Gili Trawangan, known as Gili T, is the most visited of the three Gili Islands
, located on the northeast side of Lombok. These islands are known for world-class diving and snorkeling spots. It's not hard to see why, considering that any direction you step off the shoreline, there's a beautiful underwater world to explore.
Gili T is also famous for being the party hub of the Gili Islands, where you'll easily find nightlife every night (though this may change during Ramadan), whether you're into shisha, live music, yacht parties, silent discos, bonfires or even a full-moon party.
High travel season is July through September and December through January. The best times to visit to avoid crowds while getting ideal weather conditions are January through February and October through November.
While the rest of Indonesia may be more conservative in attire, wearing tank tops, bikinis, and short shorts are perfectly acceptable on tourist islands like Gili T, Lombok, and Bali. Temperatures are generally high year-round, with the coolest month in July, but be sure to pack something that covers your knees and shoulders if you plan to visit a temple or other religious site.
Besides lounging on the beach, there are many activities on the island of Gili T, especially those in the water. Whether you're a seasoned scuba-diver or snorkeler or you're ready to learn, Gili is the place to start. Diversia Diving is among the best diving schools around, which offers PADI Open Water courses as well as refresher courses. Diversia's divemasters are known to be patient, friendly and helpful, not to mention fluent in many languages to help divers of all backgrounds.
There is also a plethora of diving schools which also offer inexpensive snorkeling tours, such as Subwing Gili Islands or IQ Divers Gili, which take snorkelers and divers out on the water at the same time. Don't be surprised if you see turtles and sharks among the beautiful schools of fish and colorful coral reefs.
Land dwellers can explore the island on foot or by bicycle with the many bike rental companies on the island. Some accommodations will allow you to borrow bikes for no additional cost, but be sure to bring your own lock and don't leave your bike unattended without one.
Visit the Gili Trawangan Turtle Hatchery, funded by a non-profit, allows visitors to see turtles hatch from eggs and at different life stages before they're returned to the ocean. If you didn't see any while diving, you'll be sure to see some here at the hatchery.
Take a day trip to Gili Meno or Gili Air; boats leave twice daily to the other islands and tickets can be purchased directly from the harbor. If you find a large group, you can also charter a boat for 10 or more people for convenience. Rent a fishing boat and learn how to spear fish at night with Wonderland Guesthouse or Coral Voice Homestay and Bar.
Sunset Stables and Stud Horse Riding Adventures offer horse riding with friendly guides who are happy to take photos of riders.
For local entertainment, if you don't mind the sight of blood, stop by the marketplace on a Sunday afternoon to watch presean, a traditional stick-fighting battle between two fighters selected from the audience using sticks and shields. The winner is determined in five rounds, by the fighter who either gained the most points or got his opponent to surrender because of bleeding.
Food and Dining
Gili T is no stranger to international cuisine; whether you're looking for local, Asian, or Western food, you're bound to stumble upon a place that will suit your palate and wallet.
For healthy Indonesian and western, vegetarian, gluten-free, and vegan fare at affordable prices, stop into Pituq Cafe. Try the moussaka or watermelon salad and enjoy the rustic island vibe with beautiful views of the beach and free wifi.
Pearl Beach Lounge is no bargain, but what it lacks in low prices it will make up for in ambiance, as it's one of the best places to lounge, with comfortable beach beds and relaxing music, not to mention delicious Asian and Western food - try the duck pad Thai or gnocchi - and great cocktails.
Budget travelers and those seeking local flavor for both food and atmosphere will love the Gili Trawangan Night Market. Eat like a local and pay local prices for a variety of Indonesian dishes, like nasi campur with a variety of satay skewers, and fresh seafood BBQ. This is a hotspot for backpackers especially before heading off to pub crawls.
Enjoy the best pizza on the island at Trattoria Cucina Italiana, where food, service and alcohol are on point and well worth the moderate prices. Don't forget to indulge in the tiramisu and creme brulee to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Casa Vintage Beach is known for its delicious Caribbean food and idyllic ambiance. The restaurant is decorated with fairy lights and vintage white furniture include hammocks and swings, right on the sand. Highlights on the menu include veggie chili, trench town chicken, hummus and their famous Oreo cheesecake.
As Gili T becomes a more and more popular vacation destination, the varieties of accommodations have increased. If you're seeking the 5-star hotel experience, complete with luxurious swimming pools and modern amenities, check into Pandawa Conflict, a heritage resort, or the Luce d'Alma Resort and Spa, popular with honeymooners and just 5 minutes from the beach by bike, which the resort provides free of charge.
The Jambuluwuk Oceano Resort is a mid-range hotel, farther from the harbor, but quieter, located on north side of the island. The resort offers picturesque and spacious island-style bungalows, billiards, a swimming pool and a solid wifi connection. The Gili Ocean Club is conveniently located just ten minutes from the main street and the beach, but far enough so that you won't have to deal with noise at night. Gili Ocean Club features free delicious breakfasts and bike rentals.
If you're looking for budget accommodations, head to the village, where simpler guesthouses and homestays are owned and run by locals. Rumah Kundun offers basic rooms at cheap prices within walking distance of the harbor. Don't expect top-notch air conditioning, but rooms are clean and comfortable with fans. Rumah has friendly service, and the banana pancakes are boasted best on the island. Gili Nyepi, secluded and surrounded by lush gardens, is another solid choice for travelers on a budget, located only a few minutes walking from the beach. You won't have hot water, but considering the balmy weather of Gili T, that may not be a bad thing. The owner Denise has made a name for herself and Gili Nyepi with great hospitality including welcome drinks, breakfasts served daily on the veranda and friendly staff who share island insider tips. You'll feel right at home practicing yoga with Denise in the garden at no extra charge.
The closest airport to Gili Trawangan is in Lombok and there are several flights daily, which take only about 40 minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport.
The Gili Islands are too small for an airport so the only way in is on a boat. From Bali
, there are fast boats from Padangbai, Nusa Lembongan, and Benoa. Both slow and fast boats also leave from Lombok. Public boats leave from Bangsal from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. To get to Gili Meno and Gili Air, take a public or chartered boat.
On Gili T, there are no vehicles - no cars or motorcycles. To get around, you can walk, bike, or take a cidomo - a horse cart, which is recommended when you arrive or leave with luggage. Bikes for rent are plentiful; just walk down the main street and find a rental shop or rent from your accommodation.