Things to Do in Gili Trawangan

Gili in sasak (largely spoken language in Lombok) means small islands. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the 3 Gili islands towards north-west of Lombok and by far the most commercialized one. It is a home for 361 families predominantly Muslim and has around 1500 residents. The island is so small (6.89 Km in circumference) that we could cycle the entire stretch in 49 minutes.

Glimpse of Our Trip

  • Fast boats and public boats are available very conveniently from Bali and Lombok to the Gili Islands.
  • Bicycles and horse-carts are the only mode of transportation. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island.
  • Avoid holiday seasons to truly maximize your scuba diving experience.
  • The island is quite small, you can go the eastern coast to enjoy the sunrise and the western coast to experience the sunset
  • The exchange rate on the island are low compared to the other islands such as Bali and Lombok. Most shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards in case you need a back up options.
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A Scene at the Main Street of Gili Trawangan

Re-living Experiences: Food, Vacationing, Photography & a Lot More

Day 1

We took the fast boat, Gilicat from Bali (Padang Bai) to reach Gili Trawangan for USD 30 per person. The pick from our hotel in Ubud was included in the booking. The total journey time was 3 hours (Ubud to Padang Bai 1 hr, Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan 2 hrs). Note that the rates on the website are negotiable. So do not make the reservation online. Call them and negotiate for the rates. The boat was scheduled to leave at 9:30 AM but since all passengers made it within time, we started at 9 AM. Reach the ferry terminal early, if you want better seats in the ferry. The seats towards the rear end offer a better view of the Lombok strait but the strong winds and engine sound make it a bit noisy.

Once you reach Gili Trawangan, you can either walk or take a horse-cart to your hotel. Before I reached the island, I presumed that each hotel will have its private beach. To our surprise, all resorts are on one side of the road while the beach is on the opposite side of the road. There are no defined boundaries and you can cross the entire stretch of the beach. Most resorts offer drinks and dining at the beach. So you can drink, eat, bath, eat and drink again. One can see Bangsal (in Lombok), Mt. Agung (in Bali) and Gilli Meno while you are at this island. The view of the Bali Sea is quite restricted as it is packed with lot of boats for divers.

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Our Mode of Transportation at Gili Trawangan!

Gili Trawangan is very close to the equator, and hence, it has almost 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The sun sets around 6 PM so it’s advisable to be at the sunset point (slightly ahead of the Sunset Bar and Cafe) by 5:15 or 5:30 PM. We rented bicycles from our hotel (approx. USD 4 per person for 1 day) and headed for the sunset. If time permits, you can walk as well. The sunset was the highlight of the day and it was simply gorgeous to see the sun drowning into the ocean. We had never seen such a beautiful sunset before. Mt. Agung from Bali was standing tall beside the sunset. The post sun-set view was mesmerizing with the sky turning orange, thereby creating a very romantic landscape to adore and embrace.

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Sunset at Gili Trawangan With Mt. Agung in the Background

Enroute our hotel, we stopped at Pearl Beach Lounge for dinner. It offers a beautiful lounge at the beach and I highly recommend it. They have an incredible selection of drinks, snacks, main course and dessert. Besides alcohol, I loved their Vitamin Cocktail which is made of apple, mixed berried and lemon. It was slightly sour and exactly what I needed after a bright sunny day. Very refreshing! The nightlife of Gili Trawangan is worth experiencing. By 8 PM, the environment is set, with great music, lovely lights and live band performances. What seemed like a lazy beach place came to life in the evening! It was the eve of Hari Raya, one of the most important festivals of Muslims in Indonesia. We saw processions with men chanting and celebrating the moment.

Day 2

Having gone completely ga-ga over sunset, we got up at 5:30 AM to see the sunrise right outside our hotel. You can choose your spot on the beach and wait to be surprised with a beautiful sunrise, sun emerging like a fireball from the sea. The scenery was just my childhood imagination and paintings: sun, sea waves, sand, greenery, hills, corals, sky and boats. It was simply amazing. To my surprise, lot of tourists were awake to see the sunrise. The cool breeze, fresh air and the light orange sky with quiet sea were just perfect to meditate, do yoga or relax on the beach!

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Seven Wonders of Nature Seen at the Sunrise: Sun, Water, Sand, Stones, Hills, Trees, Clouds
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Cycling Trip at Gili Trawangan

We enjoy cycling and toured around the island on our bicycle. It is a beautiful ride and totally worth experiencing. At one moment you are riding on the cemented road, the other moment you are dragging the cycle in white sands. To make it even better, sometimes you are lifting the bike on a very narrow stretch of wall to avoid falling in the sea. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

The island is famous for scuba diving. You can book 5 dives over multiple days (for around USD 180) and visit various pockets of the sea. We intended to do the Manta dive (which has a ship wreck). Since it was a very busy week, one of the divers actually commented that there were more people in the sea than the fishes. So, we decided not to go ahead. One can enjoy surfing here as well. The island is perfect for beginners as well as professionals.

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Surfing at Gili Trawangan

Your trip is incomplete without a visit to Tir Na Nog, an Irish bar claimed to be the largest Irish bar in the world on one of the smallest islands. It is highly recommended and offers a great variety of delicious pizzas.

We inquired various operators for booking ferry to Senggigi(Lombok). The recommended option is to take Public Boat till Bangsal (20 min, USD 1.2 per person) and then to take a Private car to the hotel in Senggigi(45 min, USD 15).The public boat leaves the island almost every hour during the day, as soon as the maximum capacity of 40 passengers is reached. You can book the entire journey at the public boat terminal which is about 300m from the private boat terminal. This is not very visible from the main street as it faces the beach, so ask for it if you cannot spot on your own. The rates at this terminal are much lower, as compared to what are offered by the operators on the main street. We did not know this, and paid about USD 10 extra for the same service as we booked our travel from an operator on the main street.

