Things to do Gili Islands – A week in Paradise

by Ronda Christensen
Things to do Gili Islands – A week in Paradise

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Gili Islands are correctly termed as Paradise on the Earth. You can spend a quality time here by relaxing at the beaches and enjoying the cool breeze. The magical and healing sound of waves will make you feel so much connected to nature. There are so many things to do at Gili Islands that make you feel rejoiced. 

In this article, we have mentioned some of the “Must Do” things at Gili Islands. Hope you will find them useful.


1. Swimming in the low tide.

Gili Air is surrounded by beaches where you can forget all your worries. We spent the majority of our time relaxing here and enjoyed watching the tides change over the course of the week. Swiming can be among the amazing things to do Gili IslandsAn interesting part of this island is how flat the seemingly endless beaches are. In the distance, a coral reef breaks the waves creating a large calm area to relax in. When the tide is at its lowest, you’ll find a few crystal clear puddles large enough to submerge yourself in. Swimming at high tide is also good but we preferred low tide.

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We stayed on the southwest side of the island. It was excellent for sunset but walking on the coral was tough. if you are willing to enjoy it, don’t forget to bring good water shoes. 

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2. Biking around the island

Automobiles and motorized traffic are prohibited on all of the Gili islands. It makes renting a bike the perfect way to get around.  It took us about two hours with stops to complete the entire circuit.  Biking is among the most thrilling things to do Gili Islands.Along the way, you’ll see beautiful beaches everywhere. There’s a trail that encircles the outer part of the island, be aware that a few stretches are covered in sand requiring you to walk your bike. We laughed ourselves off our bikes during our attempt to peddle through. There were also several great restaurants and cheaper accommodations in the center of the island that having bikes makes easier to access.

Renting a bike will cost you 40,000IDR/day or less.

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What to do on the Gili Islands

If you’re looking for a more remote Indonesia island be sure to check out these great things to do on Sumba?  


3. SCUBA Diving or Snorkeling

Whether you are an experienced diver or a beginner, Gili Air is a wonderful place to dive.  In fact, if you dive anywhere on Bali you’re likely to head to a dive site right by the Gili Islands.  The massive coral reefs are teeming with life and while nothing is guaranteed on a dive. There may be high chances that you’ll dive with turtles and other exotic sea creatures.  The best site and things to do Gili Islands I went to was Shark Point where I watched a sea turtle eat breakfast in the reef as smaller fish swarmed for his leftovers.  As you go deeper, sharks are likely to hide in alcoves beneath the reef.  I caught the tail end of a small one as he swam into the darkness but others divers on my boat saw larger ones around the dive site.

Dives cost about 490,000IDR each and include all equipment.  If you aren’t a diver you can still enjoy the sea life with a snorkel!
Check out this SCUBA gift guide!


4. Yoga @ H2O Yoga

Like many other islands, Gili Air is a place that offers serenity and a chance to disconnect from mundane life and reconnect with yourself. The island has two major studios that offer yoga classes. “H20 Yoga” became our favorite with their focus entirely on yoga and the spirituality the practice entails. The studio is situated in the center of the island encompassed by a tropical forest.


Upon entering, the staff were incredibly kind and welcoming and the space provided the “zen” we had aspired to find with nothing but the sound of the birds surrounding us. To our surprise, they had a cafe (which sold green juices and gluten free banana bread), bungalows to rent and a pool in addition to their classes. The class was held in a large gazebo made specifically for yoga and comfortably fit 10 of us but could easily fit 20 more. We attended five classes total and were sad to say goodbye after the last one. If you’re interested in checking out the other studio, “Mandala Blue”, it’s located on the northeast side of the island, directly on the beach. Yoga is one of the amazing and relaxing things to do Gili Islands.

H20 offers two classes each day with a meditation class twice per week. Retreats and workshops are frequently offered as well but refer to their schedule. Classes cost 100,000IDR each or we purchased a 4-class bundle for 350,000IDR. The bundle can be shared with as many people as you want.  


5. Stargazing_dsc4732-001

Gili Air is quite remote allowing stargazers the prime opportunity to see a beautiful night sky. We saw shooting stars and a clear outline of the Milky Way every single night. The clouds usually parted from 10:00pm-12:00am each night, but even after midnight there were still plenty of stars to behold. If you enjoy night photography, you’re guaranteed to capture the perfect photo, so don’t forget your tripod and a remote for star-trails. You can’t afford to miss such mind-blowing things to do Gili Islands.

