Guide to Gili Air, Lombok: Accommodations, Things to Do and more

Gili Air is a little paradise island nestled in Indonesia and surrounded by white sand beaches and palm trees. The accommodation choices at Gili Air * are great while there are still plenty of things to do besides chilling on the best beaches of the world. If you’ve never been, add it to your list of places to visit now!

I first visited a year ago, but have recently moved back and settled into a routine of lazy days, sunset-Bintangs and even lazier evenings.

The Overview

Gili Air is part of a the trio Gili Islands in Indonesia, near Bali and Lombok. Gili Air is the smallest of the three and has the highest local population, making it great for a holiday as well as an exploration into Indonesian culture. Neighbouring Gili Meno is a quiet, honeymoon-retreat, while Gili Trawangan is known for being a ‘party island’. If you fancy something in the middle, Gili Air offers an ideal mix of reggae beach bars, local food and perfect beaches.

Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. Photo by Tyler Ingram

How to Get There

There are many boat companies offering trips from mainland Bali to the Gili islands. The main ports include Sanur (ex-pat central!) and Padang Bai, which is near the famous hotspots of Kuta and Seminyak. The boats run regularly throughout the day, and prices vary depending on company and port. Most boat companies offer a free pick-up service from your hotel or hostel, but you will have to organise your own transport when you arrive. More on this later…

Alternatively, you can fly into Lombok International Airport and get a boat from Lombok to Gili Air. The drive from the airport to the main harbour in Senggigi takes a few hours, and the boat across takes around 20 minutes. Prices vary – fast boats are more expensive, but local, slower boats can be taken from Bangsal, another port close to Senggigi, for a lot less money.

Travel between the three Gili islands is very easy, giving you the chance to head over to one of the other Gilis for a day trip if you’re short on time. Most boat companies offer good rates for open return tickets from mainland – just check in with your local company representative two days before you leave in order to book a seat!

traditional house gili air lombok
traditional house gili air lombok. Photo by Gemma i Jere

Where to Stay

There’s plenty of accommodation available on Gili Air * to suit every budget and desire. Grab yourself a beach-front resort or bungalow, sleep on a mattress under the stars (and a mosquito net, don’t worry!) or opt for a traditional ‘lumbung’ home. The island has everything from basic hostels through to luxurious hotels, mixed in with friendly homestays and beach huts.

Prices vary depending on the month, so book ahead during high season. When it’s less busy, you can just turn up and wander around, find something that suits you and negotiate prices. If you’re planning on sticking around for a while, mention this when you arrive and you might be offered a nice little discount.

Head to Gili Air Escape or the more affordable Manusia Green Lodge * and enjoy a traditional Lumbung-style bungalow or fully-equipped villa alongside their beautiful pool. If you’re craving room-service and a swim-up bar, Villa Ombak * is the main big hotel on the island and boasts a huge pool, too. For a more budget stay in Gili Air, go for Balengku Homestay * has a range of accommodation styles, all with access to their huge pool and relaxed hang-out (and hangover) area.

Dive Shop in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Dive Shop in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. Photo by Mikaku

What to Do

Gili Air is the perfect spot for not doing very much! This island is a little haven of peace and quiet – there are no cars and only a few mopeds, making it a calm, fume-free spot. I love this island for its slow pace and relaxed vibes.

That said, this island hosts some of the best dive spots, and is perfect for newbies as well as experienced divers. The island is dotted with dive shops, so wander along the beach until you find one that you like. The main schools include Seven Seas and Oceans 5, while places like Gili Pilih offer fun dives for those with more experience who want to plan their own trips.

The reef here is full of beautiful coral, tropical fish and turtles. There are plenty of places to try your hand at the wonder, and wobbliness, of SUP – stand-up paddle boarding! Grab your Go-Pro and head out into the ocean.

