Gili Trawangan: A Piece of Heaven on Earth

This is a long overdue post that I should’ve published earlier so I’d like take this opportunity to tell you my experience, and to show you why you shouldn’t be discouraged by the recent devastated event that took place in Lombok.

Lombok has always been in my bucket list as I’m always up to exploring different parts of Indonesia. I love Indonesia because of the food, culture and people. When traveling to Indonesia, there is without doubt a lot to discover.

Last February my husband and I decided to escape the Norwegian brutal and extended winter, so we flew to Malaysia to visit my family and friends. We also decided to take a week break just the two of us to a more tropical place and we thought of Gili islands. Gili has 3 islands; Trawangan, Meno and Air. We ended up choosing Gili Trawangan because of how much we’ve heard of that island.

I always book my trip with AirAsiaGo  , it’s easy and convenient, and usually cheaper than booking the flight and the accommodation separately. I’ve been using the website for my trips around Asia for many years now. You can get up to 10% discount with the coupon code if you use the app, so make sure to download the app before you purchase your holiday package.

Once we landed in Lombok, it took us another hour to reach the jetty. The view and scenery throughout the drive was so breathtaking; of mountains and paddy fields. We took the private speedboat to reach the island and it cost us Rp1mil (~USD60) per person for return ticket. It was very steep because we didn’t plan ahead, we thought everything was at one place (the jetty) where we planned to take the public ferry but the cab driver took us to a different location where there’s only a private speedboat. We were a bit tired and confused so we decided to just take the boat and leave immediately. So if you want to save more money, you should take the public ferry, be sure to tell your driver where exactly you’re going. You can also arrange directly with your hotel, they usually have their own speedboat and will take you straight to the hotel but it will cost you more.

Have you ever visited a place that you loved so much you wish you never had to leave? Well, that was Gili Trawangan for me and immediately upon arriving I felt as if I was about to have an amazing experience, and I was so right. There are no cars or asphalt roads on all Gili islands, they use horses, bicycles and electric bikes to get around. Once we descended on the beach, we took the cidomo (a small horse-drawn carriage) and paid Rp50,000 for a 5-min bumpy ride. It would take us around 10 minutes to walk, but we wanted to try the horse.

We stayed at Pearl of Trawangan, because we saw the pictures online and were so fascinated by the ocean view room. It really fulfilled any expectation I would have of the perfect beach escapade. The room has a gorgeous ocean view and the hotel is located near the central area but far enough from all the noises.

I love the beach but for someone who usually gets allergic reactions with salt water, having a nice pool is as equally important and this hotel has that. It’s big and cozy, and perfect if you want to get away from the beach.

The beach is just across the street from the hotel. We spent most of our afternoons sunbathing after enjoying a hearty lunch. The sea water is so blue and crystal clear, it looks so amazing. Gili Trawangan was rather quiet when we were there, it wasn’t too hectic and filled with tourists so it was very relaxing. There’s a lot to do on the island, other than cycling around which we did, the island also offers all kinds of water activities and if you’re into diving then it’d be a perfect activity for you.

The fine, nearly white sand is free of litter – a huge contrast with beaches in Bali. Once you’re done with swimming or bored with tanning, it’s time to lounge around in one of the cool beach huts, enjoying a cool freshly made juice and some delicious seafood. Gili is also a heaven for people who love to take instagram worthy shots – The famous swing is commonly found along the beaches. The surrounding island is full of picturesque and idyllic locations for that perfect Instagram moment too.

The food in restaurants doesn’t come cheap, but there’s a night market if you’re keen to try the authentic Indonesian street food. The night market is busy but it’s a budget friendly place to eat. The nightly food market is located right off the main road in the middle of the eastern side of Gili Trawangan and it has stalls selling local and fresh seafood. They prepare it on the spot with rice and vegetables on the side for a decent price.

Sunset watching is also something you need to do while you’re in Gili. The sky has a different kind of vibe and beautiful hues. You should grab some drinks at one of the bars on the west side of the island, and enjoy the golden hour accompanied by the sound of the waves.

Gili Trawangan is also a mini party island that has bars that open until 3am. We weren’t into partying so we went to see the live music instead at Sama-Sama Raggae Bar. The band was fantastic and it was nice to wind down after a long day at the beach.

While I hugely enjoyed Gili Trawangan for the first time, it was more of a muted experience. I had expected it to be one because I knew it would not compare to the craziness of Bali, although I secretly wished it was a little bit but put Gili Trawangan on your travel list for the near future nonetheless. Everywhere you go in Asia you are assaulted by high volumes of traffic and chaos, but once you step out of the boat into the crystal clear water of Gili Trawangan, you’ll be so surprised and relieved at what you are about to discover. The whole island posses a sort of oozing magic about it, you are after all, in paradise.

Things to do

  • Famous swings: For instagram worthy shots
  • Islands hopping: Explore the other Gilis or even a trip to Bali
  • Explore the underwater life: Snorkelling, scuba diving etc
  • Sunset watching: Go to the westside of the island during the golden hour
  • Kayaking: Explore the island with the glass-bottom kayak
  • Water sports

Where to stay

  • Pearl of Trawangan
  • Hotel Villa Ombak

Where to eat

  • Beach House Restaurant: For fresh seafood
  • Pearl of Trawangan: Assorted Indonesian food
  • Gili Trawangan Night Market: For authentic local delicacies
  • Egoiste Restaurant: The delicious seafood platter


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