Spending two days in Gili Trawangan was not on the plan until the last minute and nothing would have been the same without it.. In this tiny lawless island everything is color; from the turquoise blue of its waters, its violet sunsets and the unstained white of its lights when gets dark.
Gili Trawangan forms, with Gili Meno and Gili Air the famous Gili Islands.
These islands are 3 of the more than 13,000 that compose Indonesia. Although we went from Bali, they really belong to Lombok, as they are located on the coast of this island. The three islands are authentic paradises of crystalline waters, but it depends on what you are looking for, in order to choose one or the other.
- Gili Trawangan is for you if you are looking for young people and partying. Full of bars and discos. With an extension of 3.4km2, it is the largest of the three islands.
- Gili Meno is the smallest so it has fewer services. That is why most of the people who visit the islands choose to stay in one of the other two. The sea turtles that live here.
- Gili Air is an intermediate point between the madness and quietness of one island and another. This is usually the one chosen for honeymoons or family trips.
Without a doubt, my cousin and I were seduced by the beach parties at Gili Trawangan.
In this article, you will find everything you can do in Gili Trawangan in two days.
HOW TO GET TO THE GILI ISLANDS
The only way is by ferry from Bali or Lombok.
If you are in Bali there are quite a few companies that organize the journey to the islands. Mainly the ferries to the Gili Islands leave from three ports in Bali: Padangbai, Serangan and Amed. We checked different prices and schedules and finally decided for the company Marina Srikandi. The ferry was leaving from Serangan, for a round trip price of 600k IDR (42 € approx.). However, this was not the nearest port to Ubud, where we were.
First good news: usually all ferry companies include, with the ticket, picked up at your hotel from some point of Bali (Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, Canggu, Kuta Ngurah Rai Airport, Seminyak, Kerobokan, Sanur, Ubud) and on the way back, they also leave you where you indicated them when making the reservation. So not only you don’t have to worry about how to get to the port, but you can also use this service to move from one end to another in Bali visiting in between the Gili Islands without any extra cost.
Once on the boat, my recommendation is to sit on the deck and enjoy the party that is usually set up. If you have forgotten to buy the famous Indonesian beers Bintang, don’t worry, anyone from the crew will sell them to you.
HOW TO MOVE IN GILI TRAWANGAN
GiliT, being the largest of the Gili, is tiny anyway. The ferry will leave you on the main beach, at the east coast, where most of the restaurants, hotels and nightclubs are. You literally will have to wet your feet to get to land, since there is no dock or anything like that.
When you cross the beach you will reach the main street. There are no cars and we really saw very few bikes. My advice is to rent a bike for no more than 50k IDR (approx. 3.5 €). In 20 minutes you can surround the island.
Do not choose the horse carriages. Although I hate this option anywhere, here horses were seriously mistreated. The only way to end this cruelty is to stop hiring such cruel services.
WHERE TO STAY IN GILI TRAWANGAN
Although before I said that Gili Trawangan is, so to speak, the party island and that for couples it is better to go to Gili Air; Inside GiliT there is also an area that is more frequented by couples and families and other area by young people from all over the world wanting to have fun.
My recommendation is that if you don’t mind the noise and prefer to be close to everything (ATMs, shops, markets, discos and restaurants) stay on the east coast, where the Ferris leave you and where there are most restaurants, discos and Hotels.
If, on the other hand, you want to rest in a luxury resort you should stay on the west coast, further away from the entire bustle.
things TO DO IN GILI TRAWANGAN in two days
Two days in Gili Trawangan are enough to do almost everything there is to do in GiliT: basically spend the day touring the island looking for the best place to snorkel, watch the sunset from any beach on the west coast and return to the center to enjoy the beach parties.
TOUR THE ISLAND BY BICYCLE AND SNORKEL
CIRCLE THE ISLAND BY BIKE
If, like us, you arrive early in the morning, I recommend that you ride the coast in a clockwise direction so that you can see the whole island.
I know you’ll be tempted to stop at any of the beaches you see on your bike. My advice is to wait to get to the north coast to eat at one of the beach bars there, even though you find yourself with beautiful chill out spots all along the west coast, prices in the north are quite lower.
To dive on the best beach I recommend going around the island until you reach Coral Beach. Rent a pair of diving goggles there and explore the incredible underwater world of GiliT. This beach has more coral than sand and therefore the marine life is much more abundant than in the rest of beaches of the island. According to locals, Coral Beach is the beach where it is easier to swim with turtles. However, we did not get to see any, despite spending all afternoon snorkeling there. I guess it’s a matter of luck.
As you’ll see, there is a lot of dead coral. Please, do not step on or stand on the coral reef. Otherwise, you will be destroying the home of a lot of fishes.
