An enduring appeal of the Gili Islands is the complete lack of any motorised transport. Cars and motorbikes are banned, ensuring a peaceful and pollution free alternative to congested Bali.
Getting around on foot is not a strenuous exercise as all three islands are very compact. Gili Trawangan is the largest and measures just two miles at its widest point.
All can be circumnavigated on foot at a leisurely pace in two hours or less. Although none of the islands have official street names, orientation is pretty straightforward as almost all tourist businesses are located along the seafront or set just behind.
A quicker way of getting around in the Gilis is to rent a bicycle. There are dozens of places to do this on all the islands, however prices are higher than in Bali. A full days rental costs around rp60,000 after a little bargaining. Kreatif has lots of cycles in all shapes and sizes.
The Gili Islands ‘taxi’ service comes courtesy of traditional horse drawn carts known as ‘cidomo.’ Be sure to always negotiate a price beforehand with these and bargain hard (with a smile). As a general guide, expect to pay no more than rp20,000 for a short journey or anywhere up to rp150,000 for a full circuit of the islands.
Getting between the Gili Islands
There is a daily island hopping boat service connecting the three Gilis which runs each morning and again in the late afternoon. For example departures from Gili Trawangan leave at 09:30 and 16:00, calling first at Gili Meno and then onwards to Gili Air. Fares are rp23,000.
For trips at any other times it is necessary to charter a boat which will cost around rp170,000 one way. From each individual harbour public outrigger boats leave for the short journey to the nearby island of Lombok throughout the day. There is no official schedule; boats depart when there is a full compliment of 20 passengers. Plan to leave in the early morning otherwise there is often a lengthy wait, especially on sleepy Gili Meno.
Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali
Gili Trawangan is well served by direct fast boat services from the ports of Benoa and Padangbai in Bali. There are also some services from Nusa Dua, Sanur and Nusa Lembongan. It is a very competitive market nowadays with nine different companies offering direct daily services and prices have steadily fallen in the last year.
Prices are slightly cheaper if a return journey is booked in Bali and fares range from about US$50 one way to US$150 return. During the peak months of July and August, seats can be booked out for days despite some operators putting on extra services and fares can rise by as much as 50 per cent. Most services also stop at Teluk Nara in north Lombok for onward boat connections to Gili Air and Gili Meno. All fast boat operators offer free pick ups from your hotel from all South Bali resorts and the Ubud area. There is also a daily boat from Padangbai harbour in Bali by Perama onboard a traditional ‘phinisi’ sailing boat which takes four hours.