The Ultimate Dive and Travel Guide to Gili Trawangan

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Gili Trawangan is part of three small islands off of the coast of Lombok, and a short boat ride away from the island of Bali. Each of the islands have their own vibe and reputation with Gili Trawangan known for being the island with the best nightlife. Though the island itself is small, you’ll easily fill your days snorkeling, diving, doing yoga, dining, sunbathing, shopping, socializing, and more. After just a day here, it’s easy to see why many travelers come to stay for a few days and end up staying for weeks.

In 2018, Gili Trawangan was hit by a series of strong earthquakes, causing many of the buildings to crumble. Fortunately, thanks to the dedication of the locals and expats living on Gili Trawangan, the island is open and all international safety notices have been lifted. There are plenty of hotels, restaurants, shops, and dive shops welcoming travelers. The quick rebuilding of Gili Trawangan is a testament to the strength and hospitality of the people who live there.

If in doubt, go! You won’t regret it. 

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting Gili Trawangan including where to stay, where to dive, and where to surf. 

Travel Guide to Gili Trawangan

  1. Why visit Gili Trawangan?
  2. The best time to visit Gili Trawangan?
  3. Accommodation in Gili Trawangan
  4. How to get around
  5. Top things to do in Gili Trawangan
  6. Other essential facts

Dive Guide to Gili Trawangan

  1. The best dive sites in Gili Trawangan
  2. The best time to go diving in Gili Trawangan
  3. What you can expect to see in Gili Trawangan
  4. The best scuba diving schools in Gili Trawangan
  5. The best freediving schools in Gili Trawangan

Surf Guide to Gili Trawangan

  1. The best time surf in Gili Trawangan
  2. The best surf spots in Gili Trawangan

Why visit Gili Trawangan?

Gili Trawangan is a D.I.Y. adventure island. Are you the type of traveler who can’t sit still for long? Or do you love to spend your holiday relaxing on a beach? Are you a partier with a penchant for strong cocktails, or are you a wellness guru in the making? No matter your interests or travel style, Gili Trawangan welcomes all. Its mix of beaches, activities, yoga shacks, bars, restaurants, and dive centers make it a place where you can be as adventurous or relaxed as you want.

Gilli Trawangan is a scuba diver’s paradise. With warm water, thriving reefs, shipwrecks, and sea turtles galore, you won’t get bored of blowing bubbles in Gili Trawangan. This island is also ideal for freedivers and snorkelers. Many of the dive boats venture to sites off of Gili Meno and Gili Air, so you won’t be limited in where you go.

Is it safe to visit Gili Trawangan? After the earthquakes, most travelers want to know if the Gili Islands are safe to visit. All international travel warnings have been lifted for the Gili Islands (at the time of publication). Earthquakes and tsunamis are impossible to predict and the entirety of Indonesia is located on the “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates meet and earthquakes are likely to happen. As of now, the Gili Islands are open and ready for visitors. You will see rubble and construction happening around as the island rebuilds, but all paths are clear to move around.

The best time to visit Gili Trawangan

The Gili Islands are drier than the Bali and Lombok, making it an ideal spot to visit even during the rainy season (November to April). The dry season with the best weather lasts from May until October. Even when it does rain, the clouds tend to pass over the island quickly and you won’t be stuck in it for long.

If you want to beat the crowds and hiked accommodation prices, we recommend visiting outside of July and August.

Where to stay in Gili Trawangan

Gili Treehouses ($$$)

Channel your inner Jane at Gili Treehouses, a set of one and two-bedroom villas located on Gili Trawangan’s more peaceful side — just a five minute walk to the beach. Each villa is treehouse style and comes with a private pool, bicycle use, wifi, air conditioning, and open-air lounge area. This is one of our favorite spots for those who like to have unique, adventurous stays.

