Being a True Gili-Islander
- 1 Being a True Gili-Islander
- 2 Activities
- 2.1 Walk/ through Town
- 2.2 Snorkelling
- 2.3 Jiggy Boat Party (Only on Wednesdays & Saturdays)
- 2.4 Take photos at the Gili T swings
- 2.5 Chill at the Beach till Sunset (Honestly)
- 2.6 Take a walk on the seabed at low tide
- 2.7 Partying at Night
- 2.8 Water Sports
- 2.9 Diving
- 3 Food & Eating Out
- 4 Transportation around
Do also check out my Gili Islands Transport & Accommodation Guide here
You have to come to the Gilis, you HAVE TO. Especially if you’re already in Indonesia. Change plans. Amend bookings. Do whatever it takes.
Once known to be a backpacker’s paradise, the Gili Islands have increased in popularity since, and now caters to large diverse groups of tourists. Still, it stoically maintains its rustic charm amidst the new developments.
The Gili Islands consist of 3 islands, Gili Trawangan (or T for short), Gili Meno & Gili Air, respectively. Gili Trawangan (where I stayed at), is a lively bustling hub, where most backpackers choose to reside at, the reason being that prices here are mostly cheaper than at the other islands. Gili Meno appeals more to couples, a secluded romantic getaway, devoid of nightlife and full of areas to propose to your prospective spouse (full of turtles though! 🙂 Gili Air, the smallest of the three, tries to make peace between its 2 neighbours, with ample nightlife, yet retaining a sense of tranquility admist the growing tourism.
Walk/ through Town
You can explore the entire island of Gili T on foot. Whilst doing that, you might catch a glimpse of locals going about their daily routines, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas. In fact, there was a time where we had to cut through the middle of the island to get to the sunset spot. We found ourselves lost in a local “kampung” or village, where we asked for directions. Don’t think many tourists would have walked all the way there 🙂
Hiring of bicycles is also another cheap and quick method to explore the island. Most people cycle the circumference of the island. I recommend that you guys cycle from east to west as the sunset locations are on the west. This way you will make it back just in time for the sunset!
The staple must-do of most tourists when they arrive at the Gilis, this snorkelling tour gives one a good look of the 3 Islands. It is easy to arrange this tour from your hostel/hotel or any nearby operators. I would strongly recommend this trip for any solo travellers or groups as you get to make many new friends whilst enjoying breath-taking views of marine life in the Gilis!
Price: IDR 100000 / person (Please try to find an operator selling the tours at this price or less!)
Snorkelling Tour Itinerary
1. Meet at hostel/hotel pick-up point at 9am
You meet your fellow day trippers from the hostel/hotel you are staying at and walk to the beach, where the entire group will be waiting. You will collect your snorkels and fins from a rental company, please do not lose them! Its a hefty IDR 300000 each for any item that you lose!
Tip: Now’s a good time to start a conversation since everyone’s waiting for the boat to arrive.
2. Leave for snorkelling at 10am and reach first snorkelling spot (30 minutes)
This spot is most likely still near Gili T. You would be expected to jump into the water from the boat with your snorkel gear. Surprisingly, there were no life-jackets provided (maybe you had to ask for them) BUT the tour was really safe so no worries. When everyone has entered the water, the boat will start moving towards the end-point. We swam together with our instructor towards the end-point, where the boat picked us up.
4. Reach second snorkelling spot (30 minutes)
I felt that this spot was the highlight of the day. Besides the beautiful coral gardens, it had TURTLES. Now, I saw these turtles after my diving in the Komodo Islands, so I was not that impressed. My fellow snorkellers were very excited though 🙂
5. Lunch at Gili Air (12-1pm)
They give you approximately one hour for lunch, where you can hopefully find a nice cafe or restaurant to have a meal. Whilst on the boat, I was frantically searching “Good Places to eat at Gili Air” and I found one! I’ll talk more about it below.
6. Reach third and last snorkelling spot (30 minutes)
This spot has amazing coral gardens, I would reckon it has the best out of the 3 spots in the trip. I spotted a really pretty clam and a nice moray eel here 🙂
7. Return to Gili Trawagan by 3pm.
We arrived back and returned our snorkels and fins to the rental company.
Jiggy Boat Party (Only on Wednesdays & Saturdays)
My first ever boat party and WHAT A BLAST. I cannot even start to describe how fun it was. It was literally so lit, so much entertainment (both by the music and the people) really just a great experience overall. I met so many great people, and this is a must-do!
