So, I would venture to say that if you have done any form of research on visiting Bali that you have witnessed the beautiful sunsets of the Gili Islands. The first time I was introduced to these magical islands was while watching a YouTuber explore Gili Tragawan, and it was at that moment that I knew I had to add Gili to the itinerary for our Bali trip! What I didn’t realize until we were already in Bali was that many of the Gili Islands inspiration I had to been witnessing was from solo travelers or couples, but never anyone with families. That usually never stops our family because we have to make so many adjustments to the way that we travel anyway with Roo’s disabilities. However our trip to Gili Air was almost a logistical nightmare, and it caused me to question whether or not I would do it again.

If you have never heard of the Gili Islands, you may be asking yourself what all the hype is about. The Gili Islands are a group of 3 small islands – Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air – in Indonesia, off the coast of north Lombok Island. Aside from the breathtaking sunsets and authentic island feel, the Gili Islands are a place to get away from it all, including motorized vehicles, as car & motorbikes are not allowed on the islands. Sounds like the perfect place to unplug and genuinely re-connect with your family right?

Before you book your travels to the Gili Islands here are 5 things to consider if you are traveling with kids:


So transportation is by far the most substantial factor that I hadn’t considered when deciding to visit the Gili Islands. Many blogs and YouTube videos mention taking a high-speed boat to the Gili Islands, but what they fail to say is that that high-speed boat ride can be over 4 hours long, and if you are traveling in January or February the water can be incredibly choppy, leading to seasickness. For many of us that travel frequently, a 4-hour ferry ride is simple, but what if you are going with a child under 2? Most of the high-speed ferry boats will not allow you to travel with a child under the age of 2; it is also not advisable if you are pregnant or have heart or back problems. We reached out to several ferries, and the answer was consistently a clear and resounding “no” when I requested to bring an infant, despite the option to book an infant on some websites.

At this point, I completely panicked because we only had a few days before we were due to set out for the Gili Islands and our accommodations were already booked and non-refundable. Thankfully our wonderful host took care of all the transportation woes, but alas it was not cheap.

Here is a quick run-down of what our transportation journey looked like to get to Gili Air:

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Step 1: Take a taxi from Sanur to Denpasar – Bali International Airport (approx 30 minutes)

Step 2: Take a flight on Garuda Airlines from Bali to Lombok (approx. 55 minutes)

Step 3: Take private transportation from Lombok airport to Bangsal (approx. 2 hours)

Step 4: Take a local speedboat from Bangsal to Gili Air Harbour (approx. 12 minutes)

Total trip time: 3.5+ hours (not including airport time)

I will admit that even after adding up the entire time, I tripled checked it because quite frankly it felt three times longer than that at the moment. We are thankful that our fantastic host took the time to organize everything for us. This option was not the cheapest option, but despite the long travel day, it was worth every penny.


It can be hard to decide which of the Gili Islands you want to visit, and once you have narrowed down your choice the next most important aspect (aside from transportation) will be your accommodations. We chose to stay on Gili Air because the party reputation of Gili T was not something we were looking for this time around. A quick search on your preferred booking website will reveal one of my favorite aspects of the Gili Islands is that there are tons of homestays, hostels, and private villas. No massive chain hotels here to spoil paradise, just unmatched hospitality, and unique accommodations for all budgets.

However when you are traveling with a family space can be scarce. The other consideration that comes into play is budget; many people visit Bali because it has a reputation for being affordable. If you were able to find spacious accommodations in Bali for under $75/night, you might be hardpressed to see the same deals in the Gili Islands for large families. As I mentioned above, we stayed with a fantastic host through Airbnb and were lucky enough to secure his family room bungalow. At the time of writing, there were only a handful of accommodations offering dedicated family rooms, but there were many more with two-bed options for smaller families.

Things to Do

Visiting the Gili Islands is an opportunity to connect with nature truly, the local community, yourself and your family. If you have older kids who want to do more than hang out at the beach, there some great watersport options like scuba & snorkeling, as well as a cooking class, and even nature tours. Because our little ones are 5 and under, they were perfectly content spending time at the beach, but if you have kids who want something more lively they may need to adjust their expectations.

Beaches & Swimming


I know that swimming technically falls under the things to do category, but I wanted to dive a little deeper (see what I did there) into beach life & swimming for the Gili Islands. Let’s start off with the beaches because they are beautiful! They are the perfect place to lounge with a refreshing adult beverage and watch the local boats come in or soak in that amazing Gili sunset. However, if you are hoping for powdery soft sandy beaches, you will be sorely disappointed as the beaches are covered in broken coral making it difficult to walk barefoot on the beach. The coral beaches didn’t stop Roo who was utterly enamored with all the different coral options to use for her sand castles.

In terms of swimming the water was incredibly choppy when we visited, so much so that we would not allow Roo to venture more than ankle deep into the water. There seemed to be some kind of channel about 5 feet away from the shore that caused the water to have a rapid sideways current. We witnessed several adults even having a hard time trying to snorkel and felt it would be best for Roo not to enter the water. Because swimming is one of her most absolute favorite things to do it was incredibly hard for her to be at the beach and not be able to swim.


Because we are a pretty active family walking as a primary form of transportation did not factor into our decision to visit the Gili Islands. However, if you travel with people who have limited mobility, it may be a critical deciding factor. As I stated earlier, there are no motorized vehicles in the Gili Islands which we found refreshing, but if you did not book an accommodation that is reasonably close to the harbor, you might find yourself with a bit of a walk to contend with. Thankfully there is old-school transportation available in the form of horse & carriage for your transportation needs. We never took one because our accommodation was a stone’s throw from the harbor, but they are available to get you around the island. We were content with walking everywhere we went, but to go from one side of the other, it did take over 30 minutes depending on where we were going.


So I am sure after considering these things you are probably wondering if given a chance would we take the trip to Gili again? And the answer without any hesitation is ABSOLUTELY! Despite the intricate transportation planning and not being able to swim visiting the Gili Islands was the absolute highlight of our Indonesia trip.

If I were to do it all over again, I would hold off until Lightning Bug was a bit older so that we could experience the fast boat, but other than that I would keep the week the same. The amazing hospitality and the real sense of community, coupled with breathtaking sunsets, an array of dining options allowed us to feel at home and fully relax.

If you are interested in visiting Gili Air, check out my blog post on things to on Gili Air and don’t forget to check out Dean’s Airbnb if you decide to visit Gili Air yourself!