Gili Trawangan is one of the three Gili islands, located in Indonesia between Bali and Lombok. When you are traveling Indonesia you should not miss out on visiting the Gili islands, as -from my point of view- the islands offer the most beautiful beaches, which you might miss on Bali. I visited Gili Trawangan with a close friend in March 2015, which was right at the end of rainy season (which honestly can be a little pain in the ass^^). However, we were lucky after one rainy week on Bali and got 4 cloudless days on paradise-like Gili.
Did you know? The Gili islands are Muslim. However, the dresscode is not strict at all and it is OK to walk around in bikinis, shorts and strapless tops. Still, be aware to not sunbath topless and keep in mind the Muezzin, who calls out for prayer every now and then (starting at around 5am).
Why Gili Trawagan?
Gili Trawangan is the most lively one of the three Gili Islands. Gili Air and Gili Meno, the other two islands, are smaller and quiter and therefore a popular destination for couples or travelers looking for some calmness and privacy. Gili Trawangan in contrast attracts youngsters and backpackers enjoying beach and party life alike. But don’t worry – especially during low season the island does not get too crowded and loud. The atmosphere is still very enjoyable and laid back, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers, backpackers, couples as well as families. Besides price levels are below European standards. You get the most delicious and fresh fruit smoothies for a few Euros only and you should definitely try a fresh, grilled fish for dinner – fairly prices as well.
How to get to Gili Trawangan?
There are various ways to get to Gili Trawangan from Bali. I’d definitely recommend to take one of the different fast boats. One direction costs around 35 EUR and takes roughly 2 hours.
What to do on Gili Trawangan?
1. Chilling on the beach
That’s the most obvious and practiced activity on the island. I’d recommend to decide for an accomodation with a private beach access and included sun beds and umbrellas. Otherwise you need to search for a public piece of beach and pay quite expensive rents for the beach equipment. Instead your only worries should be to refresh your sun and mosquito blocker and decide what book or magazine to read next.
2. Taking a walk around the island
One of the greatest things of Gili Trawangan is that it can be walked all around along the beach. There might be some parts that get a little rocky, but the huge majority of the island is outlined by a white, fine, sandy beach. Including photo stops it takes only 2 hours. Alternatively you can easily ride bikes from different providers on the island or your hotel. In either case make sure to take your camera with to shoot all the crazy, funny, romantic and little details across the island, including goats in trees, a flip-flop tree, a coral memorial, swings in the sea and so much more.
3. Having a fun night out
Gili Trawangan is filled with international restaurants, bars, pubs and open-air concert venues. The atmosphere in general is very laid back. Either by having a cocktail in one of the many beach bars or a wild party night at a live concert – nights on Gili Trawangan feel like one big beach party. Like minded travelers enjoy celebrating the moment.
4. Watching an open air movie
There is a great open air cinema on the beach offering an up-to-date movie, popcorn, a huge screen.. Simply everything a cinema lover’s heart desires.
5. Snorkeling with turtles
There are various snorkeling and diving trips offered across the island. My friend and I decided for the low budget option and lend some snorkeling equipment from our hotel and snorkeld around ourselves. This turned out not to be a too spectacular experience. So it might be worth it to invest a little more for a guided trip. These take you to the more worth seeing snorkeing spots, where you are supposed to even see some sea turtles.
Accommodation reco: Laguna Gili, located a little off the hustle but still only a 5 minutes walk away from the island’s „centre“. Nice staff, great breakfast at the beach and spacious, clean room. All at a very fair price.
One last remark on mosquitos and malaria warnings:
Well, this is a hell of a personal story. Cutting it short: Go to your local tropical institute in order to get the latest information on the malaria situation on the Gili islands. Especially during rainy season it is obviously more risky to get bitten by a malaria infected mosquito. Make sure to bring enough mosquito protection but be cautious with any medical malaria prophylaxis, which in my case caused some major allergic reaction. A story I might tell you about more in a seperate post.
Don’t let yourself discourage from traveling Gili islands after this final remark.
The island is 100% worth visiting and a great place to take a break from everyday life. I would definitely go there again.