Reef with beautiful corals, Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Reef with beautiful corals, Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia.
Photo by Sitoo

If you’re after a more spiritual retreat, head to one of the yoga havens and find your bliss. There are plenty of places to practice your downward dog, and a lot of the studios have cute little whole-food cafes attached to them. Handy!

Gili Air has one of the best beaches around, head there and soak up the sunshine! The beaches here are clean and are full of snorkelling opportunities. There are lots of places to grab a beer or snack while you enjoy the rays.

-> Read Things to Do on Gili Air, Meno and Trawangan

What to Eat

Indonesian food is some of the best in the world, in my opinion, and Gili Air doesn’t disappoint. Small ‘warungs’ offer local food at very low prices and are often family-run. They often won’t have WiFi or air-conditioning, so take a book or practice your Bahasa with staff.

My favourite local dishes include olah-olah – vegetables cooked in coconut milk and spices – and pumpkin curry. Alternatively, gado-gado is a delicious meal for anyone who likes peanuts – skewers of meat, tofu or tempe (soya beans) smothered in peanut sauce and served with veg and rice.

This is a variation of Gado Gado!
Variation of Gado Gado. Photo by Victoria Benstead-Hume

Luckily for any vegetarians and vegans, lots of Indonesian food is meat and dairy free. There’s a big focus on coconut milk and fresh vegetables, making it pretty easy to get your five a day and stay plant-based. The Western-style restaurants and cafes often have dairy-free options, but local places are unlikely to. Head to Mowies for an almond milk flat white, or Coffee and Thyme for a delicious soya matcha latte, and a cheeky slice of cake.

There is, of course, a huge array of beach-front restaurants all boasting seafood barbecues and happy hours. While they may not be all that ‘authentic’, it can be pretty fun to spend an evening with your feet in the sand, listening to live music and enjoy ginormous grilled prawns! Gili Air is not a party island, but there’s still enough going on each night to keep you entertained.

The open-air cinema offers up something new each night, and the cost of your ticket also includes something from their huge barbecue (fresh seafood, veggie options or big slabs of meat) and bottomless salad bar. Happy days. Head to Ombak Paradiso on the beach to enjoy a movie night, just remember to take some buy spray!

Stars on Gili Air
Stars on Gili Air. Photo by Reef with beautiful corals, Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. Photo by Robert-Jan van der Vorm

Most of the bigger restaurants on the beach host live bands every night, so wander around and follow your stomach and your ears. There are few ‘big’ nights on the island that change regularly, so ask around to find the hot spot. Legend Bar is famous on the island for its trance nights, and tends to fill up with ex-pats and travellers alike. Pura Vida offers up Spanish tapas and live musics a couple of days a week. Zipp bar gets pretty lively on a Friday night, so be prepared for plenty of tourists and off-duty divers.

Most places tend to close relatively early here – evening meals are best enjoyed before 9.30pm before kitchens start closing. There are a few late-night options, but these are limited so I’d suggest eating earlier if you want a bit more choice. Shops close around 10 pm, so stock up on drinking water and snacks if you get the night-munchies.

If you’re still craving something more exciting, get a boat over to Gili T for the night and come back the next morning. Make sure you book a hostel or place to sleep for the night as it gets pretty busy over there.

Sunset in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Sunset in Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia. Photo by Gemma i Jere

General Advice and Safety

Gili Air is a safe place to explore, whether you’re a solo traveller, honeymooner or taking a trip en-masse with the family.

Many people advise against drinking local alcohol, or ‘arak’, but I’ve never had any troubles with it. Most bars and restaurants will offer you the choice of local or imported spirits in your drink, the latter being more expensive, of course. If you’re worried, opt for imported spirits – everything here is pretty cheap anyway.

There are severe penalties for drug possession in Indonesia, so stay safe and be sensible. Don’t do a Bridget Jones and become an accidental drug-mule! Pack your own bags, don’t offer or agree to transport goods for anyone you don’t know and use your common sense.

