming, but the tourists coming here are changing with the growth of standards.
Locals – as usual in Indonesia – are extremly friendly. But we were told that the growth of tourism starts changing that. Since we try hard to learn Bahasa Indonesia and use it whenever we can, people are even more welcoming.
We arrived on Gili Air from Nusa Lembongan with a fast boat. The boat started at around 9.45h in the morning, stopped in Padang Bay (Bali), Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno, before coming to Gili Air. The boat ride took around 3,5 hours and with the pick up plus waiting time, we travelled for 6 hours before being on Gili Air.
We came here to relax, enjoy the layed-back vibes, work a little and hang out with some friends, before starting our adventure to the eastern and northern parts of Indonesia.
As usual, we didn’t book in advance, but „shopped around“, when we arrived. That is a little exhausting, but worth the afford. We decided to stay in a bungalow on the northern, still a little more quite part of the island. After asking at 4-5 different places, we decided to stay with Bollata Bungalows, because they have new huts and we simply felt welcome there. Since they are situated at the seafront, we were looking forward to our sea view breakfast. After some nights here we moved to Begadang Backpackers to spend more time with friends of ours, who run the hostel.
Other places to stay
All price’s contain hard bargaining and some patients, we were there just before the high season begins and were told that everything will be more expensive in July and August (up to double the of the normal prices):
- Bollata Bungalows – 200.000 IDR (14€)/night and including fan and breakfast, private bath
- Bintang Beach Bungalows – 150.000 – 200.000 IDR (10 – 14€)/night, was building new huts when we where there, also with breakfast and fan, private bath
- Begadang Backpackers – 250.000 IDR (17€)/night, for private hut 160.000 for a dorm bed with, fan and shared bath, not at the beach, but perfect for everyone traveling alone or wanting to meet people. Not too much privacy, as part of the concept, but cool pool and nice hanging, always depends of the people…
How much? Berapa hargania?
Prices in general are a little more expensive then in Bali or Nusa Lembongan.
- Large beer: 40.000 IDR (2,30€)
- Large water: 10.000 IDR (0,70€)
- Refill for large water: 5.000 IDR (0,30)
- Fresh fruit juices: 15.000 – 30.000 IDR (1 – 2€)
- Nasi campur: 25.000 – 55.000 IDR (1,70 – 3,70€) In general eating at the seafront is a little more expensive, then inside the island.
- Accomodation: 200.000 IDR (12€)/night with breakfast
- Diving: 490.000 IDR (32€)/Fundive (we paid 10% less because of our own equipment)
Getting here from Nusa Lembongan
It’s of cause again the best to book there and not to book already in Bali.
- 350.000 (24€)/pax with pick up
Our daily budget was around 400.000 IDR (27€), without diving
Diving in Gili Air:
There is a diving association of all dive shops, so you will pay the same price everywhere on the island. We decided to dive with a small dive shop, close by, called Gili Island Dive Center. We asked around and liked their atmosphere the most. But there are most of the time not many customers so if you are looking for the “after-dive-hang” maybe choose Gili Air Divers (french) or Blue Marlin Divers.
Gili Island Diving Center (there is also Gili Island Divers) is a new shop, so their equipment is new and good.
They always come back in-between dives and do three dives per day, at 9.00, 12.00 and 14.30.
Getting away… to Lombok
Getting from Gili Air to Lombok is really easy and really cheap. You don’t have to book in advance, just go to the harbor, get your ticket at the terminal and wait until they announce Bangsal. The boats leave whenever they are full with 40 people, between 8.15 a.m. and 5 p.m. We were really lucky and only had to wait 5 to 10 minutes until our boat was ready to leave.
The boat rode takes about 20 to 30 minutes in a long, open local motorboat. The drive is easy and it is even nice to sea the islands from the sea.
- Ticket Gili Air – Bangsal (Lombok): 12.000 IDR/pax
Arriving in Bangsal, there are many shops and drivers (official Blue Bird Taxis, as well as in-official bargaining Taxis) that can take you everywhere. We chose to bargain and took a Taxi to Kuta (Lombok), that cost us 250.000 IDR and took 3 hours.
Tips for Gili Air
- If you want a sunset drink, go to on the north-east side of the island. Especially between Matahari and Bollata Bungalows you can find a really calm and chilled area.
- A walk around the island takes about 1,5 hours – chilled walking. Especially the north-western part is still untouched and nice.
- Best spot for swimming: in front of the “Beach club”. There is almost no sea gras and clear water. You can either ly in the sand or have a fruit juice and chill in a beach chair.
- If you want to save money, don’t book in advance. Simply go there and ask around. They always bargain. But check availability in high season, July and August, when everything is supposed to be full.
Lunch and Dinner
- Bamboo 1 and Bamboo 2 – they have great Matahari, like big spring rolls and chocolate-banana-pancakes
- Warung – best nasi campus, a little spicy
- Warung Sari – good gado-gado and me goreng
- Space bar/ Shanti Warung – great nasi goreng – the classic – and good chocolate-pancakes and you can get a water bottle refill for 5.000 IDR (0,40€)
- Queen Sunset bar – a seaside bar with really friendly owners and good food: especially their Urap-Urap – a local dish with mixed vegetables and fresh coconut – is delicious (25.000 IDR – 1,70€) Mohamed (owner) owns the coconut plantain behind the restaurant, so everything with coconut is ever more delicious.
- Blue Marlin Divers Bar – good breakfast! If you are tired of pancakes and omelette. .. There is a bar in front of the dive shop that serves great Müsli with fresh fruits, coconut yogurt and granola (35.000 IDR – 2,30€). And you can also have a full English breakfast for 40.000 IDR (2,70€).