Six years on from my first visit to Bali, the popularity surrounding the Indonesian island shows no sign of waning. This time, we decided to visit Gili Trawangan, also known as Gili T, the largest of the Gili Islands.
It’s an archipelago of 3 small islands off the northwest coast of Lombok. Our base was on Gili Trawangan, but you can also visit the others in the group: Gili Air and Gili Meno.
How to get to Gili Trawangan?
There are many boat services that will take you from Bali to Gili Trawangan. We went with a service called Wahana Gili Ocean that took us from Padangbai in Bali to Gili T. It takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes depending on the state of the sea.
Review of Wahana Gili Ocean
Overall, we’d give Wahana Gili Ocean 6 out of 10. The service was on time on departure, though the boat was very small for all the passengers. Coming back however, we were delayed for over an hour with no update whatsoever.
The upside was that we had a much bigger ferry and so were more comfortable. There are many fast boat services to and from Bali, ranging in comfort and price, so do your research beforehand. Negative stories about some ferry companies are everywhere, so make sure you don’t get stuck with one.
Travel advice for sea sick sufferers
If you have a sensitive stomach and not the best sea legs, don’t forget to bring Dramamine. Our boat ride going to Gili T was hellishly bumpy, and many passengers were ill onboard. Luckily, I was better prepared and had taken mine an hour before the ride.
Plenty of friends who’d been before spoke highly of Gili T and recommended going. A still relatively unspoiled place with no polluting cars or noisy scooters, we couldn’t wait to see it for ourselves.
Should you visit Gili Trawangan? What to expect
We traveled to Gili T at the end of May, where the average maximum temperature hovers around 31ºC (87.8ºF). In other words: endless days of sunshine+perfectly warm waters=bronzed bodies and smiles all round.
Measuring 15km2 (5.8sqr miles), Gili T is a bite-sized taste of paradise, with 2 distinct sides to the island.
The south part of the island caters more to people looking to party. The north, on the other hand, is more harmonious, and dare I say, also a bit hippy-ish. This is the side of the island we stayed on, not because we’re hippies, but because we prefer our surroundings more on the tranquil side. Here you’ll find long stretches of sandy beaches, rocky coves, and coconut palm trees.
We also managed to see more of the incredible panorama by joining a local tour. It was very reasonable in price, and an experience you can’t put a price tag on.
There are no motor vehicles on Gili Trawangan
One of the best things about Gili T is that there are NO motor vehicles on the island. That means no whizzing motorbikes or honking cars driving past, waking you up at 3 in the morning. Instead, you can explore the best of the island by bike, or on foot. You should be aware that there are no helmets, or any bike paths here. All you need is a quick reaction time to swerve left or stay right depending on the oncoming ‘traffic’ of people.
If you really don’t feel like walking or cycling there’s a 3rd option available. The colorful yet rickety horse and cart is the main transport on the island.
A different mode of transport on Gili T
Horse and carts transport people from the arrival lounge on the beach, to their accommodation on Gili T.
Baggage withstanding, the horses carry a maximum of 3 people. The clanging décor attached to the cart’s canopy, together with the loud beeps, gives pedestrians and cyclists a clear signal. Fares are a fixed IDR 100,000* (£5; €6.70; $7) from any destination point. Hold onto the bars on the cart in case there’s any ‘turbulence’ when the horses trot over rockier areas.
Traveler tip: If you see the horses during their break looking thirsty, give them some water. The sun’s not forgiving on Gili T, and these wonderful creatures take as much hydration as they can get.
Similar to the type of people you meet in Bali, the locals on Gili T are just as, if not, friendlier. It’s not unusual to meet one or 2 people named Gede, which means first born, or Made (second born). Language is of course a barrier, but that doesn’t deter them from being friendly and engaging, and helping whenever they can.
Gili T, unlike Bali, is predominantly Muslim and not Hindu. Locals are noticeably more conservative, though not any less smiley than their neighbours.
Where to stay on Gili Trawangan?
We chose the excellent La Cocoteraie Ecolodge for our stay on the island. It embraces an eco-friendly design, and is a boutique glamping site on Gili T. Guests stay in wonderfully huge tents, and every detail adheres to its eco-friendly theme and values. There’s a swimming pool onsite, and they also serve up one of the best breakfasts we had during our trip.
Personal touches at La Cocoteraie Ecolodge
La Cocoteraie Ecolodge also provides its guests with free bikes for getting around the island. This little touch gives you the feeling you’re a local going about your everyday business. In short, it’s the perfect boutique choice for flashpackers.
The sunsets on Gili Trawangan
You’re in for a treat if you enjoy watching dramatic sunsets. I lost count of the number of photos I took of the multiple colors when the sun set on Gili Trawangan.
Along with having a series of random thoughts, sunsets also have the power to relax me. A dreamer at heart, it’s impossible for me not to get lost in the hues of oranges, yellows, purples and blues. Sunset in late May is around 6.30pm, and the best place to view it is on the north-west side of the island.
There are plenty of bars offering happy hour drinks and restaurants on the beach to get you in the mood for the sunset. Grab a cocktail, perch yourself by one of the bars playing live music and enjoy. It’s as simple as that.
Should you visit Gili Trawangan?
Our journey to Gili T was THE highlight of our trip to Bali, and we wished we’d stayed longer. Though some parts of the island are still underdeveloped, they’re also building more resorts and boutique hotels. Whether that’s a good thing or not for the island, I don’t know. What I do know is that we’d definitely recommend visiting.
If you’re planning a trip to Bali anytime soon, don’t miss out seeing Gili T, and the other Gili islands, Gili Air and Gili Meno. You’ll want to get there before the energy and vibe completely changes.
*Prices correct at time of visit
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.
Like this post? Pin it!