This article covers the best things to do on Gili Trawangan, a tropical paradise in Indonesia with white sand beaches, turquoise water, world-class snorkeling and scuba diving, and a notoriously thriving nightlife scene! 


About Gili Trawangan

Gili Trawangan (a.k.a. Gili T for short) is one of three islands collectively known as the Gili Islands, alongside Gili Air and Gili Meno. The Gili Islands are located just off the northwest corner of the island of Lombok in Indonesia and are accessible via a short boat ride from the uber-popular Bali.

Of the Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan is the largest, most developed, has the most restaurants, bars, and fun things to do, and is widely known as the “party” island. (side note: we think this reputation puts Gili T in too tight a box, as there is so much more to do than party… more on that later!).

With no motorized traffic, a laid-back, “anything goes” island vibe, crystal clear ocean waters, picturesque white sand beaches, and cheap accommodations, there is no shortage of fun things to do on Gili Trawangan. We spent 6 days exploring each corner of Gili Trawangan and loved every second of our stay. 

There are top-notch restaurants, swanky beach clubs, late-night bars, cute coffee shops, a busy nightlife scene, and I haven’t even mentioned the best part – the world-class snorkeling and scuba diving

Highlights

  • Biggest of the Gili Islands with the most restaurants, bars, coffee shops, hotels, and things to do.
  • Great place to meet fellow travelers.
  • Big party scene!
  • Beaches are super clean (at least where there are beach clubs)

Lowlights

  • With more attractions comes bigger crowds (but we never felt overwhelmed or annoyed by the crowds).
  • Internal area of the island is a bit run down, dirty, and sad. Public beach areas are dirty.
  • Most of the beaches are part of beach clubs or restaurants.

14 Best Things to Do on Gili Trawangan

Here are our favorite things to do on Gili Trawangan! 

  1. Go snorkeling (to see Sea Turtles!)
  2. Learn how to scuba dive
  3. Watch the sunset while enjoying a cold adult beverage
  4. Get some work done at a coffee shop
  5. Enjoy the local food at the night market on Gili Trawangan
  6. Lounge the day away at a beach club
  7. Rent a bike and explore the island
  8. Take a day trip to the other islands
  9. Kayak to Gili Meno
  10. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the terrific restaurants
  11. Try street corn
  12. Spend the day on a luxury catamaran
  13. Party on Gili Trawangan
  14. Get in funky with the local delicacy on Gili T

Map of the Best Things to do on Gili Trawangan

The map below displays the location of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan, as well as key points of interest.

  • To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.
  • To save this map for future use, click the star next to the title. From your phone, open the Google Maps app and click the “saved” tab, followed by the “Maps” icon. From your Gmail account, navigate to Maps –> “Saved” –> “My Maps” –> “Maps” tab.
  • To email this map to yourself, click the three dots in the upper right corner.

1. Go snorkeling (to see Sea Turtles!)

A sea turtle off the coast of Gili Trawangan
Snorkeling with sea turtles is one of the best things to do in Gili Trawangan!

Without a doubt, the best thing to do on Gili Trawangan is to snorkel! You can expect to see hundreds of types of colorful coral, rare sea turtles, and countless types of fish while snorkeling around the Gili Islands. 

You have two different options for snorkeling on the Gili Islands:

  • Option 1 | Join a pre-organized snorkeling tour via boat
  • Option 2 | Rent your own mask and fins and go on your own

Option 1 | Snorkeling tour via boat

  • Cost | 150,000 IDR ($9.50 USD) per person

If you’d prefer to go snorkeling as part of an organized group, it’s very easy to do on Gili Trawangan. Almost anywhere you walk, there are stands offering daily snorkeling trips. From what we can tell, each of the tour guides offers basically the same trip, so it doesn’t matter too much which one you choose.

We booked our trip the morning of our snorkeling trip for 150,000 IDR ($9.50 USD) per person. 

The good part about going with a group is that they will take you directly to the prime snorkeling spots, and it’s much easier to just hop off the side of a boat and see the coral right below you. 

However, because the daily trips generally visit the same spots, they can get very crowded. Expect to be swimming with dozens of other people. 

