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Gili Trawangan Guide 2024: Everywhere You’ll Want To Visit, Eat, Swim, Snorkel & Relax

Gili Trawangan Guide 2024: Everywhere You’ll Want To Visit, Eat, Swim, Snorkel & Relax

In this Gili Islands Guide updated for 2024 you’ll find all the information you need to have an amazing time in paradise. I’ll cover the best places to visit, where to eat & drink, where to swim, the best spots for snorkelling and most importantly, where to relax!

It is also a breath of fresh air here as there are no cars! You can only get around the islands by bicycle or horse and cart.

Turtle Beach Gili T

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The Gili Islands are located off the coast of Lombok and they are a little slice of heaven, both for tourists and the locals.

Made up of three islands, Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air each has something different to offer.

Gili Trawangan is best known as the party island of the 3, there are many restaurants, bars and even clubs lining the east coast of the island. If you are up for a party its best to visit over the weekend as on Friday and Saturday the clubs stay open till 4am.

Where to Stay

Party Hostel – Deep House Bungalows

Deep House Bungalows are located just a short walk from the main pier and if you are looking to party during your stay on Gili Trawangan this is a great budget option.

All rooms are made up of small bungalows, these all come with a double bed, storage, air conditioning and a private bathroom.

There is a communal pool here and bicycles to rent. Just make sure you’re up for a party as the owners like to join in playing music for the guests into the early hours of the morning!

Quieter Stay – Martas Hotel

Martas Hotel is located just 10 mins south of the harbour, while it is right in the heart of the action it is perfectly tucked away and feels like a quiet sanctuary.

Here every room is separate and you have your own little house. There is a living room outside, large bathroom downstairs and good size king bedroom upstairs with plenty of storage.

Included in the price of our room was breakfast every morning which consisted of fresh juice, tea or coffee, a fruit plate and your choice of eggs any way and pancakes.

There is also a shared pool available for use if you don’t feel like hitting the beach and they are able to organise bike hire for you.

Where to Eat & Drink

Hello Capitano

This is a great little cafe serving delicious breakfasts, freshly made smoothies and tacos for dinner.

Located a little north of the harbour Hello Capitano has plenty of seating both inside and upstairs.

It holds the number 1 spot on Trip Advisor on the island and I feel this is well deserved. Everything we ordered came out in good time and was very tasty.

Sama Sama

A popular reggae bar is known for its live music and late night parties so Sama Sama was where we headed on Saturday night when we wanted a night out.

They start off the night with a live band located at the front of the venue then they move them inside onto the stage and open up an area for a dance floor.

It’s got a great vibe and was filled with people having fun/dancing, there are singular tables or long benches giving you the chance to get talking to some other travellers.

Scallywags Seafood Bar & Grill

You have the choice to order off the menu or you can select the BBQ. If you select the BBQ you can pick your meat or skewers from a big fridge, everything is priced separately so take a look at the chalk boards located above before you start selecting!

Once you have chosen your meat and side you are given a plate to fill up on unlimited salad bar while you wait for your food to cook. There is a great selection and they have items like potato salad, steamed veg, pesto pasta, coleslaw, and all different kinds of sauces to choose from.

If you’re English like us it’s like stepping back into a Pizza Hut or a Harvester!

Gili Trawangan Food Night market

This place is bustling with life and activity! There is a huge selection of freshly caught fish from the day, meat skewers, fruits, ice cream, cakes and crepes.

You select what you want and go take a seat on one of the benches lined up in the middle of the hall. Your food is put on the grill and served to your table with rice and veggies.

The night market is great for travellers on a budget, the dishes are very similar to what you would eat at any of the neighbouring restaurants and its a portion of the price!

Sand Bar

A beach front bar in the day and an excellent live venue in the evening. This place was always full and has some great musicians playing every night.

Sand Bar has rows on bean bags right on the beach for you to sit back, enjoy the music and listen to the crashing waves in the distance.

