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Gili Trawangan

Photo © tomcoralie

Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Lesser Sunda Islands Lombok Gili Islands Gili Trawangan

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Introduction

Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan

© All Rights Reserved missindo

Gili Trawangan is the largest and most developed of the three Gili Islands. It's got the reputation of a cheap backpacker party island, but during the last couple of years the development on the island has exploded, and the new guesthouses and restaurants are turning more upmarket with boutique hotels, lounge bars and even a sushi restaurant.

Most hotels and restaurants are built around the southeast part of the island, although more and more places are now being built both on the north and in the central part as well. The nicest beach is between the harbor and the north tip of the island.

There's a dirt road that goes all the way around the islands, the main transport on the island is by bicycle or cidomo (horse and carriage). In the centre of the island you can climb the hill and get amazing views over Gunung Rinjani on Lombok and Gunung Agung on Bali. The beach on the east coast is the best. The snorkelling right off the beach is great, you can see coral reef, tropical fish and quite often sea turtles as well.

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Sights and Activities

Gili Trawangan is the centre of a thriving dive industry for the Gili Islands. All of the operators have their main dive shops located here. There are about a dozen active dive sites, and all of the shops run a regularly rotating program of daily fun dives to one of more of these.

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Getting There

By Boat

The sea is calmest in the morning and all transport stops running in the late-afternoon, well before dark. During periods of southerly winds and in July and August especially, the swell can be a bit hairy and you are very likely to get wet on the crossing. It is advisable to place laptops, cameras and handphones in waterproof bags for the crossing. You will need to wade through shallow sea when disembarking, so wear either appropriate footwear, or none at all.

From Bali
All fast boat services are subject to weather conditions and the trip across the Lombok Strait can get quite bumpy especially in July–August. Turbulent seas may sometimes arise for a while during the monsoonal influenced months of January–February. Most operators offer pickups and drop offs but all cover slightly different regions. Prices usually include land transport from/to your destination in Bali. Double-check with operators for seasonal discounts, schedules and current operational status.

You may get a better price by booking from a travel agent in Bali rather than booking directly with the boat company as the agents get discounts and some may pass them on to their customers. The only way to compare live seat availability and book boat tickets online is with the Gilibookings for the most reputable fast boat services, or it's sister site Gilitickets for some of the cheaper budget operators. You can view all routes, timetables and pricing for many of the most popular regional fast boat operators. Prices on Gilibookings range from USD50-70 one way, USD98-136 return. Higher prices are offset by discount vouchers. Fast boats are around 30% cheaper on Gilitickets.

Prevailing weather conditions in the Lombok Strait can lead to rough crossings and occasional cancellation of services especially during the peak of the monsoon season around January-February. The vessels currently serving the fast boat routes are generally of a light duty hull construction and are powered by petrol fuelled outboard engines. Crew training, operational standards and safety equipment are of a mixed standard and may be below the normal expectations of many foreign visitors.

If you have legitimate concerns about either the vessel, the operator or the prevailing weather conditions do not board the boat, immediately seek a refund of your fare and make alternative arrangements for your trip. Consider your options and choice of provider very carefully. During rough weather flights across the Lombok Strait may provide a more comfortable and safer journey.

From Lombok
BlueWater Express departs daily from Teluk Kode at 11:30am, arriving in Gili Trawangan in around 15-20 minutes. From June-October, there is a second departure time at 14:30.

The daily Perama service will take you directly from Senggigi departing 09:00 to Gili Trawangan in under 2 hours for a flat Rp 100,000, plus optional Rp 10,000 for pickup at your lodging in Senggigi. Other operators can provide transfers for Rp 75,000, but these often involve going through Bangsal.

Another option is to arrange a speedboat charter or pickup with your hotel, or a dive shop on Trawangan. These speedboat services run in and out of the lovely Teluk Nare bay in Lombok, south of Bangsal and thus avoiding the thoroughly unpleasant experience of combating the touts there. A speedboat charter normally takes up to three passengers, crosses in 20-30 minutes, and will cost about Rp 450,000-500,000.

The drive north from Senggigi follows the coast and the road offers panoramic views and glimpses of roadside village life. It is not a lengthy trip and the road has recently been upgraded throughout almost the entire length to either Teluk Nare and Bangsal a little further to the north. It is a quite scenic trip and glimpses of the Gilis can be seen as the road rises over the headlands whilst travelling up the coastline.

