So you’re left with only a couple of days left on your annual leave and a couple hundred dollars short for Maldives; where can you head to? Gili Islands of course! With its pristine clear blue water and super affordable HALAL food easily available, it’s a wonder why we’re not there now ?
Everyone tends to do the same old things when they’re heading for beach holidays. Here’s a list of things you can do that’ll make you stand out from the crowd!
1. Go for a swing ride in the ocean
Instead of posting the usual jumping over the horizon picture on Instagram, try posting something different! Head to The Exile and keep an eye out for the swing and hammock. You’ll be able to start snapping countless aesthetically pleasing pictures once you're there ?
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The Exile is a quaint lodge, jam-packed with activities. Only 15 minutes away from the central, it’s a convenient place to head to once you’re in Gili. The swing and hammock gives off that chill rustic vibe everyone is looking for when heading for a beach getaway.
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Be sure to head to the swing/hammock when the tide is low. You wouldn’t want to be half-submerged while taking the picture!
2. Go horse-riding on the sandy beach
Quit horsing around and get serious.. about having fun ? If the Sahara Desert has camel-riding across sand dunes, Gili Islands is famed for horse-riding against the sunset. Don't worry if you're a complete beginner, as there's various levels suitable for all riders, even children! Stud stables is one place where horses are for hire, and they provide regular check ups for the beloved four-legged creatures, ensuring the horses are always healthy and well-fed ?
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Go horse-riding on the sandy beaches overlooking the horizon and you'll immediately feel as though you're being transported to a fairytale. While Prince Charming on a white horse may not come anytime soon, you'll certainly be falling head over heels for your new companion ?
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Guided tours are available in mornings and afternoons! Sunset rides are really popular so book early to avoid disappointment.
3. Watch the age-old presean (stick fight) traditional performance
Every culture has their own traditional form of martial arts/self-defence. While in Gili, try checking out presean - their version of silat/wushu/taekwondo!
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This ancient form of martial arts originated from the Sasak Tribe and it involves two opposing individuals. Each party will have to arm themselves with either a stick or don in a leather armour. It'll be mediated by a referee called the “Pakembar”.
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Tourists/onlookers may be selected to join, however make sure that you’re fully prepared as blood, sweat and tears may be shed.
4. Go glass-kayaking amidst clear blue waters
Paddle around the Gili Air Lagoon Resort's enormous pool using a glass kayak for a surreal experience like no other. Its especially great if you've never kayak before but love to try new adventures ? As the pool's located right by your room, you won't even need to leave the resort for an ethereal time during your stay. Adventure junkies, take your boat to the ocean and explore the gorgeous marine life down under without getting drenched!
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Stay in a wooden cabin amidst a clear blue lagoon to feel like you're truly in paradise ?
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5. Go on a helicopter tour
Something I bet you’ve never heard of while in Gili! There are various helicopter tours that will be able to bring you around the island ? Can you think of a better way that will enable you to see Gili and its surrounding islands?!
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You can expect to see untouched islands and blue-green waters showcasing the best dive sites in Asia. You wouldn’t have to worry too much, as the helicopter tours are safe and kid/senior friendly!
Credit: Air Bali on Facebook
6. Engage in a watersport activity
While in Gili, try doing something you’ve never done before! Isn't that the whole point of travelling anyway, to get out from your comfort zone? ? There are various fun water sports available for you to try; parasailing, gliding, surfing and even wake boarding.
Parasailing is a fun and safe activity for everyone of all ages. Participants may be able to join in and ride solo, do the tandem and even in threes. The speed boat will pull the chute together while you’re attached to it. The wind will then let the participant experience their first ever parasail.
Credit: Fly Gili Parasailing on Facebook
A relatively new watersport, subwing is definitely an activity travellers should try. Participants will be able to experience the beauty of what happens under the sea, just like how dolphins do! The subwing consists of two wings mounted together, pulled by a motorised boat. Participants will have to hold onto the wings and point them in the direction that they want to head to.
