Tips for traveling to Gili Trawangan Island in Indonesia

by Ale Werner
Swings in the sea

The small Gili Trawangan Island has become a destination much visited by backpackers, travelers and tourists in recent years. Easily accessible from Bali, every year thousands of people come to enjoy its beaches and nightlife. Find here the best tips to travel to Gili Trawangan: where to sleep, where to eat and what to do in Gili Trawangan… although being the island so small is difficult to miss something, even if you only go 2 days.

Information about Gili Trawangan

Is the largest of the islands archipelago north of Lombok, in Indonesia. Gili Trawangan receives thousands of tourists every year who step on its small piece of land. With only 15 square kilometers of extension, the arrival of foreigners is the main source of income of the premises so the hotel and restaurant offer is very wide. A curious fact is that 30 years ago the islands were uninhabited, for which all this development has been incredibly fast to meet the growing demand

If you want to know more about the Gili Islands, your differences and tips to get to this small archipelago enter here.

You can access the map here.

What to do in Gili Trawangan

The beaches and the town

Beaches

The beach of the town, in general, is full of boats and not good for bathing. It is best to move north from the docks or to the west and south of the island.

The tides in Gili are quite steep, so when it’s low you’ll have to walk a lot between reef to get to the water (especially in the west of the island where the terrain is flatter). We recommend some water shoes, you will appreciate them.

Be careful to go far away from the coast. There are strong currents between the islands that can take you out to sea in a matter of minutes.

Village

The town also deserves a good walk around. On the island, only about 1,000 people live, so they are all quite friendly to travelers. The street markets and a mosque are the main attractions. Do not be scared if you listen to religious songs at 3 o’clock in the morning and every certain hour; Muslims pray several times a day and use the amplifiers for everyone on the island to listen.

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Diving and snorkeling in the Gili Islands

Snorkel

It can be done in the main beaches of Gili Trawangan, especially in the main beach, a little north of the docks. You can see corals, fish, and even turtles.

All diving centers rent good quality fins and masks if you do not have yours.

It is recommended to enter the sea in front of the Almarik hotel to get immediately to the best area and where you can see more things.

You can also take snorkeling tours that go to different points in the three Gilis. For more information and prices ask directly on the island.

Diving

There are more than 20 dive centers on this small island, which shows the huge number of people that get here to scuba dive. The underwater life of the Gili is recognized as the best in Indonesia, although overexploitation has led to some corals to die.

In any case, you will find many fish and corals… and if you are lucky some turtles, stingrays, and sharks. The multiple dive sites give all options: from beginners looking to learn to experts and dive masters; everyone enjoys here.

The price per dive is fixed, at INR 490,000 + INR 50,000 for the first dive. Anyway, like everything in Indonesia, you can always negotiate and ask in several centers before closing the deal and reserving. (prices from 2015).

Surfing.

It is not the best place to Surf in Indonesia (as in Lagundri Bay in Nias or in the best waves of Mentawai Islands) but it is possible to get on a board and ride a couple of waves. With a good swell, you can have waves between 1 and 2 meters in the break south of the island. Locals lease tables if you do not have yours. To find the exact point, just ask the locals.

Movie nights on the beach.

Almost every night, films are projected on the beach at the Pearl Beach Lounge. You can rent chairs and they give you popcorn for 50,000 INR.

Go up to the viewpoint on the hill.

It is small so it does not require much effort. Once there you get to see a nice view of the islands and the remains of a World War II bunker.

Ombak Sunset

An ideal bar to have a beer and watch the sunset in your beach chairs. If you consume you can use them.

Here are the popular swings in the sea that you have surely seen in more than one photo. (Well, here we leave ours!).

Important information to plan your trip to Gili Trawangan

Best time to travel and how to get to Gili Trawangan.

Find more information in our post about the Gili Islands in Lombok here.

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Why travel to Gili Trawangan

Enjoy the beaches and underwater life. Many come to the island to do some diving courses and immersions in their surroundings. Also, the place is very cute and picturesque, there is a lot to do in Gili Trawangan.

