When you picture paradise is it 3 tiny islands, fringed by white sand surrounded by turquoise blue water, with palm trees lining the beaches? If you do then book a flight to Indonesia and get to the Gili Islands immediately!
Set to the East of Bali and the West of Lombok the Gili Islands are an archipelago of unrivaled beauty consisting of 3 islands, each offering something different. These islands have been popular for a number of years on the backpacker circuit and although some expensive resorts are creeping on to the islands they are still perfect for a backpacker budget.
I really can’t emphasize enough how much I think this place is paradise. There are no cars or bikes, no traffic, no pollution and no dogs… the main mode of transport is horse and cart and the islands are so tiny that you can easily walk (or bicycle) from one side to the other in no time at all. The only time when the peace and tranquility is slightly disturbed is when you get off the boat and everyone and you are bombarded by locals offering to help you find accommodation or book a tour, so I’d advise having an idea where you want to stay ahead of time so that if you haven’t booked anywhere you can just list off a hotel name. Once you’ve told them where you’ve booked they are quick to leave you alone and move on to the next tourists.
So what’s the difference between these three islands?
Gili T (Gili Trawangan if you want the whole name), is the largest island at 3km long and yes… you can walk it in about 40 minutes! This island is by far the most popular with backpackers and holiday goers alike, there’s a divide (not physically) between the budget backpacker accommodation in the south and the expensive resorts that are growing on the island towards the north. Some of the accommodations and places you will see are pure luxury, and its easy to understand why so many people visit these islands! This island is the place to go to party; the nightlife is decent especially on the south of the island where the backpackers tend to group. Read more about Gili T here!
Gili Meno is in the middle of the three islands, and this is the best place to escape it all and enjoy some tranquility. Although it is the 2nd biggest or should I say smallest of the islands it is by far the quietest. The accommodation is a little pricier here but the price tag comes with less of the hassle that you sometimes get on the other islands which makes the extra expense something to consider. It is also perfect for a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of Gili T (if you could even call it that!) but if you want a day of relaxing where there are so few people you start to think you’ve got the island all to yourself, then I’d highly recommend taking the public boat for 10,000 IDR and spending the day wandering Gili Meno.
Gili Air is my favorite of the three islands, this place for me was paradise and I wish i’d had the time to stay there for a lot longer. It’s tiny, about 1.5km long at most… you can walk around the island in about 40 minutes. There is the perfect mix of peace and quiet as well as a few things to do in the nighttime without having to go mental, accommodation is cheap and nice; for me this is the best of the 3 islands, read more about it here.
In my opinion the Gili Islands are stunning and while you might hear some older heads saying ‘they aren’t what they used to be’ for me they are still stunning islands and the perfect escape to paradise!