 

 

 

Best Places to visit on Gili Air

6. Partying the night away

While Gili Trawangan is the main party island, Gili Air still offers plenty of nighttime entertainment.  Most restaurants and hotels have a bar that will stay open as late as there are customers but shut down around 11pm or midnight when empty.  The resorts share the party nights so check with a local while you’re there for a precise schedule or just walk along the beach and listen for the music.  Just about anywhere you go is sure to be psychedelic with great music and drinks.  If you really want an all night party you should head to Gili T but if you’re up for something a little tamer, then head to Gili Air!dsc_0728


7. Enjoying the sweet delicacies.

Okay, so maybe we are foodies who love to eat.  But then again who doesn’t?  Gili Air has a wide range of restaurants to pick from with local delicacies, Indonesian staples and great western food too.  If you’re all about organic or have a special diet don’t fret because Gili Air offers a solution for every culinary desire.  Stay tuned for a more in depth look at our favorite eateries but if you’re heading there in the meantime we recommend Easy Warung’s Gegepek curry found exclusively on Gili Air, Pachamama for amazingly fresh organic meals and the local corn man for a light snack!


8. Sunset on the swings

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When the sun gets low a wonderful orange hue spreads across the sky.  Sunsets are everywhere but sunset in paradise is even better!  When you head to the southwest corner of Gili Air you’ll find a beautiful set of swings and a hammock to play in.  If its close to sunset there will likely be a line of travelers waiting to snap a photo.  Its well worth the wait, but I recommend bringing some small change to drop in the donation box for the Gili Air schools.

 

Gili Air Indonesia


9. Taking the horse and buggy

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Motorized vehicles are not allowed on Gili Air which makes the most care-free way of moving around the island a horse-drawn buggy. The bumpy ride will take you anywhere on the island for about 100,000IDR. It is the perfect option to take advantage of with your heavy bags when you arrive or for a romantic evening during your stay. There are usually carriages waiting at the port or you can hail one as they trudge along the dirt road.

 

 


10. Live Music on the beach

With restaurants lining the shore its easy to find some live music just about any time any day.  Locals and tourists jam out together singing popular covers.  It’s the perfect way to relax after dinner or sit and stargaze with live background music.  If you’re up for more of a party get up and dance but either way you’re sure to love the live music on Gili Air.

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10 Must Do’s on Gili Air, Indonesia

Photos and narrative by Mike Still & Ronda Christensen

Ronda Christensen

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65 comments

Gareth November 18, 2016 - 6:19 pm

Such a beautiful part of the world and it really looks as though you made the most of your time there. I kind of raised my eyebrow when you suggested swimming during low tide but the water looks so inviting. What was particularly striking however, was the stargazing… Incredible. Makes me a little sorry to be stuck in starless China… 🙁

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:05 pm

Gareth, I feel you on starless China. I’m based out of Seoul and we are lucky to catch even 1 or 2 stars with all the pollution 🙁

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Nika - nextstopabroad.com November 18, 2016 - 7:36 pm

what an incredible place this seems to be!! 🙂 I have never heard of Gili Air before but it looks like a perfect gateway for relaxing. I never swing in the sea so one more reason why to visit this place while in SEA. Thank you Mike for sharing this paradise with us.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:04 pm

Happy to help inspire you for your next trip! Gili is indeed the perfect getaway for relaxing!

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Punita Malhotra November 18, 2016 - 10:03 pm

Ah, the laid back life! Looks like you really let your hair down. How can anyone really leave Indonesia and go back to work? 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:03 pm

That is the real question isn’t it!

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Luca November 19, 2016 - 12:58 am

9/10 for me hahaha!
I’d try for sure everything except partying the night away: it’s not my cup of tea plus, considering how a laid back experience it would be being there, practicing yoga, diving and floating on the sea water, it would look like sacrilegious to me! 😀

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:02 pm

Luca, if you love 9 out of 10 you have to visit!

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Davide uTravelShare.com November 19, 2016 - 7:26 am

Nice place in Indonesia to enjoy your time, especially for the night life. I have been there and I think it’s crowded of foreign people that are destroying (maybe we did it already) this lovely island.
You list is perfect of things to do there, anyway I would add the #11: Take the boat on the harbour and make a day trip around the island (or maybe get to the other 2 islands too)
Enjoy, thanks for sharing it

http://www.utravelshare.com

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:02 pm

Your #11 suggestion is perfect! I got to see a lot of the island when I went to my dive site and its so cool.

Its sad that many tourists destroy the island but we found most of Gili Air to be quite eco friendly.

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Christina November 19, 2016 - 8:37 am

I have been seeing so many pictures from the Gili Islands recently therefore I am so happy I read your post.
How long do you recommend staying here?
Is it easy to island hop to the other Gili Islands?
How fast and expensive was it to get from Ubud, Bali to Gili Air?

