Don’t judge me for the Western recommendations – when you live on an island for a few months you do start to crave something a little different!
For the more health conscious, Mowies does a beautiful range of food including raw desserts and vegan options. It’s pricier than other options but the tuna burger in a charcoal bun is worth the extra dosh if you’re feeling fancy! They also do a great breakfast – the eggs benedict on bubble and squeak was a personal favourite.
If you’re feeling in need of a fruit injection then head to Gili Bliss near the harbour. Their bliss bowls and smoothies are not only delicious – they’re also extremely filling! Weirdly enough they also do a mean carbonara if you’re craving a western bite.
Everyone at Oceans5 was a regular at Shark Bites where they sell a nice ‘lunchbox’ with a different meal each day. Their Beach Bun was also perfect for anyone craving a nice juicy bit of beef with some proper potato fries.
I was so excited to find out that the Blue Marine cafe did proper bruschetta towards the end of my stay! It’s the strange things you miss sometimes – like bread and tomatoes. The rest of their menu is equally as delicious, packed full of fresh and healthy offerings.
Okay, I know you didn’t come to Indonesia to eat tacos… But the Mexican Kitchen does absolutely fantastic food for those looking for a night off the rice. Just beware their tequila flashmobs!
There were so many amazing local places to eat, but these were my tried and tested favourites. I’d fly back to the island tomorrow to get some decent nasi campur…
Warung Bamboo was one of our go tos if we were craving curry. Their chicken curry is still some of the best food I had on the island! Be prepared to wait though, but don’t worry – the old chef is super friendly.
Warung Muslim is the best place in the world for nasi campur, or mixed rice. To find it, walk up the road towards the village and turn right at the cross roads. Don’t be put off by the chickens and cats running around, it’s delicious. My mouth is watering thinking about it.
There is a lady who walks the island selling her chicken satay on a little portable BBQ. It’s absolutely delicious. You knew it was going to be a good day if satay lady was around.
If you want a great snack then keep an eye out for ‘Bakso man’. He’s got a portable stall where he sells the traditional soup which contains steamed meatballs. Great if you want something cheap, wholesome and authentic.
Fish BBQs are a must, and the best ones are on the sunrise side of the island. Walk around in the evening and you’ll see various restaurants with huge platters of fish out the front. Check out how fresh they look before you make your decision!
My favourite for this was Chill Out bar. You can sit at a table right on the beach, with your toes in the sand as you eat. Oh, and make sure you look at the happy hour times because they do 2-4-1 cocktails.
Caffeine addicts beware – most places serve up the traditional Balinese coffee. This interesting way of getting your morning fix involves stirring granules into hot water, waiting for them to settle (they don’t dissolve) and then making sure you don’t swallow them in your last gulp…
If you’re craving a ‘proper’ coffee then Coffee and Thyme is worth a little (a lot) extra. Located by the harbour they serve seriously delicious baked goods along with their signature espressos and lattes.
For a small island, there really is quite a bit on offer when it comes to yoga. I’ve written a full post about Yoga on Gili Air (read that here) but my absolute favourite spot was H20 yoga.
What – you mean you don’t just want to lay by your pool or swim in the sea all day?
On such a small island it’s easy enough to walk around it. Try to time it for early morning or late afternoon though as walking through sand in some parts can get a bit sweaty. You can also hire bikes to explore but make sure you get the ‘fat tyre’ bikes otherwise you’ll find yourself pushing through sand!
I used to love the twice weekly Salsa classes offered at Blue Marine. God knows if they are still running, but if you’re looking for some sweaty and fun cardio then make sure to check.
If you’re a bit of a party animal then you might have to hang up your drinking hat for a few days. Although the Gili Air Hostel has a bar that can get lively, you certainly won’t be dancing away until dawn every night. Some places do run beach parties on occasion (the one at Lucky’s is a bit legendary) so ask around when you get there, but don’t expect too much!
Of course, scuba diving and snorkelling are popular activities on an island fringed by reef. In most places it’s easy enough to grab a mask and snorkel, and swim out to find the fish yourself. However there are also lots of places offering tours on the island, so you’re best to walk around and find one you feel comfortable with. If you want to dive then check out my diving guide to Gili Air!
For those who dislike wearing equipment, you could sign up for a Freediving course. The sport is huge on the island and is becoming almost as popular as scuba! There are a variety of courses on offer, including tasters, and you can book fun trips out if you’re already qualified. I recommend Freedive flow – tell MJ I said hi!
Surfing is definitely available – if you have your own board. I saw plenty of locals and visitors alike hitting the waves each day and taking advantage of the famous Indonesian swell (I say this, I have no fucking clue. I am not a surfer) but no where offering boards for hire.
The best thing to do on the island though is just to chill out and watch the sunset. You can watch the sun slipping behind the volcanoes on far away Bali, and toast to a day well spent in paradise.
How do you like the look of my island home? I miss it so much! Is there anything else you’d like me to cover?