SNORKEL AROUND THE GILI ISLANDS
As we were not lucky with the turtles at Coral Beach, we decided to try the next day with one of the snorkeling tours around the three Gili Islands. This activity, offered by an infinity of companies, has a cost of between 60 and 150k IDR (4.2-10.5 €). The excursions last 4-5h and usually start at 10 am. Apart from the boat trip with a glazed bottom, it includes all the equipment for snorkeling. The boat makes about 3 or 4 stops at different points where you will find significant differences as to the type of reef that is and the marine life that inhabits it. It also makes a stop at Gili Air to eat, but the food is not included (although we found the price very affordable).
We really enjoyed the tour, as we saw different coloured coral and fish that we did not see on the shore of Gili T, but there was no way to swim with turtles, despite being at one of the stops, called by them as Turtle point, it is assumed that seeing turtles is very easy. However, back on the boat, we found a gigantic turtle. It was a pity didn’t see it in the water.
Here I leave a video of our two experiences snorkeling in the Gili Islands, with turtles or without them it was a truly incredible moment.
If you want to scuba diving more than snorkeling, I also tell you that there are a lot of places that offer courses and dives. We did not have any scuba diving certification, we chose to snorkel since the course was more expensive and most of the time you spent it in the pool learning instead of in the sea water.
ENJOYING DREAMY SUNSETS
Once you are fed with water you can try one the mushroom smoothies, typical of the island. As there is no police in the Gili Islands nobody controls what is sold, so you will see them advertised in many of the bars as if it were a fruit smoothie. The price will be around 90k IDR.
With or without a smoothie, I recommend that you go where you have come (counterclockwise) looking for a good place on the west coast to see a sunset that your eyes will not forget.
During our morning tour, we were looking at some places where we would like to see the sunset. The ones that caught our attention were The Exile and Ombak Sunset. We finally opted for the Ombak Sunset’s swings.
The photos were very good, but you cannot imagine the lines of people wanting to take a photo.
However, if you walk away a bit, you can enjoy the sunset practically alone. That’s when you live a unique experience, watching the sky burning and millions of lights blinking.
I felt insignificant in the midst of such beauty. Only the simplicity and immensity of universe mattered.
At dusk, the tide goes down very much so you can go many meters into the sea and feel surrounded by the sunset reflected in the water.
As the sky goes out, you feel a kind of nostalgia to know that you probably have to wait a long time (at least 24 hours) to return to witness something as mind-blowing.
DISCOVERING THE NIGHTLIFE
If you have chosen Gili Trawangan, it is because you have intentions to know its nightlife. GiliT is reputed to be a destination for tourist in search of narcotics, because there is no police on the island and therefore no control. However, you can see from young people partying to families with their children enjoying sound beach parties.
STARTING THE NIGHT IN GILI TRAWANGAN
I remember a family of Australians with 5 children dancing the hula hoop around a bonfire, to the rhythm of The Exile’s drums. I highly recommend you to go to the percussion concerts they perform every night. We headed there as soon as it got dark, beginning our party night.
Another place on the island where they make bonfires on the beach when night falls, is in Horizontal, but it is on the east coast.
Once the drums performance ended we resumed our bike ride to the Night Market. In this market of traditional food, you can eat exquisite, and very cheap local dishes. The market reminded us of the one we visited in GeorgeTown. There were also different stalls where food was purchased and plenty of central tables common to all the stalls.
PARTY CLUBS IN GILI TRAWANGAN
Then, you will find the party in one place or another, according to the day of the week. Although pubs open every day of the week, these are the peaks days for each place:
- Monday – Blue Marlin
- Tuesday – Trawangan Cabins
- Wednesday – Tir Na Nog (“the Irish”)
- Thursday – Sama Sama (live Reggae music) + Pool party at Gili Hostel + Quiz show at Trawangan Dive (Bar)
- Friday – Surf Bar + Rudy’s
- Saturday – Sama Sama
- Sunday – Evolution + Ladies’ night in the Irish
However, there is a law that while Ramadan period the clubs have to turn off the music at 12. So my recommendation is that you do not visit the Gili Islands during Ramadan if your main goal Is looking for big parties. Try to match your visit to GiliT with full moon or new moon, if you can. As we were told, the FullMoon and DarkMoon Party are the best parties in GiliT.
In any case, if for whatever reason you are going to visit GiliT during Ramadan do not worry. We realized that it was Ramadan with the trip already started and we still had a lot of fun. When the music ended, we bathed on the beach and sang around a bonfire with other young people. Even in Ramadan, there are hundreds of young people having fun.
You just have to have certain precautions and not just with drugs. In Gili Trawangan there have been numerous cases of tourist deaths due to adulterated alcohol intoxication. Some bars, like Rudy’s, are said to use methanol to reduce the cost of their drinks. As we knew this beforehand we only drank Bintang beers, which I very much doubt they are worth to adulterate.
For the two days spent in Gili Trawangan we followed this routine and It was an unforgettable experience. If I could have chosen, I would have spent other two days in Gili Trawangan, looking for turtles on Coral Beach, watching the sky on fire from the Ombok Sunset’s swing, dancing around the bonfire of The Exile to the beat of drums, and listening to live reggae in Sama Sama.