Complete backpacker’s travel guide to Gili T. Discover all of the epic things to do on Gili Trawangan, from snorkeling, world-class sunset spots, and more.
Gili Trawangan is the most popular of the famous Gili Islands in the north of Lombok. There are many things to do in Gili Trawangan, from snorkeling at wrecks, swimming with turtles and exploring the island by bike.
Gili Trawangan is well connected via fast boats and therefore, serves as the perfect in-between destination for backpackers and travelers moving from Bali to Lombok or vice-versa. However, with all the epic things to do on Gili Trawangan, it has quickly become a highlight destination rather than a quick stopover.
How to Get to Gili Trawangan and the Gili Islands
If you want to get to Gili Trawangan and the Gili islands, then it will depend on where you are coming from. Here’s a quick guide to get to Gili Trawangan from Bali and from Lombok.
Getting to the Gili Islands From Bali
The most popular route to get to the Gili Islands is from Bali. There are several fast boats that operate from the port of Padang Bai, approximately 1.5 hours from Kuta or the International Airport.
Bali to Gili Trawangan Fast Boat Cost: 350K – 450K
If you want to save money, then the best way to get to Gili Trawangan from Bali is to book this fast boat transfer for 385, 000 rupiah. This includes a shuttle bus transfer from Kuta and surrounds and gets you to Gili Trawangan in about an hour.
Alternatively, there is a public ferry that runs from Pedang Bai every hour. This is much cheaper, at only 40 000 per person. However, the ferry is much, much slower, taking about 5 hours in total from Padang bai. Furthermore, you’ll need to remember that this doesn’t include a shuttle to the port. So, if you’re packed and ready to explore all the epic things to do in Gili Trawangan, then I’d suggest just taking the fast boat.
Getting to the Gili Islands from Lombok
If you’re already in Lombok, then you can expect a much shorter and cheaper journey to Gili Trawangan. There are several fast boats and a public ferry that operate from Bangsal Harbor.
At the harbor, there is a ticket office that is open from 8.00 AM until 4:30 PM where you can buy a shuttle boat ticket for around 20 000 per person. The journey takes about 45 minutes to an hour and leaves when the boat is full.
Book Your Trip To Gili T
Book Cheap Flights
Still in the planning stage of your trip? Currently, the best and easiest way to find cheap flights are to use Momondo and Skyscanner. Between the two, you’ll be guaranteed to always find the cheapest flight, anywhere in the world.
Book Your Accommodation
Whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels, guest houses, or resorts between Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll always get the best deals. I always search using the map feature to find accommodation in the best locations. Sometimes, if I want to stay in a place a little longer, I’ll use Airbnb.
Book Tours and Transport
You already know that I prefer independent travel. In saying that, sometimes the best and cheapest way to get things done is to just book a tour or package. For Bali and Indonesia, I always use Klook and Viator. To find cheaper transport in Indonesia like buses, trains, and ferries, you can also check 12GoAsia.
Don’t Forget Adventure Travel Insurance
If you’re reading this blog then you’re more likely to be seeking adventures over poolside sips. After having my entire bag stolen in Barcelona (including camera gear) I’ve sworn to always have travel insurance. By far, my favorite company for the most comprehensive adventure travel insurance is World Nomads. If you’re on the fence, you can read my article to see if it’s right for you.
Where to Stay on Gili Trawangan – Quick Accommodation Guide
WHERE I STAYED: Aswis Homestay
Aswis Homestay is only a short 10-minute walk from Gili Trawangan Harbour and a budgeter’s dream at only $11 a night. The rooms and bathrooms are big and clean and all have fans, air-conditioning, and Wi-Fi. There is a free breakfast provided which is tasty and a nice seating area outside of the room.
BUDGET BUNGALOW: Welly Bungalow
Welly Bungalow is another great pick for budget accommodation. Welly Bungalow is also a short walk from Gili Trawangan Harbour. These small bungalows are fully equipped with bathrooms and large beds. Welly Bungalow costs $18 and includes a free breakfast. Free Wi-Fi and bike hire is also available.
BEST HOSTEL VIBE IN GILI T: Mad Monkey Gili Trawangan
Looking for a good hostel vibe? The Mad Monkey Gili Trawangan hostel has a huge swimming pool, volleyball court, and a bar. They also organize things to do on Gili Trawangan from reception. A dormitory bed will cost $21, including breakfast. It’s also unique as it’s located on the sunset side of Gili T.