Pink Coco Gili Trawangan ($$)

You’ll know you’ve stumbled upon Pink Coco Gili Trawangan once you see its bubblegum pink building, boats, and beachside lounge chairs. Pink Coco takes pride in its appearance — where there’s no such thing as being too bright or too lively. All rooms come with a fan, air conditioning, hot water showers, a TV, and outdoor lounge bed. Wear pink for special discounts!

Pesona Beach Resort ($$)

Pesona Beach Resort is a favorite of ours thanks to its location, stunning decor, and friendly staff. It’s the best place to stay if you plan to do a lot of diving as the resort is attached to Dive Central Gili. Rooms are colorfully decorated and come with air conditioning, a TV, hot water, and drinking water. There are two pools onsite with one of them being reserved for guests only. Lounge in the restaurant to enjoy sea views and people watching. Consider this a diver’s paradise!

Moana Homestay ($)

Moana Homestay is run by a friendly couple who often welcome their guests with warm smiles and homemade cookies. The communal area has a colorful, welcoming vibe and the rooms are basic but clean. If you’re looking to make friends and stay somewhere central (without spending a fortune), Moana Homestay is a no-brainer. The staff can help you organize budget snorkel and other adventure trips as well.

How to get to and around Gili Trawangan

You can reach Gili Trawangan via private fast boat or by public ferry. Boats go to and from the three Gili Islands every few hours.

There are no cars or motorbikes on Gili Trawangan — which helps explain why it’s such a peaceful place to visit. You can rent a bicycle for 30k-50k IDR per day and cycle anywhere. A leisurely lap around the island takes about two hours. The main stretch of Gili Trawangan can be traversed on foot.

There are also small horse-drawn carriages that go around the island called cidomos. While some of the cidomos are well-cared for, we do not recommend using cidomos for transportation. Many of them are overworked in the high heat and humidity, and are under excess stress due to the construction needed to rebuild Gili Trawangan. Book your accommodation close to the boats and walk or cycle instead. Where to eat in Gili Trawangan

Top things to do in Gili Trawangan

Yoga: Bend and strech at one of Gili Trawangan’s handful of yoga centers. Freedive Gili hosts an array of yoga classes daily. Our favorite is Sunset Beach Yoga, where you can practice aerial yoga on a wooden platform that overlooks the sea.

Snorkel: Search for sea turtles off the coast of Gili Trawangan! Since the fringing reefs are quite shallow, it’s easy to spot a lot of creatures from the surface.

Cycle around the island: A great thing about Gili Trawangan is its lack of motor transportation. The best way to get around is by bike! Cycle around the island or head inland, following wherever the path takes you. Since the island is so small, it’s hard to get lost — and it’s not a big deal if you do.

Party: Gili Trawanagan is one of the best party islands in all of Indonesia. Every night, different bars take turns hosting the biggest party of the week. Join a pub crawl or bounce from place to place in search of the best music. Then, do it all again the next night.

Standup Paddleboard: Explore the reef-protected calm waters surrounding Gili Trawangan from a standup paddleboard. There are organized paddleboard classes and trips, or you can rent them by the hour.

Beachside movie nights: Enjoy a movie under the stars! Many resorts host a sunset movie night that ends just before the parties begin.

Other essential information

The Gili Islands have water shortages and no reliable method of rubbish collection. Being conscious of your water and plastic consumption is a must.

Download Refill My Bottle to see exactly where you can refill your water bottle for free or for just a few cents.

Refill station at Pesona Dive Resort

The coral reefs around the Gili Islands are sensitive and under a lot of stress due to the number of tourists going in and out of the water. Wear a rash guard and leggings to cut down your use of sunscreen. When you do put it on, make sure that your sunscreen is reef safe.

Pack a reusable bag and straw to help cut down on single use plastics in the Gilis.

Since the Gili Islands are predominantly Muslim, you’re likely to hear the call to prayer multiple times per day. Bring a pair of earplugs and pick a hotel that’s away from the main mosque if you’re a light sleeper.

