It is definitely not a difficult journey to get from Bali to Gili Islands. The Gilis are a very popular island group and they are a true tropical paradise in Indonesia. We will mention how we got from Bali to Gili Islands. We also include all kinds of important information on the Gilis.
The Gili Islands or simply the “Gilis” are a destination for many travelers visiting Indonesia. It is also a very famous spot to visit when you are staying in Bali. And there are many reasons why the Gilis made it to our ULTIMATE 2 WEEK ITINERARY FOR INDONESIA.
HOW TO GET FROM BALI TO GILI ISLANDS?
There are many possibilities on how to get from Bali to Gili Islands, depending on your budget and, of course, your location.
We were staying in Jimbaran province (close to Balangan Beach) in Bali. However, for a couple of days, we went to visit Ubud (very famous for it’s Sanctuary Monkey Forrest and rice fields).
If you like to get from Bali to Gili Islands you need to come to Padang Bay harbor, where most of the boats depart for the Gili Islands or Lombok. From Jimbaran it would be a long 4 hours drive to get to Padang Bay harbor.
Since traffic in Bali is horrendous, it could be even more. We were picked up around 5.30 am from our hotel in Ubud and it took us only around 1.5 hours to get to the harbor in Padang Bay.
We booked the tickets online via the company BlueWater Express. This is the first company who organised fast boat trips to the Gilis. There are several other fast boat operators you can choose from.
SLOW BOAT OR A FAST BOAT FROM BALI TO GILI ISLANDS?
There are two types of boats you can choose from to get from Bali to Gili islands: Fast speed boats and slower boats.
Fast boats take usually about 90 minutes and cost around $100 return per person. In Ubud, you will see many tourist shops with offers to book a transport from Bali to Gili Islands, mostly speed boats.
OUR TIP: We booked the tickets online which was probably a bit overpriced, so we recommend to stop by some local office and get the tickets there. We even saw one for 200,000 Rp (which is 12 EU) one way, but that’s the slow boat usually. It might take a long time to collect everyone, bring people to the airport and other places. So if you don’t want to waste much time rather go for a fast boat.
The boat left Padang Bay harbour at 9 am and we arrived in Gili Air as advertised, at 10:50 am. BlueWater Express even provides you with a free bottle of water and motion/sea sickness pills.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE SPEED BOAT FROM BALI TO GILIS.
Just to summarise my experience with fast boats. They are crazy, I am not kidding or exaggerating, but it will get really shaky. Every time we hit a bigger wave, it felt like we hit a rock. I felt like we are flying and jumping in the air, for me, it was a crazy ride. Without motion sickness pills, I could have never survived this. My advice, if you usually get sick on boats, take a motion sickness pill and you will be all right.
If you are looking for a relaxed retreat, then the Gili Islands are perfect for you. Relatively easy to reach, surrounded by pure white sand beaches and clear water it is indeed a tropical paradise.
The Gilis archipelago consists of three islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. The islands are located in the Lombok Strait, on the northwest coast of Lombok.
In recent years the Gili Islands became a popular paradise escape from Bali. This is actually how we felt, escaping the craziness of Bali just for a few days and getting a break from scooters and crazy traffic. If you wonder why, on the Gilis there are no cars and no other motorised transport as it was forbidden by local authorities and this what it makes it so peaceful and relaxed. Besides no dogs!
In the language of Sasak “Gili” means “small island”. Those 3 tropical islands are indeed very small and it is very easy to get from one island to the other by using a local boat.
WHICH ISLAND SHOULD YOU PICK?
Many tourists are staying on the biggest island, Gili Trawangan, as it has the most options for hotels. It is the largest, the loudest and the island with the most tourists. So, if you feel like partying, and having more bar options, then Trawangan is for you. We wanted to avoid the crowds and that’s why we decided to stay in Gili Air. Gili Meno is even smaller than Gili Air.
WHEN TO VISIT THE GILI ISLANDS?
