Gili Trawangan is a small island off the coast of Bali, part of the Gili Islands, along with Gili Meno and Gili Air. It’s about a 2 hour boat ride (on a fast boat) from Bali and famous for snorkelling. Of the three Gilis, it’s got the biggest party scene, but if you’re looking for some down time, that’s easily avoidable. And if you’re looking for a bit of a party, with the option to chill, this island is perfect.
Important to know though, is that the island is certainly not “cheap” for South Africans. For Australians, Americans and Europeans, yes, but for us, not really. Expect to spend around R60-R100 a cocktail, R30-R45 a beer and R70-R100 a meal. If you’re picturing Thailand prices, you’ll be shocked. Also important to know is that sunscreen is really expensive, so take loads!
That said, we absolutely loved our trip, and wouldn’t take our stay on Gili T back for anything!
How to get there
Gili Getaways is a good boat company to go with. Ticket prices include transfers from your hotel to the port, and from the port back to your hotel. The service is excellent and includes sunscreen, wifi, water and cold towels upon arrival. It’s also one of the fastest boats, so you’ll leave Bali at 9am and arrive at 11:20am. It’s one of the more expensive boats, but worth it for speed, safety and quality experience.
Tip: The sun is much hotter than you think. Seriously. So be super vigilant about sunscreen. I got burned to a crisp on the boat and was peeling violently on my sister’s wedding day.
Getting around on the island
When arriving on the island, you’ll need to get a horse drawn carriage known as a Cidomo (say chi-doh-moh). The price from the east to the west should cost about R150 (150 000 rupiah). If you don’t feel comfortable using animal transport, you’ll need to get your luggage to the hotel via bicycle, since there is no motorised transport on the island – so in that case, pack light.
What to pack
Realistically you’ll only really need a swimsuit, a couple of light dresses, a sarong and a hat. Island style. It’s really hot, so you won’t need much to keep you warm.
Where to stay
We stayed at Le Pirate Beach Club and can’t recommend it highly enough. At R1500 per room per night (breakfast and wifi included), it’s one of the more expensive spots on the island, but totally worth it. Located on the west side (sunset side) of the island, you’re in the prime spot for incredible sunsets every day.
It’s also the far more chilled side of the island. On the east, the evenings are full of loud music and drunk people spilling into the streets – which is quite fun if that’s what you’re after. On the west, we enjoyed dinner on the beach followed by movies projected onto a big screen. Just what we needed to get us into the holiday spirit.
Our room had aircon and a private bathroom with an outdoor shower. Also a porch and a hammock for napping in. Le Pirate has two pools; one private, for hotel guests only, and one open to the public. They have a great pool bar and a beach bar and lots of deck chairs and beanbags for relaxing. There are hammocks on the beach where you could easily hang out all day. We ended up spending a lot of our time at the hotel pool, since it was just so nice!
The hotel is on the beach, but it’s not a swimming beach (coral). For that you’ll just need to ride about 500m along the beach.
Bicycling the island
The island is tiny, only 7km around. You can easily walk it, although it would be very hot. We got bicycles, which cost R60 a day. Then we cycled around the island, checking out the bars and restaurants along the way. We were always so happy to go home to our little cottage on the west, where there is a super laid-back vibe.
What to do
We wanted to go snorkelling and see the turtles, which the Gilis are famous for, but we weren’t keen on a big tourist boat. We found the contacts for Mario (+62 878 65262257) on Welikebali and booked a four hour trip with him for R250 per person for four of us (or 1000 000 rupiah). He was awesome and took us to three different snorkeling spots, including the famous Meno Wall, and stopped off at Gili Air for us to have lunch.
Where to eat
The food on Gili T was so good, especially at Le Pirate. We had lunch one day at Casa Vintage, which is super beautiful and serves Jamaican-Indonesian food. Yum! It’s so hot on the island, so we didn’t eat that much, most days just having breakfast and then dinner at Le Pirate. The menu includes local food and other tasty things like tacos, seafood and what they call Gili Fried Chicken. Scallywags and Kayu also came recommended, but we didn’t have time to eat there.
Gili T and especially Le Pirate was a dream trip, and the four days we spent there felt like a proper holiday. Absolutely dreamy!