Islam is the main religion in Indonesia, and Gili’s beautiful mosque sits near the harbour. Whilst the beaches are fine for bikinis, stay respectful if you’re wandering around the central village areas, as this is where most of the locals live. While you don’t have to cover up at all times, it’s a friendly gesture to cover your knees and shoulders if you visit the villages.

Gili Air Beach, Lombok, Indonesia
Gili Air Beach, Lombok, Indonesia. Photo by Robert-Jan van der Vorm

Tap water is absolutely not safe to drink! The water in most taps and showers here comes from the ocean and is often unfiltered. While it’s okay to shower in saltwater, I’d suggest using bottled water to brush your teeth with. Many restaurants and bars will have notes in their menus telling you that they use clean, ‘gallon water’ to make ice and wash any fruit and vegetables. If you feel uncomfortable, just ask – you won’t be the first!

Cidomos are the traditional way to get around the island and are the horse-drawn carriages you may have seen photos of. While many tourists use these when they initially arrive at the harbour, I would suggest steering clear of them. When I first arrived here, I was overwhelmed and bombarded by the ‘local taxis’ and was advised that everyone here uses them to get around. Not so!

It turned out that my hostel was only a 20-minute walk away – not worth the money or the hot, bumpy journey for the poor horse carrying me and my heavy luggage! This is totally up to you, of course, but do a bit of planning and try and screenshot a map or download Maps.Me before you arrive so that you have the option to walk if you choose to.

Welcome to Paradise

All in all, Gili Air is the perfect paradise spot for anyone who enjoys relaxing in beautiful surroundings. Serene and spiritual, this little island is the ideal destination for anyone who fancies a bit of a wellness retreat with the added bonus of endless sunshine.

Related articles:
Top 10 Things to do on the Gili Air, Trawangan and Meno
Travel Guide to the Gili Islands
Best hotels and resorts in Gili Trawangan

Where to Stay in Lombok

Going to Lombok and unsure of where to stay? Here you will find tips on the best areas to stay in Lombok plus the recommended accommodations.

Long overshadowed by Bali, its popular neighbor to the west, Lombok is quickly becoming the next hot spot for travelers visiting Indonesia. This island comes with pristine beaches, amazing waves, friendly locals, and dramatic landscapes.

Most people stay around Senggigi beach area * in Lombok, with its variety of accommodation choices as well as restaurants. For luxurious options, people choose to stay near to Gili Islands at Tanjung *. If you want to go for more hype then the new upcoming place to stis Kuta, Lombok *. Many travelers also choose to hop over to Gili Islands *as a place to stay instead.

Lombok, Indonesia

Lombok, Indonesia. Photo by Tanti Ruwani

Northwest Lombok – near to Gili Islands for luxurious hotels

With just a hop from Gili Islands, it is no wonder that this area is popular for a lot of travellers as a choice to stay. At this beautiful bay, you will find luxurious to mid-range hotels such as the recommended:

Luxury (from 150 USD)

The Oberoi Lombok
For those looking for the perfect getaway, be it for honeymoon or special occasions. This hotel comes with tastefully designed private villas with an amazing sea view. The outdoor pool also gives an illusion of nature, while a private beach is just a stone throw away.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Hotel Tugu Lombok
For those looking for world class hotel with unique Lombok style, with its refusbished temple restaurant and other historical buildings. The infinity pool also overlooks the ocean and the service here is hard to top, they will go out of the way to make your stay enjoyable.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Senggigi beach – mid-range resorts with beautiful sunset beaches

Not far from the capital of Lombok, Mataram, Senggigi beach is a good place to stay *, with a stretch of curved beaches with undeveloped hills covered with coconut groves. This place is a favourite place for tourists to photograph, especially the sunset view is stunning. This is a perfect base for exploring western Lombok, and you will find lots of mid-range to budget accommodations here. Note that there are also a number of nightclubs around, in case you are looking for peace.