I am looking forward to reading your post about the eateries you dined at while staying here 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:01 pm

Christina,

I hope this answers your questions!

1) I would spend at least 3 days on the island.
2) Its very easy to go between the islands. When I went diving we took a boat past Gili T and it was only about 30 minutes away. You can see all of the Gilis from the beach
3) I think we spent about $40 per person for a van that picked us up at our hotel and included a ferry ticket to the Gilis. You can definitely do it cheaper with public transportation to the harbor but we were a bit lazy. I think it was about 1 and a half hours to drive and then a similar ferry time but they stop on Lombok before the Gili Islands. Between all the stops and waiting to board it took about 5 or 6 hours from Ubud to Gili.

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luxurybackpacking | Emma November 19, 2016 - 1:46 pm

I love the Gili Islands, I was only there for 4 nights and visited Gili T but reading this makes me want to book a flight back and visit Gili Air! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:57 pm

Gili T is great for a party but Gili Air is much more relaxing 🙂

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Nancy November 19, 2016 - 3:15 pm

I never heard of Gili islands before but I’ve written this down into my must visit list. From the mountains to the sea to the starry night it looks like heaven on earth! Plus the swings in the water, I’ve never seen that before, got to go try them!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:57 pm

Nancy, I’m sure you would absolutely adore the Gili Islands!

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Gypsycouple November 19, 2016 - 6:38 pm

Love the pics and the suggestions. The swimming at low tide seems a bit iffy but given how great the water looks, might give it a try as well 🙂 Thanks for sharing this wonderful list. Should be helpful when we hit Indonesia, hopefully sometime next year

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:55 pm

If you don’t like the low tide then check it out during high tide 🙂 We liked how you could float just above the sand during the low tides.

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Vyjay November 19, 2016 - 9:59 pm

Gili air sounds like pure heaven. And so many activities too. I would love swimming in the low tide and watch the magical sunset by the swings. Stargazing is another enthralling activity.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:53 pm

Its such a heavenly place with so many relaxing activities!

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Gokul Raj November 19, 2016 - 10:59 pm

You be in a place like this and you will hate to go back to the cubicle job.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:53 pm

So true! That’s why I’ve never worked in a cubicle haha. My classroom is always fun after a vacation. I love sharing my adventures with my students as I plan for the next one.

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Lara Dunning November 20, 2016 - 8:55 am

What an enchanting island. I think I’d spend my time riding bikes and soaking the pools at low tide. And, of course, eating with a little drinking. 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:52 pm

Sounds like you would do everything just right on Gili Air

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Olena Kagui November 20, 2016 - 11:15 am

This is basically my dream vacation! I’ve heard all about the beauty of Bali but I never realized how awesome the stargazing was. The swings over the water look so cool! But you made me the most excited about the food there 🙂 thanks for sharing!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:51 pm

Stargazing was one of our favorite things during our stay! I hope you make your dream come true one day!

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Corinne November 20, 2016 - 9:59 pm

Next time I’m in Indonesia, I’ll be heading to the Gilis…so much fun and sun. How can you go wrong?

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:50 pm

Its the perfect place to relax!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 11:03 pm

Exactly!

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Corinne November 20, 2016 - 10:00 pm

I want to go to the Gilis next time I visit Indonesia…so many islands, so little time.

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Sabine November 20, 2016 - 10:07 pm

That swing really looks amazing! Unfortunately we could not go to the Gili islands during our trip to Indonesia. It will be a reason to head back there and enjoy all these great things 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 20, 2016 - 10:50 pm

I hope you make it back and get to enjoy some relaxation on the Gilis!

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Viktoria November 21, 2016 - 4:21 am

I dove on Bali and I heard only great things about Gili Air! The diving was challenging, so I hope that Gili Air will be easier and more enjoyable 😉

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 21, 2016 - 2:18 pm

Some of the dives are easy but a lot of it requires Open Water training. Its well worth it though!

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Wanderlust Vegans November 21, 2016 - 5:36 am

Such a great list of must dos! We will keep them in mind if we ever make it that way! Which i am sure we will. The beach looks lovely.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 21, 2016 - 2:18 pm

You would love Gili Air! Its so Vegan friendly too

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Juliette | Snorkels to Snow November 21, 2016 - 3:12 pm

I have heard & read wonderful things about this place and your piece has confirmed that. I would like to go scuba diving there. Interesting that you preferred swimming at low tide! Most people prefer it at high tide. And I’d totally be up for the yoga class too!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 21, 2016 - 3:39 pm

The low tide was just so much fun with calm waters and you could float just above the sand!

