Guide to Gili Trawangan island (the Gili Islands)
The Gili islands are absolute paradise – white sand beaches, turquoise water, sensational scuba diving, endless beach bars and beautiful sunsets. I could not recommend it enough for a holiday you will never forget.
How to get there
If you’re coming from Bali, you can take the fast ferry to Gili T in about 2 – 2.5 hours. You can book a ticket from any tour operator in town for around AUD$120 return which will include transfers from where you are staying. Most operators leave from the port at Padang Bai, which is about 1 hour drive from Kuta.
There are multiple operators and they usually have two trips a day (morning and afternoon). I would recommend taking the morning trip as there can be traffic and departure delays so it can take all day. The ferry also stops at Gili Meno and Gili Air.
If you are coming from Lombok you can take a cheap and short 30 minute local ferry.
Where to stay
The east coast of the island is where all the action is – shops, beach bars and backpackers. I would recommend booking somewhere for the first night because you may arrive late from the ferry. There are so many nice places to stay and the prices are significantly cheaper if you walk in, particularly if you stay a few blocks back from the beach.
If you are traveling alone or want to party, i would HIGHLY recommend staying at the Gili Castle. It is one of the best party hostels I have ever stayed at. There is a pool, bar and even a climbing wall. Each morning you can get a delicious cooked breakfast and each night there are loads of backpackers ready to mingle and go out together.
If you want some more privacy and a little bit of luxury, I would recommend Rumah Purnama. It is quite luxurious and is very good value for money as we only paid about AUD$40 per night. Every morning we were served delicious pancake breakfast on our terrace.
What to do
Go snorkeling or diving
Gili islands have some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling that Asia has to offer. If you’re a diver, there are multiple dive schools on the main street. They all run several diving trips a day at about $50 a dive. As the dive sites are so close, you can be back within 2 hours.
Alternatively, you can go on a snorkeling day trip for a little as $10. This includes 5 snorkeling stops and a visit to Gili Air for lunch.
Enjoy the beautiful white sand beaches
All around the island you will be blessed by stunning white sand beaches to soak in the sun. The beach is lined with cafes and bars to sit and enjoy the wonderful view.
Watch a movie at the open air cinema
Every night the Hotel Villa Ombuk shows films at their open air cinema. Tickets are cheap and it is a great way to relax under the stars.
Take a yoga class
For some ultimate relaxation, take a yoga class on the island. Gili Yoga have 4 classes a day and they are all in a lovely outdoor yoga studio across the road from the beach. Classes are $10 each and you will leave feeling super rejuvenated!
Party on a boat
A few times a week Drunken Monkey hosts a boat party of epic proportions, where you spend the afternoon dancing, drinking and enjoying the views off a boat. You also have a swim stop and the boat passes Lombok for a beautiful sunset.
Visit the insta-famous Datu swing in the sea
One of the most photographed parts of Gili T is the Datu swing in the sea. It is on the south east coast of the island and can be reached by just walking down the main road that runs around the island. It is a beautiful place to be at sunset.
The main street on the east side of the island is full of beach bars and parties. You will have no issue finding somewhere to meet people and have a few drinks! Be careful of drinking spirits as there are cases of methanol poisoning. This is particular bad at Rudy’s Bar.
How long to stay
You need at least a few days to experience this magical island paradise and you can easily stay a few weeks!