Mid-range (50 – 150 USD)

Qunci Villas Hotel
For those looking for tranquil beach resorts, every villa comes with natural wood design with a garden or ocean views. It has also an outdoor pool with an amazing seaview, and located directly on Mangsit Beach. There’s also all kinds of amenities from spa to gallery and restaurants.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Sudamala Suites & Villas Senggigi
For those looking for a beachfront resort with Lombok style and charm. Go straight for the sunset and ocean view resorts for the ultimate experience overlooking the ocean and Mt. Agung in the distance. This is a place for some quiet relaxation, soaking in a pool overlooking the oceans with green surroundings.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Budget (below 50 USD)

Mama Bella’s Retreat
For those looking for Lombok version of bed and breakfast, this resort place comes with the famous Lombok thatched roof rooms with air-conditioned. There is are also terraces and pool for relaxation and breakfast is also included in this home away from home.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Senggigi Cottages
For those looking for a resort stay in Lombok but with a budget, this boutique resort is really well located, with Mangsit Beach just 3 minutes away. It also comes with terraces and balconies and a pool to relax in. Value for money!
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Kuta, Lombok – white sandy beaches with hip cafes

The new hip and upcoming place that is Kuta, Lombok that will soon rival its same name in Bali. It is also a surfer’s paradise with 17 different breaks around. The place is now dotted with various homestays and budget accommodations *. The local restaurants (warungs) are also abundant alongside with many hipster cafes to cater to the crowd.

-> Read our Travel Guide to Kuta, Lombok – What to do, Eat and Tips

Mid Range (50 – 150 USD)

Mawun Raya Resort
This resort comes with a view of rolling hills and the sea. The vie can be enjoyed from the terraces or the pool itself. This place is like a slice of paradise in Lombok.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Mana Retreat
With 12 minutes walk to the beach, this more resort comes with a zen atmosphere. You’ll find lush green gardens with a mix of modern and traditional architecture that blends into harmony. There’s a nice verandah for daily yoga and a private swimming pool too.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Budget (below 50USD)

Maharani Homestay
For those who want authentic living on Lombok itself, this homestay has clean and modern rooms with terraces, garden, and a reportedly good breakfast. The owner is also known to be very helpful.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Ike’s Hostel
This really popular hostel in the hip and happening corner of Kuta is well loved by many. With just 18 minutes walk to the beach, the price is just too good to pass up.There are also bike hire available here and the place is a favourite for solo and backpackers. Prices starting from only 10 USD!
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *

Stay in paradise Gili Islands

If you want to head out to the nearby paradise Gili Islands, you can check out Where to Stay on Gili Islands.

Related articles:
Lombok Travel Guide
Top 10 Things to Do in Lombok
Guide to Gili Islands near Lombok
Gili Trawangan Accommodations – Best hotels and resorts

Gili Trawangan Accommodations – Best hotels and resorts

Most people choose to stay on Gili Trawangan when they come to Gili Islands as there are more accommodation choices here. The demand is higher than the supply here and the prices tend to be higher than its counterparts of Bali and Lombok.

The accommodation choices are your usual from villas and resorts to backpackers inns and guesthouses. Also do pre-book during peak season too, which are July-August and December-January.

Booking.com * is a good choice because most of its booking allow cancellations to the day before, allowing flexibility.
Agoda.com * is another good alternative as it has the most extensive listing in Asia.

