gili islands diy

How to Explore Gili Islands DIY Way? 2024 Itinerary + Budget

I’ve been reading articles and watching videos about Gili Islands in Lombok, Indonesia for years and I can’t believe I am now creating a Gili Islands DIY Travel Guide for my readers! Dreams really do come true if you manifest. Gili Islands is a nonchalant paradise nestled in the North end part of Lombok an island just 2 hours of sea travel away from the bustling island province of Bali.

In this article, I’ll teach you everything you need to know for your upcoming Gili Islands trip. Including the best things to do on the island, what to expect, where to book cheap tours, where to eat, how to travel to Gili Islands DIY way and more!

gili islands travel guide
Gili Islands, Lombok Indonesia

Understanding Gili Islands

Gili Islands consists of 3 main islands: (1) Gili Air, (2) Gili Meno and (3) Gili Trawangan. And the first thing you probably have to know about Gili Islands is that there are no motorized vehicles on the island. Hence, the only mode of transportations are (1) Horse cart, (2) bicycles and (3) by walking.

Most of you may be wondering where to stay for a night or two. You’ve come to the right blog! Let’s get you deciding on where might be the best island to stay. If you’ve been to Boracay Island in the Philippines, the 3 islands of Gili are like the 3 stations of Boracay. They are neighbors but they offer completely different vibe.

Gili Meno

This is the smallest island of all 3 which is why you can guess that there are fewer crowds in Gili Meno. That same reason is why this island is also known as the “Honeymoon Island.” Couples and newly married couples choose this island but for youngsters looking for ngihtlife, this place might not be for you.

Moreover, Gili Meno is known for its world famous underwater Gili Meno Statues which you can swim from the shore and snorkel to it. It is located at a very shallow 4 meters depth that’s why it’s a famous spot for snorkelers and swimmers alike.

Gili Air

The closest island to Lombok is Gili Air. It is not as vibrant as the streets of Gili T but not as quiet as Gili Meno either. Which is safe to say that if you are in between of those choices, Gili Air can be the island of choice for you.

But then again just like Gili Meno, there are not much choices when it comes to accommodation preferences, food establishments and bars. Overall, Gili Air has laid back beaches and colorful reefs if you want to dive or snorkel.

Gili Trawangan (Gili T)

Also known as the party island! This island is famous for youngsters looking for a vibrant nightlife. Loud music, beers, flashing colorful lights, magic mushrooms and more! Gili T is also the largest island of all 3 which makes it the main island. As a result, there are more accommodations you can choose from whether you are a budget traveler or looking for a fancy resort.

My partner and I stayed in Gili T for 2 days and all I can say is it resembles so much of Boracay’s vibe. Especially when it comes to the seafood galore and nightlife.

Gili T is my top recommended island to stay if you want a complete package experience of Gili Islands. Additionally, Gili T is more developed compared to the other 2 islands because it is complete with establishments where you can do shopping, binge eating, party life and more.

Helpful Links

Pre-Travel Guide

So here are the important details you need to know before going on a trip to Gili Islands for DIY travelers. Note that there are day-tour trips you can avail from Bali to Gili but I highly recommend doing a DIY trip instead. It is so much fun getting to know the islands plus these islands are not even that big enough so I guarantee you won’t even get lost.

How to Get to Gili Trawangan?

Now that you’ve finally concluded that the best island to stay for a night or two is at Gili T, the question is how to get to Gili Trawangan?

gili trawangan port
Gili Trawangan Port

Option 1: From Bali

In our case, we came from Bali. So there are 2 ports in Bali that offers ferry to Gili Islands: (1) Port Padang Bai and (2) Sanur Port. The ferry ride is approximately 2-3 hours to get there depending on sea tides.

Schedule: (1) Port Padang Bai has daily trips from 8AM to 2PM while (2) Sanur Port has only 2 schedules in the morning at 8AM and 9AM. It is best to book your tickets in advance or online prior your date of travel as there are many tourists going to the port everyday. Walk-in fare tickets are more expensive compared to discounted tickets online.

BOOK FERRY TICKETS TO GILI TRAWANGAN FROM PORT PADANG BAI HERE
BOOK FERRY TICKETS TO GILI TRAWANGAN FROM SANUR PORT HERE

padang bai port
Port Padang Bai

Option 2: From Lombok

Lombok is the closest island to Gili Islands. So you might want to book a flight directly to Lombok International Airport. From the airport, you can proceed to the very North end of Lombok and go to either (1) Teluk Nare Harbour or (2) Bangsal Harbour where you can ride public ferries to the Gili Islands for 10-15 minutes only. Teluk Nare is the closest harbour to the Gilis. Alternatively, you can also book transfers from Lombok Airport to Gili Islands.

