Due to its remote location and lack of particular amenities, Gili Air is still relatively unexplored by the surfing community. Thus, it provides an authentic South East Asian experience without compromising on epic waves. You can expect fewer folks in the line-up and friendly welcoming locals. All things said Gili Air should make your list of surf destinations before it explodes as the next Bali or Lombok. Gili Air is the closest to Lombok and thus is a great option for day tripping to explore new breaks.
The wave at Gili air is a reef break peeling off the southern tip of the smallest and most accessible of the Gili islands. Accessible by a long paddle, you’ll be rewarded with little to no crowds and short square barrels. While the break is appetizing, it’s often unlikely to score waves due to onshore tradewinds. For the best day at Gili Air, keep your ears pricked for big SW swell, exceptionally high tide, and light winds coming from the W – NW. On a good day, the shoulder is open for maneuvers but if you’re hoping to spend time in the shade, focus on elongating your first bottom turn before picking your line and pull in fast or you might miss the section. You’re highly likely to bounce off the reef a bit on mid to low tides and it’s recommended to surf with some good sun protection.
Live coral reef
Shallow reef, dumpy lips, strong currents
April – November
Vibe? There’s nobody else out!
Boat is your best option, especially if you are coming from the mainland of Lombok.
The beach at Are Guling is a half-moon shaped stretch of beach skirted by heavy green foliage and nearby island Gili Nusa. A great place for sunbathing or photos if you’re not into surfing. You typically won’t see many tourists cruising the beach and can enjoy the solitude that comes with it.
Despite the slow development on the Gili islands, there still are an abundance of surf accommodations to choose from. Roll your eyes over our list below for the best recommendations near the surf break at Gili Air.
Anywhere you choose to stay in Air Gili is bound to be gorgeous due to the surrounding natural beauty. 7SEAS Cottages are no different. Right off the beach from the local break at Gili Air, you’ll be able to watch the line-up from the resident bar/restaurant. Cottages at 7SEAS are clean, comfortable, and surprisingly modern for the remoteness of the island. You can enjoy shaded seating areas bound together with thatch and bamboo for afternoon cocktails after a full day of surfing. Just steps from the sea, it’s easy to hop on a boat to local surf, dive, fishing, or snorkel spots in the vicinity. Great for travellers who are looking to stay comfortable without breaking the bank.
Chill Out Bungalow us located about a quarter of a block north of the surf break at Gili Air. Needless to say, you couldn’t get much closer to the break if you were sleeping on the beach. Chill Out Bungalows are a collection of private cottages sat directly on the sand on the edge of Air Gili. Bungalows are often outfitted with bunk rooms for travelling families and groups looking for a place to crash. While you’re making a slight step up in price, you’re paying for a bit more space, seclusion, and private beach access. Great for families, couples, and groups.
Slow Private Pool Villas Gili Air Agoda is a mouthful of a title but your jaw will drop when you take a look at this surf accommodation. While it’s a ways away from the beach, 5-10 minute bike ride or 15-20 minute walk, your general likelihood of scoring surf at Gili Air are typically low regardless. As a result, this rustic and modern tropical accommodation is a great place to live the high life in between long spells of perfect waves. Private villas are held together by a mixture of concrete and locally sourced wood and stone surrounded by heavily manicured gardens and private pools. An amazing place for a romantic getaway for simple solitude. Great for traveling couples and honeymooners.
Warung Sunny – You never can go wrong with your local Warung. Warung Sunny seems to be no exception in that its food is inspired by the origins of each of its travellers. You’ll find burritos for stoked Southern Californians, street food for Awestruck Ozzies, and “authentic Indonesian” for your hipster kiwi friend. Open air, surrounded by a bamboo fence, bamboo tables, and bamboo chairs. Am I sensing a trend? Great for anyone looking to grind on before exploring.
Classico Italiano – Pizza, surprisingly or not, is becoming a bit of a staple on South Asian islands like Gili Air. Classico Italiano sticks to the greatest hits with thin crust, fire roasted, and heavily topping-ed pizzas. Tiramisu is amazing if you’re wondering and with a wide selection of wines, Classico Italiano is a great night out for families, couples, friends, and singles looking for a taste of Italia.
Pachamama Organic Cafe – Just about anywhere you find good surf you’re bound to find a Pachamama. Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, and now Gili Air all hold their own tribute to the Incan goddess. This hip and shabby-chic Cafe is a beautiful open-air retreat where you can fill up on cuisine inspired by Pachamama’s South American roots. Fresh and Healthy ingredients are great for refuelling before your next surf or adventure.
Scuba & Snorkeling – There are a number of places to explore around Gili Air for diving or snorkelling. To be honest, pop on a mask and start flopping around and you’re bound to find something interesting. If you’re looking for a more guided experience, there are a number of guide services on the island. Ask your accommodation for more information.
Gili Air Night Market – The Night Market on Gili Air is a great spot for freshly cooked authentic Indonesian cooking, for your kiwi friend again, and the occasional live music. This comes with the added delight of being incredibly affordable. You’ll also find a wide array of sweets and fresh infused noodles. Don’t expect the hustle and bustle of night markets in other parts of South Asia as everything in Gili Air is a lot smaller and more laid back. Unfortunately, the dates for when the Night Market is open aren’t conclusive but is typically open during the peak season.
Bars in Gili Air – While the sleeping desert island of Gili Air isn’t quite the party central that you’ll find in parts of its neighboring tourism mecca Bali and is as quiet as a mouse at night in comparison to Gili T. That being said, the Bars on Gili Air could merit a pub crawl, or at least a few pints. There are a few different spots to choose from with the most notable being “Dark Side of the Moon.” Anywhere that derives its inspiration from Pink Floyd is AOK in my book, but regardless, you’ll get a kick out of the teeny tiny drinking space with specialty cocktails and bartenders with personality.
If you haven’t realised it yet Gili Air is where you go to get away from the crowds, kick back and relax in the tropical beach fashion. Surfing isn’t usually prioritised very high on a travellers list when visiting Gili Air.
The luxury of the Gili Islands is that you can get anywhere easily by foot!
You won’t have anything to park on Gili Air except for yourself on a comfortable beach lounger with Bintang in hand.
From Bali, the quickest way to get to Gili Air is by fast boat from Serangan or Padang Bai. From Padang Bai it will take you approximately 1 hour 15 minutes and from Serangan it will take approximately 2 hours. Either option will cost you approximately 800,000Rp one way.