Gili Islands Etiquette

Here is guide to Gili Islands Etiquette, originally written by Gili Shark Conservation (check out their AWESOME work!).

Gili Islands Etiquette

The Gili Islands can – in some ways – be regarded as a different world compared to our western world perspectives. The island of Gili Air contains specific cultural dynamics that can be difficult to understand or interpret for an outsider.

Therefore it is highly recommended that you take effort to indulge yourself in the Indonesian culture, which contains different customs, habits, norms and values than in the western countries.

Of course no one will expect you to immediately understand or behave like an Indonesian- but it will be wise to take some time in order to gain insight into the Indonesian culture(s) and start to think and become a little bit more ‘Indonesian’. You’ll see: this is a good thing and you’ll feel the difference here and when you’re back home (if you ever want to leave again).

Some facts to keep in mind

  • In Indonesia, it is very rude to point with the feet, so if you need to show something, use your hands.
  • Throughout Indonesian society the left hand is used for “toilet duties” and is therefore considered unclean. In Gili Air it is rude and offensive to hand someone something with your left hand, like food or a drink, or to shake hands with your left hand. When you think of where that person’s left hand has been, you probably wouldn’t want anything from it anyhow.
  • Remove your shoes when entering a building and wait to be invited to sit if you are a guest.
  • Smiling and having fun happen naturally when on holiday. Some situations can sometimes be a little frustrating or tiring. Try and deal with these, keeping a smile on your face- the issue will be resulted much easier. Shouting and screaming are very counterproductive and rarely brings a solution. Just keep smiling!
  • Indonesians will highly appreciate it if you (try to) speak their language, even if the quality of your Indonesian is not that great. In fact, if you only know a couple of words you will probably already receive many compliments from the locals (see below some Indonesian phrases that can be helpful).
  • Gili Air is an Islamic island, which means that the dress codes here are very different than in the western world. People are modest, cover their body and sometimes their head. Of course as tourists, we are not expected to dress the same way, but we are expected to be respectful! Please cover yourself with a t-shirt or a sarong when going into the village or a shop. On the beach or on a dive boat, bikini and swimwear are accepted, please do note that being topless or wearing very small and revealing bikinis or G-strings is not appropriate.

Daily Indonesian Phrases

  • Good morning (6AM to 12AM):        Selamat Pagi
  • Good day (12AM to 2PM):                   Selamat Siang 
  • Good afternoon (2PM to 6PM):        Selamat Sore
  • Good evening (6PM to 12PM):          Selamat Malam
  • Thank you:                                                     Terima kasih
  • Yes                                                                       Ya
  • No                                                                        Tidak
  • Maybe:                                                              Mungkin
  • Please:                                                               Tolong
  • Excuse me:                                                      Permisi
  • You’re welcome:                                          Sama sama

Questions and Answers

  • How are you?                             Apa Kabar?
  • I’m fine!                                         Kabar baik!
  • What’s your name?                Siapa nama anda?
  • My name is…                              Nama saya…
  • Where are you from?           Anda dari mana?
  • I am from…                                  Saya dari…

Good to know

Welcome to the paradise of Gili Air!

Incredible peace and quiet, turquoise water, sea turtles and nemos at your fingertips, chilled beach bars and breathtaking sunsets. This archipelago in the Indian Ocean consists of three islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

The intense calm of the islands is due to the fact that there are no motor vehicles here. You can only move on foot, with a bike or horse-drawn carriages, the so-called Cidomos.


Gili Air is equipped with plenty of ATMs spread around the island for your convenience. In case of a temporary power cut they will be out of service so keeping some cash or planning your withdrawals is advised as plenty of restaurants only accept cash payment.


The closest airport to Gili Air is the Lombok International Airport and they provide a few flights to various destinations in Asia and Australia. When going to the Gili Islands, the most commonly used one is the airport in Denpasar, Bali as it offers a broad selection of destinations. We can help you arrange your transport to both Lombok Airport and the Bali Airport. 


