Did you know that there is an island paradise just a short boat ride away from the hustle and bustle of Bali? Nestled just off the coast of Lombok are three beautiful little islands often referred to as the “Gilis”– Gili Air, Gili Meno & Gili Trawangan. Each of these islands has something to offer visitors, but my favorite is Gili Trawangan (affectionally known to as Gili T). This island has so much to see, eat and do and should be a must on any Indonesian itinerary. I loved this little island so much, I wrote up this Gili Trawangan travel guide with everything I know about the island so you can visit and fall in love too!
How to get to Gili T from Bali-
Getting to the Gilis from Bali is pretty straightforward. You can book a ferry ticket from almost any major tourist hub in Bali.
Please take extra caution in researching your ferry before you book. Many are known to take too many passengers and run the risk of capsizing. In fact, it’s best to ask around or do a quick Google search before picking any boat service in Indonesia. I recommend Gili Getaway or Blue Water Express, which are known to be reliable and safe transport options to and from Gili T and Bali.
You have two options when traveling from Bali to Gili– the fast ferry or the local ferry.
A fast ferry will get you there in 2-3 hours but is a bit expensive, a return ticket costing anywhere from $80 to $120 USD. These ferries leave from all over the eastern coast of Bali. If you get seasick, the shortest ride to the Gilis can be found from Amed in northern Bali. You can often book directly with your guesthouse/hotel or any travel agent on the street. Your ticket will include a minibus ride to the port and your ferry ticket.
If you chose to take the local ferry, you will have to travel a bit more distance. I spoke with a few travelers who did it this way and loved it but if you’re short on time, I would skip it. The local ferry leaves from Padang Bai and takes about 4-5 hours to get to Lembar on Lombok. From there you will have to find your way to Bangsal where you can get a local ferry to Gili T that leaves 2 times a day. It’s a long journey but it is significantly cheaper (around $18 USD each way) and you’ll have much more time to interact with the locals on Lombok, who I found to be some of the nicest I’ve ever met!
Pro tip: If you get even a little bit seasick, take some motion sickness medication. The ride between these islands can get rough!
Read More: 10 Amazing Things to Do in Kuta, Bali
What to do-
Walk the Entire Island-
Gili T is not, by any means, a big island and you can easily walk the whole circumference of the island in just a few hours. I’d recommend heading out just after lunch so that you can take your time and stop at any sights that catch your eye along the way.
Take an Island Tour-
All over the island, you will find tour operators trying to sell you island hopping tours with glass bottom boats. This is actually a great way to explore Gili Meno & Gili Air if you don’t have a lot of time. The tours will usually take you to a few snorkel spots and then break for lunch on either of the other two islands.
While it wasn’t the best island tour that I’ve been on in Southeast Asia, it was worth the few dollars to see the other islands and do some good snorkeling.
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Catch An Amazing Sunset-
This island has some seriously unreal sunsets! If you venture to the other side of the island, you can take in some really beautiful colors and if you’re into photography some amazing shots.
One of the best spots to watch the sunset is the Ombak Sunset Hotel. The hotel, like many others along the sunset side of the island, has a swing set up in the water that is available for photos.
Take a Surf Lesson-
If you didn’t get your fill of surfing in Bali, you can catch some pretty gnarly waves on the southwest corner of Gili T. There are several surf schools that will provide lessons or rent you a board.
I had some great dives while in Gili T! With dive sites like Shark Point and Halik, you are bound to see some awesome marine life.
There are so many amazing dive schools on the island but it’s important to do your research and pick a safe and reputable one. Many of the dive companies will allow you to pick the dive site, but this is a huge red flag as any good dive school will check currents and other factors before committing to a dive site. Just trust your gut and do a little reading before you head out. Alex in Wanderland has an in-depth guide to diving on the island that can help you choose!
Take a Booze Cruise-
Gili T has a reputation as a party island that is pretty well deserved. There is certainly enough nightlife to keep you hungover for your entire trip if you let it. However, if you aren’t partied out and want to do a little day drinking there is a booze cruise run by Jiggy Bar that is pretty legendary. They offer booze cruises on Wednesdays & Saturdays and your ticket includes a free round of shots!
Climb to the View Point-
The lookout on the southwestern side of the island gives you some amazing views of all three Gilis! If it’s a clear day you can see the Rinjani mountain range of Lombok. It’s not too difficult of a climb, only about 15 minutes uphill from the main path. The views are worth the effort!
