10 things to do in Gili Trawangan!
Just off the North West coast of Lombok, in the Bali Sea, sits a beautiful trio of tiny islands. The Gili Islands are fastly becoming a regular haunt for backpackers and holidaymakers alike, thanks to it's stunning views, fantastic diving, crazy parties and breathtaking beaches. There is more to the islands, however. Here we share with you all the "must-dos" of the Gilis, based on the largest of the islands, Gili Trawangan. We can help you to plan your time here wisely!
1. Scuba Dive
Divers come from all over to experience the crystal clear, turquoise waters that surround the Gilis. Dive shops heavily populate the East coast of Trawangan. The great thing is that all of the shops are part of the Gili Island Diving association, an organisation who set a minimum rate for diving across all three Gilis. This means that you won't be hen-pecked on the streets for diving, you can pop in to as many dive shops a you want and choose the place that best suits you! All dive sites are within a 10 minute boat ride and offer a spectacular abundance of marine life, from the teeny tiny Nudibranchs to the slightly larger Reef Sharks! 20+ meters visibility, regular drifts and possibilities of whale sharks and mantas, diving here is exciting and adventurous. Courses and fun dives available.
If you don't fancy taking the plunge completely, there is also loads to see with just a mask and snorkel. You can hire these from the numerous local stalls that line the beaches. For around Rp20,000 per hour you can walk straight off the beach and be transported to the underwater world immediately. The best places are at Turtle Point at the North tip of the island, or just outside the turtle sanctuary on the East coast to the right of the harbor.
If you want more of a whole day experience, you can book a trip on a glass bottom boat. See what there is below you without even getting wet and jump off at the best sites around all three of the islands. The boats tend to make a stop at Gili Meno, over a wreckage of an old pier and then one more stop at Gili Air. Sea turtles heavily populate these waters, and it is pretty much guaranteed that you will spot one! Lucky Tours are a great agent to book with, located opposite Cafe Kayu on the East coast, just up from the jetty.
It is inevitable that you will probably party at least once during your stay here. And why wouldn't you? Beach front locations, fireworks, fire throwers and fun-loving travelers make the party scene on Gili Trawangan one not to be missed. There is a rule on the island meaning that only one bar can be open til late (usually around 3am) so there is a different party every night of the week! Monday - Blue Marlin Dive, Tuesday - Sama Sama Reggae Bar, Wednesday - Tir Na Nog Irish bar, Thursday all bars are open until 1am, Friday - Rudy's, Saturday - Sama Sama Reggae Bar and Sunday - Evolution. There is also Full Moon and Dark moon parties and these are at the Surf Bar a little way round towards the South of the island. Jungle Bar and Ombak bar are the best for pre-drinking and getting you in the mood or why not try cocktails and sheesha at Pesona Resort!
Take the party to the daytime too and hop on a party boat. The Dragoon is a humongous yacht that cruises around the islands, heads to Lombok for a swim and then back to watch sunset. Chillout tunes and a live DJ and a happy vibe for around 150 people. Samba villas has a huge tri-catamaran. Awesome music and large nets in the middle with beanbags for relaxing on. Again, 100-150 people and can be privately charted. South Sea Nomads is more of an intimate party. Up to 30 people can party the afternoon away, stopping at snorkel sites and swimming spots this is for private parties only.
4. Be a Yogi for a day
Massively big in Bali, the Yoga craze is slowly making it's way to the Gilis. Beautiful sunrise sessions and yoga whilst the sun is setting over Mount Agung in Bali makes Gili a rather special and spiritual place for yoga. Sessions also run throughout the day, so there is something for everyone. The teachers here are second to none, each with that born to do it soothing voice that transports you into a world of relaxation. The Yoga Place offers Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa flow and meditation as well as yoga workshops over a 2 or 3 day period. Perfect for a bit of a detox and getting you ready for the rest of your holidays or travels. Stick around after your class for some amazing vegetarian food too, including massive juicy salads, hearty pastas and the best shakes, smoothies and juices on the island!
5. Be humbled by a Gili Sunset
Gili has some of the most amazing sunsets that I have ever seen. All along the South side of the island are the cutest bars and restaurants where you can grab a beer or a table for dinner and enjoy the spectacular reds, pinks and oranges streaking across the sky. Paradise sunset has chill out tunes played by a live DJ, fire-throwers and ice-cold Heineken. Ombak Sunset has 4 different restaurants. Each with different music. The Sea Breeze restaurant has a live band, beanbags for beach chilling or tables for dining. Get the mandatory picture on the famous swings in the ocean with a breathtaking backdrop of the sun setting over Bali. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, then take a walk up to the top of the hill and watch the sunset from there. Take beers with you as there is nothing at the top apart from a great crowd enjoying a great sunset. You can hear the music from bars is the distance and get some amazing pictures from up here. Turn right before Jiggy Jigs bar on the East coast and follow the road until you see the signs for the sunset point. You'll see some steps chiseled into the side of the hill, leading you all the way to the top.
