Choosing the Best Gili Island: Which one to visit?

3 min read
by Marlin
February 13, 2024

Gili Trawangan stands out as the best overall choice, offering plenty of entertainment and activities that you may not find on the other islands. It's well-suited for both honeymoons and family vacations as well.

Gili Trawangan

Gili Air

Gili Meno


People often say you shouldn't choose Gili Trawangan for a honeymoon or family trip because it's crowded and loud, and I have to disagree with that.

There's always room for everyone, and I don't want you to miss out on all the good stuff Gili Trawangan has to offer, especially if it's your first time.

Check out the comparison

Activity Trawangan Air Meno
Glass-bottom boat
Underwater statues
Night market
Outdoor cinema
Selfie on the swing
Horseback riding
Watching sunset
Cooking class
Live music

Hi, I'm a local, and this is a comprehensive guide to help you choose the best Gili island based on your needs.

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Gili Trawangan

white sand beach on gili trawangan
My favorite beach on Gili Trawangan

The famous and most visited island, Gili Trawangan, stands out as the best and most developed among the three. It's also the one that I recommend.

Just so you know, not all the islands are equal. Unlike Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno lack the proper infrastructure for their charm.

beachbed on the white sand beach on gili trawangan
main street on gili trawangan

Gili Trawangan got a beachside street that goes all the way around the island and you can bike around and enjoy the beauty of the island!

As you go around the island, you'll spot tons of cute cafes, hotels, resorts, and restaurants along the streets.

Biking around Gili Trawangan is my jam 😍 it's awesome to catch different vibes and views on every side of the island.

It's a bit tricky on Gili Air due to the lack of proper streets, and you can't do it on Gili Meno as they simply don't have them.

little palm tree on the white sand beach on gili trawangan
seating area at the beachfront restaurant on gili trawangan

All three Gili islands have super pretty beaches with clear white sand, but the coolest ones are on Gili Trawangan.

Big thanks to the beachfront hotels and restaurants for keeping it clean and tidy. My favorite spots are on the upper east, southeast, and northwest sides.

view of a white sand beach on the northeast side of gili trawangan
beach view with beacheds on gili trawangan

If you're up for it, you can totally wander inside the island and see where the locals hang out. Once you go deeper, it's like entering a chill forest, away from all the noisy street stuff.

And that's where you'll find some awesome villas, perfect for a cozy honeymoon spot!

Let's now take a look at what you can do here that makes it different than the other two Gilis!

First, water fun! While you can do water activities on the other Gilis, Gili Trawangan is the go-to spot for everything – swimming, snorkeling, you name it.

The beaches here are top-notch, east and southeast sides are two favorite spots. Crystal clear and calm water, they're perfect for the kiddos too!

boat on clear water of gili trawangan island
People snorkeling & taking a glass-bottom boat tour

Beaches aren't the only reason to pick Gili Trawangan over the other two Gilis. One unmissable highlight is the night market.

This is the place to find a variety of fresh and delicious seafood! The best part? It's affordable. The night market is exclusive to Gili Trawangan and isn't available on the other two Gilis.

roasted fish at the night market on gili trawangan
a variety of side dishes at the night market on gili trawangan

Okay, so besides the awesome night market, Gili Trawangan is like the ultimate sunset chill spot. You get to watch it all the way down, no interruptions.

Sure you can catch a sunset on the other Gilis, but Gili Trawangan is the real deal. Also, you can ride horses during the sunset here, which is something you can't do on the other Gilis.

south sunset point gili trawangan

It's not just about the night market to visit at night, catching a movie at the open-air cinemas is becoming quite the trend too.

And don't miss a nighttime stroll down the main street, it's a must thing to do. That's why, no matter what kind of vacation you're into, I totally recommend Gili Trawangan over the other two Gilis.

night view of the open air outdoor cinema on gili trawangan
Royal Regantris' cinema

Gili Trawangan also known as the party spot that you won't find that same vibe on Gili Air, and I don't think Gili Meno hosts any parties.

I'm sort of a religious guy, I don't personally recommend anyone hitting the parties 😐

Gili Trawangan Conclusion

  • For regular vacations: Gili Trawangan takes the crown as the best island for a regular vacation because it offers a lot that its sisters don't.
  • For honeymoons: Gili Trawangan is a great pick for honeymoons too! You just need to know where to stay. The northwest side has a similar vibe to Gili Air, making it an ideal spot.
  • For families: Gili Trawangan is also family-friendly, especially on the west side to steer clear of the loud party music on the main street on the east side.

Gili Air

white sand beach on the west side of gili air

Now, Gili Air is renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, where the clock seems ticking a bit slower. Some say it's the ultimate spot for honeymoons and family getaways, but is it really? Let's debunk the myth!

The first thing I want to say is that Gili Air isn't better than Gili Trawangan in terms of nature and things to do.

Gili Trawangan offers a better view of nature and beaches, and, of course, there are tons of interesting activities to enjoy.

main street gili air
south beach on gili air

I found four reasons why Gili Air is very laid-back and why people love it:

Calm waves: You won't feel like you're at a typical beach on Gili Air. Instead, it's more akin to being at a lake because the waves are very calm, especially on the east side.

