Your Island Guide to Gili T
An island with no cars, crystal clear water filled with friendly sea turtles, coconuts the size of my head, and a laidback vibe unlike any other. I have officially found the ultimate beach bum’s paradise. Gili Trawangan is one of 3 islands off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia. It’s one of those places you will never want to leave. Out of the 3 islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air, Gili T has the reputation of being the “fun” island. In fact, every traveler I have encountered in Bali has told be to bypass Bali all together and head straight there. So on this solo trip, I had to see what this island was all about.
Gili T is a relatively small island that is only 5 miles wide. With a no engine allowed mentality, the best way to get around is by foot, bicycle, or a horse drawn carriage. This brings a special charm to the island. Everything is a little bit slower and everyone is more in touch with their surroundings. The front strip of the island is colorful and bustling, filled with beachy boutiques, open-air eateries overlooking the water, and dive centers. Not too commercialized but still has that sleepy beach town feel.
The best part of Gili is that it’s a versatile traveling destination, perfect for solo travelers, backpackers, or honeymooners. As a solo traveler myself, I found it very easy to meet like-minded people. In fact, my quiet low-key holiday turned out to be completely different than expected thanks to the amazing people I met.
After spending 4 days soaking in the sun and falling into the island lifestyle where no shoes are required and a bikini is mandatory, it was hard for me to go. I definitely foresee myself returning very soon, if only to grab one last banana pancake and a magenta sunset.
On the island, accommodation ranges from cheap dive hostel to luxurious villa. For this trip, I decided to forgo the hostels and stay in a midrange place called Bagaz Cottage. Bagaz is a quaint cottage tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the main strip. The rooms were fairly old but had everything I needed. The best part of the place is the made to order breakfast that is brought straight to your personal patio.
For my next trip, I already have my eye on an adorable beach cottage called Le Pirate on the backside of the island. With the white sand beach at your doorstep and a restaurant serving up the best coconut smoothies, this place is THE beach hideaway.
For being a small island, Gili T serves up some tasty and affordable dishes and drinks. The restaurants are varied serving everything from Indian, Mexican, local, or even vegan.
This was the first place I ate upon arriving to the island and it was so good I came back 2 more times for lunch. This is THE lunch place to go to. Serving healthy, nourishing, and refreshing dishes as well as fresh pressed juices and smoothies. I recommend the antioxidant smoothie and specialty coffees.
Who doesn’t love a pad Thai? This restaurant saved my life when major monsoon rains came through the island and knocked out the power. Thai Garden and a generator for the win!
No matter what country I’m in, I’m a sucker for Mexican. This hip Mexican joint is tucked back in some side streets but definitely worth the search. I got the fajitas and a coconut smoothie and left with one happy belly.
The best way to get around and explore the island is to get a bicycle. For $3 USD a day, it’s quite a steal. After being in a congested city, there was something so freeing about hopping on a bike and enjoying the view.
With colorful coral reefs and sea turtles, the Gili islands are known for its fantastic diving. On the main road, there are numerous dive shops including Gili Divers. Everyone I met during my stay on the island was somehow affiliated with this shop, either instructors or divers. Needless to say, it’s the go to place. I was lucky enjoy to hop on one of their boats to do some snorkeling and had such an amazing experience… Yes, I’m that nerd who is too scared to dive. Still saw a turtle though!
As for snorkeling, you can pick up a mask at several locations a long the main beach for about $1 for an hour..Say whaaat!
Another popular activity on the island is to gain oneness and relaxation through yoga. I took a rather relaxing Sunset Yoga class on the beach with the Yoga Place. With the sound of the ocean and cool sea breeze on my face, there’s no better place to take a yoga class.
The Yoga Place also offers SUP Yoga and a range of daily classes at their cozy studio such as Guided Meditation and Morning Flow. Make sure to check out their garden café after a class, serving up some healthy vegetarian refreshments including a delicious smoothie bowl.
Catch a Beautiful Sunset
Gili has some of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen. Hop on your bike and head over to the western beach to catch a swing picture at Ombuk Sunset.
Once again, I planned on having a low-key holiday but the people and energy drew me in. The nightlife in Gili is a downright good time. My favorite was a live music reggae bar called Sama Sama. A little island dancing under the stars is always good for the soul.
When all else fails… just R E L A X
How to Get There
There are 2 options, either a fast boat from Bali or a flight to Lombok. I actually just set up the travels with my hostel in Seminyak the day before. For about $40 USD, I got a round-trip ticket from Seminyak where a van picked me up at my hostel and drove to Padang Bai. From there, it’s about an hour boat ride to the island.