We all know about budget traveling. Many of us have survived numerous 5 dollar guest houses in Thailand sleeping among tropical cockroaches. I’ve had my share of hostels and 24-hour bus trips. Backpacking, cold showers and street food have their own charm. These days I’m attracted towards the new kind of traveling – the lifestyle traveling where fresh bed sheets and clean food are a priority. Oh and coffee….don’t forget great coffee! Taking care of my well-being needs allows me to focus more on exploring and fun experiences.
Most of us know the typical Gili drill: you brave your way through the nauseating sea waves for 2 hours; land on the island with your backpacks and then spend the next half hour haggling the donkey drivers to take you around to the different hotels to haggle more with the owners there. You finally settle on the least moldy and most sunny hotel. Then you walk past all the restaurants in search of decent food and haggle more on the price of fish BBQ. Gilis are not known for their cuisine or their hotel charm. Let’s be honest here – Gilis are for epic sunsets, turtles, and magic mushrooms.
Image by Mola2
Five years ago, I traveled to Gili Air with my own olive oil, salt, crackers and fresh fruit. Back in those days, finding an overripe tiny watermelon in a dodgy shop felt like discovering treasure. Staying healthy meant surviving on rice hoping that no one would sprinkle your nasi goreng with MSG.
Fast forward to 2016. The Gili Islands, much like Bali, have changed drastically. Gili Air has been consumed with construction, piles of trash and hoards of tourists. My joke about the Gilis is that the best way to experience the islands is to stand with your back to them. However, the islands’ growing popularity has brought in perks as well – charming boutique hotels and clean food.
So, if you are like me, and are done with hostel eye infections, moldy showers, anti-diarrhea pills and sleeping with the iPad under the pillow kind-of-traveling – then this Gili Air Island guide is for you!
Where to Stay
After a night spent in a dark bungalow with frangipani flowers stuck into every nook and cranny for exotic ambiance, I left the guesthouse the next morning on a search for something better.
I walked into Mola2 Resort by accident, was handed a welcome drink and a cold toilette. It was like walking into an oasis of lifestyle revelation. Nothing beats the service and freshness of a brand new hotel. I booked a room immediately.
Mola2 Resort is situated on the peaceful side of Gili Air facing the sunset side – right up on the white sandy beachfront. It is an environmentally friendly hotel full of luxury perks. There are two types of rooms – the traditional two-story bungalows and the modern styled rooms. I personally prefer the modern rooms, with large floor to ceiling windows, huge comfortable beds & a living room area with a couch & coffee table. All rooms have their own terrace facing the large swimming pool in the middle of the hotel.
Over the years, I’ve stayed in 5 different places on Gili Air and none of them compete with the price/value of Mola2 Resort. The room includes daily breakfast, free bikes to use around the island and fantastic room service.
Did I also mention that this hotel is BRAND NEW, which means it’s mold free; the bed sheets are snow white; bath towels are fluffy and there is fresh water in the showers. This is the place for lovers and your high maintenance girlfriends. Trust me.
Since the hotel is still new, it is offering fantastic deals, so my suggestion is to book as soon as possible!
Where to Eat
Image by Coffee & Thyme
Healthy food trend has finally reached the Gilis! Hallelujah!!! All the vegans are waving their spinach bouquets in celebration! For those of you who eat primarily a plant-based diet, I know ya feel me on this! These are my top healthy picks for Gili Air:
Coffee & Thyme is located directly at the harbor and is the perfect place to grab a fresh juice, cup of coffee and a homemade vegan pastry. This was my spot for daily espresso and lemon cake. The atmosphere is fun and hip. Coffee is the best on the island.
Captain Coconuts is a super cute retreat spot for breakfast or lunch. Imagine smoothie bowls, buckwheat pancakes, wraps, salad bowls and fresh coconut lattes. I once spent all afternoon at Captain Coconuts lounging by the pool, sipping on my coffee and looking at all their Jamie Oliver cookbooks. These guys also sell the best kombucha on the island and are a 5 min walk from the Mola2 Resort.
Opened by the girl who was born and raised on the island, Gili Bliss Cafe is a little gem of perfection. Situated close to the harbor, this place is everything a girl can dream of – sweet, fruity and yummy. This is the spot for falafel salads, warm oatmeal and delicious smoothie bowls. In addition, Gili Bliss serves the best avocado toast on Gili Air! And you know how much I love avo toast… read about it here ?
Pachamama is an organic café and a private villa. This is a cute boho place with all the perks of healthy food. Pachamama’s menu is extensive and unlike other healthy cafes on the island, they are open for dinner. The food variety is everything from rice bowls, vegan pasta, burgers & fresh vegetable wraps. Don’t forget to order a pitcher of sangria!
In conclusion, if you are entering a 3rd decade of your life and always travel with a hairdryer like me, then this Gili Air guide will guarantee your island satisfaction. Sit back, relax and enjoy the view. The unreal colors of the Gili sunsets create a lifetime of unforgettable memories, but mostly selfies. Bring your kindle and don’t forget to wear sunscreen.
About the Author: Elena from @the_yoni_empire is a lover of all things pleasure-related. She writes shamelessly about female sexuality, self-love & leading a plant-based lifestyle. Bali’s resident for more than 5 years & founder of the famous Alchemy Café, Elena is a self-proclaimed foodie snob & pleasure seeker.