So what can you accomplish in 24 hours on Gili? A lot, actually.

If you're planning to visit Gili, I'd certainly recommend more than a day or two but if you're pressed with time, here's some of the things you can do + how to avoid the boat ride from hell....



First, an important recommendation on...


There are 2 ways to get to and from Gili, one is via a fastboat from Bali, the other a speedboat from Lombok.


Do yourself a favor and avoid the first option at all costs. If you must, take a strong sleeping pill. The water in between the 2 islands are EXTREMELY rough and I say this without exaggeration. Coming from someone who lives on an archipelago, I am quite used to boat rides and don't normally get sea sick but I was not prepared for this.


Getting there via speedboat from Lombok was quick (around 30minutes) and fairly uneventful. Yes the water was on the choppy side but it was manageable.

Getting to Bali from Gili on the other hand was a living nightmare! We left the island at about 4am aboard a Blue Water Express Fast Boat to Bali. 

Where do I even begin???

It was still dark as we made our way towards the boat, the first 20 minutes were fine except for the horrifying background music they were playing full blast (an awful disco version of Hoobastank's The Reason sped up 50x!), but okay, I just put on my earphones and eye mask and proceeded to take a nap - Only to be awakened by a deep sinking feeling in my stomach. Our boat was swaying violently left! right! up! down! Add to that a strong smell of gasoline, 0 air in the cabin + rising temperatures. Just when I was beginning to think it couldn't get any worse than it already was, the engine stopped. Some people started to get excited about "some dolphins". I thought they stopped the boat so we could take some photos. All I could think about at that moment was "CAN WE JUST GET ON WITH IT AND GET IT OVER WITH?! FOR SURE THERE ARE DOLPHINS ELSEHWERE!!!!" (LOL-ING at my panic NOW BUT)  Turns out, we were stalled because SOME FISHING LINE GOT CAUGHT WITH OUR PROPELLER!!! So there we were, extremely hot with no air on a stationary boat swaying back and forth on top of 10-15foot waves.  I began to feel my Nasi Goreng breakfast creep back up (and eventually out 〣( ºΔº )〣)

It felt like forever but finally, after about 3 hours, we arrived safely in Bali.

ps. this was not an isolated incident, turns out there are a hundred similar stories on the internet.

Unless you want a similar tale to tell your grand kids someday, take the Lombok route!


And before the queasy get turned off, let me just say that GILI is worth the pain (and sometimes tears.)

gili island 4

The first sight of its clear blue waters and powder white shores are enough to take your breath (and nausea) away!

 gili island

Located off the northwest coast of Lombok, GILI TRAWANGAN has the largest concentration of hotels and establishments among the 3 islands that make up the "Gili's". I love Gili, it's like a smaller, cleaner and "more chill" version of Bali.

A quick boat ride away are the smaller islands called Gili Air and Gili Meno which have become a popular destination for honeymooners seeking a quiet retreat.

gili island virtual tour


To preserve the island, all types of motor vehicles are prohibited but they also aren't necessary.

Measuring only 3km long and 2km wide, it only takes about an hour to get around the entire island by foot.


Bikes are also available for rent at just 50,000IDR/$3 day or you can hitch a ride on a horse-drawn carriage called a "Cidomo" for 100,000IDR/$7 max of 3 people.

I'm telling you, it's such a welcome relief to be free of the sound and fumes from running engines even for only a few days.

virtual tour gili


Just like everywhere else in Indonesia, hotels and hostels at Gili are very affordable (and quite plentiful).

You can choose hotels that offer traditional Lumbung Huts like this one at Villa Ombak with a private terrace and lounge chairs:

villa ombok gili

This was my first room on the island. Queen size bed, refrigerator, Wifi, flat screen tv...very comfortable.

villa ombok room

I especially loved my private lounge on the ground floor:

villa ombak lumbung hut

My only problem with this hut was that the toilet was also located on the ground floor. I have a small bladded and I enjoy having several bottles of Bintang before bed so this was quite a dilemma for me so I asked to be transferred to a "regular room".

