Gili Trawangan was a last-minute trip, and things would not have been the same without it. This tiny, police-free island is full of colorful things: turquoise blue waters, violet sunsets, and pure white lights when it gets dark.
Together, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air make up the Gili Islands.
These islands are only 3 of the more than 13,000 that make up Indonesia. Although we did this stop during our Bali itinerary, these islands are part of Lombok. The three islands are authentic paradises of crystalline waters, but depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll need to choose which Gili island to visit.
I was traveling with my cousin, and we wanted to go partying at least once during our 20-day trip to Southeast Asia, so were sure: we wanted to travel to Gili Trawangan.
However, GiliT is not just about partying. In fact, there are more things to do in Gili Trawangan than you’d think. If you want to know which is the best beaches of Gili Trawangan, keep reading. In this article, you will find:
- Things to do in Gili Trawangan
- How to get to Gili Trawangan
- Where to stay in Gili Trawangan
- Essential info for traveling to Gili Trawangan
- Gili Trawangan Map
Things to do in Gili Trawangan
There are many things to do in Gili Trawangan. In this section, we’ll give you some ideas, and we’ll also suggest some tours to do in Gili Trawangan that you’ll surely like. In summary, the main things to do in GiliT are to spend the day touring the island looking for the best spot to snorkel, watch the sunset from any beach bar on the west coast, and return to the center to enjoy the beach parties.
Best beaches on Gili Trawangan
Relaxing on the white sand of a paradise beach is the first thing to do in Gili Trawangan. The beach encircles the whole island, so I recommend you explore it so you can decide which is the best beach in Gili Trawangan. Besides, it’s easy. The island is so small that you can bike around it in half an hour.
For me, the best beaches of Gili Trawangan are in the northwest area of the island. On this white sand beach, there are hardly any people, and the water is very blue. Without a doubt, this should be the first place you visit in Gili Trawangan. However, the seabed isn’t as crystalline as in other parts of the island due to the currents, so I don’t recommend this area for snorkeling.
Snorkeling in Gili Trawangan
The most important thing to see in Gili Trawangan is its seabed, full of coral, fish, and turtles.
If you want to snorkel in Gili Trawangan, I recommend the northeast beach, called Coral Beach. Here, you can rent goggles to snorkel, and it is one of the best places to see sea turtles in Gili Trawangan. This beach has more coral than sand. Please don’t tear it off or stand on it so as not to damage it. Unfortunately, you’ll see that much of the coral reef is dead.
Generally, the east of the island has the best areas for snorkeling in Gili Trawangan. Being close to Gili Meno, the currents are smaller and the water much more crystalline than in other parts of the island. You’ll feel like you’re swimming in a pool.
Where Is Gili Trawangan’s Swing
There is nothing as touristy as the famous Gili Trawangan swing, which is in front of the Ombak Sunset Hotel, on the west coast.
We passed by the swing the two days we were in GiliT, and on one of them, there was a long queue to take a long-awaited photo. That was a few years ago. I imagine it must be even worse now.
However, even if you’re not very interested in the Gili Trawangan swings, I recommend this area for the next thing you have to do in GiliT.
Where to watch the sunset in Gili Trawangan
Watching the sunset is an activity in and of itself to do in Gili Trawangan. Check the time the sun is setting and head to one of the best places to watch the sunset in GiliT.
We saw two sunsets in Gili Trawangan: the first one from the swing of Ombak Sunset and the second to the rhythm of drums in The Exile.
If you only get one chance to watch the sunset in Gili Trawangan, I recommend this last beach bar. Every night, when the sun goes down, they give percussion concerts that I recommend enjoying along with some cold Bintang beers. Also, they light a bonfire in the sand. It’s undoubtedly one of my favorite places in GiliT.
Another place where they light fires at sunset is at Horizontal. However, this beach bar is to the east, so I recommend the other two mentioned above. If you want to see the best sunsets of Gili Trawangan, you must go anywhere in the west. The sunsets are epic there.
Gili Trawangan Nightlife
If you choose Gili Trawangan, you need to enjoy its nightlife. GiliT is known for being a drug tourist destination, because there are no police on the island and, therefore, no control.
I’ve never seen so many high people in my life. However, I also saw families with their children enjoying wholesome beach parties.
In any case, if you’re visiting Gili Trawangan, you have to party. Depending on the day of the week, you’ll find the best party in one place or another. Although the pubs are open every day, 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 in Trawangan Dive (Bar)
- Friday – Surf Bar + Rudy’s
- Saturday – Sama Sama
- Sunday – Evolution + Ladies’ night in the Irish
We, unfortunately, traveled to the Gili Islands in the middle of Ramadan, so the music ended at midnight. If you can, I recommend you time your visit to GiliT with a full moon or a new moon. We were told that the FullMoon and the DarkMoon party are the best parties of Gili Trawangan.
Before my trip, I saw news about numerous cases of tourist deaths due to adulterated alcohol intoxication. Some bars, like Rudy’s, are supposed to have used methanol to reduce the base cost of their drinks. Therefore, we only drank Bintang beers, which I doubt are worth adulterating. In any case, it’s always essential to have proper international travel insurance.
Since we travel several times a year, we have bought annual multi-trip travel insurance to save some money.
