Known as Gili Trawangan, or the much easier-to-pronounce Gili T, this heavenly little island is a shining jewel in Indonesia. Gili T is the largest of the three Gili Islands, but it has a permanent population of around only 800 people. Backpackers first stumbled onto this place in the 90s, and for now, it’s still holding onto its authentic, beachy charm. With direct ferries from Bali, this is one island paradise that you won’t want to miss. Here’s my ultimate Gili Trawangan travel guide!
What to Expect on Gili Trawangan
Language: Pretty much everyone in the Gili Islands speaks some level of English. The native language is Indonesian, which has a unique dialect in both Bali and the Gili Islands.
Currency: The local cash is the Indonesian Rupiah, which is commonly abbreviated to Rp. Since the math is a bit tricky, I recommend keeping a note on your phone with some handy math. For example, at the time of my visit, 100,000 Rp.=$7.60 USD; 250,000 Rp.=$19.00 USD; 500,000 Rp.=$38.00 USD—having a few conversion rates memorized will make dealing with money way easier.
Credit Cards: Cash is king here, and it’s best to bring it over from Bali. You’ll find an ATM at Hotel Villa Ombak on Gili T and a few others on the island. Note that ATMs are not all open 24 hours and withdrawal amounts can be lower than in other island destinations.
Climate: The weather here is as close to perfect as you’ll find anywhere. The average day is around eighty degrees, with the rainy season running from November to April (although it gets much less rain than Bali).
High Season: There are two peak seasons: July to August and December to January. These are the best times to go, but they’ll also be the busiest.
Getting Around on Gili Trawangan
Horse-Pulled Carts: Known as Cidomo, these are actually the island’s only means of public transport. Having no cars on an island is a blessing and a curse. You won’t deal with the traffic or the pollution of Bali, but it does mean that if your hotel is outside of walking distance and you have a lot of luggage there’s no other way to get around.
Bicycle or Walk: Gili T is less than six square miles in total, making it easy to rent a bicycle or walk anywhere you want to go.
Ferry or Fast Boats to Other Islands: There are several ways to get to the Gili islands from Bali. You can take the fast boat from Padang Bai or Amed; hop on the ferry from Padang Bai to Lombok then Lombok to the Gilis, or go for a private sailing charter.
Where to Stay on Gili Trawangan
There’s no bad area to stay on Gili T—the whole island is beautiful and has a great range of accommodation options! Most accommodations offer free bike rentals, so you can easily get around if you’re not up for walking.
During peak season, the summer months, this was one of the toughest places for me to find accommodation as a solo traveler. It was pricey, and there were very few options. If you’re not too fussed with having a plan, I think the best strategy is to show up and walk around to find a good cash deal at a place that has available rooms. But keep in mind that during high season, however, hotels can be completely sold out. I moved three times in less than a week because everywhere was at full capacity!
Here are the best accommodations and hotels on Gili Trawangan!
The popular Scallywags Gili Trawangan Resort has some nice standard double rooms along with some luxe rooms with private plunge pools.
The Gili Eco Villas are beautiful! With villas made from recycled teak wood, the property is powered by solar and offers an outdoor pool, spa, and boat tours. Plus, their onsite greenhouses provide organic produce for their own restaurant.
The Coconut Garden Resort on Gili T is a beautiful, tropical oasis! It is highly-rated and offers just four rooms and two villas on the property—all with private terraces overlooking a freshwater swimming pool and gardens.
Where to Eat on Gili Trawangan
Similar to Bali, you will find pretty much every cafe and restaurant offers delicious vegetarian and vegan options. It’s all definitely worth a try, even if you don’t consider yourself plant-based. You’ll also find a handful of restaurants featuring international cuisines and Asian fusion dishes, along with Indonesian classics, due to the heavy tourism to this part of the country.
Here are the best cafes and restaurants on Gili Trawangan!
Pituq Waroeng is the best place on the island to enjoy delicious, authentic Indonesian and Asian-fusion dishes. And, you’ll find the BEST veggie and vegan options here—I can’t recommend this place more!
Fat Cat's Bar and RestaurantInternational
Fat Cat’s is located at the Trawangan Dive Centre & Hotel. After a day of diving, their little restaurant offers international dishes, local favorites, and an awesome list of cocktails!
La BoulangerieBakery, Cafe
This place is great for breakfast with freshly made pastries and fresh-squeezed juices—I came here every morning!
Coffee & ThymeCafe, Coffee
This is a cute cafe with delicious, healthy breakfasts and your typical cafe offerings, but you really come here for the coffee! It is so delicious. If you’re a coffee-lover, make sure to visit Coffee & Thyme during your stay.
Pearl Beach LoungeSeafood, International
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this place is the perfect stop right on the beach. They even have an ice cream shop!
For ultra fresh seafood, this is the place to be. Located right next to the Gili Air Hostel by the harbor, the night market is open daily from 4 to 10 p.m.
What to Do on Gili Trawangan
I spent most of my time on Gili T lounging on the beach or scuba diving! It’s one of the quaintest islands I’ve visited, so be ready to rest and relax while you’re here.
Here are my favorite activities to do on Gili Trawangan!
Once you’ve explored the sea, lie out under the sun, and forget about the world. There are nice beaches all over the island, and they are very close to each other. It is easy to stroll down the beach until you find the perfect spot.
Plan some time to browse Casa Vintage Beach and the street stalls along the eastern coast. Keep in mind, though, that many souvenirs are cheaper in Bali, so look for only real one-of-kind items here.
It’s all about the water here! With perfect beaches and crystal clear water, Gili T is the ultimate spot to make like a fish. Be sure to get to Turtle Point during high tide. Check out Trawangan Dive Centre for some incredible dives!
Of the Gili Islands, Gili T is the best place to party. On Monday, check out the Blue Marlin rave, then on Wednesday, go to the Tir na Nog Irish bar Shipwrecked Bar party. Rudy’s Bar is the place to be on Friday, while you find something pretty much every night of the week at the Sama Sama bar.
Hike through the green cliffs and canyons in Bangli, and then keep walking through the river to find the hidden grottos. They’re hard to spot, but there is a sign for the canyon and a waterfall, so keep your eyes peeled.
The best way to explore and take in the natural beauty of the island is by bicycle. Ride around the island, and be sure to check out the swings in the water from the different resorts.
This cave waterfall is only five minutes from the grottos. Be sure to check it out while you’re in the area.