So we were only meant to spend 5 days in Gili Air, but here we still are 11 days later! Island life sucks you in, with its sunny weather, great vegetarian food, sandy beaches and fantastic snorkelling. Unfortunately, we are actually leaving on the 18th September, but I know I’ll end up coming back in the future.
We’ve been staying in Villa Karang Homestay for £9.50 each a night for a double room with bathroom. The rooms are part of the hotel, but are a 3 minute or so walk away to the main hotel which is not an issue. We have access to the hotel pool, beach towels and a buffet breakfast. Considering rooms in the hotel are £40+ a night, I think we’ve got a pretty sweet deal.
The hotel is near the harbour, which means easy access to the boats to/from the island, but the good snorkelling sports are or on the other side of the island, which is only a 10/15 minute walk along the beach.
Sunrises and sunsets are dreamy. The best spots are on the west side of the island. The bar/restaurant Gili Lumbung is a particularly nice spot to watch the sunset, sat on bean bags on the beach. They also have the popular swing in the ocean which overlooks Gili Meno, Gili T & Mount Agung.
Another great spot is in the Blue Merlin Dive School cafe, eating yummy vegan food. You can read more about my food easy vegetarian food finds on Gili Air here.
The north side of the island is in my opinion the best for snorkelling and beaching because it’s away from the boats and tourists. The two best points for snorkelling are on the north west (outside Blue Merlin Dive School) and on the north-east of the island (outside the Gili Air Resort). You can snorkel right off the beach. I saw a lot of tourists wearing flippers to snorkel and walking through the reef. Make sure not to do this as it damages the coral and grasses.
Gili Air is as expensive as you make it, but it is certainly possible to do it on the cheap. We set ourselves a budget of around 150,000 – 250,000 IDR (£8-15) each day, not including accommodation. Some days I was under, but some days I was over when I did activities like diving, getting a massage or buying a good mask and snorkel.
We could have stayed in cheaper accommodation, but we liked the location of Villa Karang Homestay and the fact it had a pool and good buffet breakfast. One tip (which we should have done at first) is to pick a few places and walk around to them to barter for a good price, instead of booking online, especially in quieter seasons. When we extended our stay (3 times!!) we managed to get a cheaper rate (£7 instead of £9.50 a night).
Eating local Indonesian food is cheap, but if you want salads, good pizza etc. it is more expensive. We managed to have a good mix of food and plenty of iced coffees.
In total, I spent around £200 for 11 days on Gili Air (plus £300 for diving & buying a mask & snorkel), living the dream in paradise – no regrets! That works out at just under £20 a day for everything, including accommodation.
It’s been absolutely amazing having some time to properly relax and learn to dive. See you soon Gili Air!