The best time to visit the Gilis is during the dry season, from June to September. At this time the sea is mostly calm, which makes the boat ride bearable. Further, you will have the best visibility for snorkelling and diving around the corals.
WHAT CAN YOU DO ON THE GILI ISLANDS?
Except relaxing on the white sand beaches and enjoying cocktails at beach bars, there are many other things you can do.
We did a snorkelling trip around the Gilis and stand up paddling into the sunset. You can also learn how to dive, do yoga (there is also water yoga), go for massages or rent a bicycle and cycle around the island.
EXPLORE WHITE SAND BEACHES
In one word: Paradise. I would recommend going the beach when there is high tide as the water has turquoise colour plus it is better for swimming. I really enjoyed the beach which is more on the left side of the harbour. We walked for 3o minutes and there was barely anyone. That was a perfect time for us to take great drone pictures. Peaceful and beautiful. Also around the island, you will see several of the famous swings. So to take a picture on one of the swings is a “must”.
DIVE AND SNORKEL
The Gili Islands are surrounded by corals and that means they are an absolute paradise for snorkelling and diving. There are also many diving schools on the Gilis. You can do a diving course starting from 350 euros. We did an amazing snorkelling trip for only 90.000 Rp (less than 6 euros). The trip was booked by our sweet host Dwi. We started at 10 am and we came back around 3 pm. We went to 4 different snorkelling spots.
First, somewhere close to Gili Air where we saw many fish, the second location, we where supposed to see turtles.
After, we went snorkelling around Gili Trawangan. I have never seen so many different types of fish. Different colours and types of tropical fish. The variety was amazing. After, we had lunch in the middle of nowhere on Gili Meno ( best curry we ever had) . The last stop was again somewhere around Gili Air. Here, we saw the most fish. Altogether 5 hours for less than 6€. Isn’t that amazing?
ABOUT GILI AIR
We stayed 4 nights on Gili Air. Why we love Gili Air the most?Here is our short summery.
Gili Air is the second smallest of the islands and closest to the much bigger island Lombok. If you are seeking a retreat and would like to enjoy island life without many people, then this is your jackpot. It is a very quiet island with few modest accommodations and small hotels.
You can also walk around the whole island under 90 minutes. Along the coast, you find many cool restaurants and bars with a chill atmosphere or live music, depending on your mood and taste.
In Indonesian language “air” means “water”. The reason why it is called water is that Gili Air is the only island of the 3 to have fresh water.
NO SCOOTERS, NO CARS, NO DOGS AND NO STREET NAMES ON GILI AIR
The best thing about Gili Air is that there are no scooters, no cars and no dogs. The only form of transport on Gili Air are bicycles and horses. We also saw 3 electric scooters but only locals use them.
I don’t want to recommend taking a horse carriage as we don’t like to support how the horses are treated. The horses we saw were very small and they probably have to carry/transport way more than they should. Anyways, you can rent bicycles everywhere or just walk.
On Gili Air, there are no street names, but with Google maps, you will see the streets and there are signs of hotels and restaurants everywhere. Our host gave us this cool map.
From the east coast of Gili Air, you will see Lombok and the sunrise. If you are at the western coast you will see Gili Meno and also parts of Gili Trawangan and of course wonderful sunsets.
WHERE TO STAY ON GILI AIR
We booked 3 Angels Homestay via Airbnb. It has a very good location so you are very close to the harbor (it is just 7 minutes walking, so don’t take a horse carriage). Upon our arrival, our host Dwi welcomed us and prepared a delicious welcome drink. Dwi explained us everything about the island, where to go for dinner, which side is better for swimming etc.
The room was clean with a private shower outside. There is also a cute porch on which you can enjoy breakfast every morning. Dwi makes her own bread/toast which is very tasty. And before you leave, don’t forget to write your names on the cactus.
Enjoy your time on the Gili islands. We hope you will get from Bali to Gili islands easily and without lot of vomiting.
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