They say good things (or maybe it’s bad things) happen in threes. That’s definitely the case for the Gili Islands, a group of three tiny coral islands off the coast of Lombok. I’ve already taken you on a tour of Trawangan (the largest) and Meno (the smallest), so it’s time to complete the trilogy. Where are the best beaches on Gili Air? I took a few hours to find out during my recent honeymoon!
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Starting at the port (basically just a beach where the boats stop), we walked clockwise around the island which took a couple of hours (with plenty of stops). After 5-10 minutes we came to a stunning stretch of beach with numerous ocean front bars and restaurants providing plenty of room for relaxation. You can’t go wrong anywhere in this area (roughly between Mowies Bar and Bungalows and Adinda Cafe and Bungalows) — the sand is soft and white and the water is tropical looking enough to incite jealousy in your social media friends (hopefully that’s not the main reason you’re visiting though). You can also take a photo on one of several partially submerged swings — it seems to be the most popular thing to do in the Gili Islands these days.
The southwest area has the best beach on Gili Air, but hopefully you decide to keep reading to see what the others are like.
Gili Air in 2022
I travelled back to Gili Air in August 2022, four years after my honeymoon. I wanted to see if the horror years of 2020 – mid 2022 changed the Gili Islands in any meaningful way. I didn’t — it’s a little quieter but it was always a “quiet” destination (aside from Gili T). Some places didn’t survive, but there are still lots of hotels and restaurants around and enough other travellers around for it not to feel like a ghost town. Check out my recent post about my trip to the Gili Islands in 2022!
Northwest is not only the relative location of the beaches I’m about to talk about, but it’s also the name of Kim Kardashian / Kanye West’s kid, and I hate that I know that. The beaches get a little rougher once you head north but there are still some nice stretches (especially around PinkCoco / Island View Bar and Bungalow). You’re also close enough to the best beach so it wouldn’t be a bad area to stay.
The Northern End
There are some nice sections of beach on Gili Air’s northern coast and there are heaps of places to stay, eat, drink and shop. I liked the atmosphere in this area but the beaches aren’t quite as special as the ones on the west coast. If I was going to stay in this area it’d be somewhere around Puri Air Beach Resort or a bit further along around Pelangi Cottages and Restaurant. Still though, the beaches here don’t come close to the quality of the ones on the west coast.
The east coast doesn’t have the best beaches on Gili Air (sometimes no beaches at all), but it does have some of the best water. There are plenty of nice places to eat and drink that take advantage of the views too. There are some pockets of beach in this area and some of them are really nice. There is a high concentration of tourist services in this area which potentially makes it a good place to stay (assuming you don’t mind a bit of development).
The Port Area
The port area, where you’ll arrive and depart, is located in the south of the island. It’s a decent place and features some of Gili Air’s best cafes (check out Coffee and Thyme if you’ve got some time to kill while waiting for a boat).
So, Where Are the Best Beaches on Gili Air?
The south west side of Gili air is your best bet if you’re looking for a world class beach with a high degree of comfort. You can’t beat relaxing in a comfortable chair and drinking a cold beverage while looking out at one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia. It’s a bit like the Maldives only way cheaper and nowhere near as exclusive. Gili Air, along with its two neighbours, has fast become one the world’s top beach destinations — it’s pretty tough to beat the combination of ocean views, white sand beaches, ease of access (it’s only a 90 minute boat ride from Bali) and affordability.
Gili Air Beach Clean-up
Before we travelled to Gili Air I read that the island was a mess due to the “beach clean-up” which basically entailed knocking down heaps of hastily put together structures which had sprung up around the island. It does have a bit of a construction site feel to it in parts (at least it did in April 2018) but it’s easy enough to escape and it may lead to an even more attractive island in the future. The beaches themselves are fairly clean, especially close to big resorts etc, but there is a bit of trash around in some of the less developed areas.
Are you planning a trip to the Gili Islands? Which island are you most excited about? Let me know in the comments below!
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