The Gili Islands are actually three separate islands based just off Lombok, called Trawangan, Meno and Air. Photos don’t do justice to these stunning locations, so if you’ve wanted an experience out of Robinson Crusoe or the Beach, then this is a perfect place to visit. Often people book their flights out here without any planning on what they want to do, beyond sunbathing and drinking pina coladas (that sounds pretty good to me), so have a read through my list of things to do on the Gili Islands. One extra point I want to make before you go ahead with the list is that I have purposely left off Cidomo’s from the list, as the horses have no water troughs meaning it is perceived by me and many others to be cruel.
1) Scuba Diving
How predictable was this one. The water is crystal clear and you will some truly bizarre looking fish, with 19 established diving sites, including Manta point, Meno wall, Shark point and the Bounty Wreck. There are a number of diving centres with PADI qualified divers who can walk you through, whether you are an experienced pro or a novice. There are now some quite unique tours you can do at night, where you have a UV torch, making all the coral shine beautifully.
Look no further than Lombok if you are interested in trying surfing. The waves get pretty big, while you can hire boards quite easily if you don’t have one.
3) Cooking Classes
There are a couple of businesses on the islands offering cooking workshops, lasting about 2 hours. If you’ve ever had Indonesian food before, you will know how amazing some of it is, so this can be a great way to learn some of their methods and take them home with you, so the holiday never truly ends.
4) Party Hard
All three islands have their own appeal, but if you plan on doing some real partying, then you have to head over to Gili Trawangan, which has a number of bars very closely connected to each other. Some of my top recommendations include Sama Sama, Blue marlin and Rudy’s. There was also an Irish pub which was pretty decent, but a little too touristy to me.
5) Horseback Ride
The first time I got on a horse I almost had a heart attack, you don’t realise from the ground how high up you are, however riding a horse on a beach is something that everyone should do in their life. Once you’ve overcome the fear of falling off or the horse running away, you suddenly drift off into a feeling of absolute bliss, as you take in the fact you are riding a horse on a gorgeous beach with the sun setting in the background.
Not everyone feels comfortable scuba diving, or can afford to do this more than once, however you can snorkel all day if you want with the mere cost of a snorkel mask. These islands are very rarely packed out, so you can swim around without bumping into anyone else, something highly contrasted to other beach style holidays I’ve experienced.
6) Hang Out With Sea Turtles
Sea turtles are actually my favourite animals in the world. The perfect scenario would be to spot some sea turtles while out scuba diving or snorkelling or even generally swimming. If you don’t manage to spot one in the wild, then you might want to visit one of the turtle sanctuaries and hatcheries. These are also ideal if you have little children on you, who aren’t old enough to properly snorkel or scuba dive. Ask the locals for advice on where to best spot one, the local fishermen always know the best spots.
7) Hike Treasure Hill
You will find the only hill based in Gili Trawangan, with some beautiful views of this picturesque island. This will also help break up your time on the beach. Some of the truly bizarre sites you will find include a World War II Japanese machine gun bunker. Lombok is always spoken about as a great close by place to visit if you are interested in hiking at all.
8) Cycle The Islands
Walking everywhere can get a bit tiring, however cycling will help you to reach all corners of the islands while having amazing fun. You will find paved ways for you to cycle on, while bikes are easy to cycle. First you should consider whether you plan on cycling on paveways and grass or along the beach. If you plan on going on the beach, you can hire a bike with special tyres which will allow you to glide straight over sand without over exerting yourself.
9) Have A Massage
There is nothing I enjoy more than a massage. I’ve had them all over the world, from Spain to Peru, while I find each place has their own techniques and none fail to leave me feeling better, whether relaxed or recovering the achy muscles from carrying a heavy bag on my back. There are many spa treatment packages you can look to purchase while here, perfect after a full day of swimming in the sea. I’m getting jealous just writing this!
10) Sea Kayaking
Many people try to swim from one island to another, not realising how strong the current is. If you want to properly explore, hire a sea kayak and go completely round the island or float from one to another. You can actually pay for a guided kayaking tour, which seems worth it to me.
11) Mushroom Milkshakes
It is perfectly legal to take magic mushrooms on these islands, however it is definitely illegal on all the neighbouring islands and countries, such as Bali, so make sure you don’t take any with you. But one of the best things you can try is a magic mushroom milkshake, helping you to digest these great mind altering drugs while avoiding the terrible taste of chewing them down.
12) Boat Party
You can hear the boat parties for miles around. This is the easiest way to meet other people on the island, while the drinking games are amazing. There are a couple of local businesses that set these up, which you can find out about from your hotel.