Traveler Advice on visit Gili Trawangan

Money and ATMs:

Recently ATMs were introduced in the islands. However, being away from “civilization” they can run out of money constantly. Carry enough cash with you before you arrive, so you will avoid problems like this.

Other important tips are always to jump in the boats with shorts and sandals because they usually land on the coast, not on a pier, and you will get wet. Besides, bikinis are forbidden in the villages, the same for men on walking bare-chested. This is because of their religion.

To know more about the Gili Islands enter here.

How to travel Gili Trawangan.

Walk:

The islands are very small, which makes it completely possible to walk through them without much effort. You can go resting on its different beaches and enjoying the views they offer. To give you an idea, without stopping it takes about 2 hours to do a complete round to the island.

Bike:

In many places of the island, locals rent bicycles at less than 4 dollars a day (you can get them for up to 2 dollars negotiating, and renting in the interior of the island and not in the mains street near the beach).

You can easily discover the island in an hour riding a bike. For us the perfect way to enjoy and lose yourself in its streets and beaches.

Cimodos (horse cart):

A short trip costs around 40,000 rupees (USD $3) and it is useful to use them to get to and from your hotel/hostel if it is a bit far and you are carrying large or heavy luggage. Negotiate the price before boarding the cart and handing over your luggage; If you do not they will charge whatever they want… which is often a lot.

Cimodo - Guía de viaje a Gili Trawangan

Where to sleep in Gili Trawangan

Gili T has developed in terms of hospitality in an impressive way during recent years. On each street is easy to find 4 or more hostels/hotels willing to accommodate you. The prices are higher than in Lombok or Bali, especially if you decide to stay near the beach or in a room with a nice view.

Hotels in Gili Trawangan

Cada letrero es una oferta de alojamiento distinta

 

East of the island, where the boats arrive and the main part of the city is placed, the prices are much lower and the places more modest than the west of the island. This is where we find large and elegant resorts (values ranging from 100 to 250 dollars per night in a double room, with a pool, beach chairs and breakfast included).

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In the city, the values are around $15 dollars the doubles without air conditioning and up to USD $30 with air conditioning. There are also several hostels where you can take beds in shared rooms.

During high season (July to September and December) it is better to arrive at the island with your reservations already booked. The rest of the year it will not be difficult to find where to sleep on your arrival.

Do not let yourself be cajoled with those who “kindly” try to help you on the dock. It is better to search for yourself and you will surely get a better place at a lower price.

Where to eat in Gili Trawangan

Most of the restaurants are located in the city east of the island; close to the ports. In general, they are all linked to hostels/hotels/ diving centers; but offer varied menus with both local and international options.

In the night market, you can find very cheap prices. As you move away from the town the prices become more expensive; especially in the western part of the island where the resorts are.

Nightlife in Gili Trawangan

Gili T is known among the 3 of the archipelago for its nightlife. Several bars in the town open late into the night and it is possible to find places to dance. Depending on the night you are on the island these are changing so you can find out the place where the party will be the same day just asking the locals.

As for alcoholic drinks, do worry about seeing what they are serving you. There is a drink called “Arak” that has been shown to be harmful to health. Regarding ice, it must have a hole in the center that marks when it is purified water.

Also, getting the “Happy Shake” is easy in most beach bars. These contain “magic mushrooms” for those wanting to try new things. Just ask directly in the bars and they will tell you if they have them or where you can get them. (The decision is yours, remember that all drugs should be treated as such and consumed with caution).

Parties in Gili Trawangan

Lately, parties have been held on the beach for the full moon. They are not like those of Koh Phangan in Thailand, but many tourists arrive wanting to have a good time on the beach.

Scams and dangers in Gili Trawangan

As in any tourist place, they will always try to charge you more for everything. However, on these islands, people are not known for scammers or thefts.

The beaches are generally safe, although always be careful with your wallet and valuables. A piece of good advice is to leave everything of safe value with key in your hostel/hotel and to leave only with the necessary thing. This way you can bathe calmly on the beach without worries.

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