If you’re visiting Gili Trawangan for two days or more, I recommend booking a snorkeling excursion around the three Gili Islands.
This activity, offered by countless companies, costs between 60 and 150k IDR ($5-11). The excursions last 4-5 hours and usually start around 10 in the morning.
As soon as you arrive on the island, book your tour in Gili Trawangan. Apart from the glass bottom boat tour, all snorkeling equipment is included. The boat makes about 3 or 4 stops where you’ll find different types of reef and sea life. It also makes a stop at Gili Air to have lunch, although the meal is not included.
If you’d like to dive in Gili Trawangan, there are also plenty of sites that offer courses and dives. You can even get PADI-Open-Water-certified in Gili Trawangan.
How to get to Gili Trawangan
In our Gili Islands guide, we explain how to get to Gili Trawangan and the rest of the islands. In summary, there are four ways to get to Gili Trawangan from Bali or Lombok: by speedboat or by public boat.
We took a direct speedboat to Gili Trawangan from Bali that took 2 hours instead of the more than 9 hours it takes to go by public transport. If you book it here, they’ll pick you and drop you at your hotel in Bali.
For example, in our case, they picked us up in Ubud, where we had been staying the previous days during our 7-day trip to Bali, and on the way back, they left us in Seminyak. I recommend using this service to move from one area of Bali to another, visiting Gili Trawangan in between, with no extra cost.
Where to stay in Gili Trawangan
Although Gili Trawangan is the best island for partying, on GiliT, there’s also an area that is more frequented by couples and families, with another one full of young people from all over the world who want to have fun.
My recommendation is that, if you don’t mind the noise and prefer to be close to everything (ATMs, shops, markets, clubs, and restaurants), you should stay on the east coast, where the ferries leave you. These are our recommended accommodations in Gili Trawangan on the west coast:
- Premium Option: Pearl of Trawangan
- Top Option: Vamana Resort
- Standard Option: Havana Hideaway
- Low-cost Option: Gili Beach Bum
If, on the other hand, you want to rest in a luxury resort and be in the best area to see sunsets in Gili Trawangan, you should stay on the west coast, further away from the center. I recommend, if there’s any room left, that you book any of these hotels in Gili Trawangan:
- Premium Option: Gili Treehouses
- Top Option: Ombak Sunset
- Standard Option: Aston Sunset Beach Resort
- Low-cost Option: Mad Monkey
We got an excellent deal at Pearl of Trawangan, and we didn’t think twice before booking.
Other useful information
Finally, here’s some interesting information that you should know if you visit Gili Trawangan.
How many days to spend in Gili Trawangan
You can’t visit Gili Trawangan in one day from Bali, as the return ferries leave in the morning, even before the ferries from Bali arrive.
We spent two nights and two days at Gili Trawangan, and caught the speedboat back early in the morning on the third day; it wasn’t enough time there. If we had been in GiliT for 3 or 4 days, we probably would have visited Gili Meno or Gili Air.
How to get around Gili Trawangan
There are no scooters or cars on Gili Trawangan, so the best way to get around is by renting a bicycle. We rented one on the main street, right in front of where the ferry leaves you, for 50k IDR ($3.50 approx.) per day. Keep in mind that GiliT, even as the largest of the Gili Islands, is tiny. You can get around the whole island by bike in 20 minutes.
Don’t ever opt for horse carriages. Although I hate this option anywhere, I have never seen horses in worse conditions than in GiliT. The only way to end this cruelty is to stop hiring these types of services.
Gili Trawangan Harbor
You may be surprised to know that there’s no port in Gili Trawangan as such. The ferry will leave you on the beach in the center, on the east coast, where most of the restaurants, hotels, and clubs are. You’ll have to get your feet wet to reach the island since there’s no pier or anything similar.
Where to eat in GiliT
I recommend you go to one of the beach bars on the north of the island to have lunch. For me, they’re the ones that have the best views and are also cheaper than in other more touristy areas.
For dinner, it is best to go to the Night Market. At this traditional food market, you can eat exquisite, very cheap local dishes. The market reminded us a bit of the one we went to in Georgetown. There are also different stalls where you can buy food and a lot of shared tables in the middle.
Drugs in Gili Trawangan
There are no police in Gili Trawangan, and if we add hundreds of young people partying to this, drugs become normal.
In fact, it’s not uncommon to see hallucinogenic mushroom milkshakes advertised on the menu of some beach bars. The price will be around 90k IDR.
Moreover, in the center of the island, there’s a Rastafarian community that plants marijuana. Virtually all the locals at Gili Trawangan sell marijuana or know where you can go to buy it.
There are no hospitals in Gili Trawangan, but there are medical clinics where they can assist you if you suffer a minor incident. If you need evacuation, you’ll be transferred to the nearest hospital in Lombok.
It is also essential that you buy proper travel insurance for Indonesia.
Gili Trawangan Map
Here’s a map of Gili Trawangan with all the points we have mentioned. Also, you can download our map of Bali where you’ll find other points of interest.
Before you go, I’ll leave you with the essentials for your trip to Bali:
ESSENTIALS FOR YOUR TRIP TO BALI
If you have any other questions about Gili Trawangan, leave us a comment. We will answer you right away!