The largest island is Gili Trawangan, which does not exceed 3 km in length by 2 km in width. It is where you can find a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and bars. As we were told this is the island known for partying and the nightlife, but we really did not see more than a couple of bars with live music, and very, very quiet atmosphere (maybe due to low season). The main transport on the island are bicycles or horse carts, you will not find any cars and only a handful of motorcycles. And that is why we choose Gili Trawangan.
Gili Meno and Gili Air are the other two islands, however, I cannot tell you much. As we were only in second (Gili Air) briefly to eat as part of a tour we did. We were told Gili Air is much calmer, which makes it a popular family destination and that Gili Meno is smaller and with little supply.
How to get to the Gili Islands
We purchased the fast-boat ticket in Ubud with the company called “Wahana.” This included; pick-up in Ubud, transfer to Padanbai port, fast round-trip ferry to our homestay in Ubud. The price was 350,000 IND per person, I had seen different prices online, I guess it will depend on the season and booking agent.
They say that the fast-boat is the fastest way to get there and make the most of your days in the Gili Islands. If you have more time and want to go on your own, you can get there by public ferry. Honestly, I thought the time it took us to arrive with the fast-boat was excessive. They picked us up at 8 am in the morning in Ubud and we arrived at the port of Padangbai by 12.30pm, where we stayed in a restaurant until 1.30pm. We were directed to the pier where we had to wait, along with many people and an oppressive heat. Since there are only 2 spaces for boats and a lot of different companies, we had to wait for our boat to dock. The ferry arrived late, around 3 pm, and they still had to unload all the luggage while passengers returning from the islands huddled together to take their belongings. And the wait continued until we finally were able to board the ferry. Overall, we arrived at Gili T at 5 pm. I do not know how long it will take for the public ferry to get there but with the “fast-boat ” it takes all day.
Advice! If you get motion sickness, as it happened to me, be prepared for this journey. I took a travel sickness tablet and I wore the pressure bands and still ended up sick.(so be aware).
The island of the turtles
The biggest claim (charm) of the island are the precious sea turtles. There are several points around the island ( turtle points) where you can snorkel among tropical fish, coral and turtles.
You will find wooden huts along the beach, every 10 meters to rent glasses, tubes and fins for snorkeling. They also can keep your backpack or whatever you carry safe for you in their hut.
We had the great luck of seeing turtles every time we got into the water, a luxury.
The 2 main points where we were diving were Halik Reef to the north of the island and to the northeast, I do not remember the name exactly but you will see this sign.
Sea turtles have something special and are my favorite marine animal. It was spectacular to be able to share with them some moments and observe them in their natural environment.
And if you’re not a fan of snorkeling, you can always rent one of these kayaks and observe the seabed.
Responsible tourism with animals
– You must never touch the coral and must be very careful with your fins, as you can destroy the ecosystem.
– Do not try to touch or chase the sea life (animals). If they get scared and leave, let them go, you’ll see how others will appear, which will be an enjoyable experience for everyone. Remember that you are in their habitat and you can stress them out (which we do not want to do). Some animals are scared of humans (being in their habitat) but others are more friendly. We spent about 20 minutes with a large turtle and were close enough to watch as he ate and left to breathe to the surface. Never take/damage the coral, it is not a “souvenir.” We have to protect and preserve the sea life and not endanger it.
Do not miss the sunsets
The best time of the day, apart from the encounter with the turtles, is undoubtedly the sunset. The various colors make this moment magical.
Where to eat in Gili T
In the night market and in the surrounding restaurants you will find fresh fish every night, so for all the seafood lovers, make sure you do not miss out.
We also tried Casa Vintage, a restaurant-store where they cook everything fresh at the moment. The falafel was to die for.
Is it worth visiting the islands?
YES, DEFINITELY. We really felt the island and paradisiacal atmosphere that we were looking for. No traffic, no cars or motorcycles and no mass tourism. You can go for a walk or bike to anywhere on the island, snorkel all day long, lie on the beach and have fresh fish every night. What more could you ask for?