Where To Go
My Quest For Zest...
What To Do
What To Eat
DESTINATIONS IN GILI ISLANDS
MY QUEST FOR ZEST...
The ferry from Nusa Lembongan to the Gili Islands was a longer haul; however, it was a smooth journey and you could even sit on the top of the boat for a great view! Gili T is the first stop. I had planned to stay several days here but after arriving I quickly realized it wasn’t really my vibe, and just stayed one night before transitioning to Gili Air. Gili T is known as the party island between the 3 Gili Islands: T, Meno, and Air. I found the small island too over developed, despite the fact that there’s no traffic (just horse and carriage or bicycle for transport). Restaurant after restaurant is blaring it’s own music and there are so many tourists it felt a bit like holiday over back-packer energy. Around sunset, I was watching people pay to take pictures on a horse in the water or was distracted by the sound of drones flying overhead that I wasn't able to focus on the beautiful nature...
What To Do
1. Snorkel. There is a good snorkel spot, Turtle beach, to swim with loads of sea turtles! It won't take long before you spot several!
2. Get a beach massage! There are massage places right on the beach for cheap. I guess it depends on the mood of the person you get, I relaxed completely during my hour massage, my friend left feeling agitated and more stressed than before!
3. Visit the night market! What I enjoyed about this island most was the evening market! Opening in the late afternoon you can walk through finding an assortment of local foods for cheap prices. It’s a great way to try different dishes and it’s delicious!
4. Party at the Reggae Bar near the port. Although I put up resistance to the ‘westernization’ of the island, I did however find myself dancing and enjoying the party at the Reggae Bar (check days for live music). There was live music that played all the classic reggae songs and it drew a nice crowd to the dance floor. The DJ that followed put an end to my ‘night out’, but maybe it would be your flow.
Where To Eat
1. The night market! For sure its worth a visit, or two, or two plates one night haha... It's cheap and fun to try all the different local dishes. There is a variety of vegan/vegetarian options!
2. A restaurant recommendation is The Banyan Tree, it’s got a great plant-based menu and the popsicles are a must (mint chocolate yumm)!
Gili Air is just a short boat ride away from Gili T. Gili Meno is in-between the two islands. I did not visit Meno, people joke that its the island people go to to make a meno aka honeymooners and those with families. I really enjoyed my week+ stay on Gili Air. It is a beautiful island, has nice cafes and of course some shops, but is less developed and crowded than Gili T. The area by the pier and some other parts of the island I would imagine in high season get a bit overwhelming; however, where I stayed, the northwest of the island (far end from the pier) was perfect! There were restaurants, bungalows and cafes but nothing too distracting from the nature. I wouldn’t mind visiting in high season to compare the experiences, but I would recommend a visit when it’s not so busy! The water can be crystal clear visibility and the marine life is amazing. You can just walk off the shore into the water to snorkel and find yourself floating next to sea turtles and all the fish from finding Nemo. There are also paid snorkel tours you can do and scuba diving. I went on a diving excursion with Blue Marine. They made sure I felt comfortable and safe with all the equipment before entering the water to ensure I would have a positive underwater experience. I have my PADI so I just took a morning to review and refresh my skills. They offer diving courses as well as Free-Diving classes. The stay on Gili Air felt like paradise with regular morning yoga at H2O Yoga, afternoon swims, good food, and relaxing down-time to get work done.
What To Do
1. Snorkel / Scuba Dive. Blue Marine is who I went on the scuba excursion with. The group is professional and easy going, making the experience a positive one. You are made to feel comfortable with the equipment and safe before entering the water. The snorkel right in front of their beach location is amazing too!
2. Yoga at H2O! Try a variety of classes from vinyasa to meditation. I loved to start my mornings here, but classes are offered throughout the entire day. Enjoy some delicious food at their cafe after!
3. Sunset on the beach! Head to the west to enjoy a beautiful sunset view!
Where To Eat
1. Warung Sunny
Hero and his staff are truly amazing chefs! They put love into their creations, resulting in beautiful displays of ingredient conscious, local meals. It’s cheap especially for the great quality! I could honestly recommend anything (that’s vegan) on the menu. If you’re into cooking, or even if you’re not, try to set up a cooking class with Hero. It’s informative, fun, and delicious!
They have the best Jamu Juice you’ll find anywhere in Indonesia!!!
Veg stir fry
(Anything...I don’t think you can go wrong!)
2. H20 Cafe
The cafe from H20 Yoga, so it makes a great post-yoga treat or meal. The food is super good and the staff is really nice. They have innovative health / western foods.
Smoothie bowls (any of them!)
Jackfruit sweet potato bowl, so good!
Burger, no typical burger, overflowing with deliciousness! Super filling!
3. Pachamama Organic Cafe
Really cute cafe with a good menu selection!
Kombucha was really good!
Bowls are filling and delicious, fresh ingredients and spices.
Burger is good!
4. Nad Brahma Indian Restaurant
The staff here are super friendly and welcoming. They kitchen is visible so it’s cool you can see your food being prepared on the spot. They offer some cooking workshops like creating edible art, intro to Ayurveda, and cooking classes. I unfortunately didn't have time to attend one, but was very interested!
I had a dry curry: purple sweet potato, tempeh, carrot with brown rice served with guava. Great flavor, the potatoes were amazing, flavored with mustard seed!
People say it’s the best wifi on the island. I had a "build your own sandwich” that was just average, and typically my combinations are spot on…
This was the cafe from the bungalows where I stayed. The included free breakfast was great, so if you’re in the mood for pancake (not vegan though, whoops haha) dine here! You could have tea/coffee, a juice (say no sugar!), and a choice of omelet, toasty, pancake, fruit salad, or fried rice for breakfast. The pancake was more American style than crepe and really nice with banana. I enjoyed a sweet start to the day for a few breakfasts because...well, I wanted too...
Their dinner menu isn’t veg friendly, and the fried rice they kindly managed for an option wasn’t satisfying. Better to look elsewhere for main courses.
The Gili Islands are quite small, you can get anywhere by bicycle in roughly 10-30 minutes. There are no cars or motor bikes. As soon as you arrive from the boat there will be places to rent a bicycle. If you rent for several days/week, try to bargain the price. If you don't want to bike with your luggage, depending on where you go walking isn't out of the question, but you can also manage with a horse and carriage. I don't recommend the horses, because I personally think it is sad to see them standing in the heat all day to pull people around.