A glass bottom boat docked on the beach at Gili Trawangan
You can take a snorkeling day trip by glass bottom boat

Option 2 | Snorkeling on your own

  • Cost | 50,000 IDR ($3 USD) per person

Your other option is to rent a snorkel, mask, and fins and then find a place to snorkel on your own. You can rent a snorkel, mask and fins from little streetside booths all around Gili Trawangan. 

Expect to pay 25,000 IDR ($1.58 USD) for fins and 25,000 IDR ($1.58 USD) for the mask/snorkel. You get to keep the gear for the entire day. 

We rented our gear from a stand on the north side of Gili Trawangan (somewhere around here) and asked the guy working the rental stand where we should go to see coral and turtles. He simply pointed across the sand path to the beach in front of us, and sure enough, we immediately found a thriving underwater world of brightly colored fish and even a few sea turtles. 

Which is better: organized tour or on your own?

We did both an organized day snorkeling trip and rented our own gear. The organized trip was nice because they brought us right to some cool spots and we didn’t need to find anything on our own. But there were tons of people around and you can’t dictate your own schedule. 

It was really nice to be able to explore the area on our own and we did end up seeing plenty of colorful coral and turtles. The downside was that we needed to walk about 100 yards across the rocky shore to get to the coral which was pretty annoying, especially with fins on. 

If you have limited time on the Gili Islands, we’d recommend just going with an organized trip, as it just makes the logistics easier (and isn’t that much more expensive). But, if you have an afternoon to kill and want to explore a bit, we had a great time renting our own gear. 

Read More

Gili Islands Snorkeling: Adventure Guide

In this article, we’ve outlined everything you need to know to about snorkeling in the Gili Islands. Keep reading if swimming with sea turtles sounds like your cup of tea!

2. Learn how to scuba dive

A scuba dive boat with scuba divers preparing to jump in the water off the coast of the Gili Islands
Gili Trawangan is a great place to learn how to scuba dive!

If you want to take your underwater adventures to the next level, Gili T is a great place to try out scuba diving or get your PADI Open Water Certification! The Gili Islands are home to some of the best scuba diving sites in the world and therefore, one of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan is to scuba dive.

Whether you are new to diving or an experienced diver, there are plenty of options available! 

All along the main stretch of Gili Trawangan, you’ll pass countless dive shops offering everything from single day fun dives, to multi-day classes, night dives, and more experienced training opportunities.

While there are so many dive shops on the islands that making a reservation in advance isn’t necessary, we’d still recommend reaching out to a few dive shops before your trip so you have a plan before you get to the island. Some will even give you a discount for booking in advance.

We weren’t able to scuba dive while on the Gili Islands because we were both feeling under the weather (and it’s dangerous to dive with a head cold) but below are a few dive shops in Gili T with PADI courses and great reviews:

3. Watch the sunset while enjoying a cold adult beverage

After a long day in the sun, what’s better than enjoying a cold beer or cocktail while watching the sunset over the ocean with your toes in the sand!? Not much, in our opinion.

Gili Trawangan is the best island to catch an epic sunset as it’s the only one with a view across the ocean. One of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan is to spend at least one evening relaxing with a drink in hand while the sun slips below the shimmering ocean. 

All along the western coast of Gili T, there are countless bars, restaurants, and beach clubs, with tables, chairs, and bean bag chairs set up specifically to enjoy the sunset each night. Most of the restaurants will offer some form of happy hour on cocktails to make the night just a little sweeter. 

If you’re lucky and the sky is clear, you can actually see all the way to Bali and may be able to see the towering Mount Agung far in the distance. 

We had dinner and sunset drinks at the Malibu Beach Club. The view was beautiful and the vibe was great, but the food was pretty so-so. We’d recommend checking out Pink Coco, another unique beach club perfectly positioned for sunset that hosts a cool fire show after dark.

Pro tip | If you ride your bike to a bar or restaurant for sunset, make sure you bring a flashlight or headlamp for your ride home. Most of the streets on the Gili Islands don’t have street lights and it can be a bit unnerving to bike in the dark.

4. Get some work done at a coffee shop

Indonesia is the fourth largest producer of coffee in the world and there are cute coffee shops all around Gili Trawangan.

