The Gili Islands are a cluster of three small islands located just off the northwest tip of Lombok, Indonesia.
This archipelago of islands only recently came to the attention of the wider world in the 1980s and 1990s but is now officially Lombok’s most popular tourist destination and a firm fixture on the Banana Pancake trail.
Gili means “small island” in Sasak (the native language of Lombok) – making the name Gili Islands something like “small island islands.” Rather silly, but the name stuck and is now universally used.
The beautiful white sand-lined beaches and clear turquoise-tinted waters of the Gili Islands have been tempting travelers for decades. This lovely cluster of three islands is now a firm fixture on the Banana Pancake Trail and a must-visit for anyone traveling to Indonesia.
Best Time to Visit the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are dry and hot during the days and cool at night for most of the year. It gets rainy during the wet season which lasts from November to April, but the rain comes and goes and won’t totally ruin your island experience.
Keep in mind that the peak tourist season for the Gili Islands are from July to August and again in December and January. Sneaking in a visit around May to June or from September to October is a great way to get wonderful weather and avoid the crowds and higher prices of peak season.
A Closer Look at the Gili Islands
The three small islands making up the Gili Islands get lumped together time and time again, but take a closer look and each has its own distinct vibe.
In order from Bali to Lombok, the islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air. Locally, the islands are known Tiga Gila (“three Gilis”) or Kepulauan Gili (Gili Islands).
Gili Trawangan: Sun, Sand, and Sex
Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, is the largest and the most developed of the three Gili Islands. It’s the easiest island to travel to since there are countless guesthouses, hotels, resorts, bars, and restaurants catering to the tourist crowds.
Gili Meno: The Middle Child
In typical middle child fashion, Gili Meno is the most attention-deprived of the Gilis. The tourist industry is not as developed here as on the other Gilis, and you’ll find a smaller range of accommodations, restaurants, and bars to choose from here.
That being said – the relative lack of tourists to Gili Meno makes it the perfect place for travelers looking for a beautiful, serene island retreat.
Gili Air: The Sophisticated Sister
Gili Air is the closest Gili to Lombok and has distinguished itself amongst the Gilis as the more sophisticated of the three Gilis. Here, you’ll find beautifully stylish beach bungalows shaded by palm trees and set amidst lush green landscape.
It’s also the only Gili with an indigenous population, which gives the island more of a “home” vibe. You can still find a party scene here, but the scene is more upmarket than Gili T and the crowd is a bit more grown up.
Gili Air boasts a stunning sunrise and sunset – those times alone make this island worth visiting, on top of everything else it has to offer.
How to Get to the Gili Islands
There are no airports in any of the 3 Gili Islands. To get to the Gilis, you’ll have to travel by sea from either Lombok to Gili or from Bali to Gili.
For finding more information about How to Get Around the Gili Islands, Things to See and Do on the Gili Islands, What to Eat on the Gili Islands, Gili Island Travel Tipsplease visit our post here.
Lastly – keep in mind that the Gili Islands may feel like Bali, but the locals here are Muslim and the customs here differ. Please respect their community and beliefs by never sunbathing nude or topless and covering up when away from the beach.
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