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Weve been waiting for this day for a long time. After more than two weeks of intensive sightseeing in Java and Bali, we finally had the opportunity to take a breather. In the port of Padang Bai in Bali, we boarded the boat and after less than an hour and a half we found ourselves in a completely different world. Ahead of us are a few days of blissful laziness and total doing nothing on one of the islands of the picturesque archipelago of Gili - Gili Trawangan. If you are also going to this island in the near future or you do not know which island to choose, be sure to read this post. Below you will find the ultimate guide to Gili Trawangan, including the best attractions and recommended restaurants. I hope this will make your trip planning easier!

The Ultimate Guide to Gili Trawangan, Indonesia - Discover The Best Attractions And Top Restaurants Of This Island
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

The Gili Archipelago at glance

The Gili archipelago (gili in the Sasaki language means a small island) consists of three islets located off the northwest coast of Lombok: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Due to the white sandy beaches, turquoise water, coral reefs and beautiful sunsets, the islands are a popular holiday destination, mainly among budget tourists who are deterred by the hustle and bustle and commercialism of neighboring Bali. In addition to snorkeling and diving, visitors can also enjoy other forms of active recreation, such as canoeing or stand up paddle boarding. The islands are small enough that you can walk around them in just a few hours, and traffic is limited to bicycles and cidomo, traditional horse-drawn carriages (driving by any motor vehicle is prohibited on the islands). Unfortunately, horses that pull carriages are very often neglected by their owners, so it is best to avoid using such services.

Which Gili island to choose?

The largest of the islands, Gili Trawangan, permanently inhabited by about 1,500 people, boasts the most developed hotel infrastructure and offers the most attractions, making it the most popular tourist destination. On the island, in addition to bars and restaurants, you can also find numerous clubs and discos that open their doors just after dark, which means that Gili T is labeled the loudest and most party island. For this reason, families with children and people who value more peace should go to Gili Air, which is closest to the mainland. It is also there that we will meet the highest percentage of the local community. On the other hand, the smallest of all the islands, Gili Meno, due to its intimate nature and a small number of tourists, is an ideal place for couples. In addition, as the island is the least developed of all, it offers some of the best diving spots and some of the most beautiful beaches in the archipelago. There is also a recommendable ornithological park on the island where you can admire various specimens of rare birds.

How to get to the Gili islands?

There are at least a few ways to get to the Gili archipelago from Bali. The fastest and most convenient way to reach the islands is a direct speedboat transfer from one of the ports in Bali: Benoa or Serangan in the south of Bali, and Padang Bai or Amed in the east of the island. There are many daily connections to choose from, all of which depart to Lombok Island, and several also stop at Nusa Lembongan. A ticket for a fast motorboat can be purchased directly from the operator or at local travel agency.

You can also book a ticket online via such portals as Gilibookings and Gilitickets. On both sites, you can easily find an interesting connection and check the availability of tickets. You can also find information on prices and cruising hours. Ticket prices range from a hundred to one hundred and fifty dollars for round trip transfers and the time and comfort of travel depends on weather conditions. Generally, when choosing a route from the southern tip of Bali, you should expect a two or three-hour crossing, and going from the east of the island - an hour and a half. It is worth remembering that the last motorboat on the Gili departs in the afternoon, long before dark.

We used the services of the Australian operator Blue Water Express one way, and GIli Getaway on the other. The one-way ticket price (50 USD per person) includes discounts for use in various facilities on the island, free transport from our hotel to the Padang Bai port and… tablets in case we get seasick, which happens quite often due to the local waves and strong winds.

Another way to get to the islands, practiced mainly by local and die-hard backpackers, is by a public ferry. The ferry departs from the port of Padang Bai on the east coast of Bali and is docked in the village of Lembar on the southwestern tip of Lombok. From Lombok, you have to go to the port of Bangsal and cross the local boat to the Gili Islands. The advantage of this solution is a much lower price compared to a motorboat, while the downside is a much longer journey time (about 6 - 8 hours) and not the best boarding conditions.

