Nestled in between the larger islands of Bali and Lombok you’ll find our tropical paradise, Gili Air.
The unspoiled natural beauty with white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and breathtaking sunsets create the perfect scenery for you to explore by bicycle, paddleboard or horse-drawn cart. The island is often referred to as ‘the perfect mix’ between the more hectic Trawangan and the serene Meno, and we could not agree more! With all the differences in restaurants, cafes, yoga places, spas, beach bars and snorkeling spots around the island, you will have no problem finding things to do after a day of enjoying the underwater world.
Below we have listed some of our favorite spots as a little guide to make your stay complete. Enjoy!
Being free from motor-driven vehicles is one of the things that makes this island so special, and luckily it is small enough to make all sorts of transportation
a pleasure and activity in itself.
Enjoy the scenery of the ocean road, or explore all the small paths leading you from north to south and east to west.
If you thought this island was too small to lose yourself on – think again!
By foot – Back to basics! Here´s how we sometimes wish Gili Air would be experienced: barefoot walks on the beach and through the greenery of the in-lands.. Only time is the limit when walking is your means of transportation!
By bicycle – By far the fastest, smoothest, and most popular, way of getting around, and we recommend you to get a bike as soon as you arrive.
Grab one from our accommodation, or on any street you pass by;
we can assure you a bike rental place is never far away!
Just make sure you give it a test-ride to check that it has proper brakes and pumped up tires, or you might find out on a dark road home from sunset…
By cidomo – When you arrive on the Gilis the unmistakable sound of bells
in a slow rhythm might make you think that Santa is around the corner.
But it’s actually our main form of transport just making you aware that they are close-by. These horse-drawn carts are the backbone of the island life; everything that arrives or leaves the island requires the assistance of these ponies.
A fairly common concern from visitors, is in regards to the horses´ welfare.
For more information on this topic, check out horses of Gili, a non-profit organization that works closely with the local community to educate, maintain, and provide care for the working horses and their owners.
If you want to learn more about how to move between the three Gili islands,
read more under how to get here, where there is a section covering this.
On this island, you never have to travel far to find yourself a treat to eat!
Gili Air holds restaurants offering food from a wide range of cuisines; Italian, Indian, Mexican, Vietnamese, and of course lots of local food, creating a variation that won´t leave anyone disappointed. And what’s more convenient than some recommendations from the people living here, having had the time to find their favorite selection, now willing to share some spots with you?!
Not only does their smoothie bowls taste amazing, but they also come out as a piece of art! The friendly staff, fresh smoothies and great local food is what keeps us coming back to this place time after time.
One of our go-to spots for lazy mornings meant for a long breakfast with a book. Hang out by the pool, lounge on a sofa, enjoy one of the provided board games and their excellent coffee, served hot or cold!
On the east side of the island, you will find a sequence of beachfront restaurants all focusing on seafood barbeques and all-you-can-eat salad buffets, with Chillout being the first one you reach when walking along the beach road from the north.
Our reasons for favoring this one are nice options for steak bbq, that there´s something for every price class, and a wide range of choices in the salad buffet.
One of the few “upscale” choices on the island is this smaller Italian gem,
located a minute or two inland from the sunset side.
With a focus on seafood and pasta, the dedication from the owners stretches
all the way to spearfishing their own fish for the menu on a daily basis.
The price range is slightly higher than the standard restaurant of the island,
but for the food and setting that this restaurant offers it is well worth it. As if that wouldn’t be enough, Dolce Mare recently launched a gelateria neighboring its restaurant, offering homemade Italian gelato that makes our mouths water!
With only six tables though, we would recommend making a reservation in advance to secure your spot.
Not a restaurant nor café per se, still, we could not have a list of food recommendations without mentioning these shakes! Located in the harbor,
this hole in the wall has us biking all across the island just to get our hands
on a Mango & Co or a Banana Coconut Frappuccino.
I am Bagus
Their properly grilled chicken and a tasty salads might be enough to lure you in from the main street. But what really sets them aside, is that they offer beer – on draft! So enjoy the food, drinks and the sport events displayed daily on their big big BIG screen.
If you thought you wouldn’t be able to find proper pizza this far from Italy, think again! Mama Pizza serves great food right by the beach on the sunset side, making this your ultimate evening spot. Lately, this place has also started baking their own sourdough bread! This shows just how dedicated they are to the quality of their pizzas, and leaving Gili Air without a visit here just won’t do.
Dessert lovers gather! Not only do we love this place for being all organic and vegetarian, but it is also our favorite place for a post-dinner-delight or simply when the need for a cup of coffee and something sweet arises. Located in the center of the island, this place serves food as well as snacks and smoothie bowls, but whatever you are going for you should not leave without trying at least one of the desserts. Oh, and did we mention all of them are vegan?!
