Turquoise Water, White Sands, Lots of Swings, Clear water, Turtles, Snorkelling, Diving, Surfing, Late night Parties, Beer, Bicycles that’s Gili Islands for you.
After Ubud we continued our Journey to the Gili Islands – namely Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Since we were already towards the Northern Side of Bali, we decided to make the Gili Islands our first stop before continuing our journey to the Nusa Islands.
From Ubud we travelled to a place called Padang Bai where we had already booked our tickets in advance for a fast cruise to the Gili Islands. It took us almost 2 hours to reach Padang Bai from Ubud by car. In Padang Bai, you can collect your tickets from the agency that sold you the tickets where they will stick name tags of the island you’re visiting on your clothes to help identify where your destination is. The ferry was very full. So it is almost like a first come first serve policy where early birds gets to choose their seats for this small trip.
There are two kinds of boats which travel from Bali to the neighbouring islands – Fast Boats and Slow boats. I doubt many people actually take the slow boat because even the fast boat took almost two hours to reach Gili Trawangan from Padang Bai harbour which is located at the North East side of Bali. You can book your ferry tickets from any travel offices in Bali and reach the harbour an hour prior to the scheduled departure time. The fast boat price per head from Padang Bali to Gili Trawangan was around IDR 550000/- and you cannot be late to catch your boat. There is a luggage limit one can carry if you’re someone living out of a suitcase and the ferry experience is pretty similar to flying in a small plane. The ferry people keep your luggages in the luggage compartment and you can choose any place you want to sit in, depending on the availability and choose to either enjoy the view ( which gets tiring after some point of time) or watch a movie playing in the ferry. We watched the full Fast and the Furious Movie while travelling to the Gili Islands.
The sight that greets you when you reach the harbour is spectacular. Gili Islands not only looks pretty in pictures but is probably the most beautiful beach I’ve been in, considering I’d only seen the Goa beaches and one beach in Florida. Turquoise water that stretches endlessly, deepening into a deeper shade of blue as it goes further and finally merging with the bluest sky at the horizon. If I’m to give a nickname to Gili Islands, I’d called it a Blue Ombré Island. Kind of like the hair-color I keep experimenting with. Or I’d call it an Island of Swings!
Gili Islands are white sand beaches and are incredibly clean.Our destination was Gili Trawangan, the biggest of the Gili Islands because after all the peace I experienced in Ubud, I wanted to experience some noise and party as well. The island is small so you can tour around the entire island in roughly 30 minutes on a bicycle! The area around the harbour is quite crowded with a lot of street shops, cafes, Bicycle renting stalls, Horse rides, cafes that also offer diving lessons, diving/ snorkelling renting shops, places to book a snorkelling/diving/ surfing session, handmade accessories shops, departmental stores, ticketing offices, money exchange shops, boutiques etc.
We had booked our hotel a bit close to the harbour but location of your hotel isn’t really a concern in Gili T considering the size of the island. We rented bicycles for 3 days which was our duration of stay in Gili T for around IDR 100000/- per day, per bicycle. If you want to go to go to Gili T which is famous for their parties, I’d suggest you book your hotel close to the harbour area. I’d suggest the Pearl of Trawangan or Villa Ombak as they are in ideal locations and have a great crowd with good activities. If you want complete seclusion, I’d suggest you book your room in the opposite direction of the island, away from the harbour. We experienced a lovely dinner on that side of the island on our first night and it was very peaceful. Later we rode across the island again in the night ( our rented bicycles had lights too) and later went to a party happening in the shore side close to the harbour where the music was amazing and you can make new friends while sitting in huge bean bags laid out in the beach, sipping chilled beer and enjoying the night beach view simultaneously.
If you are planning a visit to the Gilis, I’d say it would be great if you can ride a bicycle for the only mode of transportation on rent are the bicycles. No two wheeler scooters either. I also don’t remember seeing a single 4 wheeler there. You can just ride across the island and explore it to your heart’s content and probably even circle it twice or thrice. But the roads are a bit bumpy as you’ll be riding on sand most of the time which gives you a sore butt at the end of you the day, if you know what I mean. Also, do not get super excited at the sight of the first swing in the ocean and rush to take your vacation pictures.
The entire beach side that faces Bali is lined with Swings in the water and The Exile even has a hammock beside a swing. I write this because you’ll have to wait for your turn to get your vacation swing picture amongst every other fellow tourists waiting to get their vacation picture and later realise there was a better swing somewhere. I made that mistake and waited to get my first picture with the swing just to realise how much time I wasted in one swing while all I had to do was ride across the island, choose a swing and then wait in the one I wanted to take a picture in. You can just ride to the villas owning the swing, order food, enjoy a good swig of Bintang Radler or Pilsner ( your choice) and take your pictures while enjoying the view, the music and the food. My recommendation: Go to the swings during sunset. It is an unforgettable experience.
After exploring the island on our first day, we discovered though the travel agents that we could snorkel across the three Gili islands in a matter of a few hours. There are two options- you could either take a group ferry with roughly 16 people or a private ferry with personal guides. The price for a group snorkelling session was around IDR 100000/- per head with one guide managing the entire group. However Sanglyan and I weren’t comfortable to snorkel in the ocean without a guide so we decided to take a private ferry for just the two of us and paid IDR 850000/- for 2 hours. Two guides took us in a glass bottom ferry where you could see the ocean through the glass bottom as the boat went across the islands.
Later that night we watched an open air movie in Villa Ombak, projected in a big screen against the beach, where you can purchase your tickets at IDR 100000/- per person and it comes along with either a pack of popcorn or fries. We watched the movie Lion that night, lounging in the beach chairs, while sipping on our Bintangs and it was such a memorable and fun experience! A first time open air movie viewing experience for both of us. For dinner we went to Naty’s which had great reviews on the Internet and I must say they do live up to the expectation. Every dinner in Gili T was a candlelight dinner by the beach so I must add that that Gili T does make a romantic getaway indeed!
I hope you enjoyed my Gili T. Travelogue and Thank you for visiting this space today! I hope that you have also read my North Bali Travelogue [ here ] and I’ll be posting my South Bali travelogue next. If you have any questions about Gili T. for your upcoming trip, please feel free to shoot your queries in the comments section below.
Have a wonderful day!