Gili Trawangan Travel Guide

Gili Trawangan is the most popular of the three Gili Islands. Right off the boat lie the white shores of Gili Trawangan; a bustling, yet laid back atmosphere that is felt throughout the whole island.

Gil Trawangan Introduction

Despite its small size, Gili Trawangan has a large selection of restaurants and bars that come alive at night; but it is still possible to find a quiet stretch of beach on which to enjoy the scenery, without being disturbed.

Gili Trawangan started out as a backpacker’s getaway and that vibe remains even to this day. Recently, however, there has been a spate of development around this island; like luxury villas with private pools and ambitious restaurants with aspiring menus.

If you like the tranquility of island life combined with the opportunity for fine dining and a roaring nightlife, then Gili Trawangan is the island for you.


Gili Trawangan Photo Gallery

Gili Trawangan beach huts at the Sunset BarWhite sand beach on Trawangans west coastGili Trawangan horseFruits Gili TrawanganGili Trawangan bikesGili Trawangan north eastern beach with Gili Meno and Lombok in the backgroundChess players Gili TrawanganSatays on the beach roadEasy Bar Gili TrawanganGili Trawangan souvenirsFamily time on Gili TrawanganGili Trawangan kid at the beach near the harbourView from the Gili Trawangan look outPalm grove near Kelapa villasEvening beach walk on Gili TrawanganSunset fire at Bar SunsetBeach huts at the Sunset BarFireshow at Sunset Bar Gili Trawangan Boutique on Gili Trawangan

Map

On the map of Gili Trawangan below, we have marked all the places mentioned in this guide. Click on one of the dots on the map to read a description of the location.

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Things to do on Gili Trawangan

Snorkel, scuba or free-dive Gili Trawangan

There is no good reason to miss out on the experience of scubadiving with the sea turtles of Gili Trawangan. Even for the more timid among you, the amazing snorkeling opportunities will be well worth the effort.

Snorkeling

The best spot for snorkeling on Gili Trawangan is from the north-eastern corner of the island down to the middle of the eastern coast. There is a great chance of coming across sea turtles on a snorkel on this stretch of coastline.

Scuba diving

If you prefer a more serious encounter with the deep blue, there are more than a dozen different dive operators on Gili Trawangan. They will take you across to one or more of the Gili Islands dive sites. With over 20 dive sites, there is no limit of places where you can swim with mantas, sharks, turtles and thousands of colorful fish. Read our Gili Islands dive guide for more information.

Below some of the more highly recommended dive operators:

Aquaddiction Dive

A small dive shop located on the main beach road on Gili Trawangan, with a bunch of professional and friendly instructors.

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Manta Dive

Located where the boats come in, Manta dive has long been one of the favorite dive centers on Gili Trawangan. The large dive pool and the two classrooms are great starting points for new scuba divers. The Manta Dive UV night dives are higly recommended.

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Diversia Diving

A relaxed and fun dive center, the equipment is new and well maintained and the instructors are knowledgeable.

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Free diving

Explore the underwater world of the Gili Islands with only the air in your lungs.

Freedive Gili

Freedive Gili will teach you safe breathing techniques and how to use the oxygen in your lungs efficiently, so that you can reach the depths in just one breath.

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Glass-bottomed boat trips

As an alternative to the usual snorkeling, take an amazing trip in a glass-bottomed boat and watch the schools of colorful fish and graceful turtles swimming right below you. You can find the boats on the main beach on Gili Trawangan's east oast.

Surfing

There is a break called Secrets, about 300 meters out from the south eastern corner of Gili Trawangan. The waters are fairly shallow and there is coral beneath the break, so surfing here is only recommended for experienced surfers. Although mostly good when breaking, the break can be a little inconsistent.

Boards can be rented at The Surf Bar just in front of the break.

Kayak around the island

Go sea-kayaking around the island and enjoy a lunch on one of Trawangan’s white beaches. With a small bit of luck, you could even come across manta rays and sea turtles during your trip.

