After 3 days in Ubud, we were definitely over any jet lag we may have had from our 24hr+ journey (who has time for jet lag on holiday anyways?!). It was time to leave this beautiful city which really is a feast for all the senses, and head on to the next part of the trip: 9 days on the islands dreams are made of!
The Gili islands are 3 super-duper tiny specks about an hour and a half from Bali’s coast. They are actually a part of Lombok- an island a little smaller than Bali, on the other side of the Gilis- but a lot of people do a similar trip to us, and start in Bali then island hop to Lombok via the Gili islands. We traveled from Ubud, and found that there were tour operators all over (with varying prices) offering speed boat transfers to the Gilis. It’s all very easy to organise, and the price includes pick-up from your accommodation in Ubud which is fab!
The mini bus and speed boat trip left a little to be desired in the way of luxury. Totally fine for us and I’m sure for most people, but if you’re used to private transportation, everything happening on time, and a smooth ride…you may want to consider taking a flight!
Our first stop was the closest island to Bali, Gili Trawangan (or Gili T as it’s more commonly known). We disembarked from our reggae-jamming rocket-boat with our backpacks and a slick coating of sweat into the clearest sea I’ve ever seen.
I mean…look at that!! The Gili islands are like nothing I’ve experienced in a long time. The water is crystal clear, so shallow, and there is incredible reef life and turtles ridiculously close to the beach. None of the islands have roads, motorised vehicles, or sometimes even electricity. We really felt like we were in paradise.
The vibe of all the islands is slightly different. Gili T is supposed to be the ‘party’ island. Let me tell you, if you come here expecting full-moon scale partying, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes you can party, but it will most likely be to a local reggae band playing Marley covers. We were worried that the island was going to be super-busy and a bit too wild for what we were after, but everywhere and everyone was so chilled. As a side note, there are no police on the Gili islands, and although drugs are illegal, they are very easily available and even advertised. From doing some research, it seems that the islands are quite self-governed, and if there is going to be a police ‘inspection’ (probably the wrong word), everyone will know about it way in advance.
We stayed in a lovely basic bungalow place a little in-land (although everywhere is in walking or cycling distance so it really doesn’t make much difference) called Pantai Karang. I would 100% recommend it to couples looking for a basic, affordable and friendly place to stay. We paid £60 for 2 nights here, which was really reasonable as the price included a lovely breakfast, private bungalow with bathroom, and bikes. It also has a pool, but when the sea looks this good, I’m sure it goes pretty unused.
If you’ve ever looked up the Gili islands, you’ll probably have seen some variation of the swing photo below! This was taken at Ombak Sunset, where everyone on the island congregates to watch the sun set over Mt. Agung back on Bali. These islands have the most breathtaking sunsets I’ve ever experienced, and I came back with a *huge* amount of sunset spam on my camera.
Top tips for Gili Trawangan:
1) Chill out on the beach with a coconut. This goes for all the islands really!
2) Walk around the island in the morning before it gets too hot. A lot of the coastal paths don’t have much in the way of shade, so it’s best to walk around and get a feel for the island in the morning. Similarly, the island isn’t well lit at night, so it’s a good idea to bring a torch/phone with a light with you .
3) Walk to Villa Ombak to watch the sunset! There are a few places to choose from to watch the sunset, but this is the most iconic.
4) Dive! The Gilis have some amazing reefs surrounding them, and are famous spots to learn to dive. Scuba and free diving is offered at many places on the islands. We just stuck to snorkelling, which we found just as impressive!
5) Eat at the market. Gili T has a great night market just south of where the speed boats come in. There are loads of different options, all cooked on big grills in a kind of communal area.
I initially meant for all of the islands to be in one post, but it’s just going to be way too much! Gili Meno will be the next post coming very soon.
Have you visited the Gili islands? Which was your favourite?