BOOK TRANSFERS FROM AIRPORT TO GILI ISLANDS HERE

Option 3: From Nusa Penida

Another famous gateway to Gili Islands is from Nusa Penida. Although this island is far from Gili Islands just like the mainland Bali, it is famous for travelers coming from Bali and Nusa Penida who wants to spend a day or 2 in Gili.

In Nusa Penida, just proceed to the port at Banjar Nyuh Harbour and board a ferry to Gili Trawangan. It will take 2-3 hours sea travel and again depending on sea tides.

BOOK FERRY TICKETS FROM NUSA PENIDA TO GILI ISLANDS HERE

Gili Islands DIY

Where to Stay in Gili Trawangan?

We stayed at Kidi’s Lodge which is walking distance from the port. It was very convenient for us because everything was walking distance.

The ATM machine, convenience stores, restaurants and the port itself are literally stone’s throw away from another. For only PHP788 we got an air-conditioned twin bed room with private bathroom. I highly recommend this to DIY travelers like us.

BOOK ROOMS AT KIDI’S LODGE FOR PHP788/NIGHT GOOD FOR 2

I highly recommend Mad Monkey if you are a solo traveler looking for new friends to meet, this is the perfect accommodation for you!

BOOK ROOMS AT MAD MONKEY FOR PHP2,400/NIGHT GOOD FOR 2

Another perfect spot for sunset is at Aston Beach Resort!

BOOK ROOMS AT ASTON BEACH RESORT FOR PHP3100/NIGHT GOOD FOR 2

BOOK ROOMS AT FUNNY HOMESTAY FOR PHP450/NIGHT GOOD FOR 2

How to Get Around in Gili Trawangan?

As I have mentioned earlier, there are no motorized vehicles on any of the 3 islands. The only mode of transportation available are (1) Horse carts, (2) bicycle and (3) walking.

Bicycle rental costs 25,000 IDR/PHP100/USD2 for a 24 hour use. Some bike rentals costs 30,000 IDR but it also depends on your haggling skills. In our case we were able to rent our bicycles for only 10,000 IDR/PHP40 because we only needed it for half day.

gili trawangan bike rental

Where to Eat in Gili Trawangan?

Really depends on what time of the day you are planning to eat. If it’s in the morning, I recommend the north part of the island for sunrise view. Similarly for sunset, the best spot is located in the South of the island particularly at Gili Trawangan Sunset Point. There are bean bags everywhere, music, beers, snacks or even dinner.

It’s pretty easy to choose actually, but I highly recommend the spots where the sun comes up and goes down. I also recommend trying seafood in Gili!

Best Things to Do in Gili Islands

Here are the best things to do in Gili Islands! Despite of the fact that these islands are very small, you’ll be surprised by the things you can do here.

Snorkel With the Sea Turtles at Turtle Point

Insider tip: the best spots for snorkeling is in front of Villa Almarik or at Turtle Point. It is easy to go here, just hop on your bicycle and a few pedals away in about 3 minutes from the port you are already there.

As freedivers ourselves, we brought our freedving gears with us. But don’t worry if you don’t have one because there are lots of snorkeling gears for rental on the island. Especially near Turtle Point.

We started snorkeling in front of Turtle Point, the current of the water led us in front of Villa Almarik and there were lots of Sea Turtles there. I thought we’ll only see them in about 5 meters deep but to my surprise more of them were staying in knee level water.

turtle point lombok
Turtle Point

Hop on a Gili Island Hopping Tour

Where to book your Gili Island Hopping Tour? If you’ll ask me there is no need for advance reservations. There are lots of tour agencies around and they are literally everywhere. Just by walking or cycling, you’ll encounter a local giving out flyers and coupons.

To give you an idea of the usual rate, joiner tours starts at 150,000 IDR/PHP550/USD10 and it starts at 10AM in the morning with a maximum of 25 people in the boat. The tour will last for 3 hours and the snorkeling gears are also provided.

Private tours on the other hand is 1,000,000 IDR/PHP3,600/USD65 for a maximum group of 4 people. The tour can start as early at 6AM and will last for 3 hours. The latter is preferable if you want to avoid the influx of tourists in the dive sites.

gili islands hopping
gili islands itinerary & budget

The Gili Meno Statues

Whether it’s amazing or haunting, the underwater Gili Meno Statues should never go unchecked on your list of things to do in Gili Islands. The underwater 48 life-sized statues sits in front of the eco-resort BASK, who also named this project the “Nest.” Moreover, each embracing statue was replicated from real people. Thus, making it look scary and haunting to some tourists.

These statues will eventually become a home for marine life as soft corals will start to grow on these sculptures. Making it a foundation for more marine life to flourish here. In fact, there are already lots of colorful fishes here. Even a huge green sea turtle passed by while we were snorkeling around the Gili Meno Statues.

