Located to the northwest of the larger Indonesian island of Lombok, the 3 Gili Islands are the place to go for that authentic, rustic tropical island experience. These peaceful gems combine white sand beaches, turquoise waters and coconut trees with still-small crowds and accommodation for a wide variety of budgets and tastes.

In this guide, we will cover all your Gili Islands queries like:

‘Do you have to walk to get around Gili Islands?’

‘How long does it take from Gili Islands to Bali?’

‘Can you do a day trip to Gili Islands from Bali?’

‘What are the top things to do in Gili Islands?’

Do you have to walk to get around Gili Islands?

The Gilis consist of Gili Trawangan (“Gili T”), Gili Meno and Gili Air. All motorized traffic on the islands, including cars and mopeds, is forbidden by law. This means you’ll have to get around on foot, bicycle or using a regional horse-drawn carriage, known as a “cidomo”, which looks more like a horse-powered version of an Indonesian “bajaj” (auto rickshaw).

How long does it take from Gili Islands to Bali?

1. Speedboat

One of the quickest and most popular ways to get to the Gili Islands from Bali is by taking a speedboat. Numerous operators offer daily services from various ports in Bali, such as Padang Bai, Serangan, and Amed, to the Gili Islands. These boats are fast and comfortable, providing a relatively smooth journey across the Lombok Strait. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

2. Public Ferry

For budget-conscious travelers, the public ferry is an economical option. You can catch a public ferry from Padang Bai to Lembar in Lombok and then continue your journey to the Gili Islands by land and sea. While this option takes longer, it offers a more authentic experience and a chance to see the beautiful landscapes of Lombok along the way. Be prepared for longer travel times and less comfortable conditions compared to speedboats.

3. Seaplane (Charter)

For a truly luxurious and scenic journey, some private seaplane operators offer charter services from Bali to the Gili Islands. While this option is considerably more expensive, it provides a unique and time-efficient way to reach your destination while enjoying breathtakingly beautiful aerial views of the Indonesian coastline.

These are a few options to help you get from Bail to Gili Islands. Remember to check the latest schedules, availability, and prices with the respective transportation providers, especially during the high season. Regardless of which option you choose, the Gili Islands are well worth the journey, offering a slice of paradise just a short distance from Bali.

Can you do a day trip to Gili Islands from Bali?

This would depend on the mode of transport you opt for. A day trip to the Gili Islands from Bali is possible but comes with time constraints and a limited experience of the islands. It can be a good option for those who want a brief taste of the Gili Islands’ beauty and are comfortable with a long day of travel or are willing to spend on faster modes of travel. However, if you have the flexibility, consider spending at least a night or two on the islands to fully enjoy all they have to offer.

7 Top Things to do in Gili Islands

Since nature is king in this beautiful and still relatively untouched corner of the world, things to do on the Gili Islands are centered on the islands’ pristine and wondrous natural environment. Whether you’re on an adventure holiday, a family vacation or romantic honeymoon, there is plenty to do in this unspoiled island paradise.

A sunset at Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan sunset. Pic: Jorge Láscar (Flickr CC)

Enjoy All the 3 Gili Islands

While all islands feature beautiful nature and are peaceful, relaxed and laid back in character, they each have their own unique personality. In short, the 3 Gillis could be categorized like this:

Lately the Gili Islands have been booming, especially Gili T. However, regulations such as the ban on motor vehicles (and even dogs!) and the efforts of organizations like the Gili Eco Trust, are helping to keep things quaint and under control.

Head there while things are still magically quiet! Here is our list of just a few of the thrilling, relaxing and fun things to do on the Gili Islands.

Surfing in Gili Islands 

The Gili Islands are yet to become a surfing Mecca like Bali, but all 3 Gili islands are home to some incredible breaks. A large amount of right-handers, some great, year-round breaks, and the absence of large crowds all help make the surf so special. Some days you may even have the waves to yourselves.

As is the case in general, each one of the Gili Islands has its own unique qualities in terms of surfing. That said, all 3 feature gorgeous scenery and friendly locals.

See this post for a more comprehensive guide on surfing the Gili Islands.

Hear From Our Rapture Surfcamps Community

A sea turtle under water in the ocean near Gili Islands

Scuba Diving in Gili Islands

The Gili Islands are well known for having many great dive spots and the islands’ diving schools have a good reputation for teaching scuba to all levels, right up to some highly respected instructor qualification courses.

The majority of dive centres are located on Gili T, but all islands have SSI and PADI-licenced operators. Most are also members of the Gili Eco Trust. Explore the coral reefs, a World War II Japanese wreck, biorock reefs and great muck diving sites for underwater macro photography.

Sea turtle spotting is almost a sure thing in the Gili Islands, while other aquatic species like boxfish, batfish, stonefish, bumphead parrotfish and reef sharks are plentiful.

Snorkelling in Gili Islands

Snorkelling is one of the most popular and rewarding things to do on the Gili Islands. This is because of the incredible coral reefs, tropical fish and sea turtles. There are numerous spots on all 3 islands and local dive shops can arrange snorkelling programs along with equipment. Independent snorkelling off some of the beaches is doable as well, but caution is advised due to strong ocean currents and using fins is strongly advised.

