Gili Trawangan Posted by on Dec 21, 2015 in Uncategorized

Gili Trawangan, or Gili T as it’s most often called, is the largest of the three Gili Islands off the northwest coast of Lombok. It became popular with backpackers in the 1990s and gained a reputation as a party island because of the abundance of drugs and lack of police presence. These days, however, it is quite family friendly with a range of different activities and accommodation. Let’s take a closer look at the island some like to call “Gili Tra-la-la:”


It's like '69 all over again!

It’s like ’69 all over again!

When the island first became popular there were only a few very simple options for sleeping. Now it’s possible to find anything from a basic bungalow with a fan and cold water to 5-star resorts with all the amenities. The mid-range and budget places can be found closer to the center of the island. There are about 800 permanent residents and they are predominantly Muslim. As such there is a mosque with the call to prayer five times a day beginning at dawn. If you’re a light sleeper it’s best to stay somewhere further away from the mosque. Regardless of where you stay, be sure to check for signs of bedbugs as they seem to thrive in hot, tropical places. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Woodstock – a chilled out collection of bungalows named after bands that played at the famous music festival.


Take a cidomo... maybe.

Take a cidomo… maybe.

There are no motorized vehicles on the island, not even motorbikes. You can get around on foot, by bicycle, or by horse-drawn carts called cidomo. If using these, try to gauge the status of the horse before taking it; some drivers are known to horribly mistreat their horses.


Swim with turtles on Gili T.

Swim with turtles on Gili T.

There is far more to Gili T than just sunbathing on the beach. The island is surrounded by world-class dive sites and there are many dive shops to choose from. They all offer the same prices for courses and fun dives, so you can focus on other considerations. If you’re feeling adventurous, try freediving. Because of the close proximity to beautiful coral reefs and vibrant fish, shore snorkeling is very easy to do. If you have your own mask it’s free, but for those who don’t a rental is only about $5. Kayaks are also available to rent and you can paddle your way around the island taking in the scenery from the water. Of course surfing is always an option.

Take a short hike and enjoy the view.

Take a short hike and enjoy the view.

If water activities aren’t your cup of tea, never fear, there are plenty of things to do out of the water. As Gili T has a circumference of only five miles, renting a bicycle and cycling around is a great way to see the sights and also get some exercise. Walking is always an option if you don’t feel like peddling through the sand. It takes about one hour to cycle around the island or two hours on foot. While you’re out exploring, don’t miss the one hill on the island. It’s a short walk up and you can get beautiful views of Gili Meno and Air to one side and Bali to the other. Near the hill are the horse stables. Try your hand at being an equestrian by riding a horse around the island or booking their popular sunset ride. If cultural activities are more up your alley, you can try a cooking class or drop-in to one of the yoga studios.


Just another sunset on Gili T.

Just another sunset on Gili T.

Known as the party island, there are many bars and clubs to choose from when the sun goes down. Although Gili T has gotten a bad rap as a wild place, they all take it in turn to host the regular late night parties. As such, it’s easy to find where the action is on any given night, and it’s also easy to have a quiet night if you desire. Beware of dodgy alcohol, especially the local spirit arak. It’s homemade and there have been some fatalities from methanol poisoning. Unless you are at one of the western owned bars, it’s best to stick to beer. Weed and mushrooms are easily found here, and while there seems to be a very lax attitude towards them here for some reason, just keep in mind that you’re still in Indonesia – a country with one of the harshest drug penalties in the world.


If you’re considering a trip to the Gili Islands but not sure which one(s) to visit, here’s what we’ll say about Gili T – it’s great if you’re a younger traveler looking to socialize or really focused on diving. If you’re a couple on a honeymoon, a family, or someone who prefers peace and quiet, you may want to choose one of the other islands. Don’t worry, because we’ll introduce those soon enough!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.