Price: IDR 350000 (guys), IDR 250000 (girls) inclusive of one free drink
Website : http://boatpartygili.com
Tripadvisor Review: here
Price of Drinks on Board (at least, those that I tried)
Tequila Sunrise: IDR 65000
Mojito: IDR 65000
JagerBomb: IDR 100000
Don’t know much about beer, I apologize in advance 🙂
Boat Party Itinerary
1. Meet in front of Jiggy Boat Bar at 1pm.
This is where you show your receipt of purchase to the counter at the Jiggy Boat Bar in exchange for a wrist tag that you wear, along with a small slip of paper that says “free drink”. This entitles you to one drink of a vodka mix / beer.
2. Leave for the boat party at around 1.20pm.
Tip: There will be approximately 3 boats that leave for the main party boat. Try to get onto the first boat because you’ll be able to choose where you want to sit and get wasted.
3. Reach party boat at around 1.45pm.
When you reach, try to grab a nice spot either outdoors or indoors (platform at the sides). You can put your belongings at the little cupboards at the front of the boat (This comes in useful when you do the boat jump later on.)I had my doubts about its security, but it turned out fine 🙂
Tip: When you reach (assuming you’re on the first boat), go get your free drinks immediately. We just waited for the rest of the boats to arrive, and when we realized that the free drinks were available, there was already a crowd at the bar. You are entitled to one free vodka mix OR beer per person. I chose the vodka mix, obviously 🙂
The boat has an indoor deck, and an outdoors one. Both sections will be filled with grooving bodies and pumped-up music. The section outdoors has beanbags and seats by the edge of the boat for people (aka the wasted) to recuperate and just take in the sea breeze, before frolicking off to partake in more partying.
Every hour or so, someone will announce: “Party Girls and Boys, Free Shots in the covered deck in 5 MINUTES, if you want free shots, get your BUTTS ON THE FLOOR RIGHT NOW” and they mean it. Its free shots, ONLY if you put your ass down on the floor. No sitting, No Shots (yea, not even squatting) This is when everyone literally meets together, sits down and opens their mouths for free shots given by the staff. Then the party continues 🙂
Tip: Near the end of the trip, staff will announce that all drinks are on half price. For all the party kids, do take note. Don’t spend all your money on first.
Tip: Ask the bartender for the joss powder. This is an energy satchet that has the same constituents as Red Bull, except that it is 5 times stronger. Makes for a great afternoon to party 😉
Midway through the party, the boat will dock / stop in the middle of the sea. This is the time to JUMP OFF THE BOAT. It was SO exhilarating and surprisingly, the temperature of the seawater was delightfully warm and comfortable. Almost didn’t want to go back up
Tip: Do make sure you can swim adequately before jumping off as you are not provided with life jackets.
Tip: Bring your GoPro / action camera, you really don’t want to miss this sweet shot.
Do remember to watch the sunset, I heard it was amazing for some other backpackers when they did the boat party. It was a little cloudy when I was there. Thus, no sunset for me 🙁
5. Return back to Gili Trawagan at by 6.30pm.
It would definitely be dark when you return. The boat arrives back on shore just in time for dinner. Perfect.
Tip: If you guys are wearing slippers, do watch out when getting out of the boat because some people (ahem) almost lost their slippers in the darknes when they stepped onto the shore.
Take photos at the Gili T swings
The iconic swings of the Gili Islands flood every single Instagrammer’s feed when they arrive on the islands. And I can definitely see a reason why: The swings are PERFECT picture spots, no matter what pose you are putting on 😉
Besides the swings, there are also many photogenic hammocks right beside them, perfect for a sunset picture.
Chill at the Beach till Sunset (Honestly)
There is honestly no lack of beach spots in Gili T to chill and just unwind. The popular ones tend to be located at the west, where it is best to see the amazing sunset during dusk. During the day, we sat at Malibu Beach Club which offered colorful beanbags and sunbeds underneath umbrella stands for a day of relaxation. You are allowed the entire day there with a purchase of any drink of the bar/club. It was also close to the photogenic Gili T swings that you see on Instagram.
Price: Mixed Fruit Juice : IDR 35000
Take a walk on the seabed at low tide
This was definitely a fascinating and intriguing activity. Wondering what others were doing walking around in the distance, we headed into the waters at low tides. The biodiversity is beautiful. Whilst walking, we suddenly realized that we were stepping on thousands and thousands of starfish. Starfish that could move really fast when prodded with a stick. I also spotted sea urchins, hermit crabs and little shrimps partying away on rocks that were exposed by the low tides. Coolios.