6. Have a water sports adventure
Stand up Paddle boards, kayaks, surfing, banana boats, parasailing and the brand new Subwing. We have it all! Take a day off from sunbathing and tend to you adventurous side, paddle board to Gili Meno and have a beer in the Sasak Cafe. Easier in the mornings before the current picks up, but a great experience plus a great way to get a sun tan and a work out at the same time! Grab a friend and Kayak up and down the main strip, checking out all of the beach front lounges as you go. You can rent these from the hut on the beach just before the turtle sanctuary, you even get a free lesson!
Why not take a bird's eye view and para-sail between the islands. Quite new to the island, we now have the Subwing. Explore the underwater world in yet another way with this James Bond style activity, whizzing through the ocean withe help of a speedboat. Check out their facebook page for more details.
Head to the south coast to catch some decent waves for surfing. You can hire surf boards here too, so don't worry if you have not brought your own!
7. Eat, drink and be merry!
On the East coast head to Scallywags or the Beach House for some fantastic freshly caught seafood which is barbecued to order. Served with your choice from the salad bar, this is one of my favorites after a day's diving or paddle boarding! YOu can also sip your beer whilst looking out at views of Lombok and Rinjani, or watch the flying fish trying to escape larger underwater predators!
For the only Indian cuisine on the island, check in to Pesona Resort. Lounge in the beachfront restaurant, smoke a sheesha, choose a cocktail (the Pesona specials are one of a kind!) and enjoy authentic Indian dishes such as delicious Tandoori, curries and snacks such as samosas and giant poppadoms.
On the West coast of the island a must visit is Le Pirate. The cutest little place with a fantastic sunset, order the Thai BBQ. A do-it-yourself enormous hot plate that you throw fresh calamari, tuna or chicken onto and fresh vegetables into the surrounding boiling water. Just as amazing for hangover cure breakfasts (much needed after a Gili T party night!) They also have a beautiful infinity pool, as well as cocktails and ice-cold beers to get you through the day.
Local food is also readily available, and is cheap, quick and easy. Great for a bite before a big party night! Visit the night market if you fancy a bit of hustle and bustle and some bartering, big portions, fresh fish, Nasi Campur, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goreng are the favorites, there is also a massive cake stall for those with a sweeter tooth.
Break up a busy day with a trip to La Dolce Vita. A daytime Italian restaurant with the best pizza and iced cappuccinos on the island at lunch time!
8. Ride on horse back along one of the beautiful beaches
Stud horse riding adventures have a gang of beautiful horses who you can choose from and ride along the sandy stretch of beach along the South east coast. A great day time activity for all the family, a special time for loved up couples, you can time it right and catch the sunset. A memorable experience unique to Gili Trawangan.
9. Island hop all the way to Lombok
Visit Gili Meno and Gili Air for the day by taking a public boat. Leaving from 9am, they run throughout the day, the last ones picking you up at 3pm. Gili Air is the second largest island and has beautiful beaches, bars and restaurants. Both islands are great for snorkeling as the boat traffic is not as busy as Trawangan. Gili Meno is the smallest and the quietest, walk around the island and check out the salt water lake in the middle. Look out for wildlife in the abandoned resorts that are no longer open to the public!
You can also take a day trip to Lombok. For around Rp15,000 one way, jump on an early public boat, grab a taxi at the other side and check out one of the waterfalls, Senaru for example. If you have a bit longer, head down south to Kuta Lombok to surf, sunbathe and explore the numerous secluded bays dotted along the coastline.
10. Listen to live music
Sama Sama, Rudy's, Coral Beach 2 as well as more and more bars along the East coast have live local bands. With music ranging from Reggae to pop to indie there is something for everyone. Take a stroll after dinner and pop in to whichever one takes your fancy at the time. Grab a bintang, sit back, relax and enjoy....
The main thing to do in the Gilis is to enjoy them. Enjoy the views, enjoy the vibes and enjoy the people, because, if you are anything like me, when you leave, you will never be able to forget it!
If you have any questions about anything else at all please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We can help you with anything from accommodation, transfers to and from the island, visa information and much more!
Visit the Gilis! You will not regret it!
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