14 dreamy things to do in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

By |2018-08-01T16:16:07+00:00September 26th, 2014|Asia, Beaches, Destination, Indonesia|45 Comments

GILI TRAWANGAN

Going to Indonesia and looking for a tropical beach? Here’s a list of dreamy things to do in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

Just east of Bali and a stone’s throw from Lombok is the island of Gili Trawangan. This tiny, Muslim island is engulfed by corals and surrounded by white sandy beaches, turquoise water and a mesmerizing underwater life. On the east beach, dance music is blazing from the speakers and drowned out by the tunes of the local imam singing the daily prayer. The contrasts are striking.

THINGS TO DO IN GILI TRAWANGAN

Every day, boats arrive from other Indonesian islands with hundreds of travelers looking for a party or a place to unplug. The harbour is busy, and in high season everyone is standing on each other’s necks to get off the boat first. There are no cars or scooters on Gili Trawangan so getting around is done by bicycle or horse cart.

Although it might sound a bit chaotic, it’s not. Gili Trawangan is this perfect little getaway from the larger islands, and it has what Bali doesn’t: beautiful, clear waters and white, sandy beaches. Here are 14 dreamy things to do in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

MORE INDONESIA TRAVEL TIPS: GET MAPS, ITINERARIES AND INDONESIAN PHRASES

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

1. BIKE AROUND GILI TRAWANGAN

Price: $5 per day

A lovely stroll on the beach or coastal track is a great way to see the island, but if you’re planning on seeing it all, you should rent a bike. It takes approximately one hour to cycle around it and two hours to walk. I rented a bike for the day and rolled off to the beautiful countryside with a bottle of water and a bicycle basket full of snacks. I stopped every 5-10 minute to take a photo or walk barefooted through the warm beach sand and collect corals.

Remember to get a chain and to lock the bike if you’re leaving it.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

2. EAT AT THE NIGHT MARKET

Price: 60,000 Rp / $5 for five king prawns

Gili T’s night market is a great, relaxed place to eat. The nightly food market is located right off the main road in the middle of the eastern side of Gili Trawangan and it’s composed of stalls all selling local, fresh seafood. They prepare it on the spot with rice and corn on the side for a fairly cheap price.

* Tip: Go for the stalls with the most customers as they tend to have the most fresh food.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Gili Islands, Indonesia

3. TAKE A DAY TRIP (TO SEE A KOMODO DRAGON)

Day trips & longer trips. 

There are lots of islands around Gili Trawangan. The nearest are Gili Meno and Gili Air, but you could also visit Bali or Lombok, which are larger.

For the more adventurous, you can find trips to Komodo island, Mount Rinjani and lots more everywhere near the harbour. The price is more or less the same from all the companies.

Komodo dragon

4. SNORKELING WITH SEA TURTLES

Snorkeling trip: 100,000 Rp / $8,3
Another fun thing to do in Gili Trawangan is joining a snorkeling trip in a glass bottom boat. A trip lasts from 10am – 3.30pm and take you to three different snorkeling locations around Gili Meno and Gili Air; one of those is where you can be lucky to see sea turtles and then you stop at the other island for lunch.

Cancun, Mexico

5. GILI TRAWANGAN DIVING

Dive 
Gili T is the perfect place to dive. If you want to know more then head over to Alex’s blog – she’s a dive guru and she wrote this excellent post that answers all relevant questions about diving in Gili.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

6. FREEDIVING

Freediving 
Close to the harbour, you’ll find The Freedive Gili center and it offers freediving and breath holding courses for beginners to advanced.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

7. SURFING

It’s possible to surf all year around, but January – June is the high season for surfing. You can rent a board anywhere on the island.

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

8. GILI TRAWANGAN NIGHTLIFE

The Gili Trawangan nightlife is notorious so you’ll have no problem finding a party. Besides the clubs, you should look for the South Sea Nomads, which is a party boat that operates Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

9. SMOKE BEACK HOOKAH

Enjoy the sunset while smoking a beach hookah at Pesona bar. A word of warning, though – be cautious around anyone offering you magic mushrooms or other drugs. Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Indonesia and is regularly applied to drug dealers and people in possession of modest quantities of illegal drugs. This is not the place to get caught with or near someone with drugs.