Fewer tourists: While Gili Trawangan tops the charts in terms of visitors, Gili Air only gets about 25% of the tourists that Gili Trawangan attracts.

Limited road access: Since most tourists tend to stick to places accessible by road, which only covers about 25% of the island, you can easily find plenty of secluded spots.

Quieter atmosphere: Unlike Gili Trawangan, where almost every restaurant plays loud music, you'll barely find any on Gili Air.

So, is Gili Air the perfect island for honeymoons and families? I'd say it's more like the perfect place to take a long nap. I'll let the pictures below help you decide.

beautiful beach gili air
West beach on Gili Air
white sand beach on gili air
Which is the best area on the island

You'll only find a beach on Gili Air that rivals those on Gili Trawangan on the west side of the island. The rest isn't quite as impressive.

east beach gili air
The east side
legenda bar on the beach of gili air
Legenda bar

The eastern side of the island is the calmest spot on Gili Air, but the beach doesn't look as great. Moreover, there is no proper road, making it difficult to reach by bicycle.

north beach gili air
North beach
northern area of gili air
Not my favorite

To reach the north beach, just head north from the center of the island through the neighborhood. Personally, I'm not a big fan of it, it's pretty windy and quite exposed.

Definitely not the best spot for a romantic makeout session with your partner.

Gili Air conclusion:

  • For regular vacations: Gili Air might not be your top pick for a regular vacation, especially if it's your first time around. I'd say hit up Gili Trawangan first, then swing by Gili Air later.
  • For honeymoons: If your honeymoon plan involves staying in and soaking up the room vibes, Gili Air is the ideal choice for a couples' retreat.
  • For families: Just so you know, Gili Trawangan isn't exactly a wild party scene like Canggu. It's pretty laid-back. But, if you're rocking the strict parent vibes, Gili Air could be a solid shout for the family.

Gili Meno

beach on gili meno

Gili Meno actually sits between its two sisters, but I've bumped it down to number three on the list because it's not exactly the go-to spot.

You've probably heard, Gili Meno is like, deserted. Infrastructure? Pretty much missing. There's no road circling the island like Gili Trawangan, not even a little path.

And if you're looking for restaurants, good luck 👍🏻 it's kinda slim pickings.

street in the center of gili meno
Beautiful street on Gili Meno
street on gili meno
It's colorful!

It's almost like being dropped off on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere. Gili Meno, to be completely honest, is just not very enjoyable.

Outside of the still-used hotels, the island is very run-down. Many ruins, dirt everywhere.
Chris Ha

People who aren't familiar with Gili Meno might only come to see the saltwater lake.

I've visited it multiple times, but I never had the courage to walk down the wooden bridge, it feels like it could break at any time.

salt lake gili meno
Bridge is wooden
salt lake gili meno
Salt lake

Okay, Gili Meno has its issues, but I've got to give credit where it's due. There's this one beach that's just ridiculously beautiful, beats every other beach on these three islands.

Makes me rethink what I said about Gili Trawangan earlier. Honestly, the west side of Gili Meno takes the cake for the best beach and view combo.

beach on gili meno
West side of Gili Meno
west area of gili meno
Lovely seating area
beach on gili meno
west area of gili meno

I might need to reconsider my earlier statement about Gili Air being an ideal honeymoon spot.

Ladies and gentlemen, if your idea of the perfect honeymoon is shuttling between your hotel room and a stunning beach, Gili Meno is hands down the best place for it 🏆

It's such a perfect place that I've already set it as my future honeymoon destination! Which I don't know when that's actually going to happen 😐

Check out my recommendation of the best hotel for honeymoon on Gili Meno 👇🏻

ora villas gili meno
Ora Villa Resort Gili Meno
Private pool
West side
Next to the beach
Check availability


All three Gili islands have unique spots for snorkeling.

The best surfing spot for advanced surfers is on Gili Air.

Gili Meno is the ultimate island for diving, with beautiful spots called Meno Wall and Deep Turbo.

Gili Meno is the quietest island.

Turtles can be found on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.

kaleydo villas gili trawangan
Kaleydo Villas
Gili Trawangan
Gili Teak Beach Front Resort
Gili Teak Resort
Gili Trawangan
Senang Private Villa
Senang Private Villa
Gili Trawangan
Ponte Villas
Ponte Villas
Gili Trawangan
Gili Eco Villas
Gili Eco Villas
Gili Trawangan
Kuno Villas
Kuno Villas
Gili Trawangan
Pondok Santi Estate
Pondok Santi Estate
Gili Trawangan
Nero North Gili Trawangan
Nero North
Gili Trawangan
Villa Selamat
Villa Selamat
Gili Trawangan
small white cruise boat
Snorkeling cruise with Lunch
Gili Trawangan
small white cruise boat during the sunset
Snorkeling sunset and diner cruise
Gili Trawangan
gili islands view
Private tour hopping 3 Gili islands
Gili islands
underwater sclupture on gili islands
Private snorkeling trip on 3 Gili islands
Gili islands
golf course by the beach
Golfing by the beach at Kosaido Lombok
person riding a horse by the beach in a sunny day
Horseback riding by the beach
Gili Trawangan
spicy indonesian sambal
Sweet and spicy cooking class
Gili Trawangan
traditional indonesian dishes
Authentic Indonesian food cooking class
Gili Trawangan
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