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Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T) in Indonesia is a straight up island paradise!

With no motorised transport on the island its laid back vibes attract a huge array of travellers – from backpackers to those looking for luxury resorts – and is a welcome change of pace from the comparative chaos of Bali.

So if you’re looking to kick back and relax, scuba dive, snorkel with turtles, or simply soak up some incredible sunsets, here’s everything you need to plan your trip to Gili Trawangan…

 

Discover Island Paradise – My Gili T Guide

Where Are The Gili Islands?

There are actually 3 Gili Islands – Gili Trawangan (aka Gili T), Gili Meno, and Gili Air – all of which are situated off the coast of Lombok (roughly 20 minutes by ferry), or about a 90 minute ferry journey from Bali.

Out of the 3 islands though, Gili T is certainly the most popular and well established, with a huge range of accommodation, restaurants, bars and activities.

 

 

How To Get To Gili T

From Bali

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Welcome To Gili T

If you’re heading to the Gili Islands from Bali (which is what a lot of people do), then prepare yourself for a 1.5 hour ferry journey from Padang Bai, which can include some pretty rough seas!

So if you get seasick pop a couple sea sickness tablets before you get on the boat and try and sit near a window or bathroom!

There are a few boat companies who do this route, but personally I’d recommend Eka Jaya as they have a great safety record, spacious boats, and are pretty punctual too.

Bali > Gili T boat ticket (one way) =  from 345,000IDR ($24USD, £20 GBP, $35AUD) although this price rises in high season to around 550,000IDR

Bali > Gili T boat ticket (return) = from 685,000IDR ($48USD, £39GBP, $70AUD) return although this price rises in high season to around 1,000,000IDR

Departure times from Bali (Padang Bai);

  • 9am
  • 11am
  • 1pm

Eka Jaya also includes free pickups from popular spots across Bali (including Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak and Nusa Dua), however be aware that the return journey will usually take a lot longer due to drop offs, so allow plenty of time and I’d recommend grabbing the 11am boat departing from Gili T.

 

From Lombok

The much quicker way to get to Gili T is from Lombok, which is just a 15 minute ferry ride away.

Again I’d recommend Eka Jaya for this as they can also do you tickets that go Lombok > Gili T > Bali if you’re looking at linking everything together.

Departure times from Bali (Padang Bai);

  • 12:15pm
  • 1:45pm
  • 4:45pm

 

The Best Time To Visit

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Kick back and relax on island time!

So when’s the best time to visit the Gili Islands? Well as with Bali and most of Indonesia the wet season runs from November through to April – however during this time the island is less busy and you can get better deals on accommodation.

If you’re looking for the best weather then the high season is July and August which offers the best weather, but the island is obviously at its busiest and you’ll need to make sure you sort accommodation in advance as the island can get pretty booked out!

As with most locations across Asia I always suggest the shoulder seasons being the best time to travel – it’s a good balance between weather, cost and how busy things are – so October and May for the Gili Islands.

  • Low Season = February, March, April, November
  • Mid Season = May, June, October
  • High Season = July, August, September and December and January (xmas holidays)

 

Where to Stay

East Side v West Side

For those wanting easy access to restaurants, bars and basically the main side of the island, then sticking to the East Coast (the side you’ll get dropped off by the ferry) is the way to go. 

There’s a much bigger choice of places to stay and everything is easily walkable (although you’ll probably grab a bike anyway!) and you’ll have plenty of options for food and drinks too.

The west side of Gili T on the other hand offers more high end resorts, the beaches are much more empty, and you’re going to be getting some epic sunset views from your accommodation too!

Budget Options

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Mid Range

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Go Luxury

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Or for a huge range of accommodation options for all styles and budgets check out the search box below for the latest availability and prices.



Booking.com

 

Scuba Diving

Gili T (the the Gili Islands in general to be honest!) are surrounded by tropical waters which boast a huge range of incredible dive sites – from deep drift dives to coral gardens, reef tip sharks, and of course heaps of turtles!

And because of this Gili Trawangan has become a hotspot for scuba divers – with plenty of dive centres to choose from on the island.

Personally, I use Blue Marlin (who also have bases on the other Gili Islands as well as in Komodo National Park) and Big Bubble – both of which I’ve have had awesome experiences with.

So whether you’ve never tried diving before, want to complete your Open Water Dive course, take your diving further with a dive master course, or simply clock up a few fun dives during your stay then you’re well catered for!