10. JOIN A COOKING CLASS

Learn how to cook Indonesian food by joining one of the island’s cooking classes. There are classes for every budget and it’s a fun way to spend the day.

11. GET A (HANGOVER) MASSAGE

Price: 100,000 Rp / $8,3 to 200,000 Rp / $16,7

If you’re looking to treat yourself with a massage, Gili islands is the place to do just that. You can get cheap massages everywhere on the island from 100,000 Rp / $8,3 to 200,000 Rp / $16,7. You can even find a hangover recovery massage.

12. DO YOGA

Gili Yoga Center offers yoga practice twice a day, gourmet vegetarian food and meditation.

13. JOIN MOVIE NIGHT

Have a movie night with a cocktail in hand at Villa Ombat’s beach cinema. It’s a cosy way to end the day and also a great way to meet new people.

14. CATCH THE GILI SUNSET

All my days on Gili Trawangan were topped off with a trip to the east beach in the afternoon with a great read and a Bintang. The sunset is on the other side of the island, but it only takes 20 minutes or so to cycle there.

I can’t think of a better way to end the day. Can you?

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Like taken right out of A Thousand and One Nights

Gili Islands, Indonesia

BALI TO GILI TRAWANGAN (AND OTHERS)

*If you buy a return ticket, you need to confirm it one day before you leave Gili. If you forget to do this, they can and will deny you access on the boat.

*A note on safety: Safety standards are lower in Indonesia than other Southeast Asian countries and so I strongly advise you to take caution when choosing a boat company for longer trips. Although most trips to Gili Trawangan go smoothly, too often there are reports of boats sinking – including tourist boats. Just read Kate’s story about how she got shipwrecked on her way to Komodo.

From Bali 
A fast-boat ticket will cost you around 400,000 Rp / $34, but you can save a few bucks by getting a return ticket. The trip takes around two hours.

From Lombok 
A public ferry will take you from Sengigi to Gili Trawangan in two hours for 100,000 Rp/ $8,3. You can also opt for a speedboat which only takes 30 minutes, but costs 500,000 Rp / $41,7.

From Gili Air 
Look for the island hopping service which will cost you 23,000 Rp / $2 for a direct route.

From Gili Meno 
Book via the island hopping service, but on this route you need to change boat in Gili Air. The price is also 23,000 Rp / $2.

GILI TRAWANGAN ACCOMMODATION

You can find Gili Trawangan accommodation on every budget. I would highly recommend you to get a hotel near the harbour. This is where all the restaurants and shops are, and it’s easy to find accommodation away from the crowds. I decided to splurge, so I stayed at the Casus Dream Hotel.

Prices:

High season: 862,500 Rp / $72 per night

Low season: 750,000 Rp / $62 per night

Now, this is a hotel that lives up to its name. It is by far one of the best places I’ve stayed in a long time and it impressed me on so many levels; the breakfast was excellent, rooms were super clean, atmosphere was cozy and quiet, lovely pool, perfect location and it had the friendliest staff ever!

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Gili Islands, Indonesia

Gili Islands, Indonesia

My room with private hammock

Would you go to Gili Trawangan?

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A guide to Gili trawangan, Indonesia. Tips on where to stay, eat and what to do

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45 Comments

  1. Traveling Ted September 26, 2014 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    Definitely looks like paradise. Amazing photos and great tips. Indonesia was already on my list and this post makes me want to leave right now.

    • Miriam September 27, 2014 at 9:47 am - Reply

      Thanks so much, Ted! Gili T is such an amazing place – so chilled and laidback. You should definitely visit.

  2. Amy September 28, 2014 at 5:03 am - Reply

    Even though I had a tough time in Indonesia, your pictures remind me of how beautiful the country is, especially the Gili Islands. It’s such a great place to snorkel and unplug since internet is so terrible there (not great for me as I had freelance work to do!).

    • Miriam September 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      I agree. It’s the perfect getaway although I had trouble with the Internet too. Hopefully it will get better at some point!

  3. Joella in Beijing September 29, 2014 at 3:07 am - Reply

    I love Gili T! I did my open water padi there in the summer. I also stayed on Gili Air which was so lovely and really chilled. The only sad thing about the Gilis is all the coral washed on shore 🙁

    • Miriam September 29, 2014 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Really? I would have loved to do that too, but I only did snorkeling. You’re right about the corals – that’s such a shame!

