Some tropical island holidays are about little more than lazing on the sand working on your tan, but Gili Trawangan is far from one of those beach holidays.
Sure, Gili Trawangan is surrounded by pristine white sandy beaches and clear turquoise waters, but this is also an island with activities to ensure you have a once in a lifetime experience. Here’s our top 8 list of things to do on Gili Trawangan.
Important Notice: August 2018 there was a series of earthquakes that hit Lombok. We recommend checking each of these activities before making plans.
Gili Trawangan: Snorkelling
Gili Trawangan: Beach
When we talk about the Gili Trawangan beach, we are ultimately talking about the entire spanse of beach that surrounds the island because all of it is available for your usual ocean and sand antics. By any measure, that is a lot of spectacular beach to choose from during one holiday.
Gili Trawangan beaches are tropical island paradise. Long stretches of white sandy shore to laze about reading a book under the warm Indonesian sun, or play a beach side game of bat ball. The ocean is exactly what you would expect from an Indonesian island; clear tepid waters of bright turquoise hues. The ocean floor in most places is sandy but there are patches with reef floor the are ideal for spotting marine life.
If you were to choose just one Gili Trawangan beach to spend your time it would be impossible to choose, aside from selecting based on popularity to suit your requirements. Certainly this is the island to holiday at if you enjoy marine life and beach days, and in just a few hours it’s possible to walk the entire island circumference changing ocean side position if you desired.
Ferry’s to Gili Trawangan dock at the jetty on the Eastern side of the island which has one of the longest stretches of beach. This is also where most of the islands restaurants and guest houses are close to, but all that convenience comes at a cost; busy patches and a higher end of the social spectrum. If you like beach activities, short walks to cocktails and souvenirs this is a great stretch of Gili Trawangan beach.
The eastern side of the island is also an ideal spot for snorkelling without needing to take a boat from the shore. For around $10USD/day snorkelling sets can be hired and there is a marked area for turtle spotting.
The North Western side of the island is another popular option with excellent sea side bars and restaurants, wide stretches of sand and swimmable ocean. For some reason this side isn’t as popular during the shoulder season which makes it a place to go for all the same excellent services at the eastern part, but with less people to share it with.
Gili Trawangan beaches on the Southern and South West sections of the island are best for snorkelling and marine life. This is where more of the ocean floor is reef, and fewer people spend their time. The sand here is still pristine and you’ll receive an almost deserted vibe in spending your days here.
Gili Trawangan: Restaurants
There are plenty of options to dine out, when it comes to Gili Trawangan and it’s easy to stay on the main street at some of the popular eatery’s: after sun down the main strip of sand near the reggae bar turns into side by side seafood restaurants where you choose your own pieces, they are weighed to calculate price, and cooked right there in front of you. This is a must do at least once because you won’t be beaten for flavour, value and atmosphere. But off the main street are a few hidden gems too.
Gili Frame is a fun option, and possibly the best value on the island. You’ll be seated outside, away from the bustle of the wild Gili Trawangan night life, and have the opportunity to sink back cheap cocktails too.
I go Korean is by far the tasty place to eat on Gili Trawangan. This is the place to go for lunch every day until you have tried everything on the menu. The beef soup is a must-do.
Gili Trawangan: Turtle Conservation
Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno have taken an initiative to grow the turtle population by setting up hatchery’s on each of these islands. There are plenty of rumours that the one on Gili Meno is the main hatchery where turtle welfare is the primary focus, and it’s difficult to know if rumours of the Gili Trawangan hatchery being more of a sham have any fact behind them.
That said; Gili Trawangan’s small hatchery is situated on the main road, next to the ocean. It’s hard to miss because it’s consistently flooded with tourists eagerly watching the turtles swim around in the three pools. The facilities are basic, but the value comes in learning from the team who run the hatchery. Ask them anything and they’d be happy to talk about their project.
Contrary to the name, the turtles don’t actually hatch at the hatchery. They hatch on the shores of the island, in the wild, and the locals collect them for the hatchery. This is so that the turtles have more of an opportunity to survive; if they were left in the wild most would be eaten by predators.
No trip to Gili Trawangan is complete without a look at baby turtles swimming, but there is no substitute for seeing them swim wildly in the ocean either.
Gili Trawangan: Hike
On the Southern tip of Gili Trawangan is a short hike known as The Lookout. This is the place where once stood important features of the WWII days ordered to protect the people of Lombok. Now days all that remains are snippets of old bunkers and a machine gun, and aside from a somewhat eerie atmosphere, The Lookout is an otherwise ideal viewpoint of Lombok.
The climb is an enjoyable hike taking between 20 – 30 minutes to reach the top. Under the heat of the Indonesian sun the climb requires moderate fitness and steady footing. The track has a few minor trails leading to the main one. Entry points are easy form the main road; make your way to Sunset Bar where close by are a few steps among the foliage and a small sign leading to the lookout. There is an entrance form behind the stables here too, though this is a steeper ascent up a series of concrete steps.
As the highest point on the island, The Lookout offers beautiful views of the surrounding Lombok Islands, beaches to the West, and the main town and mosque to the North East.
On your list of things to do on Gili Trawangan, this short climb to the lookout is a must do for watching sunrise over Lombok or sunset over the West.