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.
Are you going to Indonesia and looking for a tropical beach? Here’s a list of dreamy things to do in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia.
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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 (please don’t use the horse carts. The horses are treated really badly).
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. 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 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 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.
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.
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.
3. Take a day trip (to see a Komodo dragon)
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.
4. Snorkle 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 takes 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.
5. Scuba diving in Gili Trawangan
Gili T is the perfect place to dive. There’s more to see below the water than above! While you can dive around Gili Trawangan, I also recommend diving at Komodo National Park (A UNESCO site) that offers a wide variety of reefs, humming with fish, sharks, huge napoleon wrasse, mantas and much more.
6. Or try freediving
Close to the harbour, you’ll find The Freedive Gili center and it offers freediving and breath holding courses for beginners to advanced.
7. Don’t miss 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.
8. Go out and have fun
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.
9. Smoke beach 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 an Indonesian 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?
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:
- 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.
Bali to Gili Trawangan
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.
Lombok to Gili Trawangan
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.
Gili Air to Gili Trawangan
Look for the island hopping service which will cost you 23,000 Rp / $2 for a direct route.
Gili Meno to Gili Trawangan
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.
Where to stay in Gili Trawangan
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.
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!
Read next: Where to stay on Gili Islands
Would you go to Gili Trawangan?
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