  4. Franca October 2, 2014 at 10:29 am - Reply

    I would most definitely go to Gili T if I had the chance, I’d probably stay away from all the resorts kind of activities, but I’d enjoy the amazing beaches and probably I’d simply watch the sea with a book in my hands.

    • Miriam October 3, 2014 at 12:41 pm - Reply

      That sounds like the perfect getaway for me, Franca <3

  5. the paper boat sailor October 6, 2014 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    This is an amazing compendium, and thanks for the safety note as well. I’m planning a trip to Indonesia and Gili Trawangan sounds right up my alley. Will be referencing this post a lot as my I give better shape to my plans.

    • Miriam October 6, 2014 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome. You won’t regret going to Gili, it’s amazing. Although caution is important, I wouldn’t worry too much if you’re only going from Bali to Gili. The boat ride is only a couple of hours as opposed to the overnight trip to Komodo. Enjoy!

  6. Ashley of Ashley Abroad October 7, 2014 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    So glad you enjoyed the night market! I absolutely loved my time on Gili- both the diving and partying were fantastic.

    • Miriam October 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Ashley, I really did. Gili is such a lovely place!

  7. Kendra Granniss October 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    This looks like paradise! Your pictures are gorgeous. I am insanely jealous right now.

    • Miriam October 13, 2014 at 8:31 pm - Reply

      I really was! Thanks, Kendra 🙂

  8. Agness October 13, 2014 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    I’m angry as I gotta study and the weather in Amsterdam is so awful! Guess where I wish I was right now!! AMAZING BEACH!!

    • Miriam October 13, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      I feel your pain, my friend. The weather in Denmark is lousy, too. At least we have a nice place to dream ourselves away to.

  9. Becky Padmore October 16, 2014 at 9:04 am - Reply

    I would definitely add it to the list – looks like paradise!

    • Miriam October 16, 2014 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      It was! I can say for sure that I’m going back some day.

  10. Tami October 25, 2014 at 2:29 am - Reply

    This looks like the kind of place I’d love to call home one day. I am hoping to move to Tobago in the next year. It looks and sounds similar to Gili T…except there are cars. 🙂

    I love your blog. You inspire me to dream and believe in myself and my goals. I always love coming by and checking things out.

    • Miriam October 26, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      What a lovely comment, Tami <3 Thank you, I'm so glad to hear that!
      Tobago sounds like an exotic place to live 🙂 I hope it makes you happy.

  11. Lara // the passage October 29, 2014 at 1:30 am - Reply

    This sounds amazing and right up my alley! I am always on the lookout for exotic spots that offer good scuba diving…and this place seems to have it all. Love the fact that bicycle is the preferred method of transportation…(kind of reminds me of my visit to Salt Cay in Turks and Caicos). Lovely photos- definitely adding this to my travel wish list!

    • Miriam October 29, 2014 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Lara! Gili T is a paradise, no doubt. Although I didn’t go diving, I heard excellent things about the underwater life. Supposedly, it’s one of the best dive spots in the world. I hope you get the chance to visit one day.

  12. Lucy @ The Wanderlust Scout November 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Hells yes I would go. A lot of my friends have and recommend it… highly!

    L x

    • Miriam November 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm - Reply

      I can only agree with them 🙂

  13. phil October 5, 2015 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    wonderful. i am planning to travel through Java to Bali and i think the Ubud area is my place to be in Bali. however, some beach life and snorkeling would be fun too, but somehow i felt Bali is lacking something the descriptions of the numerous beaches couldnt give me.

    now i returned to your blog after it was a great inspiration to my last trip to Peru & Bolivia and it seems i’ve again found what i was looking for. honestly, thumbs up for this blog!

    Gili Trawangan is probably too much party to stay more than a night, even though it actually looks really peaceful on your fotos. but the 3 islands seem to complement each other perfectly. Did you visit the other 2 islands as well?

