Wanderlust Island Hopper: The Best Islands around Bali

Board a boat and see what else Indonesia has to offer

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Bali itself is an exquisite island, but the clusters of smaller islets that surround it are tropical must-sees too, and easily accessed by boat.

 

Gili Trawangan

East of Bali, the Gili archipelago is a scatter of tiny islands that appear to be cast from larger neighbouring island Lombok. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the trio and the most popular. A tropical paradise with a bohemian feel, it’s a lively spot with buzzing beach bars and stylish cafés. For keen divers, there are plenty of scuba schools offering trips to swim among the turtles. You can walk around the island in a couple of hours but the best way to explore Gili Trawangan is by hopping on a bicycle.



Gili Meno

Gili Meno is the most peaceful and undeveloped of the Gilis. Offering pure, unadulterated escapism, the island’s entire circumference is formed by powdery white beaches, in turn hemmed by beautiful coral reefs. The best way to spend a day on Gili Meno is unwinding in a hammock with a good book, before tucking into a tasty beachside lunch of grilled fish as the waves lap nearby.



Gili Air

Not as sleepy as Meno or as developed as Trawangan, Gili Air strikes a perfect balance between barefoot minimalism and a touch of sophistication. Its east coast offers sublime snorkelling, and it’s easy to bike around the island too. It takes about two hours to walk around its perimeter, and if you head inland you’ll be greeted with rustic scenes of free-roaming cows and hens.

 

Moyo Island

East of Bali, Moyo Island sits north of Sumbawa and can be accessed by boat from Lombok. The sparsely inhabited island’s natural landscapes are beguiling – from the colour-popping blue pools of Mata Jitu Waterfall to its pristine jungles –it’s a remote corner of paradise and undoubtedly one of the best islands off Bali’s coast. Don’t miss its nature reserve with wild deer and exotic birds.

 

Nusa Lembongan

Hop on a boat from Sanur Beach at the end of Jalan Hang Tuah in Bali and in half an hour you’ll arrive at the far-flung shores of Nusa Lembongan, an island off Bali’s southeast coast. Thanks to slow but thoughtful development, Nusa Lembongan has emerged from being a sleepy surfer magnet to a haven of yoga retreats and quality independent restaurants. Nature lovers will appreciate the mangroves, incredible beaches and smaller neighbouring island, Nusa Ceningan, connected by a suspension bridge.

 

Nusa Penida

Lembongan’s protective big brother, and still under-developed and off the tourist trail, Nusa Penida is a spread of rugged beauty with jagged, foliage-covered cliffs and sweeping bays. It’s a large island so hire a scooter or car to explore, or, if lazing more your thing, take your pick from sandy stretches like Kelingking Beach or Crystal Bay.