The bands start at 8pm so make sure you head down a bit before this as this popular spot gets filled up very quickly!

If you here on the weekend Sand Bar closes its outside spot at 11pm and moves everyone into their club which stays open till 4am.

What to Do

Snorkelling at Turtle Beach

This was our favourite spot on Gili T and we spent everyday here swimming in the sea discovering something new every time we entered the water.

The snorkelling was the out of this world, we saw a huge variety of fish, plenty of sea turtles, star fish and even a mooray eel.

🙋🏻‍♀️ We visited Bali and The Gili Islands first and we didn’t appreciate how lucky we were to find this spot, throughout the rest of our travels in South East Asia only snorkelling at Secret Bay in Koh Tao came close to the underwater world we saw here at Turtle Beach!

You can sit on the sun beds along the beach for a minimum spend of usually 150,000 IDR (£9) which is perfect if you pick somewhere you would like to stay for some lunch.

Turtle Beach runs along the north-east side of the island, its not massive but there are definitely good and bad spots.

As this is the same side as the harbour there are lots of boats docked all the way along. We tried a few spots in turtle beach and found the best spot for snorkelling was outside Laguna Gili Beach Resort.

Next to their sun beds to the right is a small gathering of trees if you head straight out just in front  of these there is a section of coral reef that seemed to have a lot more life than anywhere else.

The space is made up of 3 big rocks with sand in the middle, every time we got here there were hundreds of fish and there’s a spot under the rock on the right that we found a sea turtle taking a snooze a few times.

If you are a confident swimmer then swim a bit further out to the drop off where the sea bed drops from 5 to 25 meters here, you can see plenty more fish and often sea turtles grazing below you on the sea grass. This was also where we saw the eel!

Snorkelling Tour

If you would prefer to hop on a boat and spend the day exploring around the 3 Gili Islands this is another great way to see plenty of Turtles and other marine life.

Most snorkelling tours all follow the same route, first you will head over to Gili Meno where you will visit the famous underwater statues, these were created to help the natural coral to grow but have become a tourist hotspot!

Here you will stop off at 3 different points and be able to swim with tons of fish, Hawk Bill sea turtles and see the vibrant coral reefs below.

You can prebook this online through Get Your Guide for peace of mind or find a local stall along the beachfront when you arrive in Gili T.

The beaches of Gili

Gili Cooking Class

I had heard lots of people talking about cooking classes while travelling and thought it would be a great way to meet some people and learn how to make some of the local cuisine.

Gili Cooking Class is excellent and we had so much fun. They are located on both Gili Trawangan and Gili Air.

This cooking class drew me in from the moment I saw it, it’s an open air kitchen right on the beach. But if you do go make sure to wear loose clothes as it gets very hot in the Gili heat and multiple hobs on the go!

The cooking class has 3 options, a 3 course meal, 4 course meal or 6 course meal. We went for the 4 as it was a good selection of food.

We learnt how to make Kelopan a traditional Indonesian desert, fried tempe with homemade peanut sauce, this was mouth wateringly good, Mie Goreng which are traditional fried noodles and Yellow Chicken Curry.

The classes are very well planned out and everything is prepared for you in perfect quantities.

Everything you cook is then sent to you via WhatsApp so I will definitely be making 3 course Indonesian dinners when we get home thanks to this cooking class.

Eko taught our class, he is very knowledgable and easy to engage with and follow along to. He used to be a chef however due to the fast paced environment of the kitchen he decided on a career change as he never got to enjoy the dishes he was creating.

Now he teaches tourists how to create their own authentic Indonesian meals and gets to enjoy the whole process alongside us.

Eko ensured that we all understood exactly what all the ingredients were, what they are used for and gave us a little information about each dish.

Cooking Class at Gili Cooking Classes

Sunset Kiss Beach Club

This is THE SPOT to watch the sunset when you are on Gili Trawangan!

Either hop on your bicycle or take a stroll down the coastal path to the bottom of Gili T and around to the west coast.