WANT OFF THE BEATEN PATH LOMBOK TRAVEL? – READ THE GILI KEDIS, GILI NANGGU AND GILI SUDAK | LOMBOK ISLAND HOPPING AND CAMPING GUIDE
Best Things to do on Gili Trawangan
With that out of the way, let’s jump into the full list epic things to do in Gili Trawangan. I haven’t ranked this list in any specific order, so you’ll just need to pick and choose the Gili Trawangan adventures that sound good to you.
Snorkeling on Gili Trawangan
Let’s start with the most popular of the things to do on Gili Trawangan (besides chugging a Bintang). The island is surrounded by incredibly clear, translucent water and healthy coral reefs.
There are also what seems like hundreds of turtles that laze around Gili Trawangan and the Gili Islands. For these reasons, snorkeling is one of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan.
Gili Trawangan Snorkeling from Beach
What’s great about Gili T snorkeling is that you can just walk straight into the water from the beach. If you’re wondering about the best places to snorkel on Gili Trawangan, then you might want to check out the blog I wrote: GILI TRAWANGAN SNORKELING GUIDE.
Gili Trawangan Snorkeling Trip
If you’d prefer to be shown some of the best snorkeling sites around Gili Trawangan and the other Gili Islands like Gili Meno and Gili Air, then you can also book a snorkeling day trip.
You’ll find tour vendors scattered everywhere around Gili T. They ask for 10 000 rupiah per person for a full day trip, which is pretty good value. However, if you’ve got a big crew, then you could probably talk this down a little.
Keep in mind that these trips are shared with dozens of other snorkelers. I understand that many people would understandably prefer a private boat tour. If that sounds like you, then I’d recommend this full-day private snorkeling trip that you can book in advance.
Watch The Famous Gili T Sunset
After a long day of snorkeling and exploring, the best way to unwind is to enjoy the world-famous Gili Trawangan sunset. The best places to view the sunset is on the Northwest or west side of Gili Trawangan.
On a clear day, you can watch the sun slowly creep behind Mount Agung in the distance and casting its fleeting rays onto the shallow coral waters. It’s true that the sunset in this part of the world is something else! That’s why watching the sunset is one of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan and something we did nightly!
Eat at the Night Market
This isn’t a food blog, but checking out the night market is still one of the coolest things to do on Gili Trawangan. There are fish, meat and vegetable skewers and a wide range of epic side dishes to go with it. The Gili Trawangan night market is located just past Sama Sama Reggae Bar. You’ll find it pinned on Google Maps as ” Trawangan Night Market”.
Locals cook all the food at the market on scolding BBQ coals and everyone gathers around a communal-style park eating area. It’s here that you’ll find the best value food on the island, and there’s plenty of options to try. I usually went with a vegetable skewer with 4-side dishes and rice for 20 000 IDR.
Workout on the Beach at the Free Beach Gym
I get it, a workout is probably one of the last things you’d want to do on Gili Trawangan and on your holiday. However, if you’ve been traveling for a while or enjoy a morning workout, then there’s a free beach gym located right in front of Blue Marine Dive Shop.
There are chinup and dip bars, a bench, some mats and a few weights to use. It might not be a lot, but it’s definitely enough to get a good workout in. In the early morning, there’s usually no one here, so you can pretty much have all the equipment to yourself.
Also, if you get up early enough, you can even catch the sunrise on this side of the beach.
Rent a Bike to Get Around
Pumped after your morning beach workout and ready to explore? By far, the best way to get around on Gili Trawangan is to rent a bike. Typically, vendors were charging around 40 000 per day for a bicycle. However, with a bit of bargaining, you can probably get this down to about 25 000 per day.
Once you’ve got your wheels, you can easily and quickly get to all the epic things to do on Gili Trawangan!
TIP: Make sure to also check if your accommodation offers free or discounted bike rental!
When you first arrive in Gili Trawangan, you’ll notice the endless array of dive shops almost immediately. That’s because scuba diving is one of the most popular things to do on Gili Trawangan.
If you’re already certified, there are some epic dive sites including Shark Point, Manta Point and the Gili Wreck; Meno Bounty.
For those that have a little more time, it’s also possible to get your PADI or SSI scuba license over 5 days. Due to the popularity and supply of dive shops, Gili Trawangan is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified. So, if you’ve been thinking about it, now’s the time!
