No cars or motorbikes in these parts, bicycles and ‘cidomos’ – horse and cart, are the only modes of transport.
Insider tip: Hire a bike and cycle the islands – particularly Gili T. The cycle is all flat and only takes approx. 1 hour including photo pit-stops! There are some areas though that you will have to push the bike through when sand gets too thick.
The Gilis are also a great spot for diving and getting your PADI certification.
Where I stayed: J.W. Homestay, Gili Air
It is well known that Gili Trawangan is the party island, I however was in need of some serious down-time on this holiday so I based myself on Gili Air which isn’t as quiet as Gili Meno but at the same time not as busy as Gili T- just a good mix of the two! Perfect.
And perfect it was. My beautiful homestay was in the centre of the island, approximately 15 minutes walk to the Harbour or a 2-3 minute walk to the beach on the opposite north-east side of the island.
Ran by Jamal, his wife and cousins/neighbours you truly feel part of the family here. Rooms are top-class. I stayed in an upstairs room, as per request, as I had heard these were only newly built and included my own balcony, a large double bed and private bathroom. Breakfast was served on my balcony each morning with a small menu to choose from. Heads up – their veggie omlettes are delicious!
I was lucky that my stay coincided with Eid – the end of Ramadan and I was very kindly invited to enjoy some of the feasting celebrations with Jamal and his family. Set rice cakes, squid curry, chop suey, chicken curry and toasted coconut were just some of the dishes enjoyed.
Additionally, Jamal is very helpful and will easily organise any activities you wish. He organised a snorkeling trip around the corals of the three islands for me which was so enjoyable. For less than €7 Jamal accompanied me to meet the tour company at the beach behind the guesthouse at 9 a.m., where I chose my mask and fins and then spent the day swimming with the fishes and turtles, stopping for lunch on Gili Meno before returning at 3 p.m. Money extremely well spent.
Oh and while you’re on Gili Meno be sure to grab one of these craftily-cut pineapples for a healthy snack on the go!
My go-to spot during my time on Gili Air was this newly-opened health food bar. Ran by local lady, Suki and her Ozzie husband, they have beautiful fresh juices and smoothies, home-cooked food (the chef is Suki’s sister) and service with a smile.
To allow you to understand how yummy their smoothie bowls are I confess to eating not one… not two… but THREE smoothie bowls on my final morning… After a fruit and omlette breakfast at my guesthouse!.. Ooops!
The Mexican Kitchen
Another good place to find your healthy fix on Gili Air is this restaurant located on the northern side of the island – perfect for watching the sunset.
I had a grilled salmon dish here one evening, but unfortunately it was a bit of a let down as it was a tiny portion at a high price (relative to Bali prices) and was swimming in an oil I couldn’t distinguish but was slightly sickening to eat.
That being said, they excel at smoothies and juices with Superfood supplements such as moringa and ashitaba on offer. They also do protein ball snacks and the best chia pudding I’ve ever had – made with coconut cream and seasonal tropical fruits it was divine.
H20 Yoga Centre
If you’re looking to keep up with your yoga practice or just wanting to try out yoga for the first time, I visited H20 yoga centre four times during my time there. I bought their 4 class pass – they do offers on class packages. The level of the class I would say is more suited to beginners or intermediates and although I enjoyed the more relaxed classes than what I am typically accustomed to I found all the classes I attended – Vinyasa Flow, Traditional Hatha, Vinyasa and Gentle Flow (3 classes with the same teacher) were all the same. Almost identical in fact. Not only in terms of poses carried out but also sequence which was by my fourth class monotonous and a little disappointing.
The yoga centre also has a little café where you can relax with a juice or coconut water and they have freshly baked each day gluten-free banana bread with a cacao frosting which was really delicious.
Be warned though – the café is branded as an art café and there is paint brushes and wooden Buddha heads everywhere as well as posters everywhere encouraging you to break any boredom you might be feeling by painting a Buddha head and taking it home with you. However – although not mentioned anywhere – it actually costs 70,000IDR to paint said Buddha!
If you happen to be on Gili T – which you can easily do via a 5-10 minute boat ride from Gili Air, then Kayu Café might be worth checking out. Expensive for the Gili Islands but very popular. It is located on the main street just down from the harbour and has a good selection of healthy salads, hearty breakfasts and sinful desserts to choose from. They also do fresh juices and smoothies and stock Bali Budda (a restaurant and market shop from Ubud) snack bars and raw protein balls. Additionally, they stock Kokolato dairy-free ice-cream there too!
I stopped here for a cacao smoothie with added bee pollen before cycling around the island on my day trip there and returned later that evening for a comforting bowl of oats in coconut milk with cinnamon and berries.
The Gili islands truly are an island paradise and complete relaxation zone.
I leave you with this image of a table for two Gili Meno style.