💡 this side of the island is much windier than the east coast so make sure you take an extra layer and maybe tie your hair up!

I would aim to arrive at Sunset Kiss by at least half 5 to ensure you get a good spot on one of their many pink bean bags. The bar team will be walking around to take orders for food and drinks.

We just had some drinks and a couple of snacks here, the beach club also has entertainment on Friday and Saturdays nights. We were there on Saturday night and they had a DJ on and fire dancers on until about 7/8pm.

Cycle Round the Island

You can hire bicycles in Gili T from almost anywhere, I would recommend speaking to your accommodation or wandering round to find a rental shop. Renting a bike should cost you 150,000 IDR (£3) per day.

Once you have got yourself a bike, hop on and get exploring!

This was what we did on our first day here and is a great way to see the island and what it has to offer, we headed off spotting which places on the beach looked the best, which bars we wanted to try and where we fancied for dinner.

There is a road round the outside of the island which you can cycle, this will take you past the busy east coast all the way through the almost abandoned west and north coasts. Cycling the whole way round should take you between 1/1.5 hours.

Boy cycling in Gili Trawangan

Relax!

Honestly, there isn’t a lot to do on Gili Trawangan but I think that’s the beauty of it.

Take a leaf out of the locals book and tune in to their chilled out way of life. Grab your favourite book, your towel and snorkel and head down to the beach for the day.

Enjoy a day doing well, not a lot!

How to Get There

Gili Trawangan is only accessible by boat from either Bali or Lombok. There are many tour companies operating this service from both but we used Bluewater Express.

We had used Semaya One (which is another popular boat operator in the area) to get to Nusa Penida and even though the trip was cheap and only half an hour it was very uncomfortable and the boats didn’t leave when they were supposed to for either journey.

As the trip to Gili Trawangan was going to take 1.30/2 hours we decided to spend a little extra money.

Their prices vary from where you are planning to travel from but you can check out all their prices here and modify for your destination. They are more expensive than their competitors but I believe the price is worth it for a more comfortable journey.

The journey can be a bit choppy at points regardless of who you travel with so bear this in mind but the Bluewater staff have water and anti sickness medication on hand if its needed.

How to Get Around

There are no cars on the Gili islands, this was a lovely surprise to us, as scooting around in Bali the fumes can get a bit much after a while as you sit in traffic.

The islands are all pretty much flat so bikes are the best option and you can rent these from almost everywhere. We rented ours from our hotel are they cost 50,000 IDR (£3) a day.

If you’re arriving with heavy bags and your hotel is not close to the port however don’t worry you do not have to balance it all on a bike you are able to catch a horse and cart.

If like me you are a bit cautious of using this form of transportation have a read of The Wandering Quinns post about the horses on the Gili Islands. The charity she mentions works very closely with the drivers and keepers educating them to ensure the horses are cared for properly.

Grilled sweetcorn in Gili Trawangan

Best Time to Visit

The Gili Islands are hot all year round and only has 2 seasons, rainy or dry.

The dry season runs from April to October. During this time in Gili T everything is a lot busier and more expensive, however for good reason as it is the driest time of the year.

Gili T’s peak season is April to August so if you would like to avoid the crowds then the best time to visit is May or September.

The wet season here is November to March. While the temperature is still warm it will usually rain for 1 out of 2 days, visiting in the rainy season may mean some activities may be off the cards.

Final Thoughts

Visiting The Gili Islands especially Gili Trawangan was an amazing way to end our stay in Bali, these small islands might not seem like much but they are very special.

Experiencing island life here is like no where else we have ever visited, with no cars, no stress and a chilled out way of being reminds us all to slow down and appreciate the moment.

Not to mention the incredible underwater world that just adds to the beauty of the island.

If you are a beach bum like me and crystal blue oceans, thriving with fish and white sands sound right up your street then make sure you book that boat!

I hope you found my Gili Islands Guide useful. These truly are the best things to do in Gili Trawangan!

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