Travel to Gili trawangan
This is the largest of the three Gili Islands with an estimated permanent population of about 800.
Trawangan was the first of the three islands to attract visitors in any numbers, and it was backpackers who led the way. In the 1990s the island developed a reputation as a wild party destination with cheap accommodation, no police. Whilst that is still partially the case, Trawangan has matured into a destination that has a far wider appeal.
The thriving dive industry of the Gili Islands is centred here (although some operators have outposts on the other two islands), and since about 2005, the island has gone through a massive development boom, and a number of upscale sleeping, eating and drinking establishments have opened. Any visitor to Trawangan should be prepared for a real mish-mash of fellow travellers; some will be ensconced in US$400 per night, unashamedly Bali-style villas, while others would be quite happy to rest their crusty dreadlocks on an organic hemp pillow after a tough day on the mushies.
Most of the accommodation and other facilities on the island are on the eastern side, sheltered from the winds and rough seas of the Lombok Strait which sometimes batter the opposite side of the island. Boats dock here as well, on the beach just north of the market. This generally means a walk in the shallow water to disembark. There is also a private concrete and wood jetty used by a few companies.
A footpath circumnavigates the whole island and various tracks criss-cross, nearly always leading back to this coastal path. The area set back behind the east coast beachfront establishments is where most of the locals live (and where there is a lot of budget accommodation), and is known simply as “the village”. There is a low lying hill in the southern centre of the island, which is easily reached from the tracks heading southwest from the back of the village.
The sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the late-afternoon, well before dark. During periods of southerly winds and in July and August especially, the swell can be a bit hairy and you are very likely to get wet on the crossing. It is advisable to place laptops, cameras and handphones in waterproof bags for the crossing. You will need to wade through shallow sea when disembarking, so wear either appropriate footwear, or none at all.
The cheapest way to reach Gili Trawangan is on a Public boat which departs from Bangsal from 8AM-5PM (but rarely later than 4PM). The official price is Rp 15,000 since 1st August 2015. You would be asked to pay additional IDR5000 as a foreigner (wisatawan asing) and IDR2500 as terminal fees. Sometimes these depart only when there are enough people, normally a minimum of 15 is enough. If numbers are insufficient you might be in for a long wait. The official maximum is 30 people but sometimes the boat is overloaded by the time it is ready to depart. In one case, 72 passengers were noted on a trip. The experience of departing from Bangsal is rarely pleasant due to the very persistent touts who infest the place, just try to ignore them and do not listen to their generally fanciful tales that involve you paying them money to solve an imaginary transportation problem. They often provide a chorus of gloomy predictions regarding the alleged unavailability of services, then if successful they just place unknowing passengers upon the normal scheduled service or a private charter at an often seriously inflated prices.
Buy your tickets direct from the official Koperasi Angkutan Laut Karya Bahari office. In Bangsal this is located inside the main building just on the waterfront left near the door at the eastern corner. The Koperasi operate the Public Boat, the Shuttle boat, the Island Hopping boat and also offer (official) Charter boats.
The Public boat office on Trawangan is right on the beach north of the unused concrete jetty, near where you are dropped off. You may need to wait until 15-20 others show up, so it’s best to be there early in the morning (7AM-8AM) if you want to get moving quickly. The last boat leaves Trawangan around 3PM.