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Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands 2020 {Which Is Better?}

Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands

Which Is Better?

se asia bucket list challenge | kelingking beach

Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands

{Which Is Better?}

Indonesia is full of breathtaking sights, islands, beaches, waterfalls, rice terraces, volcanoes and so much more… the list of incredible things to see across Indonesia is endless.

Usually, backpackers who visit Indonesia travel predominantly to the island of Bali. However, they may even take a quick ferry trip over to either the Nusa Islands or the Gili Islands, two increasingly popular backpacking destinations that really should not be missed.

It’s no secret that both the Nusa Islands and Gili Islands are absolutely stunning. But which one is better?

There is no correct answer. But this blog is designed to break it down for you so you can make that decision for yourself.

nusa islands vs gili islands scenery

Nusa Islands compared to the Gili Islands are very different, therefore I do believe that both archipelagos should be explored.

However, should you only have time for only one or the other, this blog will help you choose whether you should visit the Nusa Islands or Gili Islands during your travels.

Keep reading to find out which Indonesian islands are better for you between the Nusa Islands or Gili Islands.

Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands: What Are They?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, what even are the Nusa Islands and Gili Islands?

Well, they are both separate groups of islands located in Indonesia.

The Nusa Islands are technically part of (and closer to) Bali, and the Gili Islands are technically part of (and closer to) Lombok.

Both island clusters are incredibly beautiful, although that doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Lots of people make the mistake of only traveling to Bali and not exploring the Nusa or Gili archipelagos which are arguably even more remarkable than Bali itself.

diamond beach nusa penida

yellow bridge nus ceningan

Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands: The Breakdown

To make this decision as easy as possible, I’ve decided to break the Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands comparison down into the categories of adventure, partying, scenery & landscapes, accessibility, infrastructure & development, and how many days you need in each group of islands.

So without furth ado, let's begin.


This is an easy answer. The two don’t compare.

The Gili Islands adventures include nothing more than partying, laying on the beach, getting an even tan, viewing extremely pretty sunsets, taking that photo on those over-the-water swings, and maybe even some snorkeling.

However, the Nusa Islands offer far more exploratory and adventurous activities than the Gili Islands do.

Don’t be surprised if the Nusa Islands turn out to be the highlight of your trip after you visit these top things to do such as:

  • Kelingking Beach
  • Suwehan Beach
  • Swimming with Manta Rays
  • Thousand Islands Viewpoint
  • Devil’s Tears
  • Blue Lagoon

For more things to do in Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan, click here.

thousand island viewpoint nusa penida

most beatiful places in bali | gili trawangan


On the other side of the spectrum, we have partying. (A Wild & Away blog would not be complete without this category).

This is also another easy answer.

Gili all the way baby! In particular, Gili Trawangan.

Some of the best partying in Indonesia happens on this tiny little island, and we couldn’t get enough of it!

In fact, most of us get sucked down into the Gili T party hole where the most addicted of us end up going back to Gili Trawangan for a second round!

Seriously, make sure you plan to go somewhere relaxing after Gili T, because your liver is going to need a solid week of recovery time.

Click here for The Ultimate Gili Trawangan Party Guide.

While Gili Trawangan is full of wild party antics, the Nusa Islands offer basically no partying whatsoever.

The Nusa Islands are pretty quiet, which is more than okay because you actually end up using all your energy adventuring throughout the day so you’re going to need your nights to get some rest.

gili trawangan party guide _ gili trawangan nightlife

Jiggy Boat Party Gili Trawangan Party

Scenery & Landscapes

The scenery in the Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands comes down to personal preference.

The Nusa Islands offer an array of various landscapes, beaches, and forests, whereas the only scenery that the Gili Islands offers is one mesmerizingly stunning white sandy beach, which is absolutely gorgeous and something I could never get tired of.

I mean, the Gili Islands is made up of three tiny little sandbanks in the middle of a gleaming turquoise coral reef… it’s mind-blowingly beautiful.

In the Gili Islands, you are rarely in a position where the beach is not within your view, and you’ll most likely be dining at restaurants located literally on the beach every night.