Where to stay on Gili Trawangan?

On Gili Trawangan there are many accommodation facilities of different standards and price ranges so everyone should find something for themselves (in the high season it is worth to book accommodation in advance, unless you do not mind spending the night on the beach). The main cluster of hotels and the best diving conditions can be found on the eastern side of the island. Due to the possibility of admiring the beautiful sunsets every day, we decided to stay in one of the places on the south-western edge of the island. After a short search, our choice fell on an extraordinary hotel with a charming name PinkCoco, which we can recommend to everyone. It is located right on the beach and offers spacious, boutique-style rooms. Every morning you can enjoy a delicious breakfast served on the terrace overlooking the turquoise sea. The hotel also has a restaurant, a large and nice swimming pool and a bicycle rental. The perfect place for a blissful and lazy holiday. It was a pity to leave such a beautiful place!

Best things to do on Gili Trawangan

Do water sports

One of the main reasons why hundreds of tourists come to the island every year is undoubtedly the possibility of practicing water sports and admiring the colorful underwater world. On the island you can find a number of places offering diving courses at various levels of advancement, including those ending with a certificate (Dream Divers, Blue Marlin Dive). It is also possible to rent snorkeling equipment. A popular place to watch reef sharks - Shark Point - is located on the north side of Gili T. Very good diving conditions can also be found in Manta Point, south of the island.

Shark Point, Gili Trawangan https://www.almarik-lombok.com/
Shark Point, Gili Trawangan
https://www.almarik-lombok.com/

Go on a bike trip around the island

Due to the fact that there is a total ban on cars and motorbikes on Gili Trawangan, the perfect way to visit the entire island is to cycle around it. The whole ride should not take more than an hour, and on the way, you can take a break in one of the atmospheric beach cafes. On the island you can find a lot of points offering two-wheeled rental. We used the services of a rental company located on the premises of our hotel (PinkCoco). We paid less than 100 thousand rupees for the rental of two bicycles for two days. We must admit that the night bike ride among the goats will remain in our memory for a long time 😉

Gili on a bicycle https://bluekarmasecrets.com/gili-islands-on-bicycle/
Gili on a bicycle
https://bluekarmasecrets.com/gili-islands-on-bicycle/

Admire the sunsets

We must admit that the sunsets admired from the beach of our hotel on Gili T were one of the most beautiful in our lives. We could stare at them every day. The setting sun is gently reflected in the surface of endless water, creating a magical palette of colors. When the visibility is good, you can also see the outline of the majestic Agung volcano in the background. Something amazing! You can also admire the wonderful sunsets from the swing on the beach at the Ombak Sunset hotel.

Visit the Night Market

Everyone during their stay at Gili T should at least once go to a real Indonesian (and not only!) feast at the Night Market. The market is located in the east of the island just off the main street and is open daily from 6:30 pm to 01:15 am. On the spot, you can taste freshly caught seafood (including lobsters, crabs, calamari, prawns, mussels, barracuda), various kinds of grilled meats, as well as cakes and desserts, including spring rolls and pancakes. In addition to specialties of typically Indonesian cuisine, such as nasi goreng, soto ayam, or bakso soup, you can also try Chinese dishes prepared in a wok. An ideal option for budget tourists is the so-called warung tegal, a buffet where you can compose your own rice dish. The prices of meals at the market range from 10 to 50 thousand rupees. Unfortunately, recently this place has become so popular that you have to queue up to eat dinner. But its definitely worth it!

Enjoy the island’s nightlife

If you belong to people who can not imagine a holiday without an evening out with friends, Gili Trawangan is the perfect place for you. After dark, the island is still teeming with life (unless you choose to go there during Ramadan) and the bars even outdo each other in attractions for their guests. Some of them (eg. Tri Na Nog) even organize free movie nights. In others, you can listen to atmospheric live music. You can listen to excellent performances by reggae groups in the Sama-Sama restaurant in the east of the island. Party fans should definitely go to Pandawa Beach Villas and Resort Beach, where the so-called Full Moon Parties are held periodically.

