If you’re looking for the best beaches closest to Bali, look no further than the Gili Islands just off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia. Of the three islands, Gili Air is my favorite, and this guide to Gili Air will show you why. I’ve also stayed on Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. Gili T is now too much of a party scene for me, though you can get away from this on the north side of the island. Gili Meno is gorgeous, but a little too quiet for me. Gili Air is just right. A bit bigger than the other two makes for a little more to explore, and there’s just something about having goats and cows on a tropical island that I adore.
No matter which island you decide to explore, you will love that the only way to get around is by walking, bicycle, or horse drawn cart. After the hectic traffic in Bali, it’s makes for some nice tranquility. Make sure that if you rent a bike that it also comes with a lock. You will want to lock your bike if leaving it for any amount of time. Also, splurge on a bike with fat tires, as many areas of Gili Air are just sand, and it can be hard to navigate on a regular bike.
Your Escape Guide To Gili Air
The Best Time To Visit
The dry season for Gili Air is from May-October, so this is the best time to visit, though I went at the end of April and only experienced some rain at night. The island is warm year round, so you don’t have to worry about going and ever being cold.
How To Get To Gili Air From Bali
While it’s possible to fly from Bali to Lombok, and take a fast boat from there, it’s much simpler to just take a fast boat from Bali. You will find the cheapest tickets from travel agents throughout Bali, but if it’s busy season, you may want to buy your ticket online before you go which you can do at sites like https://www.fastboatgili.com/. Make sure that transportation to and from the port is included with your ticket.
Where To Stay On Gili Air
You have many choices of places to stay on Gili Air. Many people like to stay at one of the beachfront hotels. I prefer to stay off the beach path, as many of the beach bars play loud music that goes late into the night. No matter where you stay, be very careful about using unprotected Wi-Fi at any places that you stay or visit in Indonesia. Public hotspots can pose significant threats.
I stayed at the lovely Manusia Dunia Green Lodge, and it was perfect in every way. It was recently featured in Conde Naste in their guide to Gili Air as one of the best places to stay on Gili Air, so make sure to book far in advance!
I absolutely loved my stay here. Anissa, the owner is passionate about running this place and it shows! She greeted me as if I were a long lost friend, and I’ve never felt more welcomed at a hotel.
The balcony with its view of palm trees and flowers is stunning. I loved my serene mornings, as I lounged in the hammock waiting for my breakfast to arrive.
And, the breakfast! Wow!! I loved having breakfast here every morning. Such attention to detail. Cloth napkins, tablecloths, and china with breakfast. The banana pancakes, homemade jam, and homemade coconut yogurt were wonderful.
My room was very comfortable with a huge comfortable bed. I stayed in the Rumah Tiang room. Returning to this oasis after enjoying the beach every day was lovely, and being here felt like I was on a retreat.
There are also bikes for use if you need them, and what I think was the best location on the island. I never could figure out the hot water, so showers were often cool, but it wasn’t a big deal since it’s so warm there. There is also a gorgeous pool area if you prefer a pool over the ocean. I can’t recommend this place enough!
Where To Enjoy Happy Hour Sunsets On Gili Air
1. Cheeky Monkey Beach Bar
Cheeky Monkey was my favorite spot for happy hour, as they had the best 2 for 1 drinks. Their Mai Tai is as good as one you would get in Hawaii, and I loved that they built a fire after the sun sets each night. They have a DJ spinning tunes, and the entire place lights up with fun mood lights after the sun sets each night.
2. Mowie’s Bar
Mowie’s Bar is definitely the most popular spot for watching the sunset on Gili Air. I enjoyed the view from here which is where I took the featured photo. What isn’t so great is that, because of it’s popularity, you will wait a long time for your drinks. Also, their drinks seemed to be the weakest on Gili Air. The mojitos were my favorite thing to order here. It’s also the place to order the popular Gili Air mushroom shake (by special request).
3. Mama Pizza
While Mama Pizza, didn’t have happy hour drink specials, I still highly recommend it as a sunset spot. The dragonfruit margarita was the best drink I had on Gili Air. They also had some of the best pizza I’ve had anywhere. They had tables right on the sand and also beanbag chairs if that’s more your preference for the sunset.
Where To Eat On Gili Air
There are many great restaurants on Gili Air, so I did an entire dining guide for Gili on my other site, Eating The Globe. Click here for the best Gili Air Restaurants.
What To Do On Gili Air
There are many diving and snorkeling trips you can take from Gili Air if you want to see the marine wildlife. There are many PADI courses you can take, too, if you’ve always wanted to learn how to dive.
My favorite thing besides lying in the sun and doing nothing were going to the local spas for daily spa treatments, and just walking around viewing this unique place and its island life. My highlight was the day I got to watch the horses being bathed at sunset. I also enjoyed
talking to the locals
all of the swings of Gili Air
palm tree gazing
my magic tree
bean bag lounging
words of wisdom
and, of course, the magical goats of Gili Air!