Gili Trawangan is the largest of the Gili Islands, three tiny landforms off the northwest coast of Lombok. Despite being the largest, it is not exactly big – its coastline can be easily walked in a couple of hours. It is famous for its fun nightlife and has a reputation as a party island.
Gili Trawangan is one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations, and with good reason. The island is almost unique in having fantastic tourist amenities without being polluted or overdeveloped. This is partly because there is a ban on motorized transport. This, as well as the lack of dogs, makes it very peaceful by Indonesian standards, despite the lively nightlife!
More than anything, though, ‘Gili T’ is renowned as a party island. Its eastern and southern shoreline is lined with bars, which range from simple beach shacks to sleek cocktail bars. Similarly, there is a range of hotels to suit every budget, from basic bungalows to fancy resorts. More information about where to sleep, eat and drink on Gili Trawangan can be found below.
Getting to Gili Trawangan
The Gili Islands do not have an airport and the only way to reach them is by sea. There are many ‘fast boat’ services departing from Bali and Lombok. This is the quickest way to get to the Gilis, but you should be careful when booking. Many have bad reputations for overbooking and travelling in dangerous conditions.
The Lombok Strait is one of the deepest bodies of water in the world, and potentially very dangerous in rough conditions. Therefore, you should make sure you only book with a company with a good reputation such as Gili Getaway. If you’re staying in Legian, Kuta, Sanur or a number of other tourist spots on Bali they will pick you up from your hotel for free; there is an extra charge for other areas. The boats depart at around 9am, 10.30am and 1.30pm, and take about two and a half hours to get to Gili Trawangan. Read our guide for more information on how to get to the Gili Islands.
Where to stay on Gili Trawangan
Where to begin? Gili Trawangan’s popularity has seen a great deal of tourist development and hotels catering for all budgets. Tourism has played a different role in the island’s history than in many places in Indonesia. Gili Trawangan was only settled by anyone in the 1960s, and started attracting tourists in the ‘80s. Therefore most of the island’s history is tied up with tourism.
If you’re looking for a top-end hotel on Gili Trawangan, check out Coral Flora Villa Beach Front. This beautiful villa is on the northeast tip of the island, away from the chaos of the main strip but easy to reach. It has an outdoor pool and bicycles are provided to help you get around.
A good mid-range option is The Trawangan Resort. This sits on the southeast coast of the island, meaning it’s right in the heart of things. However, it also has a stretch of private beach, so you can relax in solitude.
Those on a budget will not be disappointed by Gili Trawangan. It began as a backpacker destination and there is a great range of budget accommodation options. One example is Ombak Homestay, which offers great value for money in a central location just inland from the main strip.
Where to eat and drink on Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan’s eastern and southern coastline is home to a huge number of bars and restaurants. Every night, one venue will be the ‘party venue’ and will stay open the latest. This rotates throughout the week and venues change occasionally; ask around and you’ll soon find out where the party is that night.
In the evening, many of the restaurants offer a ‘seafood barbecue’, where you can take your pick from the freshest catch of the day and enjoy skewered fish and seafood accompanied by a buffet of salad and sides. One of the most popular is Scallywags, and for good reason – the food is absolutely delicious!
After dinner, there is no shortage of places to go for a drink. A good bet is always Tir Na Nog, the Irish bar in the middle of the strip. This is a lively place with big-screen sports and nice food, and a great place to meet fellow travellers. It hosts the main party one night per week. Most nights you will probably end up walking up and down the strip and popping in to a few places, because the island is so walkable.
Dangers on Gili Trawangan
Generally speaking, Gili Trawangan is a safe place, like all the Gili Islands. However, its reputation as a party island has led to some things to be wary of. Drugs are everywhere on the island, and it is likely you will be offered them at least once. There is not much police presence on the Gili Islands, but please bear in mind that drugs remain illegal, and Indonesia has extremely severe penalties for anyone who gets caught with them.
Alcohol can also pose dangers. Beyond the usual risks associated with getting drunk, there have been cases on the islands of methanol poisoning, with bars using counterfeit or locally made spirits; be careful when ordering spirits with mixers, and don’t drink something if you don’t trust it.
Gili Trawangan is one of Indonesia’s most popular tourist destinations, and it’s not difficult to see why. It is unspoilt, with beautiful beaches and no motorised transport, but a great range of tourist amenities and hotels to suit all budgets. Most of all, though, it has fantastic nightlife, which is what draws most visitors to the island.
Have you been to Gili Trawangan? Do you have anysuggestions other than those mentioned above? Let us know in the comments below.