Gili Trawangan's nightlife
Gili Trawangans nightlife

Take a boat to neighboring islands

If you get bored of sunbathing, diving and partying on Gili T, you can always go to the neighboring, less crowded islands. Public ferries from Gili T run twice a day (at 9.00 am and 4.00 pm) to both Gili Air and Gili Meno, and the ticket costs 40 thousand rupees. A faster, but more expensive way to get to the rest of the islands from Gili T is to take a speedboat, which runs every hour from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. The ticket price is 100 thousand rupees, and the cruise between each of the islands takes only fifteen minutes. Being on Gili Meno, it is worth visiting the turtle sanctuary, and on Gili Air - renting paddling equipment.

Gili Trawangan beach
Gili Trawangan beach

Top places to eat on Gili Trawangan

Pearl Beach Lounge

We went to the Pearl Beach Lounge restaurant on the first day, guided by positive opinions on the web. This restaurant is said to be one of the best on the whole island and offers a wide selection of international dishes. The restaurant is located in an atmospheric, bamboo building, from which there are beautiful views of the turquoise sea. Prices at Pearl Beach Lounge start at 70 thousand and end at around 300 thousand rupees for a main course. We tried Indian samosas, saffron risotto with prawns, beef burger and coconut ice cream and all dishes tasted great! It is a pity that the service was not the best… But after all, the place is worth recommending.

Scallywags Seafood Bar & Grill

If youre looking for a romantic dinner for two, you should definitely go to Scallywags. The restaurant offers tables on the beach overlooking the Rinjani volcano and the Lombok coastline and the house specialty is freshly caught seafood which are prepared using the traditional method of barbecue. You can choose from crabs, squid, prawns, mahi-mahi and tuna. We decided on a juicy swordfish served with aromatic sauce, fries and salad, and we paid about 500 thousand rupees for everything.

Le Petit Gili

The last place we would like to recommend to you is Le Petit Gili - a casual restaurant, reportedly serving the best burgers and sandwiches on the whole island. An ideal place for those who are fed up with rather monotonous Indonesian cuisine. Each burger is served with crispy fries and a salad, and the prices range from 50 thousand rupees per set. We chose the double cheeseburger with fries and it was definitely a good choice!

Le Petit Gili, Gili Trawangan
Le Petit Gili, Gili Trawangan

Conclusions

The picturesque islet of Gili Trawangan is a wonderful place that is perfect for a multi-day vacation. Wonderful sunsets (one of the most beautiful we have seen), delicious local food, heavenly beaches, rich nightlife, as well as beautiful coral reefs are just some of the reasons why you should include this Indonesian island on your bucket list. We will certainly come back here one day!

Which Gili islands do you recommend? Be sure to let me know in the comments below!

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Comments:

  • March 24, 2021

    Bali is high on our life bucket list! Thanks for such an awesome comprehensive guide! I love all of your beach and sunset photos. The PinkCoco looks charming…

    reply...
  • Tiffany

    March 24, 2021

    These islands sound amazing. I love a variety on my vacations and it sounds like this would provide everything I would dream of!

    reply...
  • Kitti

    March 24, 2021

    The islands have been on my bucket list for a long time. I absolutely love your sunset photos, how stunning it must’ve been to experience them. I’d 100% take a bike and cycle around the island.

    reply...
  • March 25, 2021

    I’d love to check out Gili Meno someday!! I’m hoping to learn to dive at some point and it’d be awesome to go biking all over + try out the food at the night market! Thank you for putting this together!

    reply...
  • Karen

    March 25, 2021

    What an incredibly beautiful island to visit. I’d love to hop on one of the bikes or paddle on the island. The food at the Night Market looks so yummy. There is nothing like seafood straight from the ocean. Lovely photos.

    reply...

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