Authored by Paula Nelms
The three tiny teardrop islands of Gili lie just Northwest of Lombok, Bali’s more rugged sister island in Indonesia. They have been growing ever more popular among backpackers over the last 10 years, but due to their remote location and under-developed circumstance, are still fairly unknown by other tourists.
Though it is their under-development that gives the Gili islands their charm, and cements them as three of the most beautiful paradise islands in the world!
The archipelago that is Gili Trawanagan, Gili Meno and Gili Air sit within spitting distance of each other, and if you were a strong enough swimmer I swear you could swim between them all!
Gili T, as it is affectionately known by the locals, is the largest and most populated of the three islands, and is where most backpackers congregate, meaning this is where the party is constantly at!
Boasting only horse-drawn carts and bicycles for transportation due to a local ban on motor vehicles, Gili T is a peaceful and pollution free alternative to congested Bali. You can circle the islands in half a day on bike, where some of the paths are no more than clearings in the sand.
Gili T is a destination which pulls you in; a place which sits somewhere between an episode of Lost and an episode of Friends.
Travelers who visit the island generally plan to spend 4 days to a week, though always end up extending their stay after meeting new friends and falling quickly into the routine of drinking and lazing on the beach!
In fact, you’ll find those good intentions of snorkeling or hiring a bike will end up being put off day after day; for the first time in your travels you can actually just sit, relax with new friends and enjoy the spectacular view (and maybe nurse that hangover!).
The only thing you will make time for at some point is a trip South of the island for one of the most stunning sunsets in Asia.
Gili Backpackers Hostel is by far one of the best hostels in Southeast Asia. The layout is perfect to inspire social interaction, with a pool, clean small dorms, free breakfast and even a climbing wall! It is truly the perfect set up for meeting new friends and having a blast.
The nightlife on the island is organised for every other day, and are spread across different establishments to ensure local businesses get a fair run at the profit from tourism. Island nightlife includes beach parties, bar hopping and themed nights.
The island attracts fairly young backpackers, so if you are just looking for some peace and quiet, Gili Meno or Gili Air might be more suitable, with a distinct lack of rocking nightlife.
My only qualm with these heavenly islands, and with some parts of Bali for that matter, is how some of the locals behave …. they can be a bit too ‘friendly’ with the female backpacker contingent. I think after years of being exposed to drunken westerners they have become a bit too leery, quite unlike their Thailand counterparts, which is odd.
This unwelcome attention can actually be a bit scary for a solo female traveler, though the locals don’t mean too much by it. As long as you are always cautious and never stray off the beaten path alone you’ll be fine.
These islands are no different to anywhere else in the world, where common sense is key to safety abroad…though I know how paradisaical islands can often give you a false sense of security when they are so chilled and relaxed during the day!
So use your common sense to stay safe while abroad – the Gili Islands are truly the experience of a lifetime and a set of islands you will never want to leave!
Insider tip: Have the BBQ dinner at Scallywags on Gili T…just heavenly!
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Featured Photo by skyseeker. Photo credits in order of appearance: