This post is part of the series Bali
Other posts in this series:
This post is part of the series Gili Islands
Other posts in this series:
- Gili Islands Travel Guide ~ Indonesia (Current)
- Gili Islands: Sunset Perfection
- The Graveyard Underneath ~ The Truth about Gili Islands
After visiting Amed and having the “greatest” experience with numerous earthquakes and the threat of a tsunami and volcanic eruption, we created an escape-master-plan which led us to Gili Air.
Gili Air is one of the 3 most famous Gili Islands which are located to the north west of Lombok. The Gilis are the best escape from Bali if you’re searching for some nice beaches, turquoise waters, and snorkeling with turtles. And for us, Gili Air was also the best escape from Mount Agung and the possible upcoming volcanic eruption.
Gili Islands: Location
The Gili Islands are a group of small islands surrounding the mainland of Lombok. Due to the fact that Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air are the best known among tourist, many think that the Gilis are only 3 islands, but there are actually 26 of them!
Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air are the best developed of all 26 due to the opening of the Praya airport in Lombok, 2011. Just to know, there are 12 more Gilis in the west of Lombok: Gili Nanggu, Gili Sudak, Gili Layar, Gili Poh, Gili Asahan, Gili Genting, Gili Lontar, Gili Tangkong, Gili Amben, Gili Gede, Gili Anyaran, Gili Layar and Gili Genting.
Gili Islands: When to go?
If you ask an Indonesian about the seasons, he would answer “We have two seasons: hot and hotter”. And this answer is kind of correct! The annual average temperature stands at around 26° – 27° C and the humidity level is about 85 % – 90%. Water temperature is always pleasant too – from 25° to 31° C the whole year long!
The temperatures on the Gili Islands is always pleasant. Anyway, the best time to visit the tiny islands is during the dry season and the perfect months to visit are May and September.
- The best sea conditions for traveling from Bali or Lombok
- The best visibility for snorkeling and diving
- Fewer mosquitoes
Because of its tropical location, there are only two seasons in Indonesia: the summer (dry) season is from April until September and the rainy (wet) season from October until March. The best time to visit Indonesia and Gili Islands is between May and the end of September. The most rain comes between December and February during the so-called “pancaroba“ season. During these months winds are stronger at the coast and the ocean gets rougher too.
Remember that low and “cheap” season often means “pancaroba“! And with “rainy season”, Indonesia means R-A-I-N-Y! This tropical rain has nothing to do with the rain we know from Europe or North Amerika. So if you want to spend your time in Bali not locked up in your accommodation, you may decide not to travel between December and February.
Just have in mind: whenever you travel to Gili Islands, you will see some afternoon raindrops during your stay for sure! Indonesia is a tropical country so escaping the rain and humidity is not really possible.
Gili Islands: How to get there?
Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali is kind of simple. You can book a fast boat, public ferries or a private charter from Padang Bai, Amed, Benoa Harbor, or Sanur. Traveling by public ferries is the cheapest, but also the longest and a painfully slow way to travel to Lombok and from Lombok, to the Gilis (5h +). On the other hand, going for a private charter would save your time, but not your money. So I would definitely recommend traveling by fast boat!
The most convenient option is to book a fast boat from Amed – the journey will take between 1.5 h and 2 h, depending on the sea condition. The three most prominent fast boat companies are FreeBird Express, Pacha Express, and Patagonia Xpress. The tickets prices may vary between 15 € and 20 € p.p. The journey from Padang Bai to the Gilis will take between 2 h and 3.5 h, and the prices start at 25 €. Fast Boat companies operating between Padang Bai and the Gili Islands are Bali Eka Jaya, Marlin Lembongan Cruiser, Golden Queen Fast Boat, FreeBird Express). From Serangan to the Gilis takes between 3 h and 4.5 h and the prices start at 30 €. Fast Boat companies operating between Serangan and the Gili Islands are Marina Srikandi, Bali Eka Jaya.
Be careful when traveling from Bali to the Gilis – never get on an overloaded boat! If you find yourself in a dangerously overcrowded fast boat, get off and ask for a refund!
Gili Islands: How to get around?
The good thing about the Gili Islands – there are no cars, no motorbikes, no worries! So how you can get around? Very simple, just walk! … Or if you are not keen on walking – rent a bike (you can rent a bike all over the islands and some hotels will give you a bike even for free). When arriving at the Gilis you will also notice the taxis, or the horse-drawn carts, also known as a “cidomo”. The price for the cidomos varies widely, mostly depending on how busy the island is and how rich you actually look.
My recommendation is just to walk! It will take you between 1h and 2h in order to walk around the whole island and if you’re “lucky enough” you will also spot the huge monitor lizards! The monitor lizards range from 20 cm to over 3 m (yeiii!).
Gili Islands: What to pack?
50% DEET Spray: There is no vaccination against malaria or dengue fever so you have to prevent the mosquito bites as far as you can. Malaria could be a problem if you’re hiking through the jungle or doing mountain trekking during the rainy seasons. The best solution: use 50% DEET spray, wear long sleeves and trousers and sleep inside mosquito nets.
Sunscreen: Sunscreen is veeery expensive on the Gilis! 100 ml cost about 15 €, so make sure you have enough in your bag. Be aware of the Sun! The sun is also something different than the sun we know from Europe … Always wear a sunscreen with 50+ SPF! Not kidding, it will heart if you don’t!
Medicaments: Traveller’s diarrheal or the so-called “Bali Belly” is a common problem too. I would recommend you to choose what and where you eat more carefully, and also to bring some anti-diarrheal pills (like Imodium) with you.
The Gili Islands are (currently) not a malaria zone, so no need to worry about bringing Malarone here.
Nappies, Sanitary Towels, Panty Liners, Tampons: These are also very expensive and difficult to get in Bali, Nusa Islands, Gili Islands and Lombok as well.
You should definitely pack your action camera, especially If you plan to go snorkeling or diving! Don’t forget to attach your camera to a floating device so you can stay worry-free in the water!
A must-have thing is also a flashlight! After 6 pm it gets really dark! There are almost no “street” lights and it gets tricky with searching for accommodation 😉
Enjoy your day!
Continue reading this series:
Gili Islands: Sunset Perfection