Indonesia’s three Gili Islands each have their own unique character, so which Gili Island is best for your vacation?! In this article, we’ll break down the pros and cons of each to help you decide!
- Best of the Gili Islands
- Which Gili Island is the best?
- Other useful resources
Best of the Gili Islands
The Gili Islands are a set of three small islands (Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air) just off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia and a short boat ride from Bali.
If you are visiting Bali, the Gili Islands are a great addition to your travel itinerary.
With idyllic white sand beaches, pristine turquoise water, access to world-class coral reefs, accommodations for all budgets, as well as plenty of bars, restaurants, and coffee shops, the Gili Islands are a wonderful place to spend a few days.
The three Gili Islands are similar in many ways, but each comes with its own unique quirks and reputation. Let us help you decide which island paradise you want to call home for a few days!
Which Gili Island is the best?
- Gili Trawangan | Best Gili Island if you want to go out and meet other travelers.
- Gili Meno | Best Gili Island if you want a secluded, quiet beach vacation.
- Gili Air | Best Gili Island if you want a little bit of both: nice beaches with quieter nightlife and plenty of restaurants.
If you’re planning a trip to the Gili Islands, one important question is: which is the best Gili Island?
This is a very popular and hotly debated question but in reality, it just depends on what you want out of your visit to the Gili Islands.
Gili Trawangan is the largest and most developed, with the most restaurants, bars, scuba dive shops, and hotels, and a bit of a reputation for being a “party” island.
Gili Meno is the smallest of the islands and has the most beautiful beaches, but there are very few restaurants, shops, and bars. Some of the nicest resorts on the Gili Islands are located on Gili Meno, and it has a reputation for being the “honeymoon island.”
Gili Air is somewhere in between Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. There are definitely fewer partygoers and late-night bars, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a party most nights of the week. There are still plenty of cute shops, restaurants, and beautiful beaches on Gili Air.
Pro Tip | During your visit to the Gili Islands, we’d recommend staying on one island and then spending at least one day island hopping to the other islands.
Our pick: Gili Air is the best Gili Island!
We spent 6 days on Gili Trawangan and really enjoyed it. However, after spending a week exploring all three islands, we personally think Gili Air is the best Gili island!
In our opinion, Gili Air has the best combination of nice, clean beaches and a selection of tasty restaurants. While Gili Meno has the most beautiful beaches, restaurant options are lackluster and there’s less to do. And while Gili Trawangan has an overwhelming selection of restaurants and bars, there aren’t many great beaches (especially that you can access without paying to hang out at a beach club).
But don’t just take our word for it. Keep reading to decide for yourself which Gili Island is the best!
Gili Trawangan: Best Gili Island for the social traveler & foodie
Gili Trawangan is the best Gili Island for:
- Social travelers
- People wanting to be a part of the large Scuba diving scene
- Partygoers and live music lovers
- Last minute planners (as Gili T has the most hotel options)
Gili Trawangan is the largest and most popular of the three Gili Islands. It has the most restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and hotels. It’s also home to the most dive shops, snorkeling tour operators, and generally has the most things to do.
In addition, because it is the most westerly of the Gili Islands, Gili T is home to the best sunset views on the Gili Islands.
While Gili T has a well-earned reputation for being a party island, we didn’t find it to be as much of a party vibe as we had anticipated. Yes, there are night clubs and loud bars but they are all concentrated along the eastern side of the island so you can easily avoid them if you’d like. The entire western side of Gili T is actually quite quiet and is a great place to sneak away from the crowds.
What we didn’t love about Gili T
Compared to the other three Gili Islands, the beaches of Gili T were less impressive. The beaches tend to be narrower and rockier, and the best stretches of beaches can only be accessed through beach clubs.
Gili Trawangan is also just a bit busier, louder, and more touristy than Gili Air and Gili Meno.
In addition, Gili T has a bit of a reputation for being the dirtiest island. There are indeed some rougher areas where the local residents live in the middle of the island, and the public beach areas are littered with trash. However, we honestly didn’t think it was that much dirtier than the other two Gili Islands.
- Biggest island with the most restaurants, bars, hotels, and things to do.
- Great place to meet fellow travelers.
- Big party scene and bustling nightlife!
- Best Gili Island to watch the sunset.
- With more attractions comes bigger crowds and more tourists.
- Internal area of the island is a bit run down and dirty. Public beach areas are dirty.
- Most of the beaches are part of beach clubs or restaurants.
