This post was last updated on July 10th, 2020 at 12:19 pm
The Gili Islands are probably the most famous islands in Indonesia. Almost everyone who makes a trip to Bali or Lombok ends up on the Gili islands. The most popular island among travelers is Gili Trawangan. “In the past” this island was a paradise for backpackers looking for pristine beaches and great parties. The parties are still there, the beaches are a little less pristine but still beautiful!
Anyone who travels to the Gili Islands will also visit Gili Trawangan, the most popular island. The other two are Gili Air and Gili Meno. Gili Trawangan is known as the island for backpackers and travelers looking for parties. If you want a little more peace it’s better to go to one of the other two islands.
It comes as no surprise that Gili Trawangan, floating in a turquoise sea and surrounded by white sandy beaches and palm trees, is so popular. There is no shortage of cozy bars, restaurants, and all-around fun. All of this on a tropical island. Life doesn’t get much better than here!
10 Best Things to Do on Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan is not just about parties and beaches. There is plenty to do during the day. The best-known activities are diving and snorkeling, but this small island offers much more than that.
1. Explore the Underwater World
It will not surprise anyone that you can have just as much fun here underwater as you do above the water. The underwater world around Gili Trawangan (and the other Gili’s) is beautiful.
Due to increasing tourism it can be very busy on snorkeling or diving trips, but don’t let that ruin your mood and enjoy all the beauty underwater.
Underwater you will encounter all kinds of things; from sea turtles to tropical fish and even small (harmless) sharks! You can go snorkeling or diving. Snorkeling usually consists of half-day trips where you sail along the islands in search of good spots. Diving is a bit more extensive.
There are enough diving schools on Gili Trawangan.
TIP – You can rent snorkel gear from US$3 to US$5 per day at almost every ho(s)tel. A package with 3 dives will cost you about US$85. Check out Fun Diving for more info.
2. Hike to the “Viewpoint” on Gili Trawangan
You will probably lie down on the beach first and then maybe go snorkeling and/or diving. If you are fed up with the water, you can walk to the viewpoint of Gili Trawangan. The Gili Islands are small, flat islands and the only “mountain” (read; hill) is the one on Gili Trawangan.
TIP – Try to walk to the viewpoint at sunset.
3. Day Trip to the Other Gili’s
Gili Trawangan is the most popular island, but that doesn’t mean you’re on the best island. You might like the other Gili’s more. Besides Trawangan are also Gili Meno and Gili Air. We stayed on Gili Air in 2015 because it’s quieter than Trawangan.
You can easily travel between the islands, or Island Hopping as they call it here.
In fact; you can travel all Gili’s in one day without rushing. In the morning, head to Meno (the smallest of the three) where you can walk around the island in an hour, spend the afternoon on a secluded beach on Gili Air, and return to Gili Trawangan in the evening for a cozy party.
No matter which island you are on, you can easily visit all three!
TIP – There are 2 boats a day between the Gili’s, in the morning (9:00 a.m.) and in the afternoon (4:00 p.m.). A public boat to Gili Meno costs 35,000 IDR (~ US$2.35), to Gili Air 40,000 IDR. A speedboat costs 100,000 IDR (~ US$6.80).
4. Enjoy the Beautiful Sunset
Beautiful sunsets can be found all over Asia, but somehow they are always a bit more beautiful on a tropical island. With a beer or cocktail in your hand, rocking in your hammock, surrounded by palm trees, and slowly seeing the horizon turn pink/orange is one of the most beautiful moments of the day.
The lovebirds among you should visit the “swing shot” of Gili Trawangan. You can find this at Ombak Sunset resort.
5. Book a Yoga Class
Whether you want to practice yoga on the beach or in a group class, you can easily arrange it on the Gili Islands! You can find daily classes in a variety of yoga styles, often including meditation courses. It is a wonderful way to start your day.
You wake up, get breakfast and you walk to your yoga class.