Being a vegetarian or vegan on Gili Air is really easy! Most of the local dishes have a vegetarian or vegan option and there are plenty of restaurants which only serves vegetarian and vegan food. The most famous one is called Pacha Mama and they’re also completely organic!
And of course you can have a vegetarian or a vegan option on our breakfast, which is included in all our rooms and bookings!

Local customs

Read this guide on Gili Islands Etiquette to learn about local customs, do’s and don’t’s and some simple phrases in Indonesian.



Are you ready for a new breathtaking underwater experince? Subwing Gili Islands offers a spectacular new way to explore the underwater world around the three Gili Islands of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Using a specially designed ‘wing’, the user is towed by a boat at a slow but thrilling cruising speed (2 – 4 knots), while in full control of pitch and roll, allowing for a wide scope of movement through the water.

Swim like a dolphin, glide with ease at the surface and dive down, roll, loop and perform tricks while you gain a truly unique perspective of the marine environment – with coral formations, vibrant fish and sea turtles all commonly visible in the teeming waters around the tropical Gili Islands. Contact our Staff and we will help you go through with your booking for this phenomenal activity!

Other popular underwater activities on the Gili Islands are diving and snorkeling. If you want to stay above the water then stand up paddle board is a good choice!


Gili Air is the perfect diving destination, the water is warm, the sight is clear and the underwater life is magnificent!

We recommend diving with 3W Dive, who offers a range of different diving courses both for total beginners and more advanced divers, as well as a rescue diving course.

From their website:

“3W Dive is a small, friendly dive shop run by a management with years of diving experience and a deep understanding of all dive safety and regulatory procedures.

Being an SSI school, we offer a unique dive experience tailored to your particular needs with a more personalized approach to courses and guided dives. Whether you are an advanced diver interested in macro photography, a complete beginner dreaming of diving with turtles or a freediver looking for something different, you’ll get the exact kind of dive you want.

As sites are so close by with short turn around times, they’re able to offer three dives a day; 8.30am, 11.30am and 2.30pm.

And with limited group bookings – no more than four divers per group – as well as a comfortable, spacious boat, we put pleasure first offering a first-class dive experience both above and below the surface.

Many guests come for a single dive and end up diving for their entire stay. The friendly staff and crew as well as the easy, relaxed pace of the shop becoming the most memorable part of their holiday.

From muck dives in Lombok’s black volcanic sands, wrecks guarded by reef sharks, giant pinnacles home to equally giant green turtles, adventure night dives and smooth drift dives where you can cruise across vast reef systems, we’ll take you to a range of different sites across all three Gili islands and Lombok.”

If you want to explore the underwater world but diving is not your thing, then snorkeling might be a good option for you!

Stand Up Paddleboard

SUP:ing off the northeast coast of Gili Air is the perfect way to enjoy the tropical waters, taking in the amazing views over the glistening bay towards Mount Rinjani, getting great exercise and enjoying the sea breeze.

Stand Up Paddleboards can be rented hourly from Blue Marine Dive Resort. And if you want to take it up a notch, try the unique yoga classes on the SUP boards, adding an awesome extra dimension to your experience.


Gili Air is the home to one the world’s best snorkeling spots and just by snorkeling from the beach you can see turtles and many fishes. You can easily rent masks and fins around the island and simply go out on your own in hopes to catch a turtle. If you want to go for a snorkeling trip with a boat to guarantee you get the most out of your snorkeling we can help you organize both a public trip and a private trip.

Gili Air is also great for diving, and if you want to try something new, don’t miss subwing!

Yoga & Meditaion

Gili Air is the perfect destination if you want to continue your already existing yoga practice or if you are a beginner and want to get started. There are many places on the island that offer both sunrise and sunset classes. A few places also offer meditation classes and do both yoga and meditation workshops.

Two popular yoga studios on the island:

Flowers and Fire Yoga Garden

H2O Yoga & Meditation Center