I remember researching Bali back before I went travelling and the Gili islands always looked surreal, but I can tell you, it actually looks like that with white beaches and a clear blue sea.
So, of course, the world isn’t back to normal and sadly Indonesia took a big hit when Covid hit. Going to the Gili islands, I didn’t really know what to expect.
But I was still shocked.
Sadly, 90% of the island is closed due to covid, and that’s the most it’s been open since covid hit.
If you have the opportunity to visit and support the local businesses, please do!!
Let’s jump into what I got up to and I’ll also include the cost.
Hotel – Pondok Santi
Cost: £175 (3.5mil) for 7 days (2 people) including breakfast
We stayed at the Pondok Santi resort because it came recommended by our friends. This was a great recommendation. I loved everything about this resort and the staff were kind, helpful and cheerful.
We stayed there for the whole stay as it’s one of the only hotels open on the island.
They have six small bungalows, four medium-sized villas and four villas with private pools. As there was eight of us, we decided to all stay in the small bungalows so we were close to each other.
The bungalows were perfect for what we needed. They included a double bed, T.V, wardrobe and the bathroom was outside (the toilet was in a separate section, but the shower and sink were outdoors) It was beautiful but there was obviously a lot of bugs. If you’re not a fan of bugs, I wouldn’t recommend the smaller bungalows.
As this was during the quieter times, the hotel had a limited menu which included pizzas, nasi/me goreng, and sides. Safe to say, I’m off the pizza and rice for a while.
The hotel also provided us with snorkeling gear and flippers for the trips that we took. All the staff were super helpful and by the end of the week, I was sad to say goodbye.
The hotel has a good list of cocktails and were priced between 60k to 100k (£3-£5)
I would 100% stay at this hotel again and would recommend checking it out.
Cost: £80 (1.6mil) for a return tickets (2 people)
I’ll be honest, I’m really not a boat person, but the ferry ride across wasn’t bad! It was a fast boat which meant you didn’t feel the current. We went with Eka Jaya ferry company which also required a negative covid result before boarding.
On the way to Gili T, the boat stopped at Lombok and then it dropped us off at Gili T. In total the boat took less than two hours.
Sadly, the way back wasn’t as smooth. The boat was running late and departed just under two hours late. We then had to make two stops before heading back to Bali. The boat took over three hours to get back to Bali.
Safe to say, I was excited to get off the boat.
There are seats inside the boat along with the top deck.
I would advise not sitting on the top deck for too long as it’s very easy to get sunburned.
The ferry across to Gili T was very quiet but the trip back was busier, this was due to people travelling over for the weekend.
Private boat tour
Cost: £25 (500k) per person for four hours (the boat tour was £200 (4 mil) but we had eight people)
This was by far my favourite part of the trip. We hired a private boat through the hotel and sailed around the islands. There is a public boat tour option, but as there was eight of us it was worth getting the private boat.
We got picked up at 10am and headed off to the underwater statue outside Gili Meno.
I would like to add a note that this was my first time ever in the sea. I am not a good swimmer and I was terrified for most of it.
We got our snorkeling gear on and the boat dropped us off at the statues. It was a little busy with other boats so we didn’t spend too long at the statues. I was honestly amazed by the clear ocean and the little fish swimming about my legs.
We hopped back on the boat and headed to Turtle point.
I have never seen a proper turtle in the sea, never mind getting to swim with them. I saw around four turtles up close and it was incredible.
If you would like to see the footage we got of the turtles, check it out on Travels of an Anxious Gal.
After swimming with the turtles we headed off to Gili Air.
Sadly, Gili Air had less open than Gili T, there was only one restaurant that we could see open. We stopped off for some lunch and met some of the locals.
We then headed back to the Gili T. It was the most amazing experience and getting to swim in the ocean for the first time was a surreal moment.
Restaurant – Jali
There were a few restaurants open on Gili T but our favourite was Jali. The food there was fresh and delicious. If you visit Gili T, Jali is a must.
They also make their own cakes which are the best cakes I’ve had in Indonesia. I had the flourless cake and also the chocolate truffle cake. Lyle had the carrot cake… every time.
The cost varied as some nights we would eat more, but we didn’t spend over £10 (200k) for two people for dinner.
Jali also delivers to hotels around the island. On our last night, we got food and cake delivered.
Travelling around the island
The only form of travel around the Gili islands is by bicycle or horse and cart. I never really thought about travelling until we arrived and there were no real roads. Cycling is hard enough, but cycling in the sand was impossible.
I understand why there are no bikes or cars on the island as you really don’t need them. You can travel from one end of the island to the other in thirty minutes.
The hotel provided bikes for us to use. There was only one occasion where there were not enough bikes for the eight of us, which was okay as everything is walking distance.
The bikes are road bikes which meant they had thin tires. We all fell off at one point as cycling in the sand was difficult.
Extras that we done – Mini Golf
Cost: £2.50 (50k) per person
We were lucky enough that mini-golf was open next to Jali. On Friday night we decided to go for a round of mini-golf.
The golf course had the full eighteen holes and was great fun.
Sadly we decided to go out at night, which meant we were bit… a lot.
Experiencing my first earthquake
Having lived in Scotland my whole life, I’ve never experienced an earthquake before.
On Friday night, just shortly after we finished playing mini-golf, we jumped on our bikes to head back. As we were up an alleyway, it was pretty dark already.
Then the power cut.
We were in complete darkness. Whenever I’ve been in darkness, I’ve been able to see a little, but we were in complete darkness and I couldn’t see my hand even if it was in front of my face.
We quickly turned on our phone torches and cycled to the main road. We then realised the power had gone out on the whole island. We decided to head back to the hotel to find out what was happening.
After arriving back at the hotel, we were fortunate enough that our hotel had a backup generator.
We decided to sit at the pool and play some cards whilst we waited for some more information.
The power all cut out again and the ground started to shake.
I remember grabbing onto the chair I was sitting on thinking it was Lyle shaking my chair. It only lasted for around 10 to fifteen seconds, but it felt a lot longer.
The power then came back on after the earthquake. We checked online and it was measured at a 4.3 on the richter scale. After speaking to the staff, earthquakes are very common in the Gili Islands.
A week in the Gili islands in 2021
The week overall was incredible. With the exception of a few bumps in the road – the holiday was incredible. I am very grateful to experience and visit the islands and would recommend visiting all the Gili islands when you get the chance.
Have you visited the Gili islands before? If so, what was your favourite part?