Gili Trawangan has been a top Southeast Asian destination for years. Backpackers flock here for the nightlife, ocean-lovers come here for the epic snorkeling and diving, and beach bums travel here for the chill vibes and exceptional views. All types of travelers won’t have any problem finding things to do in Gili Trawangan, so long as they’re fond of the typical island life that is often slow-paced and laidback. Read on for our favorite things to do in Gili Trawangan:
1. Relax on the beach
There’s no better place in the world to do absolutely nothing than Gili T. Almost the entire shoreline is dotted with bean bag chairs under umbrellas, so you’re never far from your beach-lounging dreams. Order an ice-cold coconut at one of the many beach shacks and enjoy the turquoise water views. Our favorite spot to relax is Turtle Point, located on the east side. Head a little bit north of the main strip, past where most of the boats are docked. You’ll get unobstructed views and plenty of bean bags to choose from.
2. Go Snorkeling
Snorkeling is incredibly popular here and Gili T has the perfect conditions, with its warm water and high visibility. Gili Trawangan (and Indonesia in general) is also blessed with an incredibly diverse marine life so you can swim with sea turtles, lion fish, sea snakes, eels, octopus, and more on a regular basis. If you want to find some white or black-tipped sharks, head to “Shark Point” on the west side.
Mad Monkey Insider Tips:
Snorkel gear is available at many beach shacks around the island, especially around Turtle Point. You can expect to pay about IDR 25,000 for a mask and snorkel and an additional IDR 25,000 for fins (about $1.75 USD each).
3. Swim with sea turtles on Gili Trawangan
There are only a few places in the world where you’re nearly guaranteed to spot sea turtles, and Gili Trawangan is one of them! Head to Turtle Point on the east side, choose a bean bag chair to leave your things at, and dive into the dazzling water. Some days are luckier than others, with a dozen turtles sunbathing in the shallow water, making it easy to capture some photos of these ancient creatures. Other days you might have to swim a bit further out, closer to where there are boats anchored. The visibility is often better the deeper you go, and you can spot sea turtles grazing on the sea grass and reefs.
Mad Monkey Insider Tips:
When swimming in the ocean, be sure to wear reef-safe sunblock to prevent chemicals from harming the coral and marine life. Also, never touch sea turtles and keep a safe distance! Read more about swimming with sea turtles here.
4. Try other water activities
Stand up paddle boarding is a favorite past time of both locals and travelers alike. You can either go out for a leisurely paddle, or ask one of the locals to teach you how to surf and do tricks on the small waves. Other water sports you can try out include subwinging (getting towed by a boat to glide underwater), kayaking, surfing, parasailing, water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing. Peruse the different tour shops on the beach or ask your accommodation to arrange a trip for you. You can even learn free diving on Gili Trawangan, where they’ll teach you to dive 20 meters on one breath of air.
5. Make the trek up to the Gili Trawangan viewpoint
To get a bit of change of scenery, head up to the Gili Trawangan viewpoint. It’s only a 15 minute trek up through lush greenery and you’ll be rewarded with lovely ocean views. The best time of day of day to come is sunrise or sunset when the sky is often streaked with vibrant colors.
6. Cycle the island
With no cars or motorbikes allowed on the island, you’ll likely be renting a bicycle if you want to do some exploring. You can circumnavigate the island (with a few areas in the north where you’ll have to push your bike through sand) or cut through the middle where you’ll ride past cows and goats under rows of coconut trees. The roads in the middle of the island can be quite bumpy, as you’ll mostly be riding over dirt and rocks (and through huge puddles if it’s rainy season), so always be careful.
Mad Monkey Insider Tips:
Rentals can be found all around the island, with most accommodation options offering them as well for around IDR 40-50,000 per day ($3-3.50 USD). Be sure to check the brakes before renting them out and grab a lock, as it’s not uncommon for bikes to get stolen.
