Each of the three islands has a very different pace of life which is perhaps best illustrated in each respective bar scene. Tranquil Gili Meno is the preserve of castaways and honeymooners and has virtually no nightlife, save for a couple of beach bars. Gili Air has more choice with several bohemian places staying open late and some laid back beachfront bars scattered around the coastline. During busy months, it also holds full moon beach parties which attract ravers from all over the region.
For many years Gili Trawangan has been known as the party island and has even been tagged the ‘new Ibiza.’
True, you can drink and dance until dawn every night of the week but most late night bars are located close together along a 100 metre beach strip in the south. Elsewhere it is pretty laid back and nothing like as hectic as Kuta in Bali.
The Gili Trawangan scene is pretty eclectic with a couple of weird and wonderful hippy style bars, trendy lounges, live reggae and is acclaimed as the smallest island in the world with an Irish bar! For a taste of what’s in store on a night out in the Gilis, see our comprehensive list of the best bars.
Gili Meno bars and pubs
This relaxed place is pretty much it for a night out in tranquil Gili Meno, but it has a delightful location and can get quite lively on occasion. There are comfortable cabanas for soaking up the sunset with a cool cocktail or listening to the talented guitar strumming staff. Beer is cheap and they usually stay open as long as people are enjoying themselves.
Gili Air bars and pubs
A relative newcomer to the local bar scene, this breezy cocktail bar attracts a steady stream of tourists for tasty western snacks by the ocean and cheap happy hours. There is a loud sound system playing mainstream party tunes and a large crowd of extrovert local beach boys ensure a colourful atmosphere most of the time. Has occasional party nights which last until around 02:00.
This place really is a legend in Gili Air and has been the number one place to party for many years. You can expect loud reggae and groovy dance music and lots of good natured drunkeness. It holds a weekly party night which packs them in until 02:00 and all night full moon beach parties during peak season. A great unpretentious place that knows how to have fun.
Gili Trawangan bars and pubs
Tir na Nog
This is a cavernous and perpetually busy Irish bar with local DJs playing an eclectic mix of party tunes and rock anthems nightly on the beach. Inside there are large screen TVs showing live sports, table football and darts. There are cheap cocktails by the pitcher, cold Guinness and private cabanas to watch DVDs. A very lively atmosphere and rarely closes before 03:00. website: www.tirnanoggili.com
Virtually a shrine to Bob Marley, this live reggae joint is jumping most nights and keeps an eclectic crowd foot tapping until 01:00 nightly. There is a live band every night of the week and occasionally big name Indonesian bands make an appearance. There is no cover charge but drinks are little expensive. website: www.thesamasama.com
This is a laid back beach café with a relaxing poolside bar for most of the week but Mondays here are the biggest night out on Gili Trawangan. It is a legendary party night that pulls in ravers from Bali and beyond with regular appearances from A-list DJs playing urban dance music and hip hop. The upstairs club has three bars and an open air chill out terrace to watch the dawning of a new day. Expect plenty of weird visuals, cheap beer and ear bashing decibel levels. website: wwwbluemarlindive.com
A hippy inspired beachfront bar and restaurant that features possibly the most extrovert bar staff in Indonesia. Loud reggae and indie tunes blast out of its lo-fi sound system until dawn and the pace can be truly wild and frenetic especially during its notorious weekly party night. The house specialty here is the magic mushroom shake and there are lots of beachfront cabanas for catching your breath or sleeping off a hangover.
Sticking out like a sore thumb among the beachfront shacks along the northeast coast, this uber stylish designer lounge adds a touch of glam to Gili Trawangan. For the most part it is self consciously laid back but does have occasional DJ club nights and dancing under the stars. Great food and one of the island’s most imaginative (and expensive) cocktail lists. website: www.thegiliislands.com