Indonesia’s party island has much more to offer than beach parties and late-night bars. This paradise island is home to stunning marine life, friendly locals and delicious food. If you’re looking for things to do in Gili Trawangan, keep reading for my ultimate to-do list…
Hit the Beach
Gili Trawangan’s beaches are stunning, and make the perfect location to spend a good portion of the day. The whole island is pretty tiny, so you can easily wander around until you find somewhere you feel comfortable. White sands, crystal clear water and endless sunshine make Gili Trawangan one of the best places to chill.
If you’re already into diving or want to work towards getting your PADI, Gili Trawangan has a huge range of dive shops to choose from. If you fancy something more casual, join an adventure dive and get stuck in. After a quick safety and training session, you’ll be ready to see some of the stunning marine life that Gili T is home to. Turtles are one of the main attractions here, but just remember the golden rule – look, don’t touch!
On the note of turtles, make a stop at Gili T’s turtle sanctuary for one of the cutest things do in Gili Trawangan. Make a small donation and see baby turtles being looked after before being released back into the ocean.
If you’re lucky, you’ll turn up on a release day and will actually get to witness them making their way back to the water. This is just one of the amazing initiatives set up across the Gili islands to protect the marine life, so is well worth heading to. It might not be a huge place to visit, but it’s definitely having a big impact!
If you don’t fancy yourself as a diver, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore the reef. Snorkel masks and fins can be rented easily and cheaply from pretty much anywhere on the island. Respect the ocean and watch where you step. Big efforts have been taken to preserve the coral and reef as much as possible here, so go steady.
Stand-Up Paddle boarding is one the best things to do in Gili Trawangan, whether you’re a first-timer or a pro. Needless to say, I was a first-timer, and a wobbly one at that! You can rent a board from pretty much anywhere on the beach for a small fee and take it out for an hour or so.
If you’re nervous, go on a SUP tour – they’ll take you out, teach you how to paddle and will take you out to some of the best sight-seeing spots. Just remember to slap on lots of sunscreen first, as it gets really hot out there on the open water, and time flies. I ended up staying out for two hours by accident on a tour, as we all got carried away turtle-hunting!
Gili T might get pretty lively during the evenings, but there is still plenty of room for calm and quiet. We found a fantastic little spa tucked up above the main street, with none of the hustle and bustle below. Fresh drinks and cold towels were presented upon arrival, which is always greatly appreciated in the hot weather. We got to sample each of the massage oils on our skin to see which one we felt most ‘connected’ to before heading to the treatment rooms. Needless to say, the massages were amazing! Definitely one of the more indulgent things to do in Gili Trawangan.
Wind down at the end of the day with a sunset Bintang and take it the beauty of the island at night. The sunset side of the island is dotted with cool beach bars and restaurants, so set up camp and get settled into a beanbag. One of my favourite places to visit in the evening was Villa Ombak – they have an outdoor cinema and delicious food to enjoy as it gets darker.
If you’re still hungry, head to the night market with an empty stomach, and sample some great local food. Everything here is well priced, and there’s a really fun atmosphere to the whole event. This is a great place for anyone travelling alone, as it’s packed with heaps of other travellers and tourists.
There’s a huge range of food here, from barbequed seafood to tempe skewers and incredible sweet treats. Don’t worry if you’re veggie, as there are lots of non-meat options available! It’s located near the harbour, so head here in the early evening to stock up. Eating was definitely one of my favourite things to do in Gili Trawangan.
Getting a tattoo is a lifetime commitment, so make sure you think your decision through fully before getting inked! Everall Tattoo Studio in Gili T offers traditional bamboo tattoos – one of the only places I’ve been able to find in Indonesia that does. This studio is clean and professional, as well as super relaxed and friendly. They tend to run on a minimum price basis, starting at around $70.
What list of things to do in Gili Trawangan would be complete without mentioning the buzzing nightlife? Gili T is renowned as being a ‘party island’, and it’s not hard to see why. The main strip of bars and clubs gets really busy and there’s always a great atmosphere.
There are full moon parties, and dark/ new moon parties, each month over at Villa Ombak. If your visit doesn’t happen to coincide with either of these, don’t worry, there are still heaps of bars to choose from. There are different main bars to head to each night, so check with your hostel to find out where the big parties are at.
You can also fulfil every travel-party fantasy and book a night with Jiggy’s for the best boat parties around – what better way to meet new people and let your hair down?
Gili T has so much to offer, and part of the joy of this island is simply wandering around. This beautiful paradise is all about slowing down and enjoying life. Take a few days out of your travel schedule to sunbathe, snorkel and eat as much food as possible.