Important note: generally speaking Joiner tours starts at 10AM which you can expect massive influx of tourists. So if you want to avoid this, I highly recommend booking a private island hopping tour so you can start as early at 6AM.

gili meno statues
Expectation VS Reality, lol

Watch the Sunset at Gili Trawangan Sunset Point

The best way to end your day in Gili Trawangan is to watch the sunset at Gili Trawangan Sunset Point. I can’t describe how much beautiful watching the sunset in Gili Trawangan! It is so easy to get here, just grab your bike and pedal your way to the south part of the island, opposite to Turtle Point.

There are restaurants and bars tucked on each side of the road. I highly recommend dining in restaurants with front beach. You can also just bring your beach towel with you and sit on the shore as the sun goes down.

Gili Trawangan Sunset Point
Gili Trawangan Sunset Point
gili trawangan sunset

Try the Magic Mushrooms!

Am I even allowed to recommend such place? Lol. But in the event that magic mushrooms are a normal thing in your country, then I guess this suggestion deserves a spot in this article! Haha! Otherwise, scroll up. Lol. Kidding aside, magic mushrooms are a thing in Gili T, so it is impossible for me to fail to mention it here.

Just a heads-up, its quite expensive but if you want to try it the stores are located in the North part of the island just beside Turtle Point. It’s easy to find them, their stalls are colorful and they have reggae people singing songs with a ukulele. When we parked our bikes in front of them they greeted us with a smile and invited us to join the sing-along. Spreading good vibes!

gili trawangan magic mushrooms
Magic Mushrooms

Gili Trawangan Night Life

I can definitely agree that people go to Gili T for nightlife. At least that’s what I felt while we were riding the ferry to Gili from Bali, everyone was partying inside the ferry with Bintang beers (local beer brand in Indonesia) and loud music. It’s like a pre-drinking period before getting to the island of party life. Lol.

As I was saying, the bustling streets of Gili Trawangan turns wild and pretty chaotic at night. Loud thudding music everywhere, people dancing with a bottle of beer on their hands, crowd singing to the music and flashing colorful lights in the beach. That’s what you’ll expect in a normal weekday night.

gili trawangan itinerary

Seafood Galore!

If you’re not into bar hopping, you can also binge eat seafood! There are so many seafood varieties in Gili that you can choose from. And you can literally find them everywhere!

2 Days Gili Trawangan Sample Itinerary & Budget

The ideal days to stay in Gili is 2 days, but if you can prolong your stay 3 days is better. Exploring Gili Islands DIY way is easy peasy and is highly recommended for solo travelers too. The sample itinerary below is assuming that you are coming from Bali’s Padang Bai Port.

DAY 1: PADANG BAI PORT TO GILI TRAWANGANACTIVITYPRICE
6:00AMCheck out Bali hostel, book Gojek taxi to Padang Bai Port222,000IDR/PHP800/USD16
7:30AMETA Padang Bai Port, breakfast30,000IDR/PHP110/USD2.5
8:00-10:00AMFAST BOAT TO GILI TRAWANGAN234,000IDR/PH840/USD17
Terminal Fee: 10,000IDR
Environmental Fee: 10,000IDR
11:00AMEarly check in at Kidi’s Lodge, rest220,000IDR/PHP788/USD15.5
12NNLunch
1:00PMRent a bike, stroll around25,000IDR/PHP90/USD2
2-4:00PMSnorkel in front of Villa Almarik or Turtle PointFREE
5:00PMBack to hostel, freshen up
6:00PMBike to Gili Trawangan Sunset PointFREE
6:30PMWatch sunset
7:00PMEarly dinner85,000IDR/PHP300/USD6
9:00PMNightlife or food-trip
DAY 2: GILI TRAWANGAN ISLAND HOPPING
5:30AMWake up time, prepare for island hopping, walk to the port
6:30-9:30AMPRIVATE GILI ISLAND HOPPING TOUR @6:30AM
PRIVATE GILI ISLAND HOPPING TOUR @9AM
JOINER TOUR GILI ISLAND HOPPING @10AM
PHP1,900.00
PHP900.00
11:00AMFAST BOAT TO NUSA PENIDA / Lombok / Bali
**end of tour**

Additionally, for private tours starting at 6:30AM for a price of 1,000,000IDR good for 4 pax, you can find lots of travel agencies around the island offering this. In my case, we booked this tour from our accommodation at Kidi’s Lodge.

Also take note that if you are traveling in a time sensitive manner, the last fast boat schedule back to Bali or Nusa Penida is at 11AM. Which is why it is important to start your island hopping tour early if you don’t want to miss the fast boat back to Bali or Nusa Penida. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for the next day trip schedule.


Help me improve my article on How to Get to Gili Islands DIY way! By commenting suggestions in the comment section below, I am very open to new ideas. 
Drone shots by Milo Quinantoto.
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