A picture-perfect island amid a turquoise blue sea, lined by coconut palms behind which lie an inviting selection of glamorous hotels, laid-back beach bars and heavenly tranquility. If that sounds like the honeymoon you have been dreaming of, then the Gili Islands could be an ideal place to spend some happy times in the sun as newlyweds.
Seemingly floating in the water, the three islands that make up the Gilis (meaning “small island” in the Sasak language) are paradise on earth for beachgoers, scuba divers and wildlife watchers. And one of the best things about it for couples looking to relax by enjoying each other’s company after the stresses of organising a wedding is that there are no cars or motorbikes on the island to disturb your peace.
Gili Meno island is most renowned as a haven for couples thanks to its perfect tranquility, but each of the other islands also offers its own attractions: While Gili Trawangan is fiercely cosmopolitan and offers a fantastic range of upscale eating and drinking options, Gili Air has a good local buzz and is perhaps the most charming. So if you’d like to shake things up, the options are there.
A honeymoon offers the chance to do something a bit special – the sort of activities that you will always remember – and this is readily available on the Gili islands in the form of the world-class scuba diving. PADI and SSI licensed dive operators can be found on all three islands, and there’s an impressive array of wildlife to spot once you are out in the lovely warm waters. There are green and hawksbill turtles, bumphead parrotfish, black-tip and white-tip reef sharks, as well as some exciting sites to explore: muckdiving sites, a Japanese wreck and biorock reefs.
For something truly unique, you can also try out freediving – a form of underwater diving that is completely natural in that it relies on the diver’s breath rather than breathing apparatus – at a centre run by the British record holder in freediving!
There are few animals endearing as turtles, especially newborn ones, and if you check out the Turtle Sanctuary on Gili Meno you can see them up close right on the beach. Directly on the sand, there are an assortment of pools and tubs filled with young green and loggerhead turtles getting set to go out into the wild.
All of the islands are small enough that they can be explored on foot, which makes sampling all the beachside cafes, restaurants and bars a joy. The vibe along the beachfront at all of these places is wonderfully chilled and laid-back, the perfect antidote to all the nerves and expectation that can be part and parcel of a wedding!
An easy and enjoyable crossing away from the main island of Bali, the Gilis are hard to ignore as an option for your honeymoon. As you stand on the panoramic lookout point watching the sunset illuminate the three islands and Bali beyond in a magical glow, you’ll wonder why you ever even considered anywhere else.