Gili in sasak (largely spoken language in Lombok) means small islands. Gili Trawangan is the largest of the 3 Gili islands towards north-west of Lombok and by far the most commercialized one. It is a home for 361 families predominantly Muslim and has around 1500 residents. The island is so small (6.89 Km in circumference) that we could cycle the entire stretch in 49 minutes.
Glimpse of Our Trip
- Fast boats and public boats are available very conveniently from Bali and Lombok to the Gili Islands.
- Bicycles and horse-carts are the only mode of transportation. No motorized vehicles are allowed on the island.
- Avoid holiday seasons to truly maximize your scuba diving experience.
- The island is quite small, you can go the eastern coast to enjoy the sunrise and the western coast to experience the sunset
- The exchange rate on the island are low compared to the other islands such as Bali and Lombok. Most shops, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards in case you need a back up options.
Re-living Experiences: Food, Vacationing, Photography & a Lot More
We took the fast boat, Gilicat from Bali (Padang Bai) to reach Gili Trawangan for USD 30 per person. The pick from our hotel in Ubud was included in the booking. The total journey time was 3 hours (Ubud to Padang Bai 1 hr, Padang Bai to Gili Trawangan 2 hrs). Note that the rates on the website are negotiable. So do not make the reservation online. Call them and negotiate for the rates. The boat was scheduled to leave at 9:30 AM but since all passengers made it within time, we started at 9 AM. Reach the ferry terminal early, if you want better seats in the ferry. The seats towards the rear end offer a better view of the Lombok strait but the strong winds and engine sound make it a bit noisy.
Once you reach Gili Trawangan, you can either walk or take a horse-cart to your hotel. Before I reached the island, I presumed that each hotel will have its private beach. To our surprise, all resorts are on one side of the road while the beach is on the opposite side of the road. There are no defined boundaries and you can cross the entire stretch of the beach. Most resorts offer drinks and dining at the beach. So you can drink, eat, bath, eat and drink again. One can see Bangsal (in Lombok), Mt. Agung (in Bali) and Gilli Meno while you are at this island. The view of the Bali Sea is quite restricted as it is packed with lot of boats for divers.
Gili Trawangan is very close to the equator, and hence, it has almost 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night. The sun sets around 6 PM so it’s advisable to be at the sunset point (slightly ahead of the Sunset Bar and Cafe) by 5:15 or 5:30 PM. We rented bicycles from our hotel (approx. USD 4 per person for 1 day) and headed for the sunset. If time permits, you can walk as well. The sunset was the highlight of the day and it was simply gorgeous to see the sun drowning into the ocean. We had never seen such a beautiful sunset before. Mt. Agung from Bali was standing tall beside the sunset. The post sun-set view was mesmerizing with the sky turning orange, thereby creating a very romantic landscape to adore and embrace.
Enroute our hotel, we stopped at Pearl Beach Lounge for dinner. It offers a beautiful lounge at the beach and I highly recommend it. They have an incredible selection of drinks, snacks, main course and dessert. Besides alcohol, I loved their Vitamin Cocktail which is made of apple, mixed berried and lemon. It was slightly sour and exactly what I needed after a bright sunny day. Very refreshing! The nightlife of Gili Trawangan is worth experiencing. By 8 PM, the environment is set, with great music, lovely lights and live band performances. What seemed like a lazy beach place came to life in the evening! It was the eve of Hari Raya, one of the most important festivals of Muslims in Indonesia. We saw processions with men chanting and celebrating the moment.
Having gone completely ga-ga over sunset, we got up at 5:30 AM to see the sunrise right outside our hotel. You can choose your spot on the beach and wait to be surprised with a beautiful sunrise, sun emerging like a fireball from the sea. The scenery was just my childhood imagination and paintings: sun, sea waves, sand, greenery, hills, corals, sky and boats. It was simply amazing. To my surprise, lot of tourists were awake to see the sunrise. The cool breeze, fresh air and the light orange sky with quiet sea were just perfect to meditate, do yoga or relax on the beach!
We enjoy cycling and toured around the island on our bicycle. It is a beautiful ride and totally worth experiencing. At one moment you are riding on the cemented road, the other moment you are dragging the cycle in white sands. To make it even better, sometimes you are lifting the bike on a very narrow stretch of wall to avoid falling in the sea. We thoroughly enjoyed it!
The island is famous for scuba diving. You can book 5 dives over multiple days (for around USD 180) and visit various pockets of the sea. We intended to do the Manta dive (which has a ship wreck). Since it was a very busy week, one of the divers actually commented that there were more people in the sea than the fishes. So, we decided not to go ahead. One can enjoy surfing here as well. The island is perfect for beginners as well as professionals.
Your trip is incomplete without a visit to Tir Na Nog, an Irish bar claimed to be the largest Irish bar in the world on one of the smallest islands. It is highly recommended and offers a great variety of delicious pizzas.
We inquired various operators for booking ferry to Senggigi(Lombok). The recommended option is to take Public Boat till Bangsal (20 min, USD 1.2 per person) and then to take a Private car to the hotel in Senggigi(45 min, USD 15).The public boat leaves the island almost every hour during the day, as soon as the maximum capacity of 40 passengers is reached. You can book the entire journey at the public boat terminal which is about 300m from the private boat terminal. This is not very visible from the main street as it faces the beach, so ask for it if you cannot spot on your own. The rates at this terminal are much lower, as compared to what are offered by the operators on the main street. We did not know this, and paid about USD 10 extra for the same service as we booked our travel from an operator on the main street.
We booked our 2 nights stay in Laguna Beach Resort, but did not have a very pleasant stay. Our room air-conditioner was not working and the hotel staff blamed it on the sporadic loss of electricity on the island while the issue was with the compressor. After consistently chasing the staff, the issue finally got addressed after 6 hours. The breakfast is not good either.
Since we went during the Hari Raya week (which is National Holiday in Indonesia), the island attracted a large number of local and foreign tourists. I recommend to avoid the holiday seasons if you truly want to enjoy the island. Overall it was a rejuvenating experience to cycle around the island, enjoy the natural beauty, swim in the sea, relax, enjoy a nice book on the beach and to watch everyone chilling out and having fun!