Out of all the dive shops on Gili Trawangan, I’d recommend Manta Dive Gili T. They are one of the largest and most professional dive shops on the island. I’ve also recommended them because they did great work to help out with emergency relief and rebuilding following the earthquake.
Try Not to Get Run Over By a Horse Drawn Carriage
There are no cars or motorbikes on Gili Trawangan. As a result, most people get around on bikes. There are also several horse-drawn carriages which are known as “Cidomo”. You’ll definitely need to watch out when you’re walking or riding around, as they can come screaming aorund corners unannounced.
You’ll need to use your own judgment on whether you’d want to actually pay for transport this way. I decided that I’d prefer not to use them, considering how overworked the horses looked. However, the Gili Eco Trust is working with local Cidomo drivers to take better care of the island horses.
Go Island Hopping To Gili Meno and Gili Air
Some of the best things to do in Gili Trawangan aren’t actually on Gili T at all! If you’re on the Gili Islands, then it’d be a shame if you didn’t get to experience Gili Meno or Gili Air too!
To get between Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, it costs 35 000 per person for a one way boat ticket. I know, this is more expensive than the much longer shuttle boat to Lombok! However, I’m sure that you’d understand how tourist demand plays into this pricing.
Regardless, at the end of the day, the cost to explore more of the Gili Islands isn’t that much. If you’ve only got time for one, then I’d recommend going to Gili Meno for the epic snorkeling spots around the island.
BOOK: 3 ISLAND GILI TOUR – BEST WAY TO SEE ALL THE GILI ISLANDS
Explore the Island Interior
One of the most overlooked things to do on Gili Trawangan is to head inland. I understand that the beaches and reef are hard to leave, but if you want to see what the real island life is like, you’ll have to take a walk or bike ride to the interior. There are fields of symmetrical palm trees and super scenic roads.
If you’ve already spent plenty of time on the beach, then I’d recommend taking one of the interior roads when you head for sunset on the west side of Gili Trawangan. This way, you’ll probably save time and get to experience the island interior at the same time!
Gili Trawangan Beach Cleanup
While you’re on Gili Trawangan, one of the most helpful things you can do is to dispose of your trash properly. For those extra passionate about limiting plastic pollution, you can join in on the weekly Gili Trawangan Beach Cleanup.
The beach cleanup starts at 5 PM sharp every Friday night in front of the Gili Teah Restaurant. It’s organized by the awesome guys and girls at the Gili Eco Trust.
This is a great way to help out, meet some like-minded travelers and best of all, you’ll get a free beer at the end!
The Gili Eco Trust don’t only do beach cleanups. They do great work on the Gili Islands, building the first recycling facility in 2014 and helping the community rebuild with recyclable bricks. If you want to find out more, you can visit their website on the link above.
Gili Trawangan Hilltop – The Highest Views You’ll Get on Gili T
As you can probably see from the drone photos, the Gili Islands are really flat. However, there is one hill on Gili Trawangan that is worth climbing.
The Gili Trawangan Hilltop Viewpoint is the highest point on the island. From the top, you’ll get expansive 360-degree views over the Gili Islands, Lombok and even out to mainland Bali.
It’s not super tall, only around 100 meters in elevation. Still, chilling on the top of this spot is one of the best things to do in Gili Trawangan for sunset!
READ THE FULL BLOG POST: Gili Trawangan Viewpoint – Best Hilltop Sunset Spot on Gili T
Listen to Live Music at the Sama Sama Reggae Bar
The Sama Sama reggae bar is on most lists of things to do in Gili Trawangan for a reason. Many people visit the Gilis every year because of the nightlife. If you prefer live music over nightclubs like me, then you won’t be disappointed by the Sama Sama Reggae Bar, located close to the Gili T Boar Harbour.
Extra Tips: Gili T Budget Food Guide
For travelers used to Lombok food prices, you might be shocked at the cost of a meal in Gili Trawangan. However, this is understandable considering the entire island is catered for tourism.
However, don’t stress, you can still grab a cheap bite. The night market listed in the above things to do on Gili Trawangan offers good quality budget food. If you eat vegetarrian, you can easily walk away refueled for under 25 000 IDR.
I also found a great little warung with fair prices just one street back from the beach and the main strip. You’ll find it on Google Maps under Kafe Kecil’s – Ristorante Italiano. I’m not sure why it has this name since it’s mostly local Indonesian dishes. Meals are around 15-25K, and they even have translated words to help you learn some Bahasa Indonesia.
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