Bali Travel Guide

12 things to do on the Gili Islands

By 16th January 2013 November 22nd, 2018 18 Comments

The Gili Islands are perfect for doing nothing but relaxing on the white beaches and splashing in the blue water, but should the urge to do something more active come over you, here is our 12 suggestions. From volcano climbing for the ones who wants to go to extremes to a quite massage for the less ambitious.

1. Snorkel with sea turtles

Tommy Schultz Com Underwater 26

The Gili islands do a great job in preserving sea turtles – if you visit Gili Trawangan you can’t miss the hatchery right on the main beach. If you are in one of the right spots – ask someone local where that is – you can spot sea turtles when snorkeling right of the beach. Swimming in crystal clear water with a sea turtle is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Remember to respect the turtles and don’t touch them.

Fins and masks can be rented almost everywhere on the Gilis.

2. Go sea kayaking

Explore the Gili islands from a sea kayak. If you are lucky you might end up paddling with manta rays or sea turtles next to you. Karma Kayak, located on the north beach of Gili Trawangan arranges daytrips including a lunch break on the beach.

3Bike around the island

You can bike around any of the three Gili islands in less than an hour, but if you bring swimwear and snorkeling equipment and take time splash in the water a tour along the coast road can turn into a day trip. Remember to bring water.

Biking Woman Gili Air

4. Climb Lomboks Mount Rinjani

The view from the rim into the crater of Mount Rinjani is as spectacular as it gets and is more than worth the uphill trek to reach it. Rinjani is located on Lombok, so you have to cross the water and drive for about an hour to reach the foot of the volcano.

Several operators on the Gilis arrange tours to Rinjani and can also help you with equipment. Prices and trip lengths vary from 1 day/1 night to week long trekking trips. You generally get what you pay for, so it might be worth paying a little extra to get a decent guide and an upgrade on the food.

The climb is fairly hard, so you need to be fit.

5. Treat yourself with a massage or spa treatment

If you have been climbing Mount Rinjani your body definitely deserves a massage, but it might feel just as well after a day on the beach.

Several resort and villas offer massages on the grounds, but you can also find salons dedicated to all kind of traditional massages, pedicures, and treatments.

6. Have a plate of fresh caught seafood

Lobster, shrimp, tuna, mahi mahi, snapper or squid, pick your favorite among the many seafood’s available on the Gili islands. For traditional dinning, walk by the many restaurant with fish on display and pick the one where the fish look the freshest. For a more local experience, visit the square on Gili Trawangan where local fishermen barbecue the catch of the day and serve them up.

See our favorite places for seafoood on all three islands in our Gili Islands guide.

Seafood on Gili Trawangan

7. Walk to the view point on Gili Trawangan

Get a good look of the Gili islands, Bali and Lombok from the highest point on Gili Trawangan. The hill is located on the southern end of the island and can be reached within half an hour from most places on the southern half of Gili Trawangan. The view point used to be great for watching sunsets, but as the trees have grown it is better to watch the sunset from the beach.

8. Scuba dive the Gili Islands many dive sites.

One of the major attractions on the Gili islands is Scuba diving and with more than 20 different dive sites around the islands there is something for everyone. Swim with sharks and turtles, go for a drift dive or explore the Gilis macro life – it is up to you. Just talk to one of the operators on the islands and they’ll find a dive site that will suite your mood.

Read more in our guide to diving the Gilis.

9. Take a day trip to Lombok

Take a daytrip to Lombok where you can trek to waterfalls or explore the local villages. Lombok is much less touristy than Bali and has it very own culture worth experiencing. No matter where you are staying the staff should be able to help you organize a tour.

10. Watch the sun set

Head to the west side of the island you are staying on, find a spot in the sand or a chair in a beach bar and watch the sun paint the sky orange as the sun sets behinds Bali’s Mount Agung. On Gili Trawangan there are two popular sunset bars about half and hours walk or 10 minutes in bike from the pier (head south along the coast road), where people gather for a drink before the sunsets.

Sunset Bar

11. Party under the stars

Nightlife on the Gili Islands used to be restricted to Gili Trawangan only Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but these days the island seems to come alive every night. Thursday is usually quite due to Muslim customs. Head to the liveliest stretch on the coast road and let the music guide you to the party.

If you head to the Gilis for partying, make sure that you don’t arrive at a Muslim holiday like the Ramadan, as thing tends to be quite on these dates.

Read more about Gili Trawangan Nightlife

Early night life Gili Trawangan

12. Learn to freedive

Explore the waters around the Gili islands without an oxygen tank on your back. Gili Trawangan has its own freediving school, where you learn breathing techniques and how to be efficient with oxygen, so you can explore the depths with just a single breath.