From Gili Air and Gili Meno
To move from one island to another the formal procedure is to take the Public boat (ferry) to Bangsal and then a further similar ferry to the required island departing from Bangsal. To return the reverse is required. This can be confusing and co-ordinating the timing with the connecting boat departing from Bangsal may be either difficult or elusive. There is also a limited official inter-island Island Hopping service provided that departs once in the morning and once in the evening.

Ferry operators may sometimes enter into informal arrangements with passengers to journey inter-island. In this situation a passenger boards a boat that is meant to go directly to Bangsal from one of the three Gili islands but instead it detours and sets down on the beach at another island whilst en route. The prices are a movable feast but people will normally pay a price of around Rp 25,000. Inter-island access on the public boats in this manner is dependent upon timing, weather, loading, payment and the inclination of the crew to facilitate an inter-island journey and such arrangements are not officially sanctioned. The standard procedure is to travel to Bangsal and make a separate trip to the different island or to use the very limited official service. The price for a single journey Public Boat ferry journey from Gili Air to Bangsal is Rp 8,000. The price for a Public boat from Gili Meno is Rp 9,000. The price for the subsequent Public boat to Gili Trawangan from Bangsal is Rp 10,000, this assuming the required connection was made at Bangsal.

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Getting Around

Bicycles are available for rent and the main tracks are good enough for riding. Expect to pay between Rp30,000 to Rp50,000 per day, often the cheapest places to rent are inland from the waterfront. A ride around the island is less than an hour, but you need to walk your bike at a few points due to the sandy nature of the track. A bike is also great for exploring the inland areas, where you can see a lot of cows, goats and chickens as well as local homes.

Unsurprisingly though on a tiny island, walking is the preferred and most appropriate way of getting around.

If you have heavy bags and are staying well away from the departure area, you will need a cidomo (horse cart) to get too and from the boat. A short trip should cost about Rp 40,000.

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Eat

Trawangan has a huge range of eating options from simple local warungs up to fairly grand places serving inventive modern cuisine. Many of these are attached to hotels or dive shops, and are not independent restaurants as such.

Budget places are thinner on the ground that they used to be, but still not hard to find. If you really want to watch the pennies, do as the locals do and eat at the push carts along the beachfront which set up every evening. These serve the usual range of Indonesian staples: fried rice, fried noodles and bakso (meatball soup).

Barbecued fish is excellent here and every evening many of the better restaurants fire up the charcoal. The deal is that you chose your fish - red and white snapper and trevally are especially good - and it is grilled on the spot.

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Drink

There are regular party nights on Gili Trawangan - the various bars take it in turn to host the late night gig (up to 04:00), to ensure that everyone gets together in one place rather than being spread around. The island is small and it is easy to find everything; just ask around for where the party is going to be on any given night.

Be very careful with locally produced spirits, especially arak. It may contain methanol and has caused cases of serious injury and death (as recent as new year 2012/13) . If you suspect that what you've been served is not what you ordered, take it back. Sticking to western owned and managed bars may reduce the risk but not entirely exclude it.

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Sleep

Power is normally available 24 hours a day and many of the hotels now have A/C. However there may be frequent disruptions to the supply. This problem arises from regional power generation insufficiencies. To address this issue many mid-range and upmarket hotels and restaurants on the Gili islands have their own back up generators. Be aware that the closer you sleep to a mosque, the more likely you will be disturbed by loud night time prayer calls. There are two mosques on Gili Trawangan. One is right behind the market/main harbor, look for a green tower. This mosque not only broadcasts the call to prayer but also the sermon and sometimes even music until late. The other mosque is north of the main harbor, close to the main road. It is partly under construction but will broadcast the call to prayer.

You will find most budget options behind the east coast frontage in the village, or by walking north from the boat landing.

Travellers who remember Gili Trawangan from the 1980s and 1990s may be surprised to learn that there are now more than 100 official places to stay on the island, and still more are being built.

View our map of accommodation in Gili Trawangan or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Accommodation in Gili Trawangan

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Gili Trawangan searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Gili Trawangan and areas nearby.

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This is version 21. Last edited at 10:44 on Jan 12, 18 by Utrecht. 5 articles link to this page.

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