7. Relax at a cafe
Spend your morning or afternoon kicking back at one of Gili T’s quaint cafes. Order a beautiful smoothie bowl in a colorful cafe overlooking the ocean at Hellocapitano Lifestyle Cafe, grab a French pastry and coffee at La Boulangerie, or eat a fresh salad at Diversia. If you want a mix of Indonesian and western food, check out Kayu Cafe, and if you want a healthy dish, check out the vitality bowls at Casa Vintage. Check out our full list of the best cafes on Gili Trawangan for more.
8. Get your scuba diving certification
Gili Trawangan is a popular spot to get dive certified, due to its ideal conditions and reasonable prices. There are plenty of dive shops to choose from, with both PADI and SSI options and open water, advanced, rescue diver, and dive master courses.
9. Enjoy the nightlife
Gili Trawangan is famous amongst backpackers for its nightlife. On any given night, you’ll be able to enjoy drink specials and live music at one of the bars around the island. Start your night off on the west side, where you can enjoy an epic sundowner, accompanied by live music and a bonfire. Then head to the east “party” side where you can find joss shots for IDR 15,000 ($1 USD), 2-for-1 cocktails, and crowded dance floors playing every type of music. There’s one bar that will stay open past midnight each night, which is guaranteed to be packed. You’ll see a large banner alongside the bar of the night every day to direct you to that evening’s hotspot.
10. Catch some live music
Head to Sama Sama for live reggae music (Saturdays are the big nights here) or check out one of the beachside spots on the east side. Many of the “bars of the night” will also host a live band, playing all the classic backpacker songs you’ve come to love. The west side resorts and bars often have live music at sunset as well.
11. Dine at the Gili Trawangan night market
If you’re on a budget, the night market is the best place to get dinner. Open every single night, you can find seafood, skewers, and more traditional Indonesian food on the cheap. Eat at one of the benches on the beach alongside the market and meet other travelers and locals.
12. Get your yoga on
There are a few yoga studios on the island where you can try out some beach yoga or start your day with sunrise yoga. For a unique flow, try Fly High Yoga at Sunset Beach Yoga in their gorgeous stilted shala overlooking the ocean. To challenge yourself, try out stand up paddle board yoga at sunrise with Fly Gili SUP Yoga. If you’re interested in getting your yoga teacher training, Gili Yoga offers courses.
13. Take the famous Gili T swing photo
You’ve most likely seen photos of the famous ocean swings on the Gili islands. This picture-perfect view is an ideal way to capture sunset on Gili T, although it’s beautiful any time of day. You can find them around the entire island, but mostly on the west side. Head to Ombak Sunset if you want a shot at the OG swing.
14. Catch an epic sunset
Days on Gili Trawangan almost always end with a spectacular sunset. There are plenty of places to relax on the west side and enjoy the view with a Bintang in hand. The Exile is a popular backpacker spot, and Casa Vintage Beach has an amazing dessert menu you can enjoy while watching the evening show. You can even schedule a sunset horseback ride for an even more unique experience.
15. Visit the other Gili islands
While Gili Trawangan is known as the “party island”, Gili Meno is the “honeymoon island” and Gili Air is the “chill island”. It’s easy enough to make a day trip to these islands, or even stay overnight if you’re looking for a different vibe. Hop on the public boat to these islands at 9:30 a.m. or 4 p.m., which will only cost IDR 35,000 ($2.50 USD) to Meno and IDR 40,000 ($2.80 USD) to Air. The underwater Gili Meno statues are incredible and a trip to Meno is worth it just to see this amazing installation.
More Things to do in Gili Trawangan
Did you enjoy this article about things to do in Gili Trawangan? Are you extending your stay and looking for even more things to do in the Gili Islands? Then check out these articles we’ve rounded up to help plan your itinerary:
- 14 Fun Things to do in Gili Islands You Never Knew Existed by Dawn Pillay from TripCanvas
- Top 9 Things to do on Gili Trawangan from Wanderers and Warriors
- 12 Things to do in the Gili Islands That You Can’t Miss by Mike Still from Adventure in You
- 10 Best Things to do on the Gili Islands from Hotels.com
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