Gili Trawangan – It’s more than just a party island. Here’s why you should visit!

gili trawangan bali indonesia should i visit island guide

The Indonesia island of Gili Trawangan is a paradise that should be high on your travel bucket list. Located in the ‘West Nusa Tenggara’ province, Gili T has so much to offer, including much more than it’s party reputation suggests. The island is ‘car-less’, meaning you have none of the chaos that you find from scooters and traffic on the Bali mainland. This gives the island a much more relax feel, with everyone walking and cycling around. Additionally, the island is located close to Gili Meno, Gili Air, and Lombok, opening up a plethora of day trip activities. Read on to hear about our experience, along with some great tips and advice for your visit!

Ky visited the island in November with two of his close friends with the goal of relaxing, exploring, and enjoying what the island had to offer. We arrived with minimal expectations, and only loose plans of what we wanted to achieve during the visit. We initially only planned to stay for 3 nights, but extended our stay another few nights such was our enjoyment on the island. Our stay included snorkelling tours, relaxing on the beach, lots of visits to our favourite coffee shop on Gili T (see recommendation below), exploring the island and much more. We share some experiences, recommendations and highlights from the trip below.

A few top things to do in Gili Trawangan

Snorkelling / Diving on Gili T:

Gili T is a hub for divers, with a multitude of diving schools and daily trips to reefs, ship wrecks and points off the islands. Additionally, these dive schools run training courses, making it a spot for both beginner scuba divers and more advanced. For those that don’t wish to scuba dive, there are so many great options for snorkelling. Regular private and group tours run daily from the island. The cost varies significantly, however due to the multitude of options, we recommend bargaining on the price with local operators. See more snorkelling shots and tips here!

For the best snorkelling location on Gili Trawangan to see turtles, head to ‘Turtle Point’ on the north of the east side of the island. Here you can swim just off shore in shallow waters and are almost guaranteed to see turtles! We went out here 3 times and had an amazing experience every time.

Relax on the beaches!

Enjoy the incredible clear waters and clean white sand beaches of Gili Trawangan. These are nothing like mainland Bali, offering us stunning water clarity and beautiful warm temperatures. Additionally, the sand is white and clean of the rubbish you may be accustomed to on Bali. We can safely say these are some of the best beaches we have visited on our travels so far!

Island Hopping

The proximity of Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno and Gili Air (10-30mins ferry) means you can easily jump between them, and to the ‘mainland’ of Lombok. A day trip, or spending time between these islands, offers a great chance to explore more. We visited Gili Meno for a day trip (see day trip guide here), finding is super relaxed, and right next to some of the best snorkelling locations (e.g. underwater statues of Gili Meno). Had we extended our trip a little longer, a visit to Lombok for the waterfalls and rice terraces would have been a great option.


The ‘island living’ hits different! The ‘chaos’ of the mainland Bali is completely washed away when you arrive to the calm, car-less Gili Trawangan. We all felt super relaxed on this island, and it is the perfect place to head to if you want to relax and unwind.

Cycle around the island

Due to the island being car and scooter free, the best way to traversing the small island is via bikes. We hired bikes for our stay, cycling around the small island on multiple occasions. Gili Trawangan is 7kms in circumference, which will take between 40-60mins to cycle around, pending the pace. It is important to note that the north-east of the island has poorer path quality, and you may have to manually push the bike through some sandy patches.

Enjoy beach cafes/bars

Gili T has a multitude of cafes, restaurants and bars which are set up literally on the sand. This is the perfect spot to grab a coconut or beverage and relax. On the east side of the island (main part of town), there are many of the popular options, while the ‘west side of the island’ has many beach bars designed to watch the sunset. Either way, there’s a lot of great places to go! While we tried many of the bars and restaurants, our two favourites are listed below which we highly recommend you check out during your visit:

Coffee & Thyme: Located in the heart of the main part of town, this café not only has the best coffee on Gili Trawangan, they have some of the happiest service staff we have ever met! Sit upstairs for great views! Enjoy the extremely well-priced options, and return again and again like we did! A true Gili T must.

La Cala: This beach bar is set up on the sand, with an amazing beach infront of it. While prices are slightly higher than some of the neighbouring options, it has great vibes, and the beach beds are ‘free’ when you make a purchase of food or drink. Safe to say, this was a regular of us!

Watch sunset on the west of the island

This is a popular option for many, especially if you stay on the busier east side of Gili Trawangan. The easiest way is to cycle around 10-15minutes, and either sit on the beach, or choose one of the many beach bars.

Day trips from Gili Trawangan?

There are many day trip and tour options to locations like Lombok, Komodo Islands etc, however we didn’t do any of these on our travels. We would love to return and visit Lombok for the mountain hike or waterfalls. Additionally, the Komodo Islands tours look truly spectacular, but are quite an effort to get to.