Chill Out At the Beach-
My favorite activity! But seriously, if you’re a beach bum like me then Gili T is your personal paradise. There are several restaurants and bars set up along the beach that provide beach chairs or bean bags with the purchase of something from the menu. I usually go with a nice fruit shake!
Nightlife on Gili T-
The nightlife on Gili T is legendary– no Gili Trawangan travel guide would be complete without mentioning it! No matter what your party style is, this island has something for you. What’s most interesting about the Gili T nightlife is that the bars take turns hosting the big party of the night and staying open late. Depending on the day of the week one bar will stay open until 3 AM while the rest close down at 1 AM. Below is the rough schedule I was able to figure out during my time there. This is bound to change so ask the staff at your guesthouse for confirmation!
Most people start their night at The Jungle Pre-Drinking Bar. The drink prices are good and the music is better so it’s a good spot to start your night.
- Monday- Blue Marlin Dive Rave
- Tuesday- Jiggy Jig’s Bar or Trawangan Cottages
- Wednesday- Tir Na Nog – the Irish Pub
- Thursday- Gili Hostel hosts a pool party
- Friday- Rudy’s Bar
- Saturday- Sama Sama
- Sunday- Evolution
Important Note on Methanol Poisoning- Indonesia is a predominately Muslim country, meaning that outside of tourist areas alcohol isn’t widely consumed and the taxes imposed on it are very high. Because of this many bars have been known to cut their alcohol with methanol. This is very dangerous and potentially life-threatening. The safest option is to simply stick to a nice ice cold Bintang and avoid hard alcohol altogether.
Where to Stay-
Gili is definitely one of those places where you can get off the boat and walk around to find accommodation once you arrive. However, keep in mind that you will have to lug your bags along the dirt road or hire a horse & buggy to drive around with you. It’s good to have an idea of what area you are looking to stay in and a budget in mind. Or you could book ahead and just eliminate all of the hassle. Depends on what type of traveler you are!
I’ve listed out a few of best options on the island below:
Gili Beach Bum is a great hostel if you want to stay close to the action! Their dorm room is super cute and they do have a private room available. The social atmosphere is great. A dorm bed starts at $15 USD.
We stayed at Bale Sasak for our first few days in Gili. While it is definitely budget and not the nicest place on the island, the staff really made our stay incredible. They were kind and attentive, always playing live music and chatting with us. They took us out to some of the fun bars at night. You get what you pay for in terms of accommodation but the awesome experience I had there is one of my best memories from Southeast Asia. Private rooms start at $15.
This hotel is so freaking perfect! As you can probably tell from the name, PinkCoco is decorated in various shades of pink with cute island vibe touches. What should be a kitschy ends up being the perfect aesthetic. This place is also an iInstagrammer’s dream with a stunning pool area and hammocks in the ocean. And with rooms starting at only $69 a night, it’s affordable luxury at its best.
This resort is located on the quieter southwest corner of the island. It has its own private beach and ten beautiful bungalows (with aircon!). Since it is sort of far from the action, they have a great restaurant and lounge so you don’t have to venture into town every time you are hungry. This is luxury living in the Gili Islands at it’s finest!
Where to Eat-
This island has so many amazing food options! There is truly something for everyone, from amazing Indonesia street food to pizza that tastes better than any I had in Italy. I knew I couldn’t write this Gili Trawangan travel guide without sharing some of my favorite options with you guys:
The Roast House-
This place is phenomenal! It’s definitely the place to go if you are missing Western comfort foods. I had two amazing meals at this place- an awesome chicken wrap and their signature roast dish.
Fun fact, this is actually the same name (and practically the same logo) as one of the most famous pizza chains back home in Boston. While it wasn’t the same restaurant, it definitely lived up to the hype of it’s USA counterpart. The pizza we had here was HUGE and delicious.
The night market is a can’t miss while on Gili T. There are several vendors that set up shop here each evening. This is where you can get some of the best Indonesian food that you’ll ever have. There are also several dessert tables to satisfy your sweet tooth.
This island should be at the top of everyone’s Indonesia bucket list! Its beautiful blue waters, stunning beaches, delicious food, and stellar nightlife make it the perfect destination for any island lover. I hope this Gili Trawangan travel guide convinced you to add it Gili T to your Southeast Asia itinerary!
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