This is what I got. It was huge, 2 king size beds and a whole lotta floor area. Just ask for an extra mattress and you could easily squeeze 10 people in this one room:

villa ombak rooms


Since the island is small and only takes awhile to explore, you have pretty much the entire day to fill with other activities such as...

Getting a traditional authentic Balinese massage or go snorkeling with some fishes on Gili Air.

There's a little something for everyone here wether you're more of the adventurous or laid-back type.

wagwan spa gili

On Gili, there are spas everywhere! Prices vary from around 150,000IDR/$11 and up. 

I got mine at the Roemah Spa of Villa Ombak Hotel. I think I paid around 350,000IDR/$26 but it was so worth it. This was the room they gave me. At times a bit noisy from the commotion outside but other than that, it was air-conditioned, very comfortable and the quality of massage excellent.


After your massage, you can walk around the island to shop!

There's quite a selection of stylish, locally made indie labels to choose from...

indie label shopping at gili

And just like in Bali, there are also a couple of Billabong boutiques that offer price drops as much as 70%!

outlet shopping gili island ANOTHER DAY IN paradise boutique gili

There's also lots of cheap souvenirs such as batik bags and clothes + unofficial Bintang merchandise.

souvenir shops gili

My favorites are these wood carvings and curios I spotted while walking around the island one afternoon...

souvenirs for sale gili

Warrior masks, spears and elephant door hangers...

wooden elephant coat hangers pineapple figurines gili

I feel bad about leaving without this humpty dumpty statue...

wood carvings gili

And these bargain Bintang beer cozies...

bintang beer cozy

For the more active lot, there's lots of snorkeling and dive shops around as well as various water sports...

things to do on gili island

Some hotels even offer FREE yoga and meditation classes in the morning!

meditation classes gili BUDDHA DIVE GILI

If your prefer to chill all day...

Make sure to catch the pretty pink sunset of Gili at the Ombak Sunset Swing...


Have a few cocktails...a bottle of Bintang only costs around $3 and they also have Buy 1 Take 1 drinks for just $5!

drinks at gili

Don't forget to queue up for an actual photo on the swing! There's several but the one at Ombak Sunset is the most iconic

Be careful, it's trickier than it looks and requires a bit of balance. You can take a solo shot like this...

ombok sunset swing gili
Or give it a go with the entire family in tow!

\( ̄▽ ̄)/

ombak sunset swing

You can also rent some horses for a few IDR for a leisurely trot along the shoreline...

horseback riding on gili island

With one of the prettiest sunsets I have ever seen as your backdrop!

ombok sunset at gili


Despite its small size, the island is brimming with topnotch culinary choices from all over the world. For some delicious seafood and organic food, try Scallywags:

Their grilled lobster with lemon butter sauce is to die for.


There's LOTS of nice coffee shops and restaurants to while away the time.


Wether you feel like having some local fare + sambal, Thai food, Burgers, Indian Curries, Kebabs, you'll find a restaurant to satiate your cravings.

restaurants in gili restaurants in gili island

I had a really good plate of Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini at Trattoria Cucina Italiana...

trattoria gili

My waiter happened to have a sister based in Manila as a nun. He's also a big fan of Manny Pacquiao!

trattoria gili food

In the evening, you can have some drinks with Sheesha for only 80,000IDR/$6

sheesha gili island

Catch an outdoor midnight show beneath a veil of stars at Villa Ombak Hotel...

outdoor cinema gili

villa ombok midnight movies

Seats are these oversized bean bags plus you can order popcorn and refreshments from the adjacent resto

outdoor cinema gili

Or my favorite, have drinks and dance over great live music with friends at Sama-Sama reggae bar for a night to remember!

Check out the snaps I saved from our fun night at Sama-Sama below:

For more posts about Indonesia click HERE

Hoped you enjoyed reading about what to do while on Gili!