Karma Kayak

Karma Kayak arranges sea kayaking tours. An expert guide will give you careful instructions before you get into the water, so there is no need to be an experienced kayaker to be able to join the tour.

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Yoga

It is hard to imagine you would feel at all stressed on the Gili Islands, but should you need to distress, a yoga session could very well be the solution.

Gili Yoga

Gili Yoga shares a location with the Gili Freedivers and gives you a choice of classes that will either make you sweat or slow your heartbeat.

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Play a game of tennis

If should feel like challanging your fellow travelers to a couple of sets of tennis Gili Trawangan has its own tennis court located at the Kelapa villas

Kelapa villas tennis court.

The Kelapa villas tennis court that can be rented on hourly basis. Rackets and balls can be rented as well.

Learn to cook Indonesian-style

Spend an afternoon with a hands-on cooking course. When you are done with the hard-work of cooking the meal, you may then tuck in to the final result, as you relax and dine alongside your fellow cooking students.

Gili cooking classes

Gili cooking class teaches you how to cook classic Indonesian dishes; like steamed fish in banana leaves, mie goreng and tasty peanut sauce. The atmosphere is fun and relaxed and it is one of those activities the entire family will enjoy.

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Sweet and Spicy Gili cooking school

Friendly cooking school where they teach you Indonesian classics, with time enough to enjoy a cold soft drink or beer while cooking up delicious meals.  Sweet and Spicy has both morning and evening classes and are happy to adjust the recipes if you have special dietary requirements.

Join the crowds gathering at Sunset

Every night at around 6 pm crowds gather on the south western coast of Gili Trawangan to watch the sun set behind the ocean and Bali’s Mount Agung. Most people head to one of the two bars located on the south eastern part of Trawangan, commonly known by the descriptive names Sunset Bar and Bar Sunset.

Sunset Bar

Sunset bar is the first you come by when you come from the southern beachroad. Enjoy the sunset with a drink. Don't get there too late if you want to sit in one of the small beach huts or at a table. When the sun has dissapeared you can enjoy a fireshow at the bar.

Bar Sunset

A bit further west than Sunset Bar you find Bar Sunset. Just befoe the suns starts to descend into the ocean a fire is lighted on the beach.

Join the Party Boat

If you can't wait to the party gets started at night you can join Gili Trawangan's party boat for some afternoon partying.

South Sea Nomads

In the late afternoon, the South Sea Nomad’s party boat sets sail; loaded with cold beers, it heads out for a cruise around the Gili islands. The trip also includes some snorkeling, a Thai dinner and glorious sunsets from the deck.

You can seek out the crew at Gili Hostel or at Manta Dive. South Sea Nomads can also take you on more tranquil overnight trips and does private charters as well. 

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Renew yourself wih a massage

After a day on the beach or a walk around the islands there is no better way to freshen up than with a treatment in one of Gili Trawangan’s spas or massage parlors. There are a couple of places along the beach road that offer massages or if you stay in a villa a masage at home can be arranged.

Exqisit

Exqisit is centrally located on Trawangan and offers massages with ocean views. You can choose among a wide arrays of treatments - Garra fish therapy, meditation labyrinth, hot and cold pools, ayurvedic therapy and much more.

Visit the Turtle hatchery

The Gili islands are very active in preserving turtles and you don't have to spend much time in the water around the islands to realize that they are doing a good job.

Trawangan turtle hatchery

Located between the beach and one of the busiest places along the beach road on Gili Trawangan, you can hardly miss the turtle hatchery; where young turtles swim in a large tank as they prepare to be released into the treacherous freedom of the sea.

Go shopping

Shopping on the Gili Trawangan has until recently been limited to small souvenirs, sunglasses, sunscreen and basic necessities, but recently a couple of stylish clothing stores have opened and brought fashion to Gili T.

Casa Vintage

One of the few places where shopaholics can get a fix on Gili Trawangan. The store is a little hidden down one of the small alleys leading away from the each road, opposite cafe Kecil. As the name indicates vintage clothing is what Casa Vintage has on the shelves.

