Do also check out my Gili Islands Travel Guide here
After meeting my cousin in Kuta, we headed off to the famed Gilis for our much-needed relaxation and recuperation. The Gilis have a beauty that hardly goes unnoticed, judging by the boatloads of tourists that arrive and depart everyday.
Getting to the Gilis (from Bali) by Speedboat
We booked the speedboat/fast boat to the Gili Islands from our hostel (H-ostel Bali) in Kuta. They had a special price just for the hostel customers and the price was really a long way off from the exorbitant prices offered by other tour operators. They were offering a starting price of IDR 1200000. Booking from our hostel was more convenient and saved us the trouble of haggling for our tickets.
Price & Boat Company
Price: IDR 500000 for a 2 way ticket
Company: Wahana Gili Ocean. Here is their official website where you can view the exterior and interior of the boats. However, when booking the ride, do follow my tip below and try to book it from H-ostel Bali in Kuta.
Review of Boat Ride: It was great. I read voraciously beforehand about the treacherous boat ride to the Gilis from Bali, especially from Tripadvisor. It was a pleasant surprise when the boat was not overcrowded (in fact, there were some seats left empty when we departed!), and clean. The boat ride was not bumpy at all unlike what some reviews said. I even managed to catch a whole hour of sleep. I would recommend this company to anyone that asks 🙂
Tip: I recommend staying in H-ostel Bali for one night, if only just to purchase your ticket to the Gili Islands the next day! The savings really make up for it 🙂
Wahana Gili Ocean offers 2 timings for fast boats. There is an early morning fast boat, and one later in the morning. We opted for the early morning one as we wanted to save time, and spend more time on the Gilis themselves than on Bali.
1. Wake up at 5.30-5.45am. What a bummer.
2. Wait for the minivan to pick you up between 6-7.30am. If you opt for the later one, it will pick you up from 10-11.30am.
YES I know, what a long waiting period! Just a warning, eventually our van only came at 7.50am! We could have had 1 more hour of sleep but we played it safe.
3. Travel to the jetty at Padang Bai. You will reach at around 9.30 am.
4. Get your actual ferry tickets from the boat company’s counter.
Please do not lose your return ticket receipt. It allows you to book your return fast boat ticket from the Wahana Gili Ocean shop on the Gili Islands.
IMPORTANT: You have to confirm your return ticket 1 day before you depart the island or you would not be guaranteed a seat on the boat.
5. Get onto the boat at around 10.30am and depart for the Gilis.
You will have to walk to the jetty from the boat company’s office. Once you get there, staff would be gesturing to you to drop your luggage in the central pile. They will also tag your luggage according to color (Yellow- Gili Trawagan, Green- Gili Air, Red-Gili Meno) so they know when to bring the luggage out. This is an important process so do make sure your luggage are color coded properly.
6. Arrive at the Gilis at 12 noon (Just in time for lunch mhm)
Do take note that the fast boat travels to Gili Trawagan first, then to Gili Meno and then to Gili Air. Do not get off at the wrong stop! There will usually be colored stickers assigned to each person. Another method is to note where most of the people are going to leave the boat. That will be the spot for Gili Trawagan.
Getting to the Gilis (from Lombok)
There exists an alternative method to travel to the Gilis from Lombok. I did not take this route. However, I have prepared some details for you guys. As always, do bargain with the fast boat operators and do not take their starting prices.
The Bangsal Ticket Office is located on the seafront and is open from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
1. Public Boat (2 hours)
I do not recommend this option as it takes a long time to get to Gili Trawagan from Bangsal Harbour). However, you do save quite a bit of money though.
Price: IDR 100000 / person
2. Fast Boats (15 min)
Fast boats depart regularly from Bangsal Harbour to the Gilis. I do not understand why but the price is still steep for a short 15 minute ride.
Price: IDR 300000/ person
Warning: Do make sure the guard returns your ticket after checking it. There were instances where he did not return the ticket and tourists had to purchase another ticket to travel to the Gilis.
The coolest hostel in Gili Islands – The Broken Compass.
Why it’s so cool: Situated on Gili Trawagan, the hostel is not on the usual booking sites ( Booking.com , Hostelworld.com). This is what makes them so unique. They survive only on word-of-mouth and their official website, and the fact that they are sustainable even without being on booking websites, gives them enough reason to claim their rights as one of the BEST hostels in Gili Trawagan. In fact, I did not even plan to stay here during my time in the Gilis. I had booked a cottage in advance, and only changed my accommodation when I heard raving reviews about Broken Compass from fellow travellers in the Komodo Islands.
Tip: Another fun fact is that the dorms on the Gilis have only a maximum of 3 beds / dorm. This is to prevent hostels like these from snatching away customers from other mid-range hotels and AirBnBs. This means that if you have 3 travellers, you can reserve 3 dorm beds and essentially get a whole “private room” to yourselves. What a deal!
with Breakfast Included
1. Shared Bathroom Dorms: IDR 170000/ night (Nov-May), IDR 190000 / night (June-Oct + 21 Dec-3 Jan)
2. En Suite Dorms: IDR 190000/ night (Nov-May), IDR 210000 / night (June-Oct + 21 Dec-3 Jan)
3. Private Room for 2: IDR 400000/ night (Nov-May), IDR 500000 / night (June-Oct + 21 Dec-3 Jan) Extra Mattress: IDR 150000/ night
We took a private double room as it made sense as it just cost a little more than reserving 2 dorm beds. It definitely impressed us. The air-conditioning was spot-on, the shower was remarkably strong and the overall cleanliness was great. The only downsides were probably the too-thin blanklet (felt like a blanklet cover instead of a blanklet) and the lack of hot water in the showers. But who needs hot water when you come to an island, right? 😉
The rooms were also furnished very nicely! They had beer / alcohol bottles planted in the walls, adding a quirky touch to the room (and probably emphasizing the Gills as party paradise 🙂
The Broken Compass had a fantastic atmosphere for all kinds of travellers. The hostel provides rental of bicycles at IDR 40000/ day. With your bicycle, you can literally bike around the island (assuming you don’t stop) in an hour or so. It also has a comprehensive list of activities that you can do (which I unfortunately did not take a picture of) at its reception. You can organize your snorkelling tour and Jiggy Boat Party through them.
It boasts 2 outdoor pools and a bar (that has 2 table tennis tables) that was THE place to go to meet fellow backpackers and travellers before heading out for an insane night. We got to mingle with so many other fun and nice people every night! It would usually be a drink or two at the bar (IDR 65000 for a Mojito, IDR 80000 for a Tequila Sunrise) before we saunter out to enjoy the nightlife.
I hope you guys have a BLAST in the Gilis. Try to get back to your hostel in safe shape yea 😉