Where and what is Gili Air? Its one of three small islands off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, reachable by boat from Bali. Although there is three Gili Islands; Trawangan, Meno and Air, the latter was best for me. All three islands are different and have their appeal so if you are planning a visit and only have time for one island pick one for you. Gili T is like the Ibiza of Indonesia, Menois a honeymoon destination, and Air is kinda in between and is the least commercialised and built up, however there is a fair bit of construction going on. Best bit about all the islands? No cars. Transport is either horse and cart or bikes.
The trip to the islands? Not so fun, if you are scared of boats and/or the sea its best not to look up the travel route. It is a very rocky, jumpy two hour ride where you are likely to get wet. I was particularly unlucky on my journey to the islands as my boat broke down which was not fun. But for roughly £30 return boat trip and shuttle bus to/from Ubud (or you mainland destination) its a bargain.
There is plenty of hotels, home stays and hostels on the island, all within a walking distance to the harbour (the islands circumference is only 5km!), but I stayed at Begadang Backpackers on the west. Its got a perfect location next to the beach, beach front bars and restaurants, and a shop. The hostel is made entirely out of bamboo with plenty of social areas and a pool also, so I would definitely recommend a stay there.
The island itself is a tropical paradise, perfect for relaxing for a few days but don’t be too reliant on wifi and electricity as it has been know to have the odd shortage. The islands are renowned for snorkelling and diving so its the perfect place to give it a try! In terms of shopping, theres not a whole lot on offer, a few stalls and shops near the harbour is about it.
Compared to Bali, Ubud in particular, food isn’t much to write home about as they have to work pretty much with what they can get on the island so don’t go expecting great food. However, The Mexican Kitchen is great, if a little bit more pricy than the mainland. Its right on the beach too and a great spot for sunset. The beach front bars are great too, offering wifi, and beanbags/sun loungers along the sea front and an open tab policy (if you want to pay each time you can), so its perfect for relaxing.
The sunset is great from the island, viewed from the beach near the hostel I stayed at, you can see the sun setting over Meno, with mountains in the far distance.
All in all, I would totally recommend a trip to Gili Air, I spent more there on food and drink than so far on my trip, but I did treat myself a bit and had quite a few beers and cocktails on the beach. My only tip is to travel to the islands light. I travel with a big suitcase as I cannot pack light, and I was lucky enough to be able to leave it at the home stay I was staying at in Ubud as it would have been impossible to get on the boat, and tiring to drag around the sand paths in the sun.