Best things to do at Gili Trawangan
Gili Trawangan is the largest and most developed of the three Gili Islands. It’s got the reputation of a cheap backpacker party island, but during the last couple of years the development on the island has exploded, and the new guesthouses and restaurants are turning more upmarket with boutique hotels, lounge bars and even a sushi restaurant.
Most hotels and restaurants are built around the southeast part of the island, although more and more places are now being built both on the north and in the central part as well. The nicest beach is between the harbor and the north tip of the island.
There’s a dirt road that goes all the way around the islands, the main transport on the island is by bicycle or cidomo (horse and carriage). In the centre of the island you can climb the hill and get amazing views over Gunung Rinjani on Lombok and Gunung Agung on Bali. The beach on the east coast is the best. The snorkelling right off the beach is great, you can see coral reef, tropical fish and quite often sea turtles as well.
Events and Festivals
Great party every Wednesday night at Tir Na Nog, best on the island.
It’s 45 minutes from Bangsal and a little more from Senggigi.
- Giligili Fast Boat to Trawangan from Padang Ai, (2 hours)
- Blue Water Express travels from Benoa to Bangsal on Lombok, continuing to Gili Trawangan, taking about 2 hours
- Gili Cat travels to Gili Trawangan from Padang Ai (1,5 hours)
- Island Getaway travels there from Serangan (2 hours)
- Perama Express to Trawangan from Padang Ai, continuing to Senggigi.
Best Things to do in Gili Trawangan and the Gili Islands
Go to a beach
Ride a bike
Bikes are not suitable everywhere but the main paths were usually fairly easy to ride on (minor ones can be muddy with rocks). Distances are bigger than they look and it’s hot so this is a good option. We saw one with a kid’s seat as well as kids’ bikes. Make sure you get one with a light if you will be riding in the dark.
Bike riding is a handy way to get around a Gili island
Ride a Cidomo
A cidomo, horse and cart, is the only form of local transport. They are expensive – it took us a couple of days to find one for less than 100,000 rupiah for an equivalent of a ten minute walk!
Although you can negotiate the prices, they would not negotiate much and to have any chance of this, you need to get the cidomo rider alone. There is a big question mark over the treatment of the horses, but if you are unable to walk or cycle – like if you arrive with big suitcases – then there aren’t other options.
Snorkel off a beach
There are places on each of the islands where you can snorkel straight off the beach. There are also plenty of places where you can hire a cheap snorkel. We paid 35,000 rupiah.
Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali
We caught the Gili Gili fast boat from Bali to Gili Air.
None of the fast boats are cheap but this was the best deal. We were picked up in Seminyak, taken to the boat in Padangbai and then had the fast boat ride to Gili Air. We left Seminyak about 7:30am, had a 40 minute wait at Padangbai and made it to Gili Air about 11:40am.
The whole process was very smooth including the boat ride itself. It was comfortable and easy and we were even given cold wash clothes, water and cake. We sat inside, but some people chose to sit on top.
I was a bit worried when we came into Gili Air and we had to walk along the side of the ship to get off and then down a ladder, but the staff helped the kids and it was no problem at all getting them off.
Getting from the Gili Islands to Lombok
I was so worried about this after reading reports of many aggressive touts in Bangsal, but we did not find this to be the case at all.
There are many options between the Gilis and Lombok – you can charter your own boat, take a fast boat or take a local boat. The local boat is substantially cheaper (12,000 rupiah compared to 85,000. Kids half price on both) and just fine. It only takes 20 minutes and we are glad we went with this option.
The local boats leave when full which is 35 people. We just missed one but only had a 30 minute wait on Gili Air for the next one. As with many other boats we have taken on the Gili Islands, we had to scramble on and off the boat through the water. We had no problems getting somewhere to sit on board.
On arrival at Bangsal, there were plenty of people offering transport, but it only took a “no thank you” for them to leave us alone. Unfortunately, bluebird taxis (the cheapest and most reliable way to travel on Lombok) are not right at the ferry terminal and you need to leave it. This walk was further than we expected – it must be close to a kilometer – and hard going in the heat even with just carry on sized luggage. Basically walk out of the terminal and keep going. At the exit, you will see some white taxis, but just go a bit further to the blue ones.
We ended up agreeing to a bemo driver’s offer to give us a private lift to Senggigi for the same price as we were expecting the taxi to cost as the kids were sick of walking. This cost 100,000 rupiah.
The road to Senggigi is beautiful – with views to the Gili Islands and many coves. But it is winding and J and I both felt ill by the end of it. If you can stand the longer walk to the bluebird taxis this is what we would recommend since we may not have felt so sick had we been able to look out the front window.