Travellers are drawn to Gili Trawangan for many reasons. For decades, it has been known to satisfy all types – from party animals, daredevil adventurers, honeymooners, right down to the most devout yogis. No matter what you’re here for, Gili Trawangan ticks many boxes for a small island, and it’s alright to want to try them all, from eating to world-class diving. To make the most of your island getaway in Indonesia, take note of these incredible things to do.
The best way to explore Gili Trawangan is on a bicycle. Motor vehicles are not allowed on this island, so you won’t be the only one pedalling your way from one beach to another. With the gorgeous coastline and charming town features, cycling your way on ‘Gili T’ is an adventure in itself. It takes less than two hours to circle the island with your bike, but you can always set your own pace and stop by any cafe you want for a power-up.
Every night, the southeastern coast of Gili T transforms into the island’s biggest food fest. The sound of woks clanking, the aroma from grilled seafood rising, and the crowd buzzing from one stall to the next, will make your dinner feast quite the experience. Refuel your energy from a day of adventure with a hearty portion of fresh seafood with sambal and rice, just like the locals do. Conclude with an assortment of traditional desserts and Bintang beer or coconut water.
Started as an ingenious innovation by Hotel Ombak Sunset, Instagram-mandatory ocean swings have now become Gili’s thing. You’ve probably seen one of these blissful swings on social media, with happy travellers floating above the ocean with a glorious burst of sunset in the background. You can easily find some of these gorgeous swings dotting the coast of Gili Trawangan – don’t go home without a snap.
The first backpackers who made their way to Gili Trawangan in the 1990s came here to do one thing: party. Much has changed since then, but the island has not forgotten how to throw a great bash. Gili T doesn’t go to sleep with the fall of the night, instead, it lights up with music and festivity that goes on until morning. An unmissable embodiment of Gili’s youthful vigour is the boat parties, which have everything you could ever need to let loose – with the bonus of having the beautiful blue ocean all around you.
In the ‘turtle capital of the world’, a dip in the ocean will always reward you well. Other residents of Gili T’s diving spots are sharks, manta rays, lots of colourful coral fish and more. Many spots are suitable for absolute beginners – in fact you can head straight to Shark Point or Halik Reef after getting your certification at one of Gili’s many dive schools. Advanced divers are welcome to Deep Turbo for a chance to spot glorious stingrays and barracudas while hovering above the sandy seafloor covered in garden eels.
If no amount of exotic fish and colourful reefs can convince you to descend all the way, snorkelling should be a satisfactory alternative. The waters around Gili Islands usually have great visibility that allows you to enjoy the sight from near the surface. If you’d rather stay dry, a glass-bottom boat will afford you a glimpse of Gili’s lively underwater scene. Who knows, maybe that will inspire you to plunge in.
Gili Trawangan may be the famed frontman, but its two sister islands help make a trip to Gili Islands unforgettable. Each island has its own charms: Gili Meno has thriving wildlife and serene atmosphere, while Gili Air offers various daring adventures. Visiting both islands is easy when you’re in Gili T, just take a public boat (costing about $1 USD) or charter a fast boat. You can also venture to mainland Lombok to find more idyllic beaches, exquisite temples, and local experiences.
Gili T’s hippy youthful vibe creates the ideal atmosphere to add a bit of mindfulness into your day. Wash your physical and mental tension away with some poses and breathwork. It doesn’t matter what kind of yoga you practice or even if it’s your first time on the mat, just walk down to one of Gili T’s yoga studios and book a session most appropriate to you. If you’re feeling adventurous, try flying yoga at the beach or SUP yoga on the waters.
Whether you’re starting a new healthy lifestyle or simply want to make up for all the beer, seafood and party aftermath, Gili T is an excellent place to get healthy, nutritious meals. It shouldn’t be hard to spot gorgeous cafes and restaurants that sell hearty smoothie bowls and delicious vegan treats – head to Pituq or Fat Cats for a start. Complete your lifestyle change by substituting beer with invigorating fresh coconut water straight from the shell.
A sense of euphoria builds at Gili Trawangan in anticipation of sunset. The comfiest seats at beachfront cafes and bars are packed, crowds line the coast as the sun goes down. From some spots you can actually see Bali’s great Mount Agung in the background and silhouettes of boats floating gracefully, tossed gently by the calming waves.