14 dreamy things to do in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

things to do in Gili Trawangan

Just east of Bali and a stone’s throw from Lombok is the island of Gili Trawangan. This tiny Muslim island is engulfed by coral reef and surrounded by white sandy beaches, turquoise water and beautiful 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.

Are you going to Indonesia and looking for a paradise island? Here’s a list of dreamy things to do in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.

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Map of the Gili islands

The Gili Islands consist of three islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air.

Though they’re similar in many ways, each of the islands has its own unique charm. The island of Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, is the biggest of the three.

How to get to Gili Trawangan

You can get to Gili Trawangan from most major islands. Here are the typical routes, including two important notes: 

  • Book your tickets well in advance. In high season make sure to get your return ticket 1-2 weeks prior to your trip.
  • 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, so I strongly advise you to take caution when choosing a boat company for longer multi-day trips (like to Komodo island, e.g.). 

From Bali to Gili Trawangan

From Bali, you can take a fast boat to Gili Trawangan from Padang Bai, Sanur Port, or Serangan Port.

The boats depart in the morning between 8-9 AM and will take you directly to Gili Trawangan in about 1.5-2 hours. Book it here.

From Lombok to Bali

If you’re coming from Lombok, you need to get to Bangsal port.

Once you reach Bangsal, take the public fast boat to Gili Trawangan. It costs Rp 85,000. The fast boat operates every hour from 9 AM to 4:30 PM, so make sure to arrive by 2 PM at the latest to ensure you catch the last boat.

You can also pre-book it here for an easy and hassle-free trip.

A guide to Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. Get tips on where to stay, eat and what to do here. #gili #indonesia

How to get around

There are no motorized vehicles on Gili Trawangan, so getting around is done by bicycle. It’s a very small island, though, and everything you need is located in walking distance from the ferry dock.

The lack of traffic and public transportation is what makes the island so charming and attractive. While you may come across an occasional electric scooter, most people get around by bike or on foot.

At the ferry dock, you’ll see horse carriages that offer to take you to your hotel. Please don’t use the horse carts. The horses are treated badly.

things to do in Gili Trawangan

Where to stay in Gili Trawangan

You can find hotels in Gili Trawangan on every budget. I recommend getting a hotel near the harbour. This is where all local restaurants and shops are, and it’s easy to find hotels with air conditioning away from the crowds.

What to do in Gili Trawangan
Things to do in Gili Trawangan

What to do in Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan is this perfect little getaway from the larger islands with beautiful, clear water and white, sandy beaches.

Let’s take a look at the best things to do in 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 explore Gili T, but if you’re planning on seeing the entire island, you should rent a bike. It takes about one hour to cycle around the island 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. On my bike ride, I simply followed the main road, which goes around the island.

I stopped every 5-10 minute to take a photo or walk barefooted through the warm beach sand and look at corals.

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

What to do in Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

2. Eat at the night market

The Gili Trawangan night market is a popular spot to eat. The nightly food market is located right off the main road in the middle of the east coast of Gili Trawangan and it’s composed of stalls all selling local food like nasi goreng and 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 fresh, great food.

Gili Islands, Indonesia
What to do in Gili Trawangan

3. Take a day trip to the pink beach

One of the best things to do in Gili Trawangan is taking a day trip to a nearby island.

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.

On this day trip, you get to visit a pink beach and snorkle in crystal clear water around a small island with white sand near the coast of Lombok. Snorkeling gear is provided, but in these times you should definitely bring your own.

What to do in Gili Trawangan

4. Go snorkeling with sea turtles

If you’re planning a trip to the Gili Islands, make sure to go snorkelling! The islands are famous for their stunning fish, turtles, and underwater statues that you won’t want to miss.

Snorkelling with turtles is a must-do activity in Gili Trawangan. Lots of visitors come all the way from Bali or Lombok just for this experience!

It’s easy to book a snorkelling trip as most shops along the main strip of Gili T offer it. Alternatively, you can book in advance for various Gili Trawangan snorkelling tours.

