Being a Responsible Tourist on The Gili Islands

During my time in Indonesia I spent one week on the beautiful Gili Islands. These are three tiny islands with no motorized vehicles and an easygoing tropical vibe. There’s an island for everyone – people visit to party, snorkel and dive, or relax and completely unplug. The level of tourism the Gilis have been receiving in recent years, however, is taking its toll.

The hostel I stayed at on Gili Trawangan had a poster titled “Ten Recommendations for Being a Responsible Tourist” from the Gili Eco Trust. The poster caught my eye and, with permission, I am going to share its very useful tips here with you.

1. Be a role model

Set a good example, show people that your own interactions with the environment do make a difference and other people will follow suit.

2. Do not throw anything in the toilet

Sign in the bathroom at my hostel on Gili T

Due to the septic tank system, non-organic waste will fill the septic tanks causing grey water to flow into the land and sea. This will increase pollution and kill our fragile underwater eco-system.

3. Refill your water bottle

Bottles piled up on the road in Gili Air

Contribute to the waste management and help us recycle plastic by re-using your water bottle with a refill. It will also save money and is an easy way to be green!

4. Save Water

Turn the water off when you are not using it. We live on a small island with very limited fresh water, so please be conservative

5. Switch off your AC, fan and lights when you leave your room

The electricity comes from petrol generation on Gili Islands. Do not waste the energy as the island can barely cope already!

6. Throw rubbish in the bins provided

Don’t let your trash end up here.

Encourage responsible behavior by walking a few extra steps to collect rubbish and throw it in a bin.

8. Do not touch the reef

Coral reef off of the Gili Islands

Sea turtle off of Gili Meno Island

Coral and other animals are very fragile organisms and grow very slowly. Interacting with the ocean ecosystem will damage it. Please respect their space and only watch from a distance.

9. Report environmental disturbance or destruction

Touching aquatic life, walking on reefs, boat anchoring, and discarding plastic are usually done in ignorance. Help these people to understand that their behavior is not eco-appropriate by explaining now we can respect and look after our environment.

10. Get involved in local environmental activities and issues

You may feel you can’t save the world, but you can have a great impact on the corner of the planet in which you do live or spend your holidays. There are plenty of opportunities to show your support for a clean environment, including local beach cleanups, good eco role model behavior, education of local people about rubbish and plastic, and supporting ecological activities with your energy or money.

Gili Eco Trust volunteers. (Photo courtesy of Gili Eco Trust)

Of course, these tips are not only applicable in the Gilis. Most of them can and should be used wherever you go; sustainable tourism helps keep your favorite vacation spots beautiful. So, next time you travel, especially to a small island or undeveloped area, refer back to this list and do your best to leave no trace.

To learn more about how you can get involved with Gili Eco Trust, visit their website here or get in touch at

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