Gili Air Posted by sasha on Feb 18, 2016 in Uncategorized
This is our final post in our Gili Islands series. We’ve already looked at the “party island” Gili Trawangan and the “honeymoon island” Gili Meno. The last stop on our journey is Gili Air, the closest of the three to the main island of Lombok. If you’re visiting all three Gili Islands from Bali on your way to Lombok this will be your last one. From here it’s only 30-40 minutes to Senggigi, a major beach and tourist town in Lombok.
In the past this island was more popular with families looking for a quiet stay, while the backpackers looking for a party went to Gili T. However, because of Gili T’s upscaling and less affordable accommodations, more backpackers are flocking to Gili Air now. Never fear, though – it’s not a wild party here by any stretch of the imagination, and couples, single travelers, and families will all find something here as well.
Fun in and Under the Water
As with the other Gilis, water activities are the main attraction on Air. There are several dive shops on the southern shore offering dive courses as well as fun dives and snorkeling trips. Freediving is also an option if you’re brave enough to try. It is not necessary to book a snorkeling trip, however, as you can snorkel just off shore. Surfing, kite surfing, stand up paddle boarding, wakeboarding and kayaking are also possible.
Exploring the Island
Gili Air is the middle island as far as size goes. Just like the other islands the only transport options are bicycle, cidomo (horse-drawn carriage) and walking. It is very easy to explore the island on foot. A stroll on the outer path will take about 90 minutes at a leisurely pace. In order to cover more ground a bicycle is recommended. There are also paths that go inland where you can explore the village and see how the 1,800 permanent residents spend their days. You can also find cheaper and just as delicious food in the village.
Eat, Drink and Dance
You won’t go hungry on Gili Air, as there are tons of options for dining. Head in to the village for a cheap meal at a warung or if you’re feeling fancy there are several delicious restaurants on the beach serving up Indonesian and western fare as well as fresh seafood from the day’s catch ready to be BBQ’d.
Nothing says “I’m on vacation on a tropical island” like sipping on fresh fruit juice, and there’s no shortage of it here. We particularly enjoyed taking in the sunset with one of these in hand, and they tasted even better with a bit of cheap rum that we brought over from Gili T. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do when you’re backpacking on a budget.
Gili T may have a reputation as the “party island,” but Gili Air also likes to have a good time, too. A little inland from the beach is a Psytrance bar called Space Bar. They host many psy parties throughout the year and started their own festival called Burning Island a few years ago. It is happening this year April 8-10, so if you’re planning a trip to the Gilis and you like Psytrance you might want to consider coming around that time. There are a few beach bars where you can have a cold Bintang and dance to the tunes on the speakers.
We had a great time on all three Gili Islands, and found that they each had their own vibe despite the many similarities. The beaches are great on all islands and you can do plenty of water sports on each one. All islands have a variety of accommodation, dining and drinking options. If you’re young, looking to party, or interested in dive courses, Gili T is probably your best bet. For couples looking for romance and quiet, Gili Meno is the place to be. Everyone in between should hear to Gili Air. Of course, you should probably just go to all three and figure them out for yourself!
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