For folks who need to get a few hours of work done or anyone looking for a tasty breakfast and fancy coffee, head to any of the coffee shops like Coffee and Thyme, Banyan Tree or, Kayu Cafe.

5. Enjoy the local food at the night market on Gili Trawangan

the night market at Gili Trawangan
The night market is a great place to try local food and get a cheap meal
meat on skewers with a selection of sides at the Gili Trawangan night market
Most of the vendors are selling meat on skewers with a selection of sides

Every night around 6:30pm, the Gili Trawangan night market becomes the place to be for fresh, cheap, and delicious local seafood. 

The Gili T night market is actually a pretty simple set up. Most of the vendors sell maybe 25-30 different types of fish, meat, and veggie skewers. You simply pick which skewers you want and they will grill them right then and there. 

The skewers come accompanied with rice and your selection of side dishes. The side dishes are included in the price of the skewers. When we went in 2023, each skewer was 25,000 IDR (about $1.59 USD). We got one skewer of octopus, one skewer of red snapper, rice, and a handful of sides for 50,000 IDR and it was more than enough food for both of us! 

There are also vendors selling whole fish, clams, and lobster, also to be grilled while you wait. In addition, there are few vendors selling fresh juice, water, and cold beer, as well as a few dessert stalls. 

6. Lounge the day away at a beach club

Surrounded by idyllic, white sand beaches, of course one of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan is spend the day lounging away at one of the many beach clubs offering beachside lounge chairs, umbrellas, drinks, and tasty food options. 

Coming from America, the concept of a beach club was a bit foreign to us. We figured you could just walk onto any stretch of the beach, lay down a towel, and enjoy your day just like you can at any public beach in America. That’s not quite how it works on the Gili Islands. 

The best way to enjoy a day at the beach is at a beach club. These are really just restaurants, bars, or resorts with tables, bean bags, or lounge chairs set up along their small stretch of the beach. You can use their section of the beach so long as you buy some food or drinks. 

We asked around a few of the beach clubs along the main stretch of Gili T and they each seemed to have different pricing rules for using their section of the beach. One beach club said that it cost 150,000 IDR ($9.50 USD) just to use their chairs, plus any food or beverage purchases. One beach club said that we just needed to order a minimum of 100,000 IDR ($6.37 USD) in food and drinks. 

Our favorite beach club on Gili T was La Cala Beach Club, located right on Turtle Beach. With bohemian, airy decor, plenty of comfy lounge chairs, and delectable food, it’s no mystery why La Cala is one of the most popular beach clubs on the Gili Islands. More so, it seemed like you just needed to order some amount of food and drinks and you could enjoy their stretch of the beach! 

We loved sitting in the sun, crushing a few cold Bintangs, and jumping in the ocean whenever we got too hot! 

7. Rent a bike and explore the island

Biking on the main street of Gili Trawangan
Biking is the best way to explore Gili Trawangan
  • Cost | 50,000 IDR ($3.18 USD) per person

One of the coolest things about Gili Trawangan is that there is no motorized traffic. As such, the best way to get around is by bike! 

Most hotels offer bikes to rent for 50,000 IDR ($3.18 USD) per day. If, by some chance, your hotel doesn’t offer bikes to rent, there are plenty of vendors offering them along the main street on the island. 

Gili Trawangan is small enough that you can bike around the entire circumference of the island in no more than an hour. 

On our first day on Gili T, we biked all the way around the island. We were able to scope out some potential restaurants and we found some less popular but just as beautiful beaches that we could access without having to pay for food and drink at a beach club.

8. Take a day trip to the other Gili Islands

Teal blue waters seen from a boat traveling between the Gili Islands
Teal blue waters hopping between the Gili Islands

If you’re visiting the Gili Islands, it’s best to base yourself on just one of the three islands. However, it’s definitely worth exploring the other islands during your visit. 

There are two different ways you can hop between the islands:

  • Public boat | runs once per day and costs 45,000 IDR (one way)
  • Fast boats | run every hour and typically cost 85,000 IDR (one way)

The public boat leaves from Gili T and stops at Gili Meno and Gili Air each morning at 9:30am. The boat then returns from Gili Air to Gili T, stopping at Gili Meno, at 3:00pm. The public boat costs 45,000 IDR ($2.87 USD) per person each way. It takes about 15 minutes to get to Gili Meno from either Gili Air or Gili T and about 30 minutes to get from Gili T to Gili Air and vice versa.