Another fun activity is a glass-bottom boat trip. This is one of the best ways to experience life beneath the sea.

What to do in Gili Trawangan

5. Scuba diving in Gili Trawangan

Gili T is the perfect place for scuba diving. There’s more to see below the water than above!

Your best option when it comes to dive centers is Manta Dive Gili T, which has a great vibe and comes highly recommended.

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

Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

6. Visit the Gili swings

One of the most popular activities on Gili Trawangan is swinging on the island’s many swings.

These spots have gone viral on social media and can now be found all over the island. For the best photo opportunity, head to the west side at sunset where there are plenty of hammocks to relax in and enjoy the view.

One of the best places for sunset vibes is in front of The Exile Bar. Be sure to arrive early if you plan to visit at sunset as swings and beanbags tend to get crowded from around 6pm.

things to do in Gili Trawangan

7. Don’t miss surfing

It’s possible to surf all year around in Gili Trawangan, but January to June is the high season for surfing.

A great way to get started is by booking a surf lesson. If you’re an experienced surfer, you can rent a board anywhere on the island.

What to do in Gili Trawangan

8. Go out at the Sama Sama Reggae Bar

The Gili Trawangan nightlife is notorious so you’ll have no problem finding a party.

The main strip of Gili T is the perfect place to find clubs and beach bars, but the most iconic one has to be the Sama Sama Reggae Bar.

This bar is known for its chill vibes, offering a great place to unwind in the evenings while enjoying live reggae music every night from 7pm.

Besides the clubs, you should look for the Jiggy Boat Party, which is a party boat that operates daily. I didn’t try it myself, but I heard it’s a great place to meet new people.

Gili Islands, Indonesia

9. Smoke beach hookah

When in the Gili islands, head to Pesona bar for sunset and relax with a beach hookah. It’s an Indian restaurant, so you can eat dinner here, too.

This is not related to Pesona bar, just a general word of warning:

You will most likely be offered magic mushrooms or see signs with it. Be cautious. 

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 an Indonesian cooking class

On a lighter note, you can learn how to cook Indonesian food on one of the island’s cooking classes. There are classes for every budget and it’s a fun way to spend the day.

What to do in Gili Trawangan

11. Get a massage

Ahh, probably my favourite activity on this Gili Trawangan itinerary!

If you’re looking to treat yourself with a massage, Gili T is the place to do just that.

You can get cheap massages everywhere on the island from 150,000 Rp / $12 per hour. Most of the massages can be found in spas, but you can also find massage places on the southeast side of the island.

I even saw a hangover recovery massage!

What to do in Gili Trawangan

12. Do yoga

Yoga is another feel-good activity, and Gili Yoga Center is the place to join a class.

Gili Yoga Center is located in the heart of the main strip on the east side of Gili Trawangan.

It offers daily yoga classes that are open to everyone. The 5:30 p.m. class, a mix between hatha and vinyasa yoga, is the perfect way to end your day at the beach before heading out for the evening.

13. Join movie night

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

Gili Islands, Indonesia
Like taken right out of A Thousand and One Nights

14. Catch the incredible sunsets

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 beach is on the west side of this beautiful island, but it only takes 20 minutes or so to cycle there.

I can think of no better way to end the day. Can you?

things to do in Gili Trawangan

Ask me anything about what to do in Gili Trawangan

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55 Comments

  1. 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!).

  2. 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 🙁

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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!

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

  6. 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!

    1. 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.

  7. 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?

    1. 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.

  8. 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

    1. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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

    1. 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 🙂

  11. 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 😀

  12. 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

  13. 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

    1. 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 🙁

  14. 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.

  15. We had plans to go to Bali and visit the Gili Islands, but we heard about the earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanos. So Indonesia was delayed for another time.

  16. 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.

  17. Thanks for sharing such a useful post especially for the travellers, who are planning to visit Indonesia. Indonesia has been always a great attraction for the tourists across the world due to it’s innumerable tourist spots, out of which Gili Trawangan is one such.

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