Asia · Indonesia

Gili Air

Simon, Donna and I caught the public ferry from Bangsal in Lombok to Gili Air (Donna didn’t have a plan and decided to come along with us). As soon as we arrived we had a shower (SO amazing after three days of not showering!) and started to feel more human again even though we were in a lot of pain. We all had dinner together (one of the best dinners we had in Indonesia, fresh fish kebabs straight from the BBQ) overlooking the sea and congratulating ourselves!

I wanted to go to one of the Gili islands (there’s Trawangan (known as Gili T), Meno and Air) but gave Simon the choice of which one we would visit. He promptly returned a pros and cons spreadsheet (of course) with a verdict of Gili Air as a cross between the buzz of Gili T (“I don’t like partying”) and the relaxing and romance of Gili Meno (“we don’t need any more romance”), which sounded good to me.


Life on Gili Air is slow. This was a dream come true following Rinjani. There’s a great laid-back, village feel, which is helped by the fact that there are no motorised vehicles allowed on Gili Air and the only ways to get around are by bicycle, cidomo (a small horse-drawn carriage – which we didn’t get as they are very questionably treated and carry crazy heavy loads even though they are tiny, I also saw one of the horses foaming at the mouth) or walking.There are also no dogs on any of the Gili islands (which we soon missed when we reached Ubud in Bali where there are stray dogs everywhere… thank goodness we had our rabies jabs!). Gili Air is also the Gili island with the biggest native population.

On our first day we walked around the middle of the island (as we’d walked around a considerable amount of the coast on our walk from the harbour to our homestay the day before). We then met Donna and a friend from Malaysia called Wan who she’d met at the waterfall in Senaru (they just happened to bump into each other on Gili Air) for lunch right on the beach. We spent the rest of the afternoon there sunbathing and snorkelling. The Gili islands are known for snorkelling and diving and it’s great as you can just walk into the sea, swim out a short distance and crack on. The snorkelling was mostly Simon who was in the water for around 4 hours, on a mission to see a turtle. However, there were no turtles in sight on day one of the snorkelling mission.

That afternoon we met Donna and Wan to watch sunset on the west side of the island. However, after a day of beautiful, clear blue skies it was cloudy (just our luck!). So we walked back to the main section on the south east of the island and had dinner in a very lovely restaurant. We then saw some fireworks on the walk back to our homestay.


On our second day we rented fat boy bikes (second time lucky, the chain broke after about 5 minutes on the first place we went to) and cycled all around the island. Gili Air is really small and you can walk around it in around 1-2 hours (or run it in 30 minutes according to our new friend Wan) so we didn’t think cycling would take too long. However, it was almost impossible to cycle through some stretches of sand, even with the fat boy tyres. After we’d made it nearly all the way around we decided to explore more of the inside of the island, which was much easier and enjoyable (even if we did have to watch out for pedestrians and cidomos). Simon wanted to do some more snorkelling as part of mission find a turtle so I went in with him for about 20 minutes and then read my book on the beach while he carried on his mission. He came back with a big smile on his face: not one but two turtles! Mission complete.


We then went for lunch at a local restaurant (Warung) and afterwards we cycled the west side of the island to sunbathe and relax for a few hours before hopefully catching a better sunset. It was much better than the day before but still not the best sunset we had ever seen. However it was nice to spend our first afternoon of the holiday just relaxing!

Before dinner, we decided to go for a massage, which was great as it was right on the beach so we could hear the waves lapping against the shore. We then went for dinner near our homestay, again right on the beach. We could have got very used to lazy island life!


Gili Air was Simon’s favourite place in Indonesia. I liked the laid back vibe and the fact that everyone was so friendly and relaxed about everything. I really enjoyed it for a couple of days and was glad Simon picked Gili Air but wouldn’t have wanted to stay much longer as I was starting to get cabin fever on such a tiny island! So many expats, particularly divers, go to Gili Air for a holiday and decide to stay for years. It’s easy enough to get to the other Gili islands or Bali or Lombok by boat so you aren’t too far from civilisation. I’d definitely recommend Gili Air for a couple of days R&R.

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