(13.) Stay in a beautiful private villa

Gili villa Coral Flora

Well, this probably doesn’t belong on this list, but Vilondo being a villa rental company we have to mention our villas on the Gili islands. We have handpicked the Gili Islands finest villas and made them available for you. Take a look and book your Gili Islands holiday home here.

New Comprehensive guide to the Gili Islands

After this post was written we have created a comprehensive guide to all three Gili Islands. The guide is packed with ideas to to things to do, dining advice, tips about when to visit a lots of quality photos.

Have a look at it here: Our complete guide to the Gili Islands.

Gili Meno Beach2


  • Emma says:

    I hope that people realise that turtle hatcheries, although run with the best intentions, are actuallly not very good for them. These practices deprive the turtles of the ‘imprinting’ process wherein newly hatched turtles have a sense of the beach of their hatching for themselves before they venture out into the open sea. This is very important to when they become mature enough to mate, so they can remember which beach to come back to for laying their eggs… tsk tsk

  • Made says:

    thank’s nice post

  • Natalie says:

    Thanks for this Stefan, am heading this way in October, guide has helped a lot!

    • Stefan Russel says:

      Hi Natalie

      I am glad you liked. Actually we are working on much more comprehensive guide to the Gili Islands.

      My colleague Mads has just come back from the Islands and he has taken really good photos that will be included in the guide, so you might want to have a look at it before you go.

      We’ll announce it on our Facebook page when the guide is online.

      Have a great holiday!

  • Lindy says:

    Thank you so much for the post, Stefan. It’s a real help 🙂 I’m heading there for a week holiday in sept for my birthday. Looking forward to it!!

  • Ena bobo says:

    Hi Stefan, i have few how much lombok day trip from Gili?

    • Stefan Russel says:

      Hi Ena

      I can´t remember the exact prices for day trips to Lombok. They can vary quite a lot depending on what is included, form of transport etc., but you should be able to find a trip for a few hundred thousands rupiahs.

      Just getting to Lombok is quite cheap. If you get on the local boat it is around 10.000 rupiah. Better boats cost a little more.


  • Pablo says:

    What is the kiteboarding scene like? I hear mixed reviews that tend towards saying that Northwest Sumatra is the place.

    • Stefan Russel says:

      Hi Pablo

      I haven’t been kite surfing on the Gili’s, neither in North Sumatra, so I don’t know which is the better place.

      There is some pretty good kiteboarding opportunities around Gili Air though. The guys at Gili kite surf are definitely serious about kitesurfing and they can surely give you a more qualified answer than I can.

      You can get in touch with them here:

  • Miezam says:

    Hi Stefan,

    I am going to gili terawangan end of march, I am a seafood lover and can you elaborate the location of the SQUARE and how much it costs for a meal there.


    • Stefan Russel says:

      Hi Miezam

      The Square, also called the night market, is located on the south eastern stretch of the beach road (a bit south of where the boats arrive on Gili Trawangan). It is one the mos happening stretch of the beach road and you wont be able to miss it.

      The food is cheap. You can have a meal for around 2$, but if you are seafood lover it can be hard to limit yourself to one dish and you might end up paying around 5$.

      You can read a bit more about the night market in our Gili Trawangan travel guide (the dining section).

      Have a great trip and enjoy the seafood.


  • Phil says:

    #13 Pick Up Rubbish

    Its so a shame to see the beaches filled with human waste. Plastic, cups, bottles.

    Seeing this really depressed me on my honeymoon. So much that I had to do something about it.

    There isnt a proper waste system in Bali or Gili. So we have to do what we can


    • Stefan Russel says:

      Hi Phil

      Bali – and apparently the Gili’s as well now – do have some serious challenges when it comes to handling waste. I know several good people are trying to do something about, but it really is up to all of us, never to leave anything behind.

      I appreciate your effort.


  • Joanna Huang says:


    We’re designing our Gili Island stay around this article – such fantastic recommendations!

    Wanted to find out if you can recommend a good operator to book snorkelling trips to see marine life and turtles with?


    • Stefan Russel says:

      Thank you Joanna, we are happy that our recommendations help you with the organization of your trip.
      I suggest you this 3 operators in Gili ; Aquaddiction , Manta Dive and Diversia.
      The best spot for snorkeling on Gili Trawangan is from the north-eastern corner of the island down to the middle of the eastern coast. There is a great chance of coming across sea turtles on a snorkel on this stretch of coastline.

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