Cost wise there is a standard pricing system across the island, so expect to pay the following for your scuba diving on Gili T;

  • Discover Scuba Dive = 950,000IDR ($66USD, £55GBP, $99AUD)
  • Open Water Dive Course (3-4 days) = 5,900,000IDR ($413USD, £339GBP, $610AUD)
  • Advanced Open Water (2 days) = 4,900,000IDR ($343USD, £280GBP, $510AUD)
  • Rescue Diver (3-4 days exc EFR) = 5,900,000IDR ($413USD, £339GBP, $610AUD)
  • Divemaster (4 week+) = 15,000,000IDR ($1051USD, £865GBP, $1549AUD)
  • Certified Fun Dive = 540,000IDR ($37USD, £31GBP, $55AUD) this is for a dingle dive, discount available for more dives

Keep in mind that the Gili National Marine Park fee of 150,000DR isn’t included and you’ll need to pay that before you start diving.

For more info on scuba dive courses on Gili Trawangan and to book your spot click here.

 

What To Do On Gili T

Along with scuba diving there are a few other key things to keep you busy during your stay on Gili Trawangan, so here are a few ideas to fill your days with…

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Who wants to snorkel with turtles?

1. Snorkelling

One of the most popular things to do on Gili T is to head off for some snorkelling as the island is famous for its abundant turtle population…and who doesn’t want to go swimming with turtles?!

A full day snorkel tour (including the underwater statues, turtle city and lunch on Gili Air) will set you back around 150-200,000IDR ($14USD, £11GBP, $20AUD), alternatively you can hire snorkel gear for around 30-50,000IDR ($3.5USD, £3GBP, $5AUD) and snorkel off the island itself.

If you do opt to just grab some gear then and early morning high tide up towards the North of the island is the best time and place to see the turtles grabbing brekkie!

2. Cycle around the island

With a lack of motorised transport on the island push bike is the way to go and you should definitely make sure you cycle around the edge of the island. Don’t worry though it only takes a few hours to do the full circuit – just make sure you take plenty of water and slap on the suncream!

Also well worth grabbing your swimmers for a refreshing dip and grabbing a cold Bintang on the way around too!

Many hotels and guesthouses offer free bike rental, but if yours doesn’t (or you want a better bike!) expect to pay around 40,000IDR ($2.8USD, £2.3GBP, $4AUD) for the day.

3. Visit The Underwater Statues

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Snorkelling the underwater statues

A quick look around the Insta feed for the Gili Islands and you’ll notice a few shots popping up again and again. Probably the most famous of these “must have” pics are from the underwater statues.

They’re actually based just off of Gili Meno and are part of a coral restoration project.

In actual fact they were placed there for exactly what has happened – to get people taking pictures and in turn hopefully raise more awareness for the plight of the ocean and also the many coral restoration projects that business and dive centres on the Gilis are participating in.

It’s one of the main inclusions of the full day snorkel trips, but if you fancy just hitting it up you can also get a boat over there from the main beach on Gili T.

And if you’re serious about capturing some epic shots I highly recommend getting out there early in the morning for the best light and to avoid the day trip crowds!

4. Walk the view point

Unlike the other Gili Islands, part of Gili T sits way above sea level so go check out the view point at the top with some epic views across the other islands, Lombok and even Bali on a clear day.

It’s a pretty easy walk to the top and will take about 20 minutes to get up there.

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Whats SUP?!

5. SUP hire

You can grab a SUP from one of the many beach hire spots on the East Coast of the island for around 75,000IDR ($5USD, £4GBP, $7.5AUD) for a few hours..the yoga and GoPro selfies are optional!haha!

6. Catch an epic sunset

You can’t go to Gili Trawangan without heading to the West Coast for some seriously stunning sunsets! Whether you choose to just chill on the beach and soak it up, grab a romantic dinner at one of the beachfront restaurants or hit one of the beach bars for some cold cocktails or beers, one thing is for sure – you’ll want to have your camera handy!

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Exiles Swing Setup

7. Enjoy some swinging!

No, not like that you filthy minded person! A quick hunt around Instagram for Gili T posts and you’ll notice one shot that pops up a lot – the ocean swings! So if you want to get your ‘Gram on the go and get some awesome holiday snaps there are a few scattered on both the East and West side of the island.

My personal favourite though sits in front of Exile bar – complete with both a swing and a hammock, as well as a huge Indonesian flag too.

Great on both a high tide (for lovely blue waters) and also sunset shots

8. Kick back and relax!

Seriously, just kick back and enjoy island time…spend a day just lazing around on the beach, a sun lounger or taking a relaxing swim, it’s what being on holiday is all about!

 

Some Of My Favourite Places To Eat

After a hard day exploring, cycling, and snorkelling you’re going to want to refuel! Luckily Gili T has plenty of food options to choose from whether you fancy something cheap and local, vegetarian, or a full on date night splurge!

