Gili Trawangan Travel Guide
Gili Trawangan is rightfully high on the list of many travelers to Indonesia. An island with no roads, no cars, but instead horse drawn carriages and serene beaches? I was immediately smitten. Here's my advice on visiting Gili Trawangan, the most popular of the 3 Gili Islands off the coast of Bali:
How to get there: The Gili islands have no airport. To get here, you must take either a fast boat from Bali or Lombok, bigger islands nearby. Lombok is much closer to the Gilis than Bali, and it only took me 45 minutes by ferry to make that journey. The ferries, like most everything else in Asia, are very cheap - around $2 from Lombok departing from Bangsal Harbor; and $3 for a slow ferry (~5 hours) from Bali, while a fast boat will cost you $48 one way (ouch!). These are the prices to Gili Trawangan, but they are also similar if you're visiting Gili Air or Gili Meno instead. The boats drop you off at the main "harbor" (really just on the beach) and since the island is so small, you can easily walk to your accommodation to get settled in.
Where to stay: There are tons of budget hostels and hotels all over Gili Trawangan. Honestly, there's no better or worse area to stay in, since everything is so compact that you can easily walk/bike from one end of the island to the other in an hour's time. I chose My Mate's Place hostel and was very pleased with how clean and well-kept the facilities were, and it cost me around $12 per night. Def recommend that if you're looking for a cheap option, but you could probably find cheaper if you're willing to sacrifice more comfort and cleanliness. There are also plenty of more luxurious options available but of course I have not tried them #brokebackpackerlife.
What to do: Gili Trawangan has lots of fun activities to offer its visitors. It's a world-class diving spot, so if you're certified (or looking to get certified) this is the perfect place to do it. There are also daily boat tours for nice snorkeling if you'd rather do that instead. You could also spend days just chillin' out on the long stretches of white-sand beaches, looking out at that enticing aqua-blue water. I rented a bike and rode around the whole island to get acquainted, it only cost around $5 for one day's rental and was a fantastic way to sightsee. Finally, and probably the most famous part of Gili Trawangan, are the uber-instagrammable beach swings. Tourists flock to these around sunset and wait their turn for a picture swinging on the beautiful swings. To get here, google map yourself to "Hotel Ombak Sunset" - here starts several different hotels that each have different styles of swings that you can choose from.
Other tips: Gili Trawangan, unlike other less-visited places in Indonesia, has plenty of ATMs available around the island. Food and drinks are mega-cheap here, and will cost you anywhere from $3-$15 a meal depending on where you eat. There's tons of Western-style restaurants that will cost you on the higher end of that spectrum, but street stalls are much cheaper. Gili T is also very popular for partying - head to the main dirt "road" along the beach for bars and clubs open late where you can let loose.