April 16 – 19, 2017
We moved from Ubud, Bali to Gili Air by van + speed boat for RP500K one-way. You can reach Gili Air from Padangan Bay using a fast boat from Company Eka Jaya, who will pick you up from any location in Bali by mini bus and put you on a fast and safe boat. The price depends on the season but should be around RP500K one-way or RP650K for a round-trip. You can contact Komang from Eka Jaya by phone or WhatsApp at +62 812-3632-7327 –if you are calling from a local number you can take out +62 and add a 0 before the 8. Please specify to him that you wish to use Eka Jaya and that you are a friend of Andrea, so he will give you this price, or otherwise the price for tourists is almost double in high season. Reviews for Wahana Gili Ocean Fast Boat are mixed but you can buy boat tickets for RP450K from Padangbai.
Regardless of what you pay for the trip over, the Gilis are A-Ok! We spent 3 nights in Andrea’s shared house for $79, which was just a short walk to the beach.
This archipelago in the Indian Ocean consists of three islands nestled between Bali and Lombok. Unlike Bali, the Gilis are Muslim, so no pork, you’ll see women wearing headscarfs, and hear the Muezzin call from a Minaret several times a day. You don’t have to worry about dressing too conservatively; shorts and a t-shirt or even a dress are fine.
Gili Trawangan (‘Gili T’) is the largest and sometimes described as the “party island” because it’s the most developed, but on the north side of the island you’ll find quiet bungalows. It is known for drugs as well, but you can find those on the other islands too. Gili Meno is the opposite as the smallest island with the least development. Gili Air is somewhere in the middle, as it’s not as busy at Gili T but has more going on than Gili Meno. The distance between the islands is so short that you can always see the other ones and can reach them pretty quickly with a boat. Never try swimming between the islands, though.
No cars or motorcycles, and you can walk the perimeter in 1-2 hours. You can rent a bicycle anywhere for RP30K a day, but some roads are sandy and difficult to peddle on. There are horse-drawn carriages (Cidomos) on the islands for a RP60K flat rate but I would feel bad having a horse carry me by carriage.
Gili Air was perfect for me and I fell in love with it. Beautiful white-sand beaches, laid-back beach bars and restaurants with friendly cats and the nicest people, and excellent snorkeling + diving.
Inside the village and scattered around the beach are local warungs, the cheapest and best places to eat on the island, serving typical Indonesian food. Gado Gado is steamed veggies with boiled egg and peanut sauce, Urap Urap is steamed veggies with grated coconut, Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng are fried rice or fried noodles with egg and vegetables, and Olah Olah is a coconut stew with veggies and your meat of choice. My favorite places to eat were Warung Bambu and Warung Padang.
I had a fun and safe dive with Ady at Gili Air Divers (RP490K a dive, up to an hour a dive). If you dive 5 times with them, you get a discount. All the dive shops seem to be on the same page for pricing. I dived Manta Point (Gili T) and Bounty Wreck (Gili Meno). Saw lots of turtles and small fish, but the coolest thing I saw was a giant moray eel.
Gili Air is a tough place to leave but a few days was perfect for me.