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Innuendo

A small boutique located right in the midst of things selling elegant clothing designed by the French born designer Catherine Fourcard. Dresses, belts, bags and jewelry can be obtained at Innuendo.

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Explore the island on foot or bike

On foot you can walk around the island in 1.5 to 2 hours, if you don’t stop; but surely its better to take along swim wear, drinks and snacks and turn it into an adventurous half daytrip.

Alternatively you can rent a bike that will get you around the island a little faster. There are several places to rent out bikes along the beach road.


Dining on Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan truly has something for everyone when it comes to dining choices; Indonesian, French, Italian, Japanese, Indian and Thai to name but a few.

No matter your usual preference, don’t cheat yourself out of some deliciously fresh seafood that is also widely available on Gili Trawangan. Sit down at one of the small local stalls with a squeeze of lemon and a cold beer; or enjoy a more refined atmosphere at the water’s edge, with glass of chilled white wine in one of the beachside restaurants.

Ecco cafe Gili TrawanganEvening drink at Pearl Beach LoungeThe Cuckoo's nestGili Trawangan night marketLaid back dining at Sheesha restaurantLobster at Villa OmbakNight Market Gili TrawanganPizza cooking at Il Pirata

Our favorite restaurants

Although Gili Trawangan has an excellent selection of good restaurants there is a handful where we end up more often than not. Those are the ones listed below. There are definitely other good restaurants around, so use this guide as a starting for seeking out your own favorites.

Ko-Ko-Mo

Ko-Ko-Mo is Gili Trawangan’s most upscale restaurant. Prices are higher here than on most restaurants on the island, but so are the quality of the meals that are created by Ko Ko Mo’s ambitious kitchen. Dishes are a mix of Asian and Western cuisines and the quiet ambiance of the beach location is perfect for a romantic dinner for two.

Ko-Ko-Mo also has a good selection of wines that will please even the toughest connoisseur.

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The Night market

Not one restaurant, but rather a collection of small stalls, the Night market is a place where the local families gather to grill satays, prawns and fresh fish caught from the waters around the Gili Islands. There is a wide variety of local dishes here.

It can sometimes be difficult to get your hands on a table, especially for a large group, but the food is cheap and delicious, the atmosphere is cozy and this friendly setting serves to provide you with a unique local experience compared to the usual dining options on Gili Trawangan.

Il Pirata

Despite being away from the main drag, Il Pirata is a popular restaurant whose pizzas attract the hungry crowds. With Italian owners and a smoky wood oven, it’s our guess that you won’t find a more authentic Italian pizza on any tropical island around the world. (On second thought, the pizzas from Vista Mare on Gili Meno could be another contender for the title)

Scallywags

The Vilondo team never leave the island without going past Scallywags for a decadent taste of their brownie and mint ice cream. Scallywags comes highly-recommended with its generous menu of meats, tapas and pastas. There is also a large selection of grilled fish and tasty seafood on the menu, if you are looking for a more nourishing meal.

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Cafe Kecil

Our go- to place for simple and tasty food, this café is located a little back from the beach (a stone throw from Il Pirata). Café Kecil has a little bit of everything; Thai, Indonesian, pastas and sandwiches. It is great value for money and the quality of the food and warm atmosphere is a slice above its competitors.

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Other restaurants on Gili Trawangan

Beach House Restaurant

This beachside restaurant with barbeque seafood lets you pick your favorite from the fresh fish on display. Lobster, prawns, crabs as well as local and imported fish are among the many options. Meat lovers can ask to have a cut of Australian beef or some ribs put on the barbeque.

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Ryoshi Japanese and sushi restaurant

Tir Na Nog's sister restaurant and so far the only place on the Gili Islands to have sushi. If you have non-sushi lovers in your company, the menu from Tir Na Nog is available at Ryoshi.

Pesona Indian & Sheesha Restaurant

A centrally-located Indian restaurant. Ingredients are imported from India giving the curries, tandooris and chutneys a true Indian flavor. End your dinner in the lounging area complete with yoga mats and sheesha pipes.