Here are our recommended accommodations:


Mid-range prices 100 – 150 USD

Pearl Trawangan

A beachfront resort with its own outdoor pool and bar, this place is ideal for those who want to relax in style. Styled with rustic designs, the individual huts are unique and inviting. Themed with a tropical island feel and filled with lush gardens, it is truly a dream to stay here.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Agoda.com *


Desa Dunia Beda

Another beachfront hotel, this one features spacious standalone bungalows and villas with a traditional wood interior. Each villa has its own private terraces and there is also an outdoor pool.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Booking.com *.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Agoda.com *


Low Mid-range prices 50 – 100 USD

Wilson’s Retreat

Offering a tropical oasis retreat at the beachside, this resort comes with a good mix of modern and traditional design. The rooms are cozy yet clean and full of natural lights and high ceilings. The outdoor pool and the French restaurant bar is a plus.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Booking.com *.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Agoda.com *


Pink Coco

One of the famous hotel chains in the scene of Bali and Lombok, PinkCoco delivers yet again a fresh and stunning place to stay on this island. With its signature pink theme coupled with Balinese inspired designs, this hotel comes with its very own private beach. Definitely one worth to reckon with, considering its success.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Booking.com *.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Agoda.com *


Belukar

Located at the quieter area of Gili Trawangan island, this place is a gem to find. It is located only 5 minutes walk to the beach and 15 minutes cycle to the hip and happening bar areas of Trawangan. The rooms come luxuriously decked with teak furniture and surrounded by a tropical garden. There’s also your very own private pool and a beautiful sunset view to complete it.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Booking.com *.
Check out the latest prices and reviews at Agoda.com *


Related articles:
Where to Stay in Lombok – Best Places and Accommodations
Guide to Gili Islands
Top 10 Things to Do on Gili Islands
Best Hotels, Resorts and Villas on the Beach in Bali

Best Beachfront Hotels, Resorts and Villas in Bali

Featuring the best beaches in Bali, here are the beachfront and nearby places to stay, from luxurious to affordable hotels, resorts and villas.

There will be something for someone who wants to spend the most time at the beach, be it with a sea view from the room, or a quick walk to the beach or a direct access to their very own private beach. For your honeymoon, solo trip or with family and friends, these places to stay will not disappoint, with their close access to the finest beaches in Bali.

Resorts and Villas at Nusa Dua Beach

Nusa Dua beach is definitely one of the top choices for those who want a real beachfront resort experience. Dotted with many choices, every resort comes with its own privacy and secludedness. Swimming here is great as the currents and waves are low. The water is crystal clear for snorkeling.

Samabe Bali Suites & Villas

For those who wants to splurge on a special occasion, this 5-star beachfront luxurious villa will bound to impress. Offering suites with an uninterrupted view of the ocean plus a romantic bath with glass enclosure, this villa promises privacy and relaxation with style. It also comes with 24-hour butler service and free flow alcohol among many other extras. Prices starting from 600 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Kayumanis Nusa Dua Private Villa & Spa

This luxurious villa stretching across a golden private beach is one worth the splurge. Decorated with unique themes, each spacious villas come with a private pool, kitchennette and open-air garden bath. There is a 24-hour butler service, in-house spa and personal beachside breakfast. Prices starting from 500 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


INAYA Putri Bali, Nusa dua

Featuring clean and modern design, every villa has direct acces to the pool that runs along with palm trees lining it. With beautiful sea view from the rooms and a quick access to the beach, it is no wonder this villa is one of the top choice in Nusa Dua. To top it off, price starts only at 150 USD!
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Hotels at Kuta and Legian Beach

Kuta beach is one of the most popular beaches in Bali, particularly famous for surfing but there are also many other activities to choose from. Here is the place to be seen and to have fun. Just a little walk down is the Legian beach, for a more upmarket crowd but with still the vibe and energy. At night you can find the Kuta beach parties among the beach clubs that are guaranteed to entertain.

Legian Beach Hotel

With a mix of modern and Balinese design, this 4-star hotel enjoys a beachfront location on Legian Beach and also a quick walk to Kuta beach. It features a pool surrounded by palm trees filled tropical grounds. The rooms are typical Balinese style with white drapes and wooden carvings. Prices starting from 120 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Villas at Sanur Beach

Sanur is one of the more relaxing town in Bali. Many people who know Bali well will escape to this place, especially for its many beachfront villas and resorts. The waves here are milder and best for swimming. The sea here crystal clear where you can even spot sea creatures like starfish when walking at the beach.