Just a stone throw away from the dive center you find this shabby chic interior, organic cafe, serving smoothies, coffee, sweets, and easy bites.
This hideout lets you enjoy the serene inland roads, and half a day easily flies by sitting here enjoying the vibe of the place while ordering snack after snack…
Pick the top local delights, wrap it up in a nice setting, and you have Ruby’s! Excellent service and a mouth-watering menu is what we love about this place, not to mention the spring rolls and mango daiquiri…
Part of the beach barbeque sequence on the southeast side, this is the fancier of the three when it comes to setting and price. Lanterns lighting up the tables on the beach creates the perfect atmosphere for your fresh fish bbq dinner!
As local as it gets! One of the best nasi campurs on the island in our opinion,
and one of the cheapest meals you’ll enjoy during your stay. The traditional way of rice with your choice of sides will only cost you 25k and is the perfect fast food either to eat here or take away. Don’t forget to ask for sambal if you like it spicy!
Another favorite warung of ours, located a 10 min walk inland from the dive center, serving dishes from all over Indonesia.
Any meal can be prepared with either beef, chicken or tofu/tempeh,
and regardless of your choice, they all taste delicious.
Hero, the chef, is about as passionate as it gets about his food, and if
you are up for learning more about the Indonesian cuisine, a cooking class
with him is set for an unforgettable food experience!
The third of the beach barbeque places located in between Chillout and Scallywags is Zipp! Here you find a wide selection of options for the grill;
from fish and meat to tofu, tempeh, and veggies. The salad bar also offers lots of variation for both meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters alike, making it an easy task to please the crowd.
Rumor has it that the Gilis hold some of the most beautiful sunsets, and we are not shy to confirm it. Settle down in a bean bag, cool down with your favorite drink after a day of diving and enjoy the majestic scenery as the sky turns into a firework of colors. Try to catch it on camera if you wish, but nothing beats the view of the eye!
Famous for their delicious cocktails and their colorful bean bags on the beach. Happy hour during sunset time, but don’t be shy to stay a little longer and enjoy the ambiance of this place when the live music comes on.
A little further north, and away from the crowd you´ll find this pink pearl (and believe us when we say pink, you can not miss it!) Somewhat pricy compared to the above-mentioned spots, but for their service and sangria, we are definitely prepared to pay!
Our go-to place for good food, drinks, and nice vibes. Not to mention the fantastic happy-hour wine! When hunger kicks in, this place also serves great food at reasonable prices. We can assure you it has something for everybody,
no one will leave disappointed.
When it comes to gathering the people of Gili Air, the only thing that unites us more than beach clean-up day, is a good night out! Even though Gili Air (luckily!) sits in the shade of its big brother Trawangan when it comes to partying, there are a few places that run busy with people when it’s their time of the week to host the nightlife. What we mean by that is; rather than all party hangouts hosting their events on a daily basis, here on Gili Air they take turns being the hotspot. Socialize with new people, play some board games, dance on the beach and treat yourself with your favorite drink – maybe to celebrate that brand new scuba diving certificate of yours?!
Cheeky monkey – Let your dance monkey out! Every other Tuesday, cheeky monkey puts the DJ booth out on the beach and have the island dancing their shoes off. Located along the sunset strip, we suggest enjoying some food and drinks at one of the neighboring places as the sun sets, before heading over here for the rest of your night.
Lucky’s – Opposite Tuesdays from when Cheeky monkey is hosting the parties at sunset side, Lucky’s is the place to be! For the ones ready to lose themselves in the world of techno and house, just drop in anytime after 9 pm and there will be DJs, drinks, and bonfires on the beach all night long.
Legend Bar – Every Wednesday on the north tip of Gili Air, Legend Bar stands host for gathering the people of the island devoted to a night of partying. Bean bags on the beach, delicious drinks, and DJs providing the dance floor with sweet beats from sunset all through the night. What else can you ask for?!
Pockets & Pints – In our opinion, this is the only place on the island with a true bar vibe, so no wonder it’s a popular place! Pop by, grab a pint or two and challenge your buddies in Jenga, dart or foosball before heading to the all-night dance parties. On a busy evening, this place bustles with ex-pats and tourists of all ages and from all over the planet, providing an atmosphere as if you could have been anywhere in the world!
For the ones who just can’t settle without a bit of body movement, and finds the classic around the island-route a bit too sweaty, there are plenty of options to exercise both mind and body. Regardless if you are an early bird, or prefer to enjoy those sleepy vacation mornings in bed, these places have got you covered!
Flowers & Fire
Located on top of the main street, you find this garden oasis of yoga, café,
and accommodation. The yoga classes take place on the second floor,
providing a lush view of the island greenery and making it the perfect spot
for a relaxing time on the mat.