There are also hourly fast boats that connect the three Gili Islands. These fast boats are much more expensive and we wouldn’t recommend them. 

We took the public boat from Gili T to Gili Air and back and it worked out perfectly. We had just enough time to explore Gili Air, relax on the beach, snorkel, and grab a quick lunch before returning to Gili T at 3:00. 

9. Kayak to Gili Meno

One of the best things to do on Gili Trawangan is to kayak over to Gili Meno. We didn’t have a chance to do this but talked to one of the guys who rented kayaks and he said it takes about 20-30 minutes to kayak from Gili T to Gili Meno. 

Obviously, the cost of kayak rental varies depending on how long you rent it but to give you some sense of the price, the rate for renting a double kayak for the full day is 300,000 IDR ($19.10 USD). 

10. Enjoy a delicious meal at one of the terrific restaurants

bright lights on the outside of Lolita restaurant on Gili Trawangan
Gili T has no shortage of awesome restaurants!

One of the things that surprised us the most about Gili Trawangan was the almost overwhelming number of tasty restaurants. We kept finding places we wanted to eat but simply ran out of time!

Here are a few of our favorite spots: 

  • Jali Kitchen | We both agreed this was our favorite dinner on Gili Trawangan! Serving up Indonesian comfort food, as well as classics from across southeast Asia, the food at Jali Kitchen was fresh, tasty, and filling. We ordered beef rendang (strongly recommend!), pad thai, and two beers, all for about $15 USD! 
  • Lolita | Located right on the main strip of Gili T, we were drawn to Lolita’s for its vibrant curb appeal, beachside seating, and our collective craving for tacos. And we were not disappointed! The cocktails here were absolutely amazing and the tacos were to die for! 
  • Francesco’s Pizza | This is the only restaurant we ever had to wait to be seated on Gili Trawangan and after tasting their pizza, we understand why. Let’s just say an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean isn’t a place I expected to eat delicious wood-fired pizza with a crispy crust and ooey-gooey cheese. 

11. Try the grilled street corn

charred street corn on the beach at Gili Trawangan
Enjoying our street corn with a view!

All around Gili Trawangan, you’ll see little carts selling grilled corn. They’ll grill the corn right in front of you and then slather it with a buttery mixture of chili, lime, garlic, and salt… delicious!

We highly recommend grabbing a corn and heading to the beach to enjoy it!

12. Spend the day on a luxury catamaran

One of the things to do on Gili Trawangan that we personally skipped (we’re on a budget, people!), but heard great things about, is the luxury cruise on Utopia Catamarans

Offering both a morning and sunset cruise option with food and snorkeling provided, Utopia Catamarans are the pinnacle of luxury on the Gili Islands. 

13. Party on Gili Trawangan

two mojitos on the beach at Gili Trawangan
No trip to Gili Trawangan is complete without checking out the nightlife scene!

As we’ve mentioned above, Gili Trawangan has a well-earned reputation as a party island. The nightlife on Gili Trawangan is always bustling, and you can easily find a party any night of the week! 

There are tons of big bars, live music venues, and night clubs across Gili Trawangan. We particularly enjoyed the live music at Sama Sama Reggae Bar (although we didn’t enjoy their high beer prices).

Get in funky with the local delicacy on Gili T

Although drugs are strictly illegal across Indonesia, there seems to be a much more relaxed attitude towards psychedelic mushrooms on Gili Trawangan. To be very clear, we don’t suggest or condone any illegal activity. We’re just here to pass along information. 

And it’s pretty clear that “magic mushrooms” are widely available and a largely accepted part of the Gili Island culture. You can go to almost any bar on Gili T and they will offer shakes that promise to “take you to the moon,” which is the local way of saying that the shakes have mushrooms in them. 

You’ll walk past plenty of bars with signs publicizing these special happy shakes wherever you go on Gili T. 

