10 tips to enjoy Gili Air like a local

It is nearly 10 years since I came to Gili Air, and I am still deeply in love with this wonderful paradise island. With palm trees along the coastline, white sand beaches, crystal clear water, and the wonderful view of the majestic Mount Rinjani on Lombok, Gili Air had my heart from day one. These are all reasons why I chose to settle here, and why I keep falling in love with this place over and over again. My wish is for you to explore the best of what Gili Air has to offer, so you can see the magic that I found in this place.

Download our Travel Like a Local – Ebook 2020 by Gili Travel Agency here, to explore the best of what Gili Air has to offer!

1. Night Action

One of the best things to do when the sun has set in Gili Air, is to visit the amazing Pura Vida. On Sundays they have Live Reggae Music, which you can enjoy on their beachfront restaurant. Let the moonlight shine while this wonderful Reggae band light up your night. Sometimes it is impossible to sit still while the great tunes and vibes go on – I simply have to dance barefoot in the sand! @puravidagiliair

Photo by @askjulie.travel

Another lovely activity to do during night time in Gili Air, is to join the crowd at Mexican Kitchen for Salsa Night. Every Monday this lovely beachfront restaurant hosts Salsa Night for beginners and advanced – starting with a lesson followed by a fun salsa dance for everyone. Taste their margaritas and nachos while you are there! You are definitely in for a treat. @mexicankitchengiliair

Any other night, I love sitting around the bonfire at Queen Sunset after watching a magical sunset. That bar has managed to keep the energy, which I fell in love with 10 years ago, alive; it is a cute, local bar with a laid back underground island atmosphere. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. They often have international DJ’s pop up – Tune in; you never really know what will happen, but it is always a memorable night. @queensunset.

If you feel like having a dance, @giliairevents has all the night action of the island.

2. Sunset experience

One of my favorite moments on Gili Air is when the sun is setting. There is something special about the amazing and colorful sunsets on Gili Air. See the sun paint the sky in fifty shades of pink while it sets behind Mount Agung in Bali.

My favorite place to watch the sunset is at Camilla Beach Club on the North side of the island. With a glass of wine and a platter of delicious sushi, you can enjoy the sunset in peaceful and quiet surroundings. Sometimes a DJ will turn up some lovely sunset-tunes for your treat. Enjoy! @camillabeachclub

Photo by @askjulie.travel

3. For the yoga lovers

Gili Air is booming with many new and amazing places around the island. One of my favorite places to go for a nice yoga session is Kenza Yoga. This beautifully decorated yoga shala is located right next to the ocean on the East coast of Gili Air. Enjoy an inspiring yoga class while the wind gently plays with the white curtains while watching the turquoise water splash on the shore. After class, you can eat your lunch or dinner at their delicious café serving tasty smoothie bowls and avocado on sourdough. Yummi! @kenzayoga

4. Give back to the local community

What I truly love about Gili Air is the unique and vibrant local community. Locals and expats live side by side helping each other and working together. On this island, the locals are always nice, friendly and inspiring to talk to. I love to visit Gili Air’s Elementary School (SD) on Saturday mornings when the volunteers of Soraya Foundation connect with the kids of Gili Air. Give back to the local community by joining in for an English class or a zero-waste lesson. @sorayafoundation

If you are interested in giving back through ocean projects, you should definitely talk to the lovely people from Gili Shark Conservation. They also teach conservation classes at the elementary school on Saturdays. @gilisharkconservation

Photo by @sorayafoundation

5. Eat local

I just love the Indonesian kitchen! Nothing beats a tasteful Lombok Curry or a spicy Nasi Goreng. It is amazing how almost every Indonesian chef knows how to use the local ingredients. My favorite local place in Gili Air is definitely Warung Alam Damai, which means peaceful world. Chef Darma cooks the most delicious Indonesian dishes. Sometimes he even offers you a cooking class – just order your food, and he will show you how to cook the meal. Make sure to tip him, because he is amazing! @waroengalamdamai

6. Scuba diving

The Gili Islands are well known for their rich marine life and their stunning coral gardens. Any dive instructor will guarantee you to spot a turtle or two during a dive, and it is magical to explore the world underneath the surface. Visit the reefs of Gili Air with Dedi at Blue Marine Dive. He has been diving the Gilis his entire life, and he knows the corals better than his own pocket. @bluemarinediveair

Photo by @bluemarinediveair

7. Snorkel around the Gilis

If scuba diving is not your thing, you still have a chance to spot the amazing turtles. It is very popular to snorkel around the Gili Islands, where many spots are well known for millions of fish species, octopus, rays and turtles. Head out on a private boat with Captain Madi. He is one of the originals of the island. Captain Madi has been sailing for many years, and he knows exactly where to take you to bring you to the turtles. Ask Madi to swing by the statues of Jason de Caires Taylor outside of Gili Meno. @gilitravelagency

Photo by @bluemarinediveair

8. Treat yourself

When taking your time to visit a paradise like Gili Air, it is essential to take time for yourself to relax and rejuvenate. There is no other place on the island like Slow Villas & Spa, where unique spa experiences are waiting for you. Come treat yourself with a Balinese massage, a romantic flowerbath or a deep cleaning facial. Try a traditional Lombok Massage and get your muscles worked through. This idyllic place uses only organic products and gives you the full luxury experience. Slow Villas & Spa also have 9 luxury villas nestles in a beautiful coconut plantation. If you are in for a night in luxury surroundings, this is definitely the place to go. @slowgiliair

Photo by @slowgiliair

9. Join a beach clean-up

The best thing I know is walking on a CLEAN beach, where you don’t find plastic and trash everywhere. This is why I love the many initiatives around Gili Air where you can help clean the beaches. My favorite one to join is the beach clean up with the Trash Heroes at 3W Dive. You should definitely try! @3wdive @trashheroesgiliair 

10. Get your swing shot

You haven’t really been to Gili Air, if you don’t have a swing-shot on the beach shore, have you? The coast of Gili Air is full of beautiful swings where you can take lovely photos at sunset and sunrise. The best swing to visit is the one at Pink Coco. This cute pink swing is surrounded by a fully pink set-up, which is the ideal location for a swing photo! @pinkcoco_hotels

Photo by: @pinkcoco_hotels / @andrealarsson

So, welcome to Gili Air! I wish you a beautiful stay in this magical island. Please feel free to contact me for any inquiries, transfers, or a tailor-made travel around Indonesia.