Here are some of my favourite spots and also a few extra epic locations recommended by my buddies who have been on the island for a long time!

  • Pituq – easily my favourite place to eat! Great value and all veggie and vegan!
  • Pearl Beach Lounge – go treat yourself!
  • Banyan Tree – the service is terrible but the food is good!
  • Kayu – really tasty, albeit small portions
  • Gili Bliss – for epic smoothie bowls
  • Hellocapitano – perfect for a healthy bite and instagrammable meals!
  • Egoiste – huge range of meals and seafood
  • Fat Cats – good mix of international and local food
  • The Night Market – great for cheap local meals

 

Partying

If you’re looking for beach bars, beer pong, and late night dancing after a few too many beers and cocktails, Gili T’s bustling nightlife will keep you going until the sun rises! Grab some cheap happy hour sunset beers, chill out to some reggae tunes on the beach, or dance the night away…here are some of my top picks! Again a few extras in here from my local buddies who certainly know how to party hard!

  • Lava  – for cheap drinks and Rock N Roll Bingo on Fridays
  • Jiggy – solid happy hour
  • Jungle – for dancing the night away
  • Sama Sama – if you’re on the hunt for some reggae tunes
  • Sand Bar – awesome live music on Fridays
  • The Exile – ideal for sunsets and traditional drumming
  • Malibu Beach Club – more epic sunsets

 

Magic Mushrooms On Gili T

(as recommended by Tom and Dave!)

Now I’m not advocating drug use whilst you’re on the island (see the disclaimer below), but over the years, taking magic mushrooms on Gili T has become a big thing, so excluding it would probably give you a bit of a shock when every other person tries to sell you them when you arrive!

Yup, you can easily buy bags of mushies and mushie shakes all over the island if you fancy laying down in the sand, tripping balls, and watching the sunset!

For full disclosure, I’ve not done that on Gili T (and I’d strongly advise not getting involved in anything drug related whilst travelling, especially whilst in Indonesia) – but fellow travel blogger Dave from Jones Around The World and Tom from Travel Tom Tom always message me when I’m on the island telling me to give it a go!

So if you are tempted – check out Daves post here and Toms post here for more info!

**FULL DISCLAIMER – drugs are massively illegal in Indonesia and carry MASSIVE penalties (including death!) so I don’t actually advocate doing them and I won’t be held responsible for anything. I’m just giving you the info if you choose to look into it.**

 

Package Deals

If you’re looking to make things simple for yourself, the guys at RTW Backpackers have some awesome Gili T package deals that include everything you need; return ferry tickets to Bali, 5 nights accommodation at Mad Monkey, full day turtle snorkelling tour, and welcome drink!

They can also sort you out if you need longer to complete your dive courses there too.

Click here for more details and to book your trip!

 

Gili T Video Edit

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, well I’m assuming that means a video is worth a million?! Either way check out my video edit from my latest trip to Gili Trawangan for heaps more inspiration and to really convince you it should be part of your travel plans!

 

Where to next?

Back to Bali

Of course you can head from the Gili Islands back for some more fun in Bali – learn to surf, do a sunrise hike, eat your way through Canggu, or get some yoga on the go in Ubud!

Onwards to Lombok

If you’ve already travelled around Bali and want to bounce off to the next destination, then Lombok is the obvious choice as it’s so close! With the famous Mount Rijani hike (not for the faint hearted), and also pumping surf (check out some epic surf trips here), it’s a great place to head.

If you’re flying elsewhere in Indonesia, or even further afield, Lombok also has a new international airport too.

Nusa Lembongan

In the mood for more island vibes? Well why not hop over to Nusa Lembongan? This beautiful island is certainly less developed than Gili T tourism wise, but there’s still plenty of things to do and places to stay. One of the most popular lures of Nusa Lembongan though has to be the Manta Ray snorkelling, so add that to the bucket list. You can also hop over to Nusa Penida for the day as well and visit the famous Klingking Beach…aka the T-Rex beach!

Onwards to Komodo National Park

On the hunt for a bigger adventure? Well get yourself over to Komodo National Park! There are a few tours which sail from Lombok to Komodo, or you can of course grab an internal flight into Labuan Bajo. Epic scenic hikes, pink beach, stunning scuba diving, and of course the world famous Komodo dragons await.

Check out this Komodo Guide for everything you need.

 

Have you visited Gili T?

Any extra tips or advice you’d include?

Comments:

  • August 7, 2019

    This makes me miss Indonesia and magic mushrooms so much!!!

    reply...

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