A few additional things to note about Gili Trawangan:

  • Partying on Gili T? It’s not called the party island for nothing. After the sun sets bars have live music playing, and as the night progresses outdoor bars and clubs kick off. For those looking to party, it is a good place to have some fun. All of the bars on the island are open until around 12am, and then they all close with only one remaining open. Everyone out and about then heads to this final location to ‘finish’ the night. See a Gili T party guide here! However, if this isn’t your scene, you can easily ‘avoid’ this by choosing accommodation that is off the main road.
  • Magic mushrooms on Gili T? There are numerous beach bars that will offer ‘magic shakes’ with local magic mushrooms. Please note that we aren’t condoning or advising against anything, just stating facts based upon our visit.
  • The Gili Trawangan food market? The local food market on Gili T kicks to life in the evening, offering ‘fresh cooked’ meat, seafood and more. While we were originally keen to eat here, after ‘inspecting’ the setting, and reading a few reviews, we decided to skip this. The food safety looks a little questionable, so eat here at your own risk.
  • The horses? Gili Trawangan is ‘car free’, so there are many horse and carts that traverse the island. While on face value this seems like a great novelty activity, after spending a few days here and observing the conditions these horses are subject to, we would urge you to consider avoiding it during your visit. They are out in the heat all day, no breaks, minimal water/food, and many of these horses look very low on bodyweight.
  • Island plumbing.. Yes, visiting an island like Gili T means you’re likely to stay somewhere with pretty poor plumbing. This means that when you go to the toilet, you shouldn’t flush any paper down, instead putting it in the bin nearby the toilet. If unsure, make sure to check with your host.
  • Weekends during shoulder season? We arrived on a Tuesday afternoon in November (shoulder season) and found the island relatively quiet. However, during Friday-Sunday, the island came to life with an influx of people. We aren’t sure if this is commonplace every weekend, but the weekend definitely had more ‘happening’.
  • There’s a few good little gyms in Gili Trawangan, including one on the main street which you know we did a few sessions at! The cost is only 70,000IDR (approx. $7AUD).

Where to stay on Gili Trawangan?

While Gili T is a small island, we recommend you stay on the east side, close to the harbour if possible. Why? This is where ‘the action’ is, including the best cafes, restaurants, party hot spots, and where all the tours will typically leave from. Additionally, it may take over 30mins to walk across to the other side with your luggage. There are numerous accommodation options, including budget friendly, party hostels and lux expensive options. See a couple of top accommodation options for Gili Trawangan below:

  • Good budget option: Aaliku Bungalows – Situated in the heart of the east side of Gili T, these rooms were generally clean, have good aircon, and the location is perfect. They are also very budget friendly. This is where we stayed! However, you get what you pay for. It’s cheap, well located, but the service isn’t amazing. Take a look here!
  • The party hostel: Mad Monkeys – We did a lot of research when looking up options on the island, and one of the consistently recommended hostel options with Mad Monkeys. Offering great budget friendly options, a welcoming and party atmosphere, this is the place for those wanting a good time and to meet others. However, it is located on the east side of the island.. something that deterred us and may deter you. However, reviews show this is much higher rated than other hostels on the island, and after riding past, it looks like a good spot. Take a look here!
  • The dive lover: Dream Divers Resort– Well located with good-looking rooms, this is a great spot for divers and non-divers alike. We seriously considered staying here when we visited. Take a look here!
  • The upper end options: note – we didn’t stay here, but these are some great picks based off our extensive research if you’re wanting to spend a little more and get a lot:
    • 2. Ponte Villas: Located just out of the main town, this is a great pick! Take a look here.
    • 3. Pondok Santi Estate: These villas are class and located just on the fringe of the main town. Worth a look here!

How to get to Gili Trawangan from Bali?

The tropical island of Gili Trawangan is located around 3-5 hours away from the Bali mainland. This is reached best by taking a ferry from the Sanur harbour. We recommend booking ferries in advance (book here – during peak times but they are often not that busy in off-peak. You can also reach the island from other ferry ports like Padang Bai and Lombok. A word of warning, we recommend you get an early ferry, and consider the weather conditions, especially if you get sea sick. There can be decent swell and it’s not uncommon to get sea sick (this was Ky on the way home).

What time of year should you visit Gili Trawangan?

Like many tropical islands, Gili T has great temperatures all year round. The ‘peak season’ is the dry season between May to September, whilst the ‘shoulder season’ is between October to April. It is important to note that we visiting in November, and found the weather amazing, with temperatures between 25-33degrees the whole stay. However, we haven’t visited during peak season, where the weather is more bankable, with less predicted rainfall. During the wet season, it isn’t uncommon to have afternoon showers and weather changes, which may affect your ability to enjoy some of the activities like diving etc. However, after visiting in November and finding the island warm, calm, and with minimal tourists, we would highly recommend you visit Gili T during shoulder season. We may have got lucky, but didn’t get any rain at all during our 6 day stay in November.

A point to note: When we travelled on the ferry to Gili Air and Lombok, the climate seemed cooler and windier than Gili T. Due to the presence of mountains on Lombok, this could potentially cause a microclimate compared to Gili T. This may not influence your stay, but it is something to consider.

So should you visit Gili Trawangan?

If this guide hasn’t convinced you, then maybe the ‘island living’ isn’t for you. We highly recommend a visit after loving every moment of our stay! One to add to your list, and definitely a sign to consider visiting beyond Bali mainland!

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Comments (4):

  1. Fagle

    January 1, 2024 at 12:47 pm

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