TIP – A yoga class costs around 100,000 IDR (~ US$6.80).
6. Rent a Glass-Bottom Boat
Do you know those pictures of small boats, or canoes that seem to float on the water? Often those photos come from Palawan in the Philippines, but you can also rent these boats on Gili Trawangan!
On the island there are several companies that rent out these boats. You pay about US$10 to US$15 per person to sail in a glass-bottom boat along the most beautiful coral reefs on the island. It is a tour of a few hours at the most, it does not cost much, and it is a beautiful experience!
7. Visit the Night Market on Trawangan
Almost everyone who visits Gili Trawangan will take a look at the night market. You can score a lot of very tasty food for a cheap price. For about US$7 you can get a complete meal. If you travel alone and are looking for a travel buddy, your best chance is at the night market as everyone seems to go there in the evening.
You will mainly find fresh fish, satay, rice and noodle dishes, vegetables, grilled corn, and much more. For a small snack you often pay a dollar or less. We recommend taking a look!
TIP – The market starts at 6:00 p.m. every night. It’s impossible to miss it.
8. Go to One of the Parties
Actually, all Gili islands are a bit alike. The only difference is that there is more entertainment on Gili Trawangan. There is something going on here every night. Whether you drink a beer in one of the many beach bars or want to visit every possible party.
The best days to go partying are Monday (Blue Marlin), Wednesday (Tir Na Nog), and Friday (Rudy’s), but you can actually get a beer somewhere at any time of the day and enjoy some (live) music.
On Gili Trawangan there’s even a Full Moon Party although it does not come close to the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan.
TIP – South Sea Nomads has a kind of party boat. For US$25 you can snorkel, eat, and drink around the Gili Islands for an afternoon.
9. Rent a Bicycle
The island is not that big and you can actually walk around the whole island in a day, but if you are not that fond of walking you can also rent a bicycle and cycle around the island. There are no paved roads and no motor vehicles on Gili Trawangan (like the other Gili’s) so the bikes are a great way to explore the island.
Do not expect neatly paved cycling roads, you mainly cycle on sandy roads. Still, the bike is ideal if you want to get away from the crowds on some parts of the island.
10. Watch a Movie on the Beach
At several places, you can watch a movie in the open air on the beach. A super fun experience. You can relax on one of the beach beds or bean bags, order a nice drink and/or something to eat and go and relax and watch a movie. Just like sitting in the cinema, but much better: under the stars with your feet in the sand.
Food and Drinks
Many new restaurants have been established on Gili Trawangan in recent years. Enough choices for good food. There are at least ten very good choices. If you want to go out you are at the right place on Gili Trawangan. The entire area around the port is now full of entertainment options. The authenticity has unfortunately disappeared, but it does offer nice options for the evening. There are many beach clubs where you can have a drink in a beanbag on the beach. You can also play beer pong in several tents. You can also visit a nice Irish bar or dance in one of the clubs.
These are our favorite restaurants in Gili Trawangan:
- Pituq Waroeng ➜ Our favorite warung from Gili Trawangan.
- Francesco’s Pizza ➜ Delicious pizzas from an Italian owner.
- Hellocapitano Lifestyle Cafe ➜ The best smoothie bowls for breakfast.
- Jali Kitchen ➜ Tasty Asian food for a good price.
If you like a vibrant nightlife and need to meet other travelers, Gili Trawangan is the place to go.
Most bars can be found on the long boulevard. Furthermore, there are many restaurants, shops, diving schools, and hostels. We’ll tell you right now: it is quite busy here. If you want some more peace and tranquility you can still continue to the nearby islands of Gili Air or Meno.
Which bars are recommended for backpackers? We recommend the Sama Sama Reggae Bar and the island’s only Irish pub: Tir Na Nog. Fun parties are held here regularly, especially on Wednesday evenings. At the end of the afternoon, the Paradise Sunset Bar is great for sitting, relaxing, and enjoying the sunset.