This place was also a prime location was viewing the sunset. The water reflected the rays, creating a perfect silhouetted picture.
Tip: Do wear your slippers as you walk around , you never know what is underneath. It might be poisonous or sharp, and you don’t want to spend your holiday in the Gili Islands Clinic recuperating from a poisonous sting.
Partying at Night
Gili T is a rustic island by day, but a party paradise by night. Every night, one delegated bar/club opens till late. Party goers have the schedule memorized even before they arrive onto the islands.
Honestly, I think that the best pub/club would be Sama-Sama Reggae Bar. It dishes out a mix of live reggae music and mainstream pop (this is when the singers rest). I loved the set playlist, the DJ and of course the talented reggae hits sung every night. The singers could turn ANYTHING into reggae, Shut Up & Dance included ????
Monday: Blue Marline Rave Party
Tuesday: Jiggy Boat Bar
Wednesday: Shipwrecked Bar (Irish Bar)
Thursday: The only free day when no club/bar is operating till late. Do take note!
Friday: Rudy’s Bar
Saturday: Sama-Sama Reggae Bar
I also read about the various water sports that you could do around the Gilis. One of the more unique ones was subwinging, where you basically hang on to a glider underwater while the boat pulls you along. It feels like you are flying underwater!
Subwing Price: IDR 350000 / person/ 25 minutes
Here’s a video from Subwing Gili!
There are also many other activities that you can sign up for, jetskiing and parasailing as some of the other possibilities.
As I already dived in Komodo, I did not really go around to the dive shops. However, along the main stretch of the road in Gili T, there are plenty of dive shops advertising their programs. Some of them, like Blue Marlin, even have their own accommodation. I heard the the Gilis have quite a substantial amount of wrecks to dive. Not sure whether it’s true, but it sounds cool.
Food & Eating Out
Gili Trawagan Night Market
This is officially the best place to eat on the Gilis that I would recommend. Only bad thing about it is that being a night market, it only opens at night 🙁
The night market serves a vast amount of different dishes, many of them local delicacies and cuisines. Do try them! They’re really delicious and my taste buds (like me) partied every night.
Tip: I really liked 2 stalls in particular. The first stall is located right at the entrance of the night market, in which you pick out (between chicken, beef, snapper and calamari) 3 sticks, after which you get 2 vegetable dishes included. The other stall was the dessert stall at the far corner, which sold very affordable cakes and other sweets.
1) 3 sticks of meat (choose between chicken,beef,snapper & calamari) + 2 vegetable dishes : IDR 60000 (IDR 20000 for one stick, but you only get the 2 vegetable dishes if you order 3 or more sticks)
2) Small Grilled Snapper (it wasn’t that small): IDR 100000
3) Big Grilled Snapper (recommended for >3 people): IDR 150000
4) DESSERT: cakes/local sweets: 1DR 10000 PER PIECE (seriously. Just grab them all)
5) Watermelon Juice: IDR 15000
Le Petit Grill
This was also one of the BEST places to eat in Gili Trawagan. Not only are the burgers delicious and filling, the atmosphere and setting of this chilled-out burger joint made the meal even better. Definitely a must-try (besides the amazing night market)
1) Tuna Baguette Set : IDR 80000
2) Bacon & Egg Burger : IDR 80000 (this was the bomb)
3) Beef Burger : IDR 80000
4) Chicken Sandwich : IDR 60000
Tip: They have a daily special combo meal! Do ask them about it as they might not announce it to you. The combo special includes the meal and a drink of iced tea for IDR 80000.
On the main street, right beside the jetty and the site of the night market is this gelato shop that sells decent gelato ice cream. They have many flavours but don’t have pistachio unfortunately 🙁
Price: IDR 20000 /scoop
The Gilis enforce a strict rule regarding transportation. The three main means of transportation around are by walking, cycling and by horse cart. The horses are treated really badly, please try not to ride them unless necessary. It was really fine just walking around on our own two feet. We even passed by the local houses on the way. It was really interesting to see their way of life.
Prices: Bicycle Rental : IDR 40000/ day (booked from our hostel : see our post on accommodation here)
I did not enquire on price of horse cart transportation as it felt really cruel.
Do enjoy your time on this piece of heaven!
Try not to get eaten by turtles 🙂