Again, we don’t condone any illegal activity but those sunsets probably look a little more spectacular from the moon! As the Indonesian saying goes, “Never try, never know!” 

colorful boats lined up on the shore on the Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan FAQs

Does Gili Trawangan live up to its party reputation?

Of the three Gili Islands, Gili Trawangan has a reputation for being a party island. And it is certainly true that you can find a beach party or bustling bar any night of the week on Gili T. If you want to party, Gili T is certainly the place to go! 

That being said, it definitely isn’t a pervasive or all-encompassing party atmosphere. There are so many more great things to do on Gili Trawangan! 

Based on what we heard, we were expecting it to be like Cabo or some other American spring break scene where college kids are wasted at all hours of the day but it isn’t like this at all. 

Most people are well put together throughout the day before letting loose at night. And, if you don’t want to party, simply don’t go out! 

We spent a majority of our time on Gili T recovering from an illness, so let’s just say partying every night wasn’t in the cards for us. Even so, we had a great time and would recommend Gili T whether you’re looking to party or not.

Colorful boats on the beach at Gili Meno

How do I get to Gili Trawangan?

You can travel to Gili Trawangan from either Bali or Lombok. Keep reading for more details.

Gili Trawangan from Bali

  • Cost | Between 250,000 IDR ($15.77 USD) and 500,000 IDR ($31.54 USD).  

Your best bet to get to the Gili Islands from Bali is to book a fast boat through 12go.asia.

The fast boats leave from a number of different ports on Bali and take between about 2 to 2.5 hours to reach Gili Trawangan, possibly with a stop in Lombok on the way. The fast boats can fill up so make sure to book your ticket at least a few days in advance. Several different companies run the fast boats from Bali to Gili Trawangan and there honestly isn’t much difference between them.

Expect the boat to be at least a few minutes late, the AC will not work, and everything will be a bit hectic (like most travel in Asia). Plus the journey can get a little choppy, and the boats aren’t exactly sea-faring vessels. If you have a sensitive stomach, the ride may make you feel seasick.

Tickets on the fast boat will cost you anywhere between 250,000 IDR ($15.77 USD) and 500,000 IDR ($31.54 USD).  

There is a public boat but it takes upwards of 9 hours and is not worth it.

The chaotic port at Gili Trawangan
The harbor at Gili Trawangan is crowded and chaotic

Gili Trawangan from Lombok

The easiest way to reach Gili Trawangan is from Bangsal Harbor in Lombok. From Bangsal Harbor you can take either a fast boat or slow (public) boat.

We highly recommend the public boat. It’s much cheaper and takes only 5-10 minutes longer than the fast boat, but we’ve provided details about both options below.

Option 1 | Public Boat from Bangsal Harbor
  • Cost | 26,000 IDR ($1.64 USD)

The public boat is definitely the best option for reaching the Gili Trawangan from Lombok. Boats are scheduled to leave every hour from Bangsal Harbor, but we’ve heard that they often simply leave when they are full.

When we visited the Gili Islands in 2023, it cost 26,000 IDR ($1.64 USD) per person for a one-way ticket. The ride takes about 20 minutes to Gili Trawangan.

A quick note about Bangsal Harbor: The area around the harbor is quite chaotic. There is an official boat ticket stand right in front of the pier. Make sure you buy your tickets directly from this ticket desk. 

Option 2 | Fast Boat from Bangsal Harbor: 
  • Cost | Approximately 150,000 IDR ($9.45 USD)

You can also book a fast boat to any of the Gili Islands on the reputable website, 12go.asia. However, these fast boats only save you about 5-10 minutes and cost up to 5 times the price of the public boat.

The main advantage of booking a fast boat is to pre-arrange your tickets and avoid the chaos (and risk of being scammed) at Bangsal Harbor. The boats are also perhaps a little more comfortable, but in our opinion, they aren’t worth it.

When is the best time to visit Gili Trawangan?

  • Peak | June through August
  • Shoulder | May and September-October
  • Avoid | There are no seasons you absolutely need to avoid but significantly fewer people come during the rainy season (November-April)

Gili Trawangan experiences two unique seasons each year – dry season and rainy season. 

Dry season runs from about May through October, while the wet season runs from November through April. 

