Imagine a small island with no cars that you can explore within 30 minutes on a bicycle. If you get a feeling that Bali is a bit overwhelming Gili Air is the place for you. Snorkelling, coconuts, sea turtles, white sand beaches, locals with guitars, breathtaking sunsets, crystal blue waters and incredible peace and quiet – welcome to the ultimate paradise.
WHERE IS GILI AIR AND HOW TO GET THERE
Gili Air is one of the three islands of the east coast of Lombok. The fast boat to Gili Air takes around 2,5 hours and the first stop is always at Gili Trawangan. After hearing and reading so many positive reviews we decided to travel with Blue Water Express. From the start of our pick up in Canggu, the transfer in Serangan harbour to the actual boat trip – everything was so smooth and professional.
The staff were really efficient, making sure we are comfortable and safe, especially on the upper deck. We were given detailed information about the route and other instructions and just genuinely felt being looked after! What we loved the most is that they clearly ask everyone not to bring plastic bottles on the island even though they serve complementary bottled water on board.
Blue Water Express operates all over Bali. You can book your island trip here https://bluewater-express.com/
But first things first. Two years ago we had a chance to visit Gili Trawangan (read our experience here) and we can honestly say it’s a great place for partygoers. This time we only stayed for a couple of hours and visited our favourite food place Pituq Cafe.
Note: All of the islands have been affected during the series of earthquakes in Lombok in August 2018. Many people lost their houses and businesses, damages are visible until this very moment. It’s still possible to help and donate to Pituq Community Foundation which supports local neighbourhood and people from Lombok.
GILI MENO AND HOW TO GET THERE
Shortly after we indulged our taste buds in Pituq Cafe we hopped on a local boat towards Gili Meno (85k IDR~4.6£) Now, we are wondering how many of you heard about underwater sculptures located nearby the island? The Nest was inspired by the circle of life. The figures were made from pH neutral, environmental grade cement that will soon turn into a new coral reef. We could finally tick off one of our bucket list places and see it ourselves!
Gili Meno is very small, we walked everywhere but you can also rent a bicycle. It was pretty much perfect to stay for one night so we could see the statues next day early in the morning. There are plenty of locals around who are happy to give you a snorkel tour and it’s possible to bargain for 400k (~21£.) In two hours time we managed to visit the statues, turtle spot and blue coral point.
Another option is to rent a snorkel mask with fins ( usually 40k ~2£ for a day) and visit the statues independently. The Nest is located around 20 meters from the beach, 5 meters below the surface. Simply head to the west side of the island and look for BASK sign on the beach – then you just need to swim further facing the sign. And the most importantly – beware of sharp coral!
Don’t worry, you can still visit the statues by getting a tour from Gili T or Gili Air. We simply wanted to get there as early as possible and to make sure we have enough time to enjoy and take some shots.
Gili Meno is the least developed from all of the islands this means no great cafes or fancy smoothie bowls. There are a couple of warungs (local eateries) and few western restaurants. We stayed at Blue Moon Meno cabins located not far from the beach on the west side of the island.
THINGS TO DO ON GILI AIR
As soon as we got back to from snorkelling we packed our bags and hopped on a local boat towards Gili Air (price: 85k IDR~4.6£) From the moment we stepped off the boat we felt the vibe was as perfect as we have imagined. Our hotel was just 5 minutes walk from the harbour. In case you didn’t know, there are no cars or motorbikes on all of the islands. The only way of transport is to bicycle 35k (~1.9£) per day. We encourage you not to use horse carts locally called cimodos as they are not treated well and most of the time are suffering from the heat and dehydration! In the end of the way use your privilege of having legs and be able to walk!
FLOWERS AND FIRE YOGA GARDEN
If you are looking for an epic place to stay on the island we would definitely recommend the Flowers and Fire Yoga Garden. Emily, the founder, has created amazing space and you can feel her dedication in every single detail. We really liked bamboo straws, handmade natural soaps, outdoor bathroom and unique design from the wood.
You know the feeling when you are looking forward to your sleep? We can honestly add their beds as the most comfortable beds list that we have ever slept in – almost like a cloud! Not to mention their incredibly kind staff members who will always greet you with genuine smile! They also have a wide selection of nutritious healthy foods in the cafe and a pool right next to if you want to cool off.
Don’t forget that unlimited yoga classes are included with your stay so rise early for that morning Vinyasa with Emily! Flowers and Fire is a great and very promising concept of eco-friendly place and we felt there like on a little retreat!
We rented bicycles and spent our days exploring each side of the island, visiting vegan cafes, mostly chilling in the sun while sipping fresh coconuts. North-east beach was more empty and the water clarity was the best. You can have a better view from our drone shots. It’s pretty common to meet green turtles in the area so get yourself on an adventure and try snorkelling! Remember to respect these endangered creatures and keep a safe distance – DO NOT TOUCH THEM! As much as they looked super chilled in the water can get really stressed during encounters with humans.
WHERE TO EAT ON GILI AIR
- PACHAMAMA; the name of the place already says a lot! Beautifully designed cafe, lovely staff and colourful food with a twist,
- MUSA; the best food on the island, after eating there every day we felt extremely nourished! Moringa pancakes and BLT sandwich are mouthwatering,
- FLOWERS AND FIRE YOGA GARDEN; the best smoothie bowls, but first attend to morning yoga class with Emily!
- MOWIES; a cool place to hang out for the sunset, we didn’t eat there but there are vegan options on their menu. Try their version of pina colada, goes super well with Gili sunset hehe!
- MAMA PIZZA; another good spot for the sunset, this time with the pizza and beer!
- GILI BLISS; cute interior design, a perfect place for breakfast and lunch, we really enjoyed chocolate monkey bowl,
- B 52; for all the coffee lovers here you will find the best coffee in Gili Air, try a local favourite snack called godoh which is basically deep fried, sweet ripped banana,
- COFFEE & THYME; located right next to the harbour, here you can get your coffee or iced tea right before leaving the island, guys who work here are so lovely and always up for a chat!