You’ll also be partying literally on the beach every night too.

In the Nusa Islands, there’s a lot more ground to cover, a lot more beaches, beach clubs, and just a diversity of landscapes that tend to make your jaw drop, which is why the Nusa Islands effortlessly wins this category for me.

nusa islands vs gili islands aerial

most instagrammable places in bali | broken beach nusa penida


In terms of accessibility, the Nusa Islands and Gili Islands pretty much go hand in hand.

It’s an easy ferry ride to get to either the Nusa Islands or Gili Islands from Bali.

Bali to Gili Islands takes 1.5 hours via the fast boat or 12 hours via the slow boat. You also have the option to fly to Lombok and take a ferry from there which is only about 20 minutes long.

Click here the complete low-down on how to get Bali to Gili Islands.

A ferry from Bali to Nusa Islands takes only around 30 minutes, and this is the only way to get there as there are no airports on the Nusa Islands.

So seeing as they are both equally as accessible, it doesn’t really make too much of a difference when choosing whether to travel to the Nusa Islands or Gili Islands.

nusa islands vs gili islands boat 2

nusa islands vs gili islands boat


Infrastructure & Development

There’s a bit of a difference when it comes to infrastructure in the Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands.

There are cars, motorbikes, roads, and a lot more buildings in the Nusa Islands compared to the Gili Islands.

On the Gili Islands, there are no cars nor are there roads.

Everyone gets around either by walking, bicycle, or horse and cart.

Keep in mind, the Gili Islands are much smaller than the Nusa Islands, so it really would be quite unnecessary to have a car in these islands.

The Nusa Islands, however, are a lot larger in comparison to the size of the Gili Islands.

It’s absolutely necessary to have either a car or a motorbike if you want to see even a fraction of the sights there.

While the Nusa Islands do come equipped with roads, beware that most of the roads that get you to the most beautiful destinations are actually quite broken to the point of essentially being loose bits of gravel.

So seeing as it’s not super developed in terms of roads, it can be quite a mission to get to places like Kelingking Beach, Suwehan Beach, and Thousand Islands Viewpoint.  However, it is more than worth it and I’d travel those broken roads over and over again in a heartbeat, just to see the sights of Nusa Penida.

Pro Tip
If you are planning on doing online work during your travels, then you’d best stick to the Nusa Islands. The Gili Islands generally have some pretty unstable WiFi.

nusa penida aerial 2

nusa islands vs gili islands nusa ceningan

How much time do you need in Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands?

So because there is more to do in the Nusa Islands than there is in the Gili Islands, naturally you’re going to need more time in the Nusa Islands.

We stayed in Gili Trawangan for 5 days, which was fine because we have no problem partying day and night, then we went to Lombok for a few days and came back to Gili T again for another 5 days… oops!

However, this is obviously an overkill and you don’t need to spend 10 days (or even 5 for that matter) in Gili Trawangan alone.

For the Gili Islands you probably only need 3 nights to experience it all, however, this is all dependent on how much you want to relax or party there.

On the other hand, the Nusa Islands actually require a lot more time if you want to see all there is to see there.

I recommend at least 3-4 days for Nusa Penida and another 2 days for Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.

gili islands view

Which Is Better Overall: Nusa Islands or Gili Islands?

Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands... which is better?

This is the question only you can answer.

For me personally, if I happen to have a spare few days during my Bali backpacking trip and looking for some solid partying and beach days, I would 100% choose the Gili Islands.

However, if I’m yearning for adventure then I would for sure choose the Nusa Islands.

So it’s up to you!

Which one would you choose? Let us know down in the comments section below.

nusa islands vs gili islands keilingking beach


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nusa islands or gili islands _ nusa pendia or gili trawangain pinterest

Are We Missing Something?

Did we forget to mention some important information in our blog “Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands 2020 {Which Is Better?}”?

Let us know down in the comments section below!

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This post first appeared on Wild & Away, please read the originial post: here

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Nusa Islands vs Gili Islands 2020 {Which Is Better?}


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