    • Miriam October 8, 2015 at 11:54 am - Reply

      Hi Phil,

      I’m so glad I could help! I was only brieftly on Gili Meno and it was a bit too quiet and small for my taste. It probably depends on what you’re after, but it’s definitely possible to have a relaxed and peaceful stay on Gili Trawangan without partying (or hearing the party). I was there for 4 days and loved it. The beach was quiet all night, and I could watch the stars from a sun chair while listening to Bob Marley playing at the restaurants.

      Ps. Ubud is without doubt the best place to stay in Bali. Not only becuase it has a great vibe, but because it’s so easy to get cheap day tours to the whole island from there. I highly recommend.

  14. sandhiayy October 27, 2015 at 4:41 am - Reply

    what an amazing island and yes it makes me jealous. Gili Trawangan is on my next list to travel. I hope i can find the pleasure in this island like you did.

    Keep the travel spirit on!!

    Cheers

    • Miriam October 27, 2015 at 11:03 am - Reply

      I’m sure you can. And if Gili Trawangan is not your style, you can always head to Gili Air or Meno instead. All three islands have great snorkeling!

  15. Adam Maire November 20, 2015 at 10:20 am - Reply

    This is a great read! We were there about two months ago and had a really hard time leaving! The diving is fantastic and the freediving, for us, was even better! I am glad you got to bike all around the island. We wanted to but really let time get away from us so we didn’t have a chance. Your photos really made me miss it.

    • Miriam November 23, 2015 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Adam! I thought about diving there, but didn’t find the time. Seems like Gili has that effect 🙂

  16. Phil of TravelBucketMap.com August 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm - Reply

    Hi & thanks again for last year’s inspiration to go to the Gilis. I didn’t regret following your advice to go to Gili Trawangan. Its the perfect mix of relaxing but still some amazing laid back beach life going on. And what a contrast to Bali – the missing scooters and cars alone are worth the way.

    You did a great job listing some fun things to do when visiting the Gilis. May I add two things I really enjoyed as a recommendation:
    Smoke a beach hookah at Pesona bar and have a movie night with a nice cocktail at Villa Ombat’s beach cinema

    • Miriam August 4, 2016 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that, Phil! And thanks for pitching in with ideas, I’ll add them to the list!

      That movie night & cocktail at the beach cinema sounds just down my alley 🙂

  17. we are leaving traces August 30, 2016 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    We really liked your report on Gili Trawangan and the pictures. We just came back from Indonesia and also visited Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno. I guess that it is a diverse island and attracts two kinds of persons 😀

  18. stephanie November 15, 2016 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    I liked Gili T more than I thought I would.
    I did not party or drink loads, i just enjoyed diving, swimming and seeing the sunset.

    x

    • Miriam November 16, 2016 at 11:18 pm - Reply

      Me too. Gili T is much more than a party island, that’s for sure!
      x

  19. See Outside November 22, 2016 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    I much preferred Gili Air! Much more laid back!

    • Miriam November 23, 2016 at 2:02 pm - Reply

      It depends on what you prefer, I guess. I haven’t been to Air, but I hear it’s very relaxed and quiet.

  20. dulich April 27, 2017 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    In my country there is a place looks like this place, that is the Phu Quoc Island but I am feeling that this place is more beautiful and more memorable than my Phu Quoc island

    • Miriam April 27, 2017 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      I haven’t been to Phu Quoc island, but Gili Trawangan sure is beautiful!

  21. exclusivetravel December 7, 2017 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Wonderful blog

  22. Angelina DiGiovanni July 13, 2018 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Hi girl,

    Awesome article, I love it! I needed to bring a different perspective to my article about Gili Trawangan so I’ve placed a link for yours on my website to provide my readers with the best information possible, I hope you don’t mind. Hopefully they’ll enjoy it as well, providing you with some great exposure. Also, if you’re interested in guest posting, let me know! Check it out here:

    https://angelinaroundtheworld.com/gili-trawangan/

    Keep up the great work! Love,
    Angelina DiGiovanni

    • Miriam August 10, 2018 at 11:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Angelina,

      Thanks, that’s really nice of you! I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy Gili, though. It sounds like it’s changed since I was there – unfortunately that’s what happens to many of the SE Asian islands 🙁

  23. Nathan January 14, 2019 at 7:50 am - Reply

    We spent three nights in Gili Meno and it was absolutely amazing! We could hear Gili T all the way from our island so we were glad we spent our time on Meno.

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