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Jo November 21, 2016 - 9:06 pm

Gili air looks fab a bit like Gili trawangan with the horse buggy rides, low times , swings and all. I loooved Gili T. Have you been to both though and how would you compare it to air – apart from the difference you mentioned about the party scene.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 2:03 pm

I didn’t go to Gili T but spoke to a bunch of ppl who did and it seems like its very similar but Gili Air is more relaxed. Some nights we would hear Gili T’s music off in the distance as we were leaving the beach.

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Sarah - Exploring Kiwis November 21, 2016 - 9:15 pm

Wow, those star photos! Do you have any tips please? We’re off to Iceland and Norway soon as I’d love to try for some of our own 🙂 We have a tripod but not a remote – is it essential? Thanks!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 2:04 pm

We didn’t use a remote! The tripod is a must though. Crank your ISO up as high as it goes (4000 or something crazy like that), leave the shutter open for 20-30 seconds and see if you can find a delayed shutter setting. That way your finger pushing the button won’t interfere.

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Ben November 21, 2016 - 11:19 pm

Brilliant, thanks for this as we are heading to the Gili’s in a month or so! cant wait!

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 2:05 pm

You’re gonna love it!

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Suz November 22, 2016 - 2:31 am

I’ve never heard of the Gili Islands until reading this, but at first glance it looks pretty perfect. Like a literal depiction of paradise! I would love to be able to stargaze with a clear sky like that. I haven’t had a good night away from a city in a long time to just look up.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 2:02 pm

If I didn’t get out of the city and stare at the stars every once in a while I think I’d go crazy!

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Sudipto November 22, 2016 - 3:00 am

Lying around in the shallow pools is so awesome. This sounds like a perfect way to relax. Tel us something about the food there.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 2:01 pm

The food was delicious and cheap! You could get western food but it wasn’t as good as the local stuff. My gf and I preferred the curries but ate some western stuff too. Its very vegan/vegetarian friendly also.

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melody pittman November 22, 2016 - 7:10 am

What a gorgeous destination! I would love to go to Indonesia! Those swing pictures are my favorite. I have never seen the horses and buggy in any posts about Indonesia before. What a charming addition to the travel scene. 😉

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 22, 2016 - 10:06 am

Thanks Melody 🙂 The island charm here is absolutely amazing!

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Jitaditya Narzary November 23, 2016 - 5:31 am

TBH I had no idea about this place. I wondered if such a long list can be made on only one small place. But I was sold the moment saw the first pic! And the starry sky image is awesome too.

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 23, 2016 - 12:16 pm

I’m glad you like it! Its a small island indeed and you can certainly just relax the whole time but there’s also great activities to enjoy!

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Call of Travel November 24, 2016 - 12:49 am

Those swings look like such a cool place to hang out at sunset. Can you actually use them for an extended period of time or are they there for people to take that “perfect Instagram picture”?

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 24, 2016 - 10:22 am

There is a line at sunset with a donation box for local schools. But if you go during the day there often isn’t a line. We got lucky a few times and were able to hang out on them and at other times we just had to take a quick photo and let the next person go.

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Kristina November 24, 2016 - 10:52 am

Those swings look like so much fun, also ripe for cute photos! This seems like such a gorgeous area. I have some friends in Indonesia and I think they’ve mentioned Gili before. I’ll have to send this to them to see if this was what they were talking about! Wonderful photos 🙂

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 25, 2016 - 9:13 am

I’m sure your friends in Indonesia would have mentioned the Gilis. They are just perfect!

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neha November 26, 2016 - 1:47 am

Another great post on Indonesia..I have read so many this week, all about different beautiful places. I take this as an indication that I shouldn’t delay my indonesia tour anymore

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 26, 2016 - 5:12 pm

You’re indication is right you’ve got to go to Indonesia!

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Sara I do what I want to November 26, 2016 - 8:34 am

We are just leaving Indonesia, but we left Gili Islands for another time, there is so much to see in this country and so much to visit that we had to decide what to do this time, next time Gili will be on our list

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mike.j.still@gmail.com November 26, 2016 - 5:11 pm

Indonesia is a lovely country with so much to see! Where did you go?

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FS November 27, 2016 - 4:04 am

Wow this is great. I had never heard of Gili islands till now but I will definitely now add this place in my bucket list.

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Munchkin Treks November 28, 2016 - 8:30 am

I’ve never heard of Gili Air before. I enjoyed reading about all of the activities you did there. This sounds like a truly active trip with snorkeling, yoga, biking, and swimming. I always look for ways to make my own trips adventurous too.

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Kate November 28, 2016 - 2:51 pm

This looks like the most relaxing time. I would love to snorkel here! I would never leave 🙂

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