Relax and Revive with a Staycation in Gili Islands

One thing that makes the Gili Islands so great is that it is the perfect place to get away from it all and simply relax. Since there are no motor vehicles and the islands have maintained such a laid-back atmosphere, particularly on Gili Air and Gili Meno, you should have no trouble finding a nice stretch of beach to relax on. Spa treatments, such as massage, and Yoga classes are available at centers and resorts on all 3 islands to soothe, relax and help you revive.

Gili Air Bungalow
Gili Air bungalow. Pic: Maurits Vermeulen (Flickr CC)

Enjoy Multi-cuisine Restaurants in Gili Islands

Believe it or not, but this age of globalization has brought an Irish pub, a sushi bar, a pizza place… Also a hot dog stand, creperie, plus Italian, Thai, vegetarian and international restaurants — all to Gili Tranwangan. And let’s not forget the local cuisine and numerous bars and cafés. For something a bit different, check out Gili T’s exciting night market.It is perfect for Indonesian specialties and fresh seafood. The quieter islands of Gili Air and Gili Meno feature both local and international fare but to a lesser extend.

Wildlife Sanctuaries in Gili Islands

While most wildlife that attracts people to the island is underwater, there are also a few sites on land worth seeing. Notably, there are sea turtle hatcheries/sanctuaries on Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. This is where visitors can see baby green and loggerhead turtles. They are raised until the age of 8 months before being released into the wild. 

Gili Meno Bird Park is a wildlife sanctuary, which is home to many exotic birds, as well as crocodiles. Also deer and kangaroos, though not all the animals at the park are native.

Take a Boat Trip

Several companies on Gili Trawangan offer cruises to Gili Air, Gili Meno and other islands such as Lombok and Komodo. Some firms run cruises and party boats incorporating camping, dining, diving, snorkeling and stops at several points of interest.


There are more activities to choose from besides the 7 mentioned above. These include deep-sea fishing, horseback riding, golfing on Gili T, trekking, sea kayaking and wake boarding.

People getting down from a passenger ferry at Gili Islands
Gili Islands ferry. Pic: Jorge Láscar (Flickr CC)

Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a bit of both, the Gili Islands have something to offer every type of traveler. You can lose yourself in the tranquil beauty of the beaches, embark on thrilling snorkeling and diving expeditions, immerse yourself in local culture and cuisine, or simply savor the island’s relaxed pace of life.

While we’ve highlighted seven must-do activities, remember that the Gili Islands are a place to unwind, disconnect, and embrace the simple joys of island living. From the spectacular sunsets to the friendly smiles of the locals, every moment in the Gilis is an opportunity to create lasting memories.

As you plan your trip to the Gili Islands, consider your interests and preferences, and choose the activities that resonate with you the most. Whether it’s watching sea turtles glide through the crystal-clear waters, exploring the underwater sculptures, or sipping cocktails by the beach, the Gili Islands invite you to slow down, recharge, and savor the beauty of this tropical paradise.

So, pack your swimsuit, grab your snorkel gear, and get ready for an unforgettable journey to the Gili Islands. Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple seeking a romantic escape, or a family in search of adventure, these islands have something magical in store for everyone. With its blend of natural wonders and island charm, the Gili Islands promise an experience that will linger in your heart long after you’ve left their shores.

In addition to the seven incredible activities we’ve explored in the Gili Islands, don’t forget that Bali is just a boat ride away, offering even more adventure and excitement. If you’re a surfing enthusiast or someone eager to catch your first wave, Bali is renowned for its world-class surf breaks and vibrant surf culture.

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What makes the Gili Islands a popular travel destination?

The Gili Islands are renowned for their pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and a relaxed atmosphere. Popular among travelers seeking a tranquil escape, the islands offer a perfect blend of natural beauty and diverse activities.

How do I get to the Gili Islands?

You can reach the Gili Islands by taking a boat from Bali or Lombok. The most common departure points are Padang Bai in Bali and Bangsal in Lombok. Fast boats and public ferries are available, and the journey typically takes around 1-2 hours, depending on the departure point and sea conditions.

Which Gili Island is best for me?

Each Gili Island—Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air—has its unique charm. Gili Trawangan is known for its vibrant nightlife, Gili Meno offers a more tranquil atmosphere, and Gili Air strikes a balance between the two. Choose based on your preferences for activities and ambiance.

What are the popular activities on the Gili Islands?

The Gili Islands offer a range of activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, cycling, and exploring local markets. Each island provides opportunities to enjoy water sports, relax on beautiful beaches, and experience the unique island culture.

Is there a specific time of the year that’s best to visit the Gili Islands?

The dry season, generally from April to October, is considered the best time to visit the Gili Islands. During this period, the weather is sunny, and the sea conditions are calm, making it ideal for water activities. However, the islands are accessible and enjoyable year-round.

Are there restrictions on motorized vehicles on the Gili Islands?

Yes, the Gili Islands are known for their absence of motorized vehicles. Transportation is primarily by horse-drawn carts (cidomos), bicycles, or walking. This contributes to the peaceful and eco-friendly atmosphere of the islands.

What accommodation options are available on the Gili Islands?

Accommodation options on the Gili Islands range from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury resorts. You can find beachfront bungalows, cosy homestays, and boutique hotels. It’s advisable to book accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.