Where to Stay
Finding the best accommodation is quite a task with so many hostels, hotels, and resorts. Because the island is so small, it doesn’t really matter where you spend the night. You are likely to be on/near the beach or in the water for large parts of the day and only come to your room to sleep.
Gili Trawangan is the most popular island, also because of its range of facilities, a larger land area, and a good mix of accommodations.
The southeastern coast with the boat harbor is full of bars, restaurants, and budget hostels and hotels. The better resorts are located on the quieter beach at sunset on the southeast.
We had good experiences with Cinta Cottages at Gili Trawangan. It is not a low budget hotel, but not extremely expensive either. Here are some great options for every budget:
- Luxury option (~ US$90 per night) ➜ Pearl of Trawangan
- Middle class (~ US$55 per night) ➜ Cinta Cottages
- Budget (~ US$12 per night) ➜ Little Woodstock Homestay
TIP – Check out all accommodations in Gili Trawangan on Booking.com.
How to Get There
The Gili islands are the most popular islands in Indonesia so you can get there quite easily. The easiest and fastest way to get there is from Bali or Lombok. Transport is well arranged from/to both islands. The only way to get to Gili Trawangan is by boat.
From Padang Bai (Bali) to Gili Trawangan
Padang Bai in Bali is the most popular place of departure. It is an hour’s drive from Ubud. Boats run daily between Padang Bai and Gili Trawangan. Boats run between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. Gili Cat is the most famous carrier.
You can go to Padang Bai and buy tickets for the next day. Then you can relax in Padang Bai (on beautiful beaches). You can also buy tickets through their website. Another organization is the Blue Water Express.
TIP – A ticket for the boat costs approximately 450,000 IDR p.p (~ US$30).
From Amed (Bali) to Gili Trawangan
You can also travel to Gili Trawangan from Amed. From here it takes a shorter time (45 minutes vs. 1.5 hours) and in addition, it is much cheaper, only 250,000 IDR (~ US$17). So it doesn’t hurt to travel to Amed and take the boat there.
Alternatively, you can take a slow local ferry from Padang Bai, via Lombok to the Gili Islands. The ferry leaves every hour, the journey takes about 5 hours. The disadvantage is that you have to get from Lombok (Senggigi) to the Gili’s. The ferry costs only 40,000 IDR per person.
Transport between the islands
A boat (Island Hopper) sails between the islands twice a day. Once at 9 a.m. and once at 4 p.m. The cost is only 40,000 IDR (~ US$2.70) per person. A speedboat also operates between the Gili Islands. The boat sails every hour between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. The price is 100,000 IDR (~ US$6.80) per ticket.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Gili Trawangan is comparable to the other Gili islands, Bali and Lombok. You can visit the Gili islands all year round, as the weather is almost impossible to predict. There is, however, a rainy and a dry season.
The disadvantage of the rainy season, except for the rain, is that the sea becomes a bit rougher, making diving and snorkeling a bit less easy. It rains most between December and March. The best months to visit the Gili Trawangan are June through October.
Weather Per Month on Gili Trawangan
- From January to March the climate is okay. The temperature rises to 31°C (88°F) and it rains about 226 mm every month.
- From April to May the climate is unfavorable. The record temperature this month is 35°C (95°F) and you can expect to have about 111 mm of rainfall/month during this period.
- In June the climate is good. The thermometer rises to 31°C (88°F) and it rains about 52 mm every month.
- Between the months of July and September the climate is lovely. The record temperature this month is 34°C (93°F) and it rains about 52 mm every month.
- In the month of October, the climate is good. The temperature rises to 31°C (88°F) and it’s expected to rain 14 days this month.
- In the month of November, the climate is bad. In the morning it averages 28°C (82°F) and it’s expected to rain 24 days this month.
- In the month of December, the climate is good. The maximum temperature is 31°C (88°F) and it’s expected to rain 28 days this month.