This article covers the best things to do on Gili Trawangan, a tropical paradise in Indonesia with white sand beaches, turquoise water, world-class snorkeling and scuba diving, and a notoriously…
Where to stay on Gili Trawangan
- Budget | Jati Village. A good option if you want to party and meet other travelers, with rooms starting at just 320,000 IDR ($20 USD) per night during the peak season.
- Budget to mid-range | Sadev Resort (this is where we stayed). It was clean, breakfast was great and the staff were so nice. It’s located inland, so the road to get there is a bit rough but its definitely quieter than staying on the main street.
- Mid-range | Nero North. A beautiful modern hotel located in a quieter section of the island, with rooms starting at 1,500,000 IDR ($100 USD) during the peak season.
- Luxury | Pondok Santi Estate. We biked past this place several times and the grounds were absolutely beautiful. Pondok Santi offers a range of accommodations, from standard double rooms to a luxurious villa with a private pool.
Gili Meno : Best Gili Island for a relaxing beach vacation
Gili Meno is the best Gili Island for:
- Couples and families looking for a quiet secluded experience
- People who would rather have a stunning beach to themselves over a selection of restaurants for dinner
Located just to the east of Gili T, Gili Meno is the smallest of the three Gili Islands and is much quieter than Gili T and Gili Air. If you’re looking for a slower pace, fewer people, quiet beaches, and a more relaxed island experience, then Gili Meno may be the best Gili Island for you!
Gili Meno is often considered the “honeymoon island” due to its more upscale resorts and more intimate, secluded, authentic island vibe.
We’d recommend staying on Gili Meno if you’re looking for a quieter, private experience and you don’t mind having access to fewer restaurants, bars, and other things to do.
- Quiet and fewer crowds.
- In our opinion, the most picturesque beaches on any of the Gili Islands.
- Many beaches are not part of beach clubs or restaurants, meaning you can access them for free.
- Few restaurants, bars, and coffee shops.
- Smallest island with the fewest things to do.
- Limited nightlife options.
Where to stay on Gili Meno
- Budget | Sunset House Gili Meno. With ocean views, a pool, and comfortable accommodations all for under $50 USD per night, there isn’t more you could want than Sunset House.
- Mid-range | Gili Meno Escape. Boasting modern, tropical decor, an outdoor swimming pool, and private bungalows, the Gili Meno Escape is the perfect choice for your next stay on Gili Meno.
- Luxury | Meno House. With luxury villas, an outdoor pool, and a beachside location, the Meno House is the epitome of luxury on Gili Meno.
Gili Air: Best Gili Island for a little bit of both
Gili Air is the best Gili Island for:
- Travelers looking for a mix of good food, coffee, bars, and beaches.
- People who like to enjoy a few beers, but aren’t necessarily trying to party all night.
- People looking to get away from large crowds of tourists, but don’t want to be entirely secluded.
Gili Air strikes a balance between everything there is to love about each of Gili T and Gili Meno. It’s quieter and less touristy than Gili T but has significantly more restaurants, stores, bars, etc. than Gili Meno.
Whereas Gili T feels like it’s been developed to handle large crowds of tourists and Gili Meno seems a bit underdeveloped, Gili Air is right in the middle.
On Gili Air, there are still tasty restaurants, local coffee shops, fun bars, and of course, plenty of pristine beaches, but it also offers a more relaxed, authentic island experience.
- Perfect balance between Gili T and Gili Meno – beautiful, easily accessible beaches but still plenty of restaurants, bars, stores, and coffee shops.
- Quieter than Gili T with the amenities that Gili Meno lacks.
- Can still go out at night if you want but definitely not a “party island”.
- Fewer bars, restaurants, and shops than Gili Trawangan.
- Much smaller late-night scene than Gili Trawangan.
Where to stay on Gili Air
- Budget | Gili Land. With private bungalows starting at just $37 USD per night, a great location right near the beach, and an outdoor swimming pool, Gili Land comes highly recommended.
- Mid-range | My Island Home Gili Air. Located just a few hundred meters from the beach, My Island Home will certainly make you feel “at home” on Gili Air.
- Luxury | The Cove Hili Air. Outdoor showers, private villas, and impeccable attention to detail all make the Cove one of the best places to stay on Gili Air.
Other useful resources
- Things to do on Nusa Penida
- Best Beaches on Nusa Penida
- Peguyangan Waterfall Trail Guide
- Thousand Islands Viewpoint
- Tembeling Beach and Forest
- Pandan Beach Guide