Right in the center of the island, making it highly available wherever you stay, H2O offers a nice escape from life in the streets. Pop in for a regular yoga class, or why not try the aqua yoga?! A fun class in the pool, perfect for beginners or for those who just want to escape the massive sweats of the common classes. And don’t forget to refill with something tasty from their organic café afterward!
Only a 3-minute walk from the dive center you find the gym of the island;
Holiday Fit! Well air-conditioned and equipped with just what you need for a bit of vacation workout, also serving protein shakes right outside to complete that muscle growing.
Choose between a daily, weekly or monthly pass depending on your stay.
Treat yo self!
Our next best activity for getting into relax mode after a day of diving, is
definitely visiting one of the many spas the island has to offer. Whether you are in for a full body massage, or a classic mani-pedi treatment, this is where your wishes will come true. And with prices like these, leaving the excellent staff
a little tip will leave them just as grateful as you are!
Found in several locations on the island, Jasmine Spa offers most treatments
for a small amount of money, yet good quality. The spas are almost always available for a drop in-massage session, allowing you the opportunity to spontaneously go for a relaxing treatment of your choice. If you are in for some waxing though, we recommend booking in advance to make sure the wax is ready to go or be prepared to catch a massage while you’re waiting!
This place is taking the island-spa experience to another level. Be prepared for a luxurious session in all aspects, it´s not only a treat for the body but also the eye.
Hidden away in the greenery, Slow Spa and its beautiful villa, terrace, swimming pool, garden, and spa becomes a haven, creating the perfect escape
for a day or two. Regular spa treatments are also available, just remember to book in advance to secure your spot!
As a tropical island, shallow reefs for snorkeling are found all around Gili Air,
and we have marked some spots on the map where the corals are extra lively and easily accessible.
We also have some do´s and don’ts, to protect the beauty of our reefs!
Since the island is all made up of sand, you will find shallow parts of sand, rocks, and seaweed stretching from the island as you make your way out, either walking or swimming depending on the tide. When the shallows start to change into a landscape of coral, it’s time to put your fins on and feet up, not putting them down unless you are sure there is a sandy patch or rock underneath.
As for sunscreen, make sure you are wearing the reef friendly kind!
If you use ordinary sunscreen, make sure you put it on at least 20 minutes
before you enter the water, to make sure it’s fully absorbed by your skin. Most sunscreens contain oils and chemicals that when coming off your body will coat the corals, preventing the reef from getting enough oxygen and being able to reproduce. So keep an eye out for “reef-friendly” sunscreen, found in a few selected shops, like the newly opened Sustairnable right in the harbor.
The island is full of tiny shops providing snacks, fruits, and basic refreshments, but if you are looking for the real deal, go where the locals go!
Here you will find fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, dried fish, meat and lots of other everyday-life groceries. Opening hours vary from day to day and week by week, so we could not put it in print even if we wanted to. You simply have to try your luck bypassing by!
The largest shop of the island is located on the main road, by the first crossing coming from the harbor. Open in the daytime and filled with everything you might need, this is where most locals and ex-pats do their shopping. Come in the morning to make sure to get your hands on the best fruits and don’t be discouraged if you have to compete with the crowd!
Sriwijaya – If you missed out on the opening hours of Siti Shop, try Sriwijaya! Located at the south end of Sunset Boulevard, this shop covers most of your wants and needs. With more generous opening hours, you will find them providing goods from early morning to later in the night, still offering a similar supply to the one found in Siti Shop.
Your night-snack mango is only a bike ride away!
Unique – Similar to Sriwijaya, Unique Shop has a slightly smaller supply but offers more generous opening hours. Take the road going east in the crossing by Siti Shop, and you will soon find this little store on your left. Besides the fruits and veggies, Unique also sells a basic stock of different drugs to treat infections or cases of flu, should a pharmacy be out of stock.
Cocomart – The latest addition of shops on the island, and though feeling slightly reluctant at first we now have to admit this shop sometimes comes in handy. Less like the local shops, and more of a western-style convenient store, Cocomart is located in the middle of the main street and open almost 24-7.
Here you will find cold beer and other alcoholic beverages, snacks, postcards, soap, sunglasses… you name it! If you have bought yourself an Indonesian
sim-card, this also where go can go to top it up.
Vacation should be all fun and games, but once in a blue moon, we are all unlucky enough to be caught in something that some good old bed rest and fluid won’t take care of.
On the map, we have pin-pointed three different clinics located on the island:
Dr. Sahrun, Blue Island clinic and Gili Air clinic center. These clinics all do basic check-ups, provide a standard stock of drugs and speak good enough English in general. Their knowledge on island classics like Bali belly, smaller infections or cuts and scrapes is enough to cover adequate care. Though, if your condition is more severe than this and/or has not improved as it should, you might need to seek proper medical attention, which is available both on Lombok and Bali.