That being said, the typical dry and wet season patterns can shift year to year. One local told us that there simply was no dry season in 2021 and it rained every month. 

If you’d like to give yourself the best chance to avoid the rain, you should visit between May and September. During these months, the temperatures are hotter (high 80’s to mid 90’s during the day) but there is very little chance of rain. Despite the lack of rain, the air is still very humid and it often feels hotter than the temperature on the thermometer. 

The peak tourist season is between June and August, while most people are on summer break. 

Unlike other areas of southeast Asia, the wet season here typically doesn’t entail much more than a passing afternoon shower. The wet season is also still warm (temperatures in the low to mid 80’s) and the islands will be greener with lush vegetation. Add in the fact that fewer people visit during the rainy season and honestly, it might not be a bad time to visit the Gili Islands. 

Where to Stay on Gili Trawangan

One of the great things about Gili Trawangan is the wide range of accommodations available on the islands. From budget hostels to swanky resorts, you can certainly find accommodations for any budget or traveling style. 

Having spent 6 nights on Gili T, here are a few of our takeaways about where to stay on the island:

  • The main area of Gili T runs along the eastern side of the island. This is where all of the bars and late night spots are located. If you don’t want to deal with the noise that the late night revelry brings, don’t stay on the main drag. Although farther from most of the restaurants and the main attractions, the western side of the island is much quieter. 
  • It seems like most of the swankier resorts are located along the southeastern, southern, and southwestern sections of Gili T. If you want to stay in probably the most luxurious area of the island, stay along the southern stretch. 
  • The north and central parts of the islands seem to be where most of the locals live and some of the streets are pretty run down and dirty. Frankly, some of these areas are a bit depressing. But, there are some nice, cheap places to stay in these areas. This is the area where we stayed and it worked out quite nicely. Our hotel was nice, cheap, and away from the noise of the main drag.

Here are a few specific hotels we’d recommend:

  • BudgetJati Village. A good option if you want to party and meet other travelers, with rooms starting at just 320,000 IDR ($20 USD) per night during the peak season.
  • Budget to mid-range | Sadev Resort (this is where we stayed). It was clean, breakfast was great and the staff were so nice. It’s located inland, so the road to get there is a bit rough but its definitely quieter than staying on the main street.
  • Mid-rangeNero North. A beautiful modern hotel located in a quieter section of the island, with rooms starting at 1,500,000 IDR ($100 USD) during the peak season.
  • LuxuryPondok Santi Estate. We biked past this place several times and the grounds were absolutely beautiful. Pondok Santi offers a range of accommodations, from standard double rooms to a luxurious villa with a private pool.

How do I get around on Gili Trawangan?

There is no motorized transportation on any of the Gili Islands. The best ways to get around are via bike or horse-drawn carriage, also called a Cidomo.

Within seconds of arriving in the port area, you’ll surely see one of these carriages careening down the main drag! We had heard reports that the horses on Gili T were not treated well so were skeptical of riding in any of the cidomos.

After spending a week here, we definitely saw some horses that seemed to be treated well and some with protruding ribs huffing and puffing in the hot sun. We opted not to use the horses. Like anything else, use your best judgment and your own conscience when deciding to ride in a Cidomo. 

horses standing on the beach on the Gili Islands

Is Gili Trawangan dirty?

Like much of Indonesia, trash is a huge problem on Gili Trawangan. There are no trash removal services (an all-too-easily overlooked luxury of living in the United States), which means that local people resort to burning trash to get rid of it. This releases toxic fumes in the air (you will almost certainly catch a whiff while staying on the islands) and contributes to the area’s poor air quality. 

While the main tourist areas on Gili Trawangan are kept clean by the restaurants and shops that operate there, the interior of the island and public beach areas are littered with trash. It’s a side to the islands that you just don’t see in the picture-perfect Instagram and blog posts, and frankly, it’s a bit disheartening. 

So what can you do to help? The easiest way to limit your footprint is to avoid single-use plastics wherever possible and bring your own water bottle to refill at the stations (read more below). 

Unfortunately, there is another side to Gili T that you don’t see in picture-perfect Instagram photos

Is Gili T dirtier than the other Gili Islands?

We didn’t think so.

Before heading to Gili T, we talked with a French