Why Honeymoon on the Gili Islands?
Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno are three stunning little islands located near the larger island of Lombok. These islands are completely enveloped in white sand, adorned with lush pandan and palm trees, and have a no-car policy, creating an authentic tropical island experience.
Moreover, the diving opportunities around the Gilis are truly exceptional. If you’re planning a honeymoon in Bali, these islands make a great addition, as they can be easily reached within approximately 2 hours by a fast ferry from Padang Bai harbor in East Bali. The Gili Islands are especially a great destination if your Bali honeymoon happens to align with the rainy season, as they usually experience much less rain compared to mainland Bali.
Gili Air, Gili T or Gili Meno?
Which island is best for a honeymoon? Gili means “small island” in the local Sasak language. All of the Gili Islands feature white sand beaches surrounded by a calm shallow sea protected from the big waves by a natural coral reef. You can reach the famous dive sites from either of them. However while close together, each of the Gili islands has their own distinct character.
- Gili Air would be our favorite pick for a honeymoon. For us it strikes the right balance between liveliness while not being overrun by tourists. Here you’ll also find the best restaurants. On top, there is some really nice accommodation that we can recommend in Gili Air: we love the colorful beachfront PinkCoco Gili Air, which has a luxury feel but is surprisingly affordable. It attracts a crowd of mostly young couples, some of which might be on a honeymoon as well. Another great option if you are looking for a bit more privacy is booking one of the beautifully designed private villas at Villa Tokay.
- Gili Trawangan (often referred to as Gili T) is the most busy island, frequented by backpackers and famous for its nightlife and hedonistic vibes. We recommend staying at the Pearl of Trawangan, a 5-star beachfront hotel with spectacular views overlooking Lombok island in the distance.
- Gili Meno is the least visited island. For those couples looking for a secluded destination, this is your choice! However do realize that the facilities like restaurants and hotels on the island are very minimal. A good accommodation option however is the Meno House. Gili Meno has a Turtle Sanctuary where visitors are invited to help with releasing baby turtles into the ocean in exchange for a small donation.
Staying on one island does not prevent you from visiting any of the others! Getting from island to island is fairly easy. There are public “slow boats” that can take you a few times a day (roughly 3$ one-way), as well as more comfortable fast boats (roughly 6$). Renting a private boat transfer between the islands will cost you around $50.
The Gili islands are a great scuba diving destination. The islands are surrounded by reefs and waters famous for its turtles and manta rays. If diving sounds a little scary, you can enjoy the underwater experience while snorkeling as well. This is what we did to see the underwater statues at Gili Meno.
The most popular dive sight might be Turtle Heaven, an underwater hill which is the home of a large group of turtles. When I dived here I saw at least 20 turtles, including some massive ones. They initially seem to not move at all, but as reptiles they swim to the surface roughly every half hour for a breath of fresh air, which is a spectacular thing to witness. The good thing about Turtle Heaven is that its not so deep, so anyone with an open water certificate or on a trial dive is able to visit this place.
A few years ago, I (Dirk, as Olivia is not so much into diving) got my Open Water diving certification in Gili Air at the Manta Dive resort. If you are both curious to learn diving, getting your Open Water Diving Certification on your honeymoon might be a great way to start a shared passion for life! For this you’ll need 4 days on the island.
The Gili Islands are a great spot to get your certification: while the dive schools maintain high international safety standards, it is much more affordable than in most other places around the world. Once you got certified, why not visit Amed during your honeymoon too?
Honeymoon Hotels on the Gili Islands
The most luxurious resorts can be found on Gili Trawangan and Gili Air. Below you’ll find a good option for the more secluded Gili Meno as well. If you plan to get your dive certification together while honeymooning in the Gilis, check out the dive resort in Gili Air listed below for a convenient option.
Honeymoon Activities on the Gilis
Sunsets, diving, nightlife and a laid-back tropical island experience: the Gili Islands have a lot to offer. Below we list our favorite things to do in the Gili Islands.
Romantic Dining on the Gili Islands
With spectular views overlooking the ocean and surrounding islands, your best bet for a romantic experience is dining on the beach. We’ve highlighted our favorite restaurants below, most of them in Gili Air, which has the best dining options of the 3 islands. If you look for a more local experience, the Night Market in Gili Trawangan is an amazing spot to try some local food stalls selling grilled fish, seafood and other Indonesian specialities.
