Gili Islands: 12 Things to Do
The Gili Islands are perfect for doing nothing but relax on the white beaches and splash in the pristine water, but should the urge to do something more active come over you, here are our 12 suggestions. From freediving for the ones who want to go to extremes to a quiet massage for the less ambitious.
1. Snorkel with sea turtles
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The Gili Islands do a great job in preserving sea turtles – if you visit Gili Trawangan you can’t miss the hatchery right on the main beach. If you are in one of the right spots – ask someone local where that is – you can spot sea turtles when snorkelling right off the beach. Swimming in crystal clear water with a sea turtle is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Remember to respect the turtles and don’t touch them.
Flippers and masks can be rented almost everywhere on the Gilis.
2. Go kayaking
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Explore the Gili islands from a sea kayak. If you are lucky you might end up paddling with manta rays or sea turtles next to you. Karma Kayak, located on the north beach of Gili Trawangan arranges daytrips including a lunch break on the beach.
3. Bike around the island
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You can bike around any of the three Gili islands in less than an hour, but if you bring swimwear and snorkelling equipment and take time to splash in the water, a tour along the coast road can turn into a day trip. Remember to bring drinking water.
4. Treat yourself with a massage or spa treatment
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Your body definitely deserves a massage while on vacation, but it might feel just as well after a day on the beach.
Several resort and villas offer massages on the grounds, but you can also find salons dedicated to all kind of traditional massages, pedicures, and treatments. You could even have your hair braided for the complete beach holiday look and feel.
5. Have a plate of fresh-caught seafood
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Lobster, shrimp, tuna, mahi mahi, snapper or squid, pick your favourite among the many seafood’s available on the Gili Islands. For traditional dining, walk by the many restaurant with fish on display and pick the one where the fish look the freshest. For a more local experience, visit the square on Gili Trawangan where local fishermen barbecue the catch of the day and serve them up.
6. Walk to the view point on Gili Trawangan
Get a good look of the Gili islands, Bali and Lombok from the highest point on Gili Trawangan. The hill is located on the southern end of the island and can be reached within half an hour from most places on the southern half of Gili Trawangan. The view point used to be great for watching sunsets, but as the trees have grown, it is better to watch the sunset from the beach.
7. Scuba dive the Gili Islands at many dive sites
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One of the major attractions on the Gili Islands is Scuba diving and with more than 20 different dive sites around the islands, there is something for everyone. Swim with sharks and turtles, go for a drift dive or explore the Gilis’ macro life – it is up to you. Just talk to one of the operators on the islands and they’ll find a dive site that will suite your mood.
8. Take a day trip to Lombok
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Take a daytrip to Lombok where you can trek to waterfalls or explore the local villages. Lombok is much less touristy than Bali and has its very own culture worth experiencing. No matter where you are staying, the staff should be able to help you organize a trip.
9. Watch the sun set
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Head to the west side of the island you are staying on, find a spot in the sand or a chair in a beach bar and watch the sun paint the sky orange as the sun sets behinds Bali’s Mount Agung. On Gili Trawangan there are two popular sunset bars about half an hours’ walk or 10 minutes by bike from the pier (head south along the coast road), where people gather for a drink before the sunsets.
10. Party under the stars
Photo credit: Levi Guzman
Nightlife on the Gili Islands used to be restricted to Gili Trawangan only Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but these days the island seems to come alive every night. Thursday is usually quiet due to Muslim customs. Head to the liveliest stretch on the coast road and let the music guide you to the party.
If you head to the Gilis for partying, make sure that you don’t arrive on a Muslim holiday like the Ramadan, as thing tends to be quite on these dates.
11. Learn to freedive
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Explore the waters around the Gili islands without an oxygen tank on your back. Gili Trawangan has its own freediving school, where you learn breathing techniques and how to be efficient with oxygen, so you can explore the depths with just a single breath.
12. Relax on Gili Air
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Gili Air is the second largest of the three main Gili Islands and is a good choice if you want something a little more serene than neighbouring Gili Trawangan. It is also one of the best places to come if you want to try some diving in Indonesia as the visibility is excellent. You will find a range of spots off shore including pretty coral gardens that are the grazing sites of graceful turtles and elegant rays.
The Gili Islands are indeed the perfect unspoilt island getaway for your beach escapade. Visit Gili before the rest of the world discovers it.
Banner photo credit: Sukhmani10, pixabay