Gili Trawangan Indonesia’s Island Heaven

Gili Trawangan Indonesia’s Island Heaven

There are three small islands situated between the larger islands of Bali and Lombok in the Indonesian archipelago. Gili Air, Gili Meno, and Gili Trawangan seem to shoot off the northeast corner of Lombok, swirled in bright blue water. The largest of the three island is the one closest to Bali, named Gili Trawangan. Besides it’s difficult to pronounce name it is perfect. This small spec of land was the last stop on our honeymoon to South East Asia. We fell hard for this place and wish we would have had a few more days of paradise here.

Great Vibe

We fell in love with Gili Trawangan because it has a great young, backpacker feel. The majority of the island is filled with locally owned small hostels so there is no problem finding a cheap bed. The south end of the island has a few higher end resorts and private vacation homes popping up. There is a good mix of people and filled with a ton of interesting travelers. The bars on the island are on a rotation as to where the party is on a given night. After 10 pm everyone finds their way to the designated bar and drinks the night away until as late as 4am. If you are up early for a sunset you can definitely find some people wandering around still up and under the influences of the night before.

Recommended Gili Trawangan Hotels

Cheap Fun

Where else in the world can you rent snorkel gear for $2 for the day and walk straight off the beach into world class snorkeling? We found our favorite beach of the island on the north end of the eastern shore. There were chairs for rent but if you bought drinks they were free, even if you only ordered there $.50 waters. Every night a majority of the island comes together in the city center for the night market. The market is full of food options, everything we had was tasty and just a buck or two. Patio tables set in the center make for great places to start up conversations with other travelers. Bonus you can bring your own drinks, which also helps to keep costs down.

The Night Market

$.10 per stick!

Gili Trawangan Downsides

We found that on average beer and alcohol were very expensive throughout Indonesia, and even more so on the Gili’s. If possible bring some into the country from a duty-free shop if you want to partake on the cheap. We visited Gili after spending time in Thailand and Bali working on our haggling skills, but to our surprise these skills proved almost useless. We ended up paying over $12 for a T-shirt to commemorate our trip (a far cry from the $2 on Khao San road).


The is not even a car on the island, the only means to get around is by foot, bike, or horse. On Gili Trawangan you just don’t see the trash laying about or in the water as you do in other tourist spots. All of the hotels on the island are at most two stories and don’t impose on the natural skyline. When you are here you truly feel like you have found something not many travelers have found yet.

Get there soon!

Unfortunately, we were not the only ones to discover the beauty of this island. Apparently, some resort developers have too. Developers have started to put some major hotels on the previously under-developed west side of the island. The resorts are not open yet but look to be finishing soon. So if you want to see the Gili Trawangan we fell in love with, I’d get there before they put up a Margaritaville.

If you are staying the Lombok region of Indonesia make sure to at least head over for a day trip. There are so many things to do in Lombok you could spend weeks in this region.



  • nandito
    Posted at 04:51h, 05 February Reply

    wow awesome. really jealous about your trip :). one day i’m gonna going there.

  • Hannah
    Posted at 16:21h, 05 February Reply

    Nandito – Our time in the Gili’s was great, it felt like a place not many people knew about. I would recommend getting there soon before all the new resorts open up and it changes!

    Safe Travels!

  • Sudiah
    Posted at 07:55h, 03 April Reply

    Gili T sure is a great spot. There are those that went there 20 years ago that say it’s ruined, but to those going there for the first time it still is lovely – it is what it is. Probably with more development it will still please plenty and it will be some time before those dozens of cheap homestays are gone.

    Just one note – Gili Trawangan is not “closer to Bali” It is in fact more than 60 kms from Bali. It sits about 5 kms off the coast of Lombok. The 3 famous Gilis are part of Lombok, both geographically, culturally, and come under the Lombok government.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 14:34h, 03 April Reply

      While we were there we saw a few bigger resorts going up on the other side of the island. I agree it will be built up and super touristy in no time. You are correct Gili T is closest to Lombok, but Gili T is the closest of the Gili islands to Bali.

      We can’t wait to return to Gili T on our upcoming RTW trip!!! We plan on venturing to the other Gili islands & Lombok too!

  • Casi @HeyNoobz
    Posted at 00:17h, 20 June Reply

    We loved Gili T! I just wrote about it actually 🙂

    My husband learned to dive there and I just loved riding my bike around the island everyday. Just beautiful!

    • Hannah
      Posted at 16:48h, 22 June Reply

      Too funny! Adam actually did his 2nd discovery dive in Gili T and I too just rode my bike around the island and sun bathed! We will be back April/May 2014 and Adam will be certified so we he will be back diving and I will be strolling around on my bike!! Curious to see how much has changed in the last 2 years!

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 09:32h, 20 June Reply

    Beautiful. Our good friends Kim & Brian from So-Many-Places & Wandering Sasquatch were just on Gili Meno and loved it as well.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 16:51h, 22 June Reply

      Thanks, it really is super beautiful! Kim & Brian are one of our favorites too, I see they just landed back in the USA. I am sure they are happy they ended their trip in Indonesia!

  • Hannah
    Posted at 16:50h, 22 June Reply

    There is always next time! We didn’t make it to Gili Air but we plan to on the next trip! We were afraid Gili Air would be a little to quite for our taste, even though we read a lot about Gili T being loud and party place, we didn’t see it that way at all. Definitely check it out next time you are in Indonesia! Feel free to email us if you have any questions!

  • Empty Rucksack
    Posted at 03:12h, 19 April Reply

    You gave us ample reasons to travel to the island. Great write up.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 04:52h, 19 April Reply

      You will love it! If not, hop over to Gili Air or Menlo they are said to be quieter islands. Let me know how it is, hope it hasn’t changed too much the past 2 years.

  • Brandon @ The Yoga Nomads
    Posted at 04:14h, 16 November Reply

    Brings back great memories! We spent a week on Gili T and a week on Gii Air. Loved the night market, Eastern beach/snorkeling, and healthy food on Gili T but ended up preferring Gili Air. Gili Air was much quieter but still had a fun scene. Gili Air is developing fast but still chilled out. There are some great live music and reggae bars – definitely leaning to the hippie side.

    • Hannah
      Posted at 15:56h, 18 November Reply

      That’s great to hear. We have to check out Gili Air next time we are in Indonesia.

  • Indah Jelita
    Posted at 00:34h, 03 December Reply

    Nice post and images!
    You have to explore more places in Indonesia.
    Keep writing and goodluck. 😉

  • Karianne
    Posted at 09:39h, 08 February Reply

    We loved our time on the Gili Islands too; however, we only stayed on Gili Meno!

    Really a piece of island paradise. I can’t remember a place where I have felt more relaxed. Would love to go back to visit Gili Air and Gili T sometime!

  • Stephen Shelley
    Posted at 12:19h, 27 February Reply

    Zoom over to Meno if you can – way chiller, particularly on the east side of the island. The side facing Trawangan has some awesome restaurants!

  • David
    Posted at 11:02h, 15 June Reply

    I love this post guys! With my girlfriend we can’t wait to arrive in Bali and Gili T in less than a month! So much to see and food to sample :-). In Gili T we will be staying off the north coast, have you been in this area? Also thanks a lot for the nice pics!

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