Everything you need to know about Gili Trawangan

Published December 17th, 2015

Getting a bit Bali bored? Or need to fill up a few more days on your next trip?

Wanderluster Melissa Llewelyn tells everything you need to know for an epic sneaky side-trip to Gili Trawangan next time you’re in Bali.

The Gili Islands are three stunning white sand built, turquoise water bound, blissed-out tiny islands just off Lombok, accessible from Bali with just a 2-hour fast boat ride. While all three islands are growing in popularity, as travelers begin to venture from the hustle of Bali, it’s Gili T that draws the party crowd day in day out. Here’s why… read on for your 5-minute run down on where to hit in your few days in paradise…

Image: Mel Llewelyn

Where to party

The island is tiny, and for this reason, the nightly party schedule has a pretty set structure, which works for ensuring decent crowds. Wear your favourite island attire and expect chilled afternoon sessions, live music, plenty of beer pong comps and dance floor action later on for those seeking it.

- Mondays @ Blue Marlin
- Wednesdays @ ‘Irish’
- Fridays @ Rudy’s
- Every night @ Sama Sama
- Wednesday & Saturday @ Party Boat, pre and post party at Jiggy’s
- Full Moon every month, beach party @ Surf Bar

Image: Mel Llewelyn
Image: Mel Llewelyn


Days are perfectly chill whether you’re recovering from the night before, or just lapping up a bit of island escapism.

Lounge @ Egoiste | Horizontal | Trawangan Dive | Pearl (or take your pick from the plentiful beach hangs on offer.)

Pull up a lounge or beanbag, soak up sun, saltiness and relaxed house while you feast up Indo delights or western favourites. (For healthy amazingness, check out Kayu Café, Pituq or The Yoga Place)

Stretch @ Gili Yoga | Soraya Yoga | The Yoga Place

For a small island, yogis are completely spoilt for choice with three studios. All offer multiple studio classes each day, suitable for all levels. Completely embrace the island vibe with beach yoga, offered at sunrise and sunset by Soraya Yoga @ Pearl, and sunset offered by The Yoga Place @ Exile.

Image: Mel Llewelyn

Float @ East side of the island

For the best (deepest) little piece of turquoise to mermaid about, head to the East side of the island, or ‘the front’ as it gets referred to. The water is amazing all around the island, but if it’s an actual swim you’re craving, you’ll find your spot here. Enhance your laze and grab an inflatable ring for a couple of dollars from the local store, a cold Bintang and drift.

Sunset @ Exile | Serene Sunset | Casa Vintage

Make sure you get in at least one super chill sunset session at any one of the beach bars along the West. Head across around 5pm and take your pick from Bintangs and drum circle at Exile; Caribbean style eats, bohemian chic and bonfires at Casa Vintage; or island style cocktails and coconuts at Serene Sunset. (It’s over here that you’ll find the famous swing sets too, @ Exile and Ombak Sunset. If it’s a shot at sunset you’re chasing, be prepared to line up!)

Image: Mel Llewelyn


More reasons to explore Bali

8 Places to Eat and Drink in Bali on The Cheap (but oh so good)

Top 5 pool bars in Bali

The eco lessons I learnt in Bali


With accommodation ranging from around ten dollars to four hundred dollars a night (averaging around $50-70), it literally is completely up to you and what kind of Gili stay you are looking for.

Gili T has some stunning villa style accommodation through to great backpackers and authentic local home stays. The first two of which can be pre-booked easily, however if you are comfortable to wing it, there are insane rates to be negotiated upon arrival with local operators. Just make sure you’re travelling light so that you can spend an hour or so door knocking your favourites.

East or West? East side of the island, ‘the front’, is where you’ll find all the bars, shops, cafes and night market. So if you suffer from FOMO and being ‘amongst it’ is your number one, don’t even think about staying anywhere else. If you’re ok with a short cycle or pony ride across the island, you’ll find some amazing, more chill accommodation, complete with insane sunsets, on the West side.

Image: Mel Llewelyn


If you’re the active, explorer or eco type, you’ll find enough here to keep your soul happy for a couple of days at least.

Dive @ literally everywhere!

Dive, scuba or free, is what has launched Gili T into tiny pumping place it is. Take your pick from any number of fantastic dive centres on the island, all lined up along ‘the front’. To makes things easier, the operators on the island have come to a pricing agreement, with all centres charging the same. No undercutting. Leaving you free to simply choose based on reputation or feel.

Image: Mel Llewelyn

Snorkel @ Turtle Point | Straight off the beach

With turtle sightings practically guaranteed, snorkeling would have to be a mandatory Gili activity. Grab some kit for a couple of dollars from a side of the road stall and literally walk straight out off the sand for turtles, hundreds of colourful fish and coral all amongst the most stunning blues you’ve ever laid your travelling eyes on.

Snorkeling boat trips are available, and take you out to Gili Meno and Air, however equally as good snorkeling can be found from the beach. Take the boat for a bit of a wander if you like, but no need.

Image: Mel Llewelyn

SUP Yoga @ The Yoga Place

Not known for surf, Gili naturally makes for idyllic paddle boarding. Sit on the beach for more than five minutes and you’ll be itching to get in, experienced rider or freshie.

Keen to test the insta-trend in real life? Head out with the boys, along with a yoga instructor from The Yoga Place for an hour of yoga (and sun baking, laughing, falling in, turtle watching). Around $25 gets you your board, all instruction, an hour class, bottle of water delivered to your board half way through, and digital photos.
Travel tips

Hire @ Trawangan Dive
The small crew of mega friendly local boys operating out of the small beach hut nestled into Trawangan Dive will sort you out with all of your gear, plus they are always out on the water themselves, to give you tips and make sure you have a solid experience. If you’re feeling up to it, take the half hour paddle across and check out Gili Meno.


Image: Mel Llewelyn


Transport: Motorised transport is banned on the island. Bicycle, horse cart and on foot are your only options. Given that you can walk your way around the entire place in just over an hour, this is hardly a problem and just adds to the island vibes.

Pack light: Roads are nearly all dirt, and no doubt you’ll be legging it around to find your accom. Either backpack-it or leave your luggage at your Bali hotel and throw your bikinis and boardies in a beach bag for the weekend.

Chat: Brushed up on a little Balinese lingo? Don’t forget Gili isn’t Bali, so swap your ‘suksma’ for ‘terima kasih’.

Melissa Llewelyn

Swapping high-heeled corporate life for barefooted gypsy-esque wandering, Melissa leapt from her travel marketing career, completed her yoga teacher training in Ubud, Bali, and spent 2015 exploring Southeast Asia, indulging her obsessions in a constant pursuit of salt, sun and yoga and decadent textiles. She now spits her time between Queensland and Bali teaching yoga and writing.