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Gili might be the best place if you're planning to try these new activities. With relatively calm seas, it’s a safe environment for anyone willing to give water sports a try. Certain prices are also lower as compared to trying these activities out in other parts of Indonesia.
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7. Sign up for a traditional Indonesian cooking class
What better way to fully immerse yourself in Gili than by learning how to prepare the yummy local fare! For those coming from Southeast Asia, cooking methods might be similar to what we’re used to at home. It’s like Malay food with an Indonesian twist ?
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Various Indonesian recipes will be made available to those intending to join the cooking classes. The ingredients used include the freshest local and seasonal produce. Your prized meal can then be enjoyed by the beach for a casual outdoor dinner ?
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8. Learn how to dive
Learning how to dive definitely has to be on the top of your list while in Gili. Constantly being surrounded by pristine emerald waters will tempt anyone to start diving. Learners will start by learning how to dive in the pool, before slowly making their way to the ocean.
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Gili is home to some of the best diving spots in the world! Not only that, it’s waters are pretty safe for any new diving enthusiast.
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9. Dive with the sharks
After learning how to dive, why not jump straight into the deeper end (literally) and dive with the sharks! Diving with sharks will allow you to step out from your comfort zone and build enough courage to swim alongside these predators of the ocean ?
One of the most popular shark diving sites in Gili has to be the Shark Point. It has varied depth levels suitable for divers of various stages. Mostly the black/ white tip reef sharks are spotted amongst the canyons, which is also teeming with sea life.
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There are various companies willing to bring you in for a shark dive. If you’ve just completed the Open Water Course in diving school, which takes about 3 to 4 days to complete, you’re all set to dive with the sharks. Of course where there’s sharks, there’s bound to be various other underwater creatures! You can expect to dive amongst the corals, turtles and schools of fishes ?
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10. Go to the night market
By night market, I mean pasar malam! It’s definitely something each of us looks forward to while travelling: cheap eats! Gili’s night market is known for their fresh array of seafood. From their daily catch of fish, prawns and even lobster, you can opt for a fresh seafood dinner and pay a smaller portion of the price you’re used to paying.
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This has been such a huge success since its start up in 2012. Locals have come together and made good use of the high influx of tourism, allowing them to earn more while tourists have a taste of authentic Indonesian food. That’s a win-win situation to me ?
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11. Engage in eco-conservation (Turtle Sanctuaries)
There are countless turtle sanctuaries that can be found in Gili. These turtle sanctuaries and private hatcheries allow travellers to learn more about marine conservation. Known to many, turtle eggs are considered a delicacy especially in the South East Asian countries. Through marine conservation and increasing public awareness, people are slowly learning to be more aware of how to preserve these precious animals.
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These turtle sanctuaries consist of pools and bathtubs, filled with various baby turtles. These baby turtles are taken care of in the sanctuary by various workers and volunteers for a couple of months till they’re ready to be released into the wild. Travellers may even join in their weekly turtle release. After paying a small fee, individuals will be able to lay their turtles down on the sand and allow these turtles to return to their homes ?
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You may see turtles not only in these sanctuaries, but also while snorkelling or diving! Ask the local boatmen regarding the best spots to visit these turtles - They’ll be glad to help you out.
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12. Catch a movie by the beach
Who says you can’t have a movie night out by the beach? When you’re having one of those nights where you don’t want to crack your head in deciding what to do, movie night seems to be the best solution!
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There are many different places in Gili offering free movie nights. It’s really a question of what you’re planning to watch. Not many travellers have the opportunity to experience this. My suggestion is for you to head out early, grab some snacks and drinks, and reserve a bean bag way before the movie starts ?
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With all these various activities planned in line for you, just pick and choose which of them suits you best! I personally would love to learn diving or jumping straight in with the sharks. We’re all so close to Gili Islands, I can practically smell the ocean. See you there! ?
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