Exploring Gili Trawangan: A Tropical Paradise

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Gili T sunset

Exploring the Enchantment of Gili Trawangan, Lombok’s Gem

Nestled in the azure waters of the Bali Sea are the three small Islands, off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia. The largest of the islands is Gili Trawangan, affectionately known as Gili T, is a captivating blend of serene beaches, vibrant nightlife, and eco-friendly adventures. This island paradise, accessible by boat from Lombok and Bali, is more than just a beach destination. It’s a blend of adventure, relaxation with just the right amount of nightlife, promising an unforgettable escape.

Gili T from the airplane window
Gili T from the airplane window

We just got back from our fourth jaunt to Gili Trawangan in the last 20 years, and guess what? It’s become quite the hotspot for Indian travelers. It’s fascinating to see how Gili T has adapted, with menus flaunting Indian dishes. It’s like a slice of home, but surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Indonesia. The vibe is as magical as ever, with a mix of familiar and new experiences that made it unforgettable.

For those yet to discover Gili T, it’s a place of serene beaches, vibrant coral reefs, and lively nights under the stars. Whether you’re here to dive, cycle around the island, or just chill, Gili T wraps you in its charm.

Gili T sunset

No.1 thing to do at Gili T is to discover scuba diving. You will find Dive shops at every hotel on the island offering a Discovery Dive experience, especially if you’re new to diving. It’s an absolutely amazing experience, pushing you out of your comfort zone. This begins with a pool training session, where you’ll learn basic diving skills and get comfortable with the equipment under the guidance of certified instructors. This is followed by an actual diving session in tandem with the divemaster. Be a fish and explore the coral gardens around the islands.

Diving at Gili T
Diving at Gili T

Pro tip: Ask the dive shop to get a pro underwater photographer to document your very first dive.

Gili Trawangan is indeed a diver’s paradise with its spectacular underwater biodiversity. The island is surrounded by coral reefs that are home to a wide variety of marine species, including turtles, reef sharks, and a kaleidoscope of tropical fish. Numerous dive centers offer PADI-certified courses, making Gili T an ideal location for getting your next level diving certification for both novice and experienced divers to explore the wonders of the deep blue sea.

The next best thing is to hire a glass bottom boat with crew for a snorkeling tour to explore the coral gardens and underwater statues around the Gili Islands. These tours often include stops at Gili Meno and Gili Air, giving you a taste of the neighboring islands. Keep an eye out for turtles, a common sight in these clear waters. This trip usually includes life vests, snorkeling gear and you can also get them to throw in a GoPro camera so you can take underwater photos.

Underwater Statues at Gili T
Underwater Statues at Gili T

Go paddle boarding, and even try joining a yoga on paddle board class. Other things to do include water sports, horse riding on the beach, explore the lush inland coconut plantations on a bike or chilling with a Bintang beer or green coconut, on the beach.

Yoga on paddleboard
Yoga on paddleboard

Pray at Pura Dalem Gili Trawangan, a small Hindu temple is nestled away from the main strip, offering a peaceful retreat.

Don’t miss out the vibrant night market. Located in the main square near the boat pier, the market comes alive each evening with a plethora of stalls selling a wide variety of food. It’s a culinary paradise where you can indulge in fresh seafood, local Sasak dishes, Indonesian favorites, and a variety of international cuisines at very reasonable prices.

Gili T is committed to sustainability, with several initiatives in place to protect its natural environment. There are no motorized vehicles on the island and the transportation is limited to bicycles and horse-drawn carts, known as cidomos.  You can hear the clip clop of the cidomos that carry a max of 3 people. If your accommodation is away from the boat pier, then you will have to take this mode of transport to ferry your bags. Visitors can rent bicycles to explore the island’s interior, discovering hidden gems and local wildlife along the way.

Cidomo Gili T
Cidomo Gili T

Gili T’s circumference of 6.5 km is lined with stretches of white sandy beaches fringed by coconut palms, overlooking crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life. The island’s eastern coast is the main strip with the ferry terminal and a hub of activity. In contrast, the western side offers peaceful sunsets with views of Bali’s Mount Agung, providing a perfect backdrop for a romantic evening or a quiet night under the stars.

After sunset, Gili T comes alive with a vibrant nightlife scene. The island’s main strip is a hub of activity, offering a variety of dining options, from traditional Sasak cuisine to international dishes. Bars and clubs host live music, DJ sets, and beach parties, providing endless entertainment options for night owls. There is also a party boat experience which combines the natural beauty of the surrounding waters with music and dance, creating a floating party that’s both lively and scenic.

If you are just looking at a quiet beach retreat, Gili T does not disappoint. Visitors can take part in cooking classes to learn about Indonesian cuisine, join yoga retreats, or simply interact with the friendly local community. You can also visit the Gili Trawangan Turtle Hatchery to learn about conservation efforts on the island. The island also serves as a base for exploring the nearby Gili Islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air, each with its own unique charm.

Gili Trawangan, with its blend of natural beauty, adventure, and culture, offers a unique island experience that caters to all types of travelers. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful retreat, an underwater adventure, or a night of dancing under the stars, Gili T promises an unforgettable escape into paradise.

Gili Trawangan has a way of calling you back. To my Indian and Indonesian friends, if you’re looking for a blend of adventure and peace, with a taste of home, Gili T is the place to be. Can’t wait for trip number five!

Getting there:

Direct flights are 2hrs from Jakarta

  • From Lombok: A combination of a taxi or shuttle to Bangsal or Teluk Nare Harbor followed by a public boat or speedboat to Gili T.

Pro Tip: It is recommended to book airport transfers with your hotel at Gili T, which will include private van/car to Teluk Nara and then a private speedboat to Gili T. This by far the fastest and most convenient option. This takes approximately 1.5 – 2 hrs

  • From Bali: Fast boats from various departure points like Padang Bai and Amed offer direct routes to the island, blending convenience with scenic views. If you are taking a fast boat from Bali, it can take 2hrs – 3hrs based on the weather.

Places to Stay

Gilli T has an entire range from Luxury resorts to budget friendly options.

Poonam Sagar at Gili T
Poonam Sagar at Gili T

by Poonam Sagar