The best dive sites in Gili Trawangan

Halik: A coral reef that ranges from 10 to 25 meters in depth with a vast variety of reef fish, octopus, reef sharks, eels, scorpionfish, and lion fish. Turtles are often spotted towards the 15 meter mark and above. Advanced open water students often complete their deep dive at Halik.

Deep Turbo: Hang around the dive guides long enough and you’ll often hear them rave about Deep Turbo, a large coral bommie accented with Gorgonian sea fans. Here, you’ll see a variety of reef fish as well as an abundance of interesting macro life like nudis and pygmy seahorses (often camouflaged in the sea fans). The good stuff starts at 18 meters, so this site is typically reserved solely for those who have their advanced certification.

Shark Point: What Shark Point lacks in currents, it makes up for in abundant sea life. This coral reef is home to green sea turtles, octopus, eels, and white tip reef sharks who tuck away under the coral overhangs during the daytime. Occasionally, divers are lucky enough to spot a black tip reef shark cruising through.

Glenn Nusa Wreck: Once a working tugboat, the Glenn Nusa rock is one of the latest projects created by a handful of dive centers to encourage the growth of new corals. Located at 25 meters, the boat is an interesting site to get your wreck specialty or deep dive specialty. It’s common to see schools of fish hiding underneath the bow.

Manta Point: Perfect for divers of all abilities, Manta Point is a sloping reef rife with green and hawksbill sea turtles. Cruise over the reef and keep an eye out for white tip reef sharks, peacock mantis shrimp, nudibranchs, and a variety of corals. Like its name suggests, you can occasionally spot manta rays if you look out into the blue.

The best time to go diving in Gili Trawangan

Diving in the Gili Islands is great all year round as the water temperature rarely drops below 27°C (80°F). Visibility is best from April to September, the dry season. Crowds gather around the dive sites from late June to August.

What you can expect to see in Gili Trawangan

Love sea turtles? The Gili Islands are a safe-haven for hawksbill turtles and green turtles, both endangered. You’re nearly guaranteed to see one on just about every dive — especially near the coral reefs.

There are also a variety of black and white tip reef sharks, scorpion fish, trigger fish, octopus, parrot fish, anemone fish, frog fish, nudibranches, spotted stingrays, and a variety of corals.

The best scuba diving schools in Gili Trawangan

Dive Central Gili: A PADI 5-Star dive resort that overlooks the ocean. Dive Central Gili is run and managed by divers who have spent years on Gili Trawangan, and know the island better than most. Dive Central Gili is a mid-size operation that offers fun dives, PADI courses, and stay-and-dive packages.

Manta Dive: You can’t miss Manta Dive’s always-happening dive center located on Gili Trawangan’s main stretch. Manta Dive has an efficient system to move many divers throughout the day without losing a sense of personal service. Join a fun dive or use Manta Dive as a base to learn a variety of PADI and SSI courses.

Blue Marlin Dive: The first dive center to set roots on Gili Trawangan, Blue Marlin is where many seasoned scuba divers took their first breath underwater. Blue Marlin is a PADI 5-Star dive center with a strong emphasis on safety. It’s a great place to learn no matter if you’re a beginner or looking to advance as a technical diver.

Find Dive Resorts in Lombok

Freediving in Gili Trawangan

The freediving in Gili Trawangan is top notch. Many of the world’s top freedivers train at Freedive Gili, a freediving and yoga center run by Kate Middleton and Mike Board.

The best time to surf Gili Trawangan

Surfing in Gili Trawangan can be a hit or miss all year round, but break best from May to October.

The best surf spots in Gili Trawangan

There is only one decent surf spot in Gili Trawangan. Found on the southern point of the island near Kokomo Resort, the surf spot at Gili Trawangan is a hollow, fast, right-hander that needs a large S-SW swell to get going. Currents are strong and the reef is sharp, so it’s good for experienced surfers only.

The wave at Gili Trawangan

Since most of the surf travelers head to Bali or Lombok mainland for waves, there’s little competition in the lineup.

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