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Authored by Paula Nelms

Image credits listed at end of page

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!

Paradise found: The Gili Islands, Indonesia

Guide to the Gili Islands

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

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.

Accom & Nightlife

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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Paula Nelms is a 30 something Londoner always on the move. She runs Paula Through the Looking Glass, a travel blog with a focus on fun, easy travel for the independent traveller looking to have the time of their lives!

Follow her (mis)adventures around Southeast Asia on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Featured Photo by skyseeker. Pinterest image boy holding boat by Matteo Catanese. Pinterest image purple sunset by brian. Gili Island in Indonesia by skyseeker. Log on the beach by yeowatzup. Sunset by brian.


  1. I am headed to the Gili Islands for my birthday next month! It looks amazing. Thank you for all of the info/advice, Paula!

    • You are very welcome Kendra!

  2. Hi Paula,

    Looks awesome! We’ve been meaning to make it to the Gili Islands for quite a while and I think it’s a great change up from Jimbaran, even though we live in a quiet section of town I know this is the ultimate chill spot in the area.


    • Glad I’ve inspired you Ryan, it’s such an amazing place!

  3. Very good information. Gili Islands is a tourist location besides Bali which is offers exotic nature and culture. very worth to visit. unfortunately, I do not have the ability to vacation at that location. very nice to read your posts. This information may someday be useful for me. thanks.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Okki :) Sorry to hear you won’t be able to plan a visit soon, though hopefully sometime in the future. Feel free to come back for the information when you do! Travel safe :)

  4. Aw – the Gilies. I have to return there for sure one day. Especially after the Police & Military arrived last month to clean up the beaches from washed up trash (got the info from a local dive center “Trawangan Dive”). Also: If you are scuba diving, you’ll get to see lots of endangered turtle species here, since there are some marine conservation projects located on these islands.

    • Awesome to hear that the local authorities have started cleaning up the beaches – and thanks for the tips on Scuba diving – have to organize to get my cert done soon!

  5. Hi guys,

    Awesome article, I love it! I needed to bring a different perspective to my article about Gili Trawangan so I’ve placed a link for yours on my website to provide my readers with the best information possible, I hope you don’t mind. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it as well, providing you with some great exposure. Also, if you’re interested in guest posting, let me know! Check it out here:

    Keep up the great work! Love,
    Angelina DiGiovanni

    • So glad you enjoyed the article Angelina, and thanks for sharing the link to yours too. Will check it out :)

  6. Thanks Paula I am visiting Bali next month

    • Have an amazing time Neeraj! Glad the post was helpful for you :)

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