Your Ultimate Piña Guide to Gili Air

Gili Air: a Small Paradise

Gili Air is a paradise famous for its pristine beaches, lush corals and idyllic island lifestyle. She is the second-smallest island of the 3 Gili Islands, with Gili T being the biggest.

Located north-west Lombok, in Indonesia, the island is 15km2 with approximately 1,800 inhabitants. This gives the opportunity to any visitor to get close to the local community and culture, and to get to know the expat community. 

Whilst moving to this island, or staying long term may be the best decision you’ve ever taken, living on such a small island may be a little different. It requires organisation and adaptation!

In this guide I will be sharing tips, tricks and useful information for new piñas (or anyone, really) before moving long term to Gili Air, Indonesia!

Swings from a bar on the beach. Sunset on the ocean and orange sky. | Ultimate Guide to Gili Air | ParadiseInterns.com

Shops on Gili Air

As you know, small islands depend mostly on importation when it comes to goods for their shops and restaurants. And whilst some products may come from the island itself, most of it comes from the mainland, whether it’s food, clothes, or cosmetics. 

Grocery stores

Unlike home, grocery stores on Gili Air won’t have a wide variety of brands to offer. Usually, most products such as milk, juices, butter will only exist in one or two specific brands. 

Gili Air Pro Tip

If you are looking for a sugar-free, healthy juice, most warungs do fresh, cheap and delicious juices for usually 15,000 IDR! (Equivalent of about $1 USD.) And will most of the time have a takeaway option! 

Cosmetics

Some people may not be picky in regards to cosmetics. Some may want or need specific products due to allergies, sensitiveness or personal preferences, such as avoiding parabens, silicone, or other ingredients. For some people, this can be a challenge when living on such a small island! Just like groceries, cosmetic products don’t come with a wide variety of options. 

Gili Air Pro Tip

  1. One shop on the island, located near the harbour, specialises in natural and organic hair and skin products!
  1. Anticipate and plan ahead. Pack your bag with what you need before coming to the island.
  1. Organise a one day trip to Mataram, Lombok and go to the mall! You will find everything you need – get the products you cannot find on Gili Air.

Shopping for clothes on a small island

It’s no secret to you now, Gili Air has mostly little local shops (which usually are a little more pricey than what you can find in Bali or Lombok). However, shopping for clothes and bathing suits is still possible on the island! Most shops are found on the main road, but you can find some gems all around the island. 

Diving equipment

When it comes to dive shops, there are no shops specialised in diving equipment. The best option for SCUBA diving gear is to buy it in Bali or bring it from your home country. 

However, some shops will still sell some gear basic personal gear such as masks, dive computers or fins.

Scuba diving equipment in a dive shop. Yellow and black masks and  SMB | Ultimate Guide to Gili Air | ParadiseInterns.com

Gili Air Pro Tip

It’s not uncommon for local residents to sell their gear. The best way to find out is either asking around or looking on Facebook. People will frequently post in Facebook groups such as “Gili Air Pinboard” or “Gili Island Swap/Trade”, so check there!

Island life

Whether it’s about food, transport or housing, this island guide will give you all the tips you need to move to Gili Air.

Dietary restrictions on Gili Air

Having dietary restrictions in such a small island may seem like a challenge. But like many parts of Asia, vegetarian/vegan meals are also included in the culture. It can also be easy to find gluten-free or even sugar-free meals and deserts!

Some restaurants even specialise in such dishes. Just ask around. They are easy to find! 

Vegan organic fruit salad and coffee in organic cafe in Gili Air | Ultimate Guide to Gili Air | ParadiseInterns.com

Gili Air Pro Tip

All warungs* on the island will have vegetarian or vegan options. It’s up to you to choose what suits you the most! The price varies between 15,000 IDR and 25,000 IDR ($1 – $2 USD).

*Warung means a small local food store/restaurant serving various dishes such as vegetables, rice, tempeh, tofu, chicken, egg and fish. You can choose the different ingredients and make your own customised meal. 

Transportation

Unlike other places in Indonesia, all three Gili Islands prohibit any type of motor vehicles. The most common way to get around is either by bike, horse cart or by foot! 

Gili Air Pro Tip 

Whilst some may prefer to walk, bikes are by far the most practical and quick way to get around. If you’re staying long term, buying a bike is definitely something to consider over renting one!

Most bike shops will sell bikes with a price ranging between 600,000 IDR to 900,000 IDR (about $40 – $60 USD). Once bought, most bike shops will repair your bike for free if needed. 

Housing 

Gili Air holds a fair number of houses and bungalows to rent around the island. Whether you want to find a private house, a homestay or a house to share with other roommates, the island will have a variety of options you can choose from.  

1 bedroom, traditional sasak bungalow in Manta Dive Gili Air resort | Ultimate Guide to Gili Air | ParadiseInterns.com

Gili Air Pro Tip

Many housing options will not be advertised on the internet. The best way to find what you need is by asking around! Another option is posting about it on the “Gili Air Pinboard” Facebook group. 

If you are looking for a room, most homestays will have a long term option.

ATMs and money on Gili Air 

Most shops on Gili Air will have credit card options. However some local stores and restaurants will only take cash. You can find many ATMs around the islands. You will always find at least one working, though they may not all be! 

Gili Air Pro Tip 

Skimming cards can happen all over Indonesia (and happens all over the world, to be honest). The best way to prevent this is to ask around for which ATMs could be the most at risk, and check your bank account often for any unusual transactions. 

A small paradise in Indonesia

Gili Air is definitely a small paradise for many travellers and tourists. You can now prepare your trip to Gili Air with some more information and tips under your belt! You can just visit, or come long term with a marketing internship opportunity.

Paradise Interns has a few locations on the Gilis and is super easy to apply to! Contacting Paradise Interns can be done very easily and you can find out all the info about the program on the website (it has a TON of info).