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Blu d'aMare

A small, cozy Italian trattoria popular for their perfect grilled seafood and authentic Italian dishes. The owners are Italian and the bread and pasta is homemade.

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La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is a small café offering what very well could be the best coffee on the island, pastries, cakes, pizza slices and pastas, done the Italian way. This popular place is only open during the day and if you get there too late in the afternoon chances are that your favorites will be sold out.

Pearl Beach Lounge

Pearl Beach sums up everything that the Gili Islands are about. An elegant bamboo construction located on one of the islands whites stretches of sand, lounge chairs overlooking turquoise water and Lombok and good selection of foods and cocktails. The only problem, it’s so hard to get up from the loungers again.

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Danima Restaurant

Sand between your toes, candles on the table and the sound of the waves slowly rolling onto the beach. No need to look further if you a looking for the perfect spot for a romantic dinner. It is not just the location that makes Danima worth a visit, the Italian style grilled fish and seafood is also among the very best on Gili Trawangan.

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Nightlife Gili Trawangan

The nightlife on Gili Trawangan can be anything from enjoying a drink to listening to one of the local reggae bands to dancing in one of the bars until sunrise.

Traditionally Monday, Wednesday and Friday have been the big nights for going out on Gili Trawangan, but in the high season, there are parties happening almost every night. Thursdays are the exception, since majority of the locals follow Muslim customs. During the observance of Ramadan there is also a restriction on the noise levels from the bars, which makes things on the island a little calmer; but never fear the bars will still be open for business.

If you want to stay out until the early hours of the morning, it depends on the weekday as to the best place to go. On Mondays, the Blue Marlin is the host of the party; on Wednesdays, the Irish Bar (Tir Na Nog) and on Fridays, go to Rudy’s.

Popular Bars

Many of the restaurants around Gili Trawangan doubles as bars, so finding a place to enjoy an evening drink isn’t difficult, but the bars mentioned below are the liveliest places on the island.

The Irish Pub (Tir Na Nog)

Early in the evening Tir Na Nog operates as a restaurant, but as the evening progresses, less food is served while plenty of drinks start to flow on to the tables. The volume of the music is gradually turned up and the bartenders start the dancing while they serve the crowd that starts to gather.

Wednesdays, a DJ will be playing all through the night as the patrons pour in from the streets. Check the restaurant section for further details.

Blue Marlin

Blue Marlin is a dive center, but on Monday nights it transforms into the island’s biggest party venue; with four bars, a DJ and of course, lots of dancing.

Rudy’s Pub Gili

Practically an institution when it comes to nightlife on Gili Trawangan, Rudy’s is fairly lively on most nights, but especially on a Friday, when the locals and the tourists party it up together.

A note of warning: Even though Rudy’s is one of the islands most popular bars it also seems to attract some of the islands more shady characters and there are reports of Rudy’s serving cocktails containing methanol. Our advice is to stick to Bintang.

Sama Sama

Sama Sama has live music on most nights, usually with local reggae bands playing. If you have some musical talent yourself, it’s not uncommon that you will be welcomed on to the stage to perform.

Top End Bar

Your best alternative if are staying in the north. If you are looking for a late night out you will need to head further south at around midnight, when the music is turned off. Until then, you can enjoy the perfect location on the beach while drinking cocktails and listening to reggae music in the lounge chairs.

The Surf Bar - Full and dark moon parties

Twice a month, according to the lunar calendar, there is a full and dark a moon party on the Gili Islands. The party takes place right on the beach at The Surf Bar, on the southern part of Gili Trawangan; the party rocks and DJ’s play dance music until the sun rises over the ocean.


Gili Trawangan villas

Gili Trawangan has a wide range of villas - from large opulent villas, sleeping several families to small intimate one-bedroom villas ideal for couples seeking a romantic hideaway. If you prefer to stay close to restaurants and nightlife, look for a villa in the south. If tranquility is your main priority you should have a look at the villas in the calmer north.

You can browse through some of Trawangan’s most popular villas in the gallery below or visit our Gili villas page:

All villas on the Gili Islands.


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