How to get to the Gili Islands
Most tourists use any of the fast ferry options between Gili and Bali, which usually stop at all three Gili islands. They cost roughly 30$ one-way depending on the company and time of day, and do sell out, so its advised to book them in advance via Baliferries.com, even though that is slightly more expensive than buying directly with the boat company in person.
Depending on where you are, there are different options for getting to the Gili Islands:
- From mainland Bali: you can take a direct fast ferry to the Gili Islands from Sanur Harbour (near Bali Airport) or Padang Bai in East Bali. The ferries from Padang Bai are faster and take roughly 1.5 to 2 hours. From Sanur it may take 3.5 to 4 hours sailing to get to the Gilis, which is why we recommend leaving from Padang Bai instead of Sanur.
- From Nusa Penida: there are daily fast ferries from Nusa Penida to the Gilis leaving in the morning. As far as we are aware, there are no boats from Nusa Lebongan or Nusa Ceningan to the Gili Islands.
- From Amed: there used to be a direct boat from Amed in north-east Bali to the Gili Islands too, which was a great option if you wanted to dive in both regions. However lately this boat does not seem to run anymore. It might be worth asking around as this boat is expected to return at some point.
- From Lombok: there are frequent and cheap public boats heading to the Gili Islands leaving from Bangsal in the north-west corner of Lombok. You won’t need to book these in advance.
Note that in bad weather boats might get cancelled. We would advise against very tight schedules involving a ferry and international flights out of Bali.
For the adventurous travel couples, there are other ways to get to the Gili Islands. We would recommend against them as it will take a long day to get from Bali to the Gili Islands by public transport. However if you’d like to try or if you plan to see more of Lombok: you can take a public slow boat from Padang Bai to Lembar in south-west Lombok for roughly $5. This takes around 5 hours. From there you can travel up overland to the port of Bangsal in the north-west. By taxi this would take 1.5 hours, longer by public bus (likely with a transfer in Mataram). From there you can take any of the frequent public boats leaving for the Gilis.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where are the Gili Islands?
The Gili Islands are three small islands off the coast of north-west Lombok in Indonesia. From west to east the islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili air.
Which Gili Island is the best for couples?
We recommend Gili Air for couples as it strikes the best balance between liveliness without being overrun by tourists. Gili Trawangan attracts mostly backpackers looking to party, while Gili Meno is the calmest of the three islands.
How to get around in the Gili Islands?
There is no motorized transport allowed on the Gilis. You can get around by foot (all three islands are small), bicycle or any of the horse-carriages.
How do I get to the Gili Islands from Bali Airport?
You will need a one hour taxi to the port of Padang Bai, where you can take a fast boat (book in advance) to Gili Air, Gili Trawangan or Gili Meno. This is a faster option than via the port of Sanur.
Is Gili Air a good honeymoon destination?
Yes, it is an amazing small tropical island with spectacular sunsets, great for diving, snorkeling and other water activities. There are great spots for a romantic beachfront dinner as well.
Is Gili Trawangan a good honeymoon destination?
If you are keen to party, definitely! It does attract a crowd of mostly backpackers, so potentially Gili Air might be a better fit for a honeymoon.
How long should we stay in the Gili Islands?
We'd suggest staying 2 to 3 nights. Longer and you might get bored, shorter and we believe it is not really worth taking the ferry all the way there from Bali. If you plan to get your scuba certification, plan to stay 4 nights.
There is a direct ferry from the Gili Islands to Nusa Penida island, so that could be an option if you’d like to explore a spectacular island with cliffs and beaches. If you plan to head back to the mainland of Bali, consider doing more diving in Amed, exploring the Jungle Town of Ubud or heading to the more luxurious regions of Seminyak or Canggu. If you think the surf was too mellow in the Gili’s, your best bet is heading to Uluwatu.
Written by Olivia & Dirk
Hi! We have put together this guide with a lot of care, based on our own experiences. As a couple, we have lived in Bali for the past 5 years, and we fell in love with the island. We have visited every corner of Bali, especially the romantic places ;-). While our articles do contain affiliate links, you can trust us to recommend only the experiences that we love.