We booked our 2 nights stay in Laguna Beach Resort, but did not have a very pleasant stay. Our room air-conditioner was not working and the hotel staff blamed it on the sporadic loss of electricity on the island while the issue was with the compressor. After consistently chasing the staff, the issue finally got addressed after 6 hours. The breakfast is not good either.

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Mesmerizing View of the Horizon

Since we went during the Hari Raya week (which is National Holiday in Indonesia), the island attracted a large number of local and foreign tourists. I recommend to avoid the holiday seasons if you truly want to enjoy the island. Overall it was a rejuvenating experience to cycle around the island, enjoy the natural beauty, swim in the sea, relax, enjoy a nice book on the beach and to watch everyone chilling out and having fun!

 

 

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29 Comments Add yours

  1. Lots of great suggestions! I’d love to explore more of Gili Trawangan someday.

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  2. Ami Bhat says:

    Amazing pictures…the sunset ones especially. I loved the practical tips that you have given in this post. Definitely a destination I would want to visit.

    Like

  3. Tamz says:

    Gili Trawangan was one of the best destinations I had visited on my travels. The food, people, activities and the Sunsets are enough reasons for me to go back there. Your pictures are beautiful and the post is very informative.

    Like

  4. This looks like the place people think of when they say island paradise. Absolutely fantastic pics! And a new destination I’ve just discovered 🙂

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  5. Veronica says:

    Your photos are amazing! I loved the two bicycles standing on the beach. It looks so romantic…
    I really regret that I did not visit Gili when I visited Bali. They are a good reason to come back…

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  6. Biking must be a great way to get around! Really helpful post and I loved the photo of the umbrellas!

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  7. I would love to visit Indonesia! It is one of the great place I would like to explore and hopefully spend at least a week and enjoy its natural beauty. It would be fun visiting these places just riding the bike – cheaper and eco-friendly 🙂

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  8. Anamika Ojha says:

    Gili Trawangan looks splendid and relaxing getaway! I bet that you would be had so much fun out there!

    Like

  9. Stella Gold says:

    I’m sorry you did not have a good stay at the resort. But you were right to go gaga over the sunset. It is really beautiful. And good to know that it is possible to negotiate rates for some things.

    Like

  10. wanderingwagarschristina says:

    I have wanted to go to Indonesia and hopefully we are able to go soon. There are so many islands it is hard to figure out which ones to fit in a short itinerary. You make a great case for Gili Trawangan though! The sunsets look amazing.

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  11. Star Lengas says:

    I’m hoping to Indonesia in November, I will definitely by adding Gili Trawangan to my list. Your photos are awesome, I want to be on the beach now.

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  12. It looks really beautiful here. Do you know if it is possible to camp on the island rather than stay at a hotel or resort? Or would that just not be practical?

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    1. Sona Sethi says:

      Hey Judson, That is a great thought. However, the island is too small. The hotels & resorts cover the peripherals overlooking the beach while the locals stay in the center of the island. Unfortunately, I didn’t see an avenue to camp. 😦

      Like

  13. Tae says:

    I love Gili trawangan! You’ve captured things to do perfectly. It’s a great place to mix relaxation with a bit of adventure 🙂

    Like

  14. Tom says:

    I like posts that take lesser-known places and focus like a laser on them. You included a quite good amount of specifics here, nice.

    Like

  15. Gili Trawangan looks like an amazing place for vacation thanks to your great captures. Exploring a traffic free place on bicycle sounds like an remarkable experience

    Like

  16. You have some beautiful photographs in your blog. This is a place I had not heard of before and thats what is making me more curious about it. 🙂

    Like

  17. Shounak says:

    Great photography, Been to Bali but not to Lombok. Indonesia is so intriguing

    Like

  18. Dash the Map says:

    When I visited Bali, I had to choose whether to spend a few days in Gili Trawangan or Nusa Lembongan and I had chosen Nusa Lembongan. But I heard great things about Gili Trawangan. I will have to visit Gili Trawangan, next time I am out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Joanna says:

    The island looks so peaceful and serene. Shame that there were too many people diving that day. I’ve heard that it is a common problem in Thailand because the prices are so low, and all you see are other people instead of fish.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sona Sethi says:

      Hey Joanna, yes. You are absolutely right. My recommendation would be to go at the onset of off season to beat the crowd. Else diving experience in South East Asia can seem quite crowded.

      Like

  20. Wow, those sunrises and sunsets are amazing. It seems like this is a place where you can just relax and get lost in yourself without much problems. Beautiful pictures and great to know about this place!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Never imagine a place like Gili existed! Love what you have to say about the place. I’ll be doing some more research about the place!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sona Sethi says:

      Hey Kate, yes! It is a really tiny island and I am sure you will be love visiting this place. 🙂

      Like

  22. polly674 says:

    I love you explore the island by bike!! I would usually think about a motorbike, but cycling should be much nicer.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. That sunset realy is gorgeous and you were able to capture it at just the right moment. I think I would leave the bikes behind and just enjoy a great walk here. Take in the breeze and just savour the wonderful moments. I would love to Suba Dive here and see the life underwater!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Great post. I love to visit remote places when I travel, those beaches and sunset in Gili Trawangan look just amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Indrani says:

    Holidays are best avoided as you said to avoid the crowds in pics. Your photographs seem so perfect without many humans in them. Love the cycles shot. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  26. pierettadawn says:

    This is a wonderful, super helpful blog post! Really enjoyed reading it, thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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