Gili Trawangan

804707_10153576399598235_1871388483_n 10621930_10153576399628235_454952427_n 12212352_10153576399703235_189155537_n 12380204_10153576399723235_1896272778_n 12825101_10153576399448235_1307652633_n 12834481_10153576399408235_1400391563_n 12834503_10153576399373235_532304906_n 12834735_10153576399693235_541772389_n 12834750_10153576399493235_456444721_n 12834772_10153576399533235_1802652266_n 12834846_10153576399438235_1098576341_nGili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan is not for the faint hearted (or weak-livered!) Despite its reputation as a Mecca for the hard partying crowd, this island has a lot more to offer than just an epic nightlife (although that it certainly has).

The basics

We spent 3 days on Gili T (as it is affectionately known by most travellers – try saying “Trawangan” a couple of times after one too many Arak cocktails and you’ll jump on this particular bandwagon), which felt simultaneously like a lifetime, and barely long enough to look around. The island is small, around 15km in diameter, and is a mixture of unpaved dirt tracks and haphazard cobbles, but not a real road in sight. There aren’t any real hostels due to local regulations, but wealthier travellers will discover a spattering of high-end hotels, while those of us on a budget are spoilt for choice in the $20-a-night bungalow department. 12825101_10153576399448235_1307652633_n

What to expect

Don’t expect hot water. Or aircon. And don’t even get me started on the WiFi! But why go all the way to Gili T just to sit in your room on Facebook!? As long as you can get at least one picture a day on Instagram (because what’s the point in being on a tropical island if everyone back in the office doesn’t know and isn’t insanely jealous). I didn’t feel clean the entire time I was there, thanks to a combination of my penchant for going barefoot, the soaring temperatures, and a showerhead with water pressure about as good as being gently dribbled on. But I digress – the point is that basic necessities that seem indispensable on the main land are no longer a concern when you’re living Island Life.


If you’re a light sleeper, it would probably pay to choose accommodation as far as possible from the Mosque, which is the source of a fairly piercing call to prayer multiple times a day, usually commencing pre-dawn. The population in this part of Indonesia are predominantly Muslim, but – despite the “No bikinis in the streets” signs – very tolerant of tourist behaviour. The streets are pretty safe, and in my anecdotal experience there’s not a lot of crime, so the biggest danger after a large one is being unable to find your way back to your room (trust me, the struggle is real).


Start your night at the local night market – with its sprawl of plastic chairs and tables, and great billows of smoke, it’s hard to miss. Actually, you’ll more than likely smell it before you see it! Multiple vendors set up there daily, lying out an array of delicious local dishes which are served up in a wicker basket on a banana leaf. Try the Urap Urap (coconut vegetables), Serombotan (spicy soy vegetables), the Pangang chicken… actually, just grab some of everything. At 20,000 for five choices you can afford to get adventurous! Top your big vege plate with some fresh skewers, grilled over an open charcoal grate. I opted for the chicken and mahi-mahi, but the grilled calamari also got rave reviews! The only thing I wouldn’t sample is the island “Beef” – a Canadian travelling companion spotted the island cows grazing on a rubbish heap, chewing huge mouthfuls of dirty nappies, so the quality of the meat may not be quite on par back home. 12834750_10153576399493235_456444721_n12834735_10153576399693235_541772389_n12834503_10153576399373235_532304906_n


Once you’ve sufficiently lined your stomach, head to one of the many happy hours which line the main (and only noteworthy) street by the pier – 60,000 should get you a couple of mojitos, while a large Bintang will usually set you back about 30,000. From here, the world is your oyster! Partake in a game of Beer Pong at Tir Na Nog, the Island’s resident Irish bar (albeit owned by an American, disappointing), and let the local bar staff entertain you with dubious magic tricks and fancy origami. Pop in to Sama Sama  Reggae bar to hear a local rendition of one of Bob Marley’s finest, and enjoy a cold drink with some full blown Indo-rastafarians (is that a thing?) If dirty hip hop is more your thing, head in to Jiggy Jig (where again you can play beer pong) and get down with a good mix of backpackers, locals and the mandatory drunk Australians. 12834772_10153576399533235_1802652266_n 12834846_10153576399438235_1098576341_n A post-party dip in the ocean may seem a good idea, but keep an eye on your gear! You wouldn’t be the first skinny dipper to lose an outfit to opportunistic pranksters (or thieves).


Time your visit to Gili T so that you’re there for a Wednesday or a Saturday – these are the days Jiggy runs their legendary boat parties! 350,000 for guys, 200,000 for girls will get you 5+ hours cruising the harbour on a dive boat, with swim stops at Lombok, round of shots, and a free drink on entering the boat. The boat is lush, the music loud, and the tour guides were heaps of fun. Make sure you kick off with a shot of Vodka Joss at the bar before departing! (Honestly, Vodka Joss is the actual best. If you don’t know what it is… Only one way to find out). 12834481_10153576399408235_1400391563_n

Eat More

Make sure you partake in a legendary buffet breakfast the next morning to try and mend your broken body. Hangovers are hard, but I’m yet to find a problem that 4 plates of scrambled eggs, a mountain of fruit and bottomless cups of tea can’t fix! The Sails restaurant offers an excellent selection of western (sausages, bacon, grilled tomato and mushroom, eggs, baked beans, toast etc), Indonesian (nasi goring, mi goring, various meaty curries), and lighter options (fresh tropical fruit, house made granola, bran flakes, probiotic yoghurt), for 90,000 a head including endless tea and coffee. If you’re smart, like us, you’ll park up here for several hours in the sun, and do some serious investigation into the meaning of “all-you-can-eat”. 12212352_10153576399703235_189155537_n12834750_10153576399493235_456444721_n  

Final Words

Gili T is hard to put into words. There are so many amazing boat journeys, snorkel trips, dive expeditions, and animal adventures to be had. Go to Turtle cove or Shark point and get up close with some aquatic oddities, or just laze in a hammock on the beach (fresh coconut optional). While I probably wouldn’t take my kids there, it’s worth a visit even for those who aren’t into the partying scene. Gili T left its mark, not just on my body and wallet, but deep down in my heart, and I know I’ll be returning one day!

Ruby Yeats

I would love to describe myself as a full-blown travel writer – sharing tales of endlessly roaming, discovering new places, new people, new things. Unfortunately, I have subscribed to the phenomenon that we in the adult world call ‘a job’, so my writing is limited to the fullest extent my annual leave will allow. Believe it or not, even a corporate lawyer can tear herself away from the office from time to time, and I’m lucky enough to have accumulated a few stamps on my passport in the past 23 years – but there’s always another horizon on the list.