While sorting through my photos this week it suddenly occurred to me that I had NEVER written about The Gili Islands in Indonesia on my blog!! Or more specifically, Gili Air, one of the islands closest to the big island of Lombok. I’m actually amazed, because it is by far one of my most favourite places that I’ve ever been to. Sure, I’ve written a couple of posts about neighbouring Bali, which btw is somewhere I’d rush back to in a heartbeat, but why not Gili Air? And as this week is the week of luuuuurve, I’d also been thinking about some of the most romantic destinations I’ve ever been to, and Gili Air in my mind is the most perfect place to have some quality alone time! Sure, I’ve really enjoyed trips to Paris and Venice, the classic destinations you think of for a romantic getaway but they’ve mostly involved standing in huge lines for museums and art galleries and paying through the nose for a cocktail. Beautiful cities, but a very different experience from chilling with your Beau on a tropical island that’s so small you can walk around the whole thing in an hour. And where finding a deserted bit of white sandy beach with just the sound of the clear turquoise water gently lapping at the shore is easy. If you’re planning a couple’s trip to Bali or Lombok make sure you head to the Gili Islands and check out these 10 romantic things to do in Gili Air.
1. Eat the freshest seafood right on the beach
You’re on a tiny tropical island, of course the seafood is going to be incredible! Lots of the beachside restaurants offer nightly seafood BBQs of snapper, tuna, swordfish, lobster and all sorts of things served simply with potato and salads or the Indonesian way with plenty of spice, peanuts and rice. Many of the restaurants offer candlelit dinner for 2 right down by the shoreline, away from the main restaurant. Our favourite was Scallywags on the south-eastern side of the island.
2. Takea ride on the “Love swing”
Err that sounds a bit wrong doesn’t it?! But it’s not quite what you may think! A swing with a view seems to be all the rage in Indonesia. You can take a swing over the trees or over the rice terraces on Bali. And on Gili Air you can watch the sun set on a beautiful wooden swing overlooking the ocean. Take the perfect Insta shot to make your friends vomit inducingly jealous!
3. Private Yoga class on a stand-up paddle board
There’s nothing like trying to stay dry on a tiny floating platform in the ocean while doing a headstand to really get to know your partner, ha! This activity is very challenging, but also a lot of fun. Lots of the dive centres on Gili Air do both private and group classes daily. opt for the sunset slot for that added bit of romance.
4. Couples massage
Get a traditional Balinese massage for two at one of the day spas on Gili Air. Balinese massage is a deep tissue massage that uses stretching, reflexology and acupressure. It can be a bit intense at times, I’ve really no idea how these tiny Indonesian women have so much strength in their hands, but you do come out feeling like you’re floating on a cloud and super relaxed. We really enjoyed our experience at Slow Villas and Spa in the north of the island.
5. Cooking class
Indonesian food is deeeeelish! Being able to cook Gado-Gado, Nasi Goreng and yellow curry for your friends and family when you get home will definitely impress. Workstations at Gili Cooking Classes on the island are for two people, so you can work together with your partner to cook up a storm.
6. Watch a movie on the beach
A few bars on the island do a movie night a couple of days a week, however there is also an open-air cinema on the south of Gili Air that shows mostly new releases. Snuggle up on a bean bag with a cocktail and some popcorn under the stars.
7. Go swimming with sea turtles
This is probably one of the top things to do in Gili Air as there are so many around all of the islands. You can book a snorkeling tour if you like, but it’s also easy to swim out from the shore to find all sorts of coral, tropical fish and sea turtles. Just be careful where you put your feet! I stepped on a sea urchin which was incredibly painful and totally killed the vibe.
8. Bike round the island to find a deserted bit of beach.
There are no cars or roads on the island, which makes Gili Air even more idyllic in my opinion. The best way of getting around and exploring is bicycle, which you can hire from your accommodation or any number of dive shops or tour desks. There is a partial Cycle track that runs around the south bit of the island near the harbour, then it gets a little errr tricky as the track disappears. However, the quietest beaches on the island are to the north so worth making the effort for total peace and quiet with your beau.
9. Drink cocktails while the sun sets over the ocean.
Maybe a bit of a cliché, but Mowies bar on the west side is a perfect place to spend late afternoon and watch the sun set over the ocean. They have loads of huge bean bags and sunbeds to chill out on and the staff take the umbrellas in early so you can get a clear view of the gorgeous orange and red skies. Plus, they do incredible food and cocktails, what’s not to like?
10. Eat the most incredible banana pancakes with fresh juice with views of a volcano.
Every morning we would get up super early to have breakfast on the beach while it was pretty deserted. Before all the dive boats and tours started we would have the most incredible banana pancakes, tropical fruit platter, fresh watermelon juice and local coffee while looking over to Lombok and Mount Rinjani, an active volcano. Proper pinch me stuff! I can highly recommend staying at Kaluku Resort just for the amazing breakfast, although they also serve non-guests too. If Kaluku hadn’t been fully booked I think we would have happily stayed longer, it was just so perfect.
Of course, it’s not just couples and honeymooners on Gili Air, there are loads of singles and groups of people looking to get away from it all and experience pure relaxation. Especially after a few days of partying all day and night on neighbouring Gili Trawangan! So, if you’re planning a holiday to Bali or Lombok, make sure you don’t skip Gili Air, it really is paradise.
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