Avillion Villa Cinta

This villa offers a tropical retreat with style. With a clever mix of victorian and Balinese design, these elegant villas come with a pool and private terraces. It is just a 3 minutes walk to the beach and of course with many locations to enjoy a view of the sea as a backdrop while you relax. Prices starting from only 150 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Resorts at Balangan Beach, Jimbaran

Though the ocean currents are strong and the waves high in Jimbaran, and it is not recommended for swimming, this beach is one to be reckoned with. Especially that it has one of the most famous bars in Bali, the Rock Bar. When the tide is low, it would be a perfect beach for strolling along enjoying the sun while the waves lap at your feet.

RIMBA Jimbaran Bali by AYANA

With a 5 minutes walk from the beach, this luxurious 5-star resort features 12 outdoor pools and 19 dining options. Bright modern rooms with tropical landscapes and scenic view views, it is no wonder that this place is one of the top choices in Bali. Guests also have priority access to the famous Rock Bar.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Villas at Padang-Padang Beach

Located close to the Uluwatu temple, this beautiful secret beach is surrounded by big rocks and overgrown plants and monkeys. The beach is covered with huge rocks and small caves for exploration and when the tide is high, it is also good for swimming. Just beware of sharp corals and sea urchins. Staying nearby here would be like a secret hideaway from the bustle of Bali.

Suarga Padang-Padang

Located just 2 minutes from Padang-Padang beach, this place is a dream, with its amazing pool with the view of the horizon and sea. The individual thatched roof villas are tastefully designed with a cozy yet elegant interior. The surrouding will also transport you to living in nature with style. Prices starting from 290 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Pink Coco

This delightful and pretty villa is situated just a short walk from Padang-Padang beach. The design of the rooms and the place are clean, modern and bright, with little touches of plants, greens and wood to complete the place. One can’t help but be cheerful and at peace staying here, and to top it off, the price is very reasonable, starting at only 70 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Resorts at Nyang-Nyang Beach

A really secluded beach with some effort to access, you will not find many places to stay around here but you will surely escape the crowds. The effort is well worth it to find this hidden beach, with white sandy beach and crystal clear blue sea. There are not many tourists here while you would see local people harvesting seaweed.

Bulgari Resort

This resort is located 150 m above sea level offering sweeping views of the Indian Ocean. Each luxurious traditional Balinese designed villas feature private sundeck and plunge pool. Its floor-to-ceiling glass bathrooms overlook the private courtyard. The beach is only 1 km away and accessible only by the resort’s very own inclined elevator. This is definitely a splurge well spend, with price starting from 763 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Hotels at Nusa Lembongan Dream Beach

Nusa Lembongan is a small island about 7km out of the sea from Bali. Dream beach at Nusa Lembongan is known for its serene sea lapping on long sandy bays. It is an island with big rocks and small vegetation with spots of sandy bays. Most people stay longer at this island to explore all the beauty of it.

Water Blow Huts

A private place to stay with an exceptional view, this hotel is only 8 minutes walk from the beach. The individual wooden huts with traditional Balinese house concept are a unique experience to stay in Bali. This top rated place has prices starting at only 70 USD.
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *
Check out the latest prices on Agoda.com *


Akah Cottages

This very affordable hotel in Nusa Lembongan is like living in your very own home in Bali, with private terraces and beautiful gardens. Located very close to Dream beach, it almost let you think you own a beachfront house in Bali! Well rated with prices starting only at 49 USD!
Check out the latest prices on Booking.com *


Related articles:
Top 10 Best Bali Beaches
Best Luxury Hotels in Bali
Best Budget Hotels in Bali
Best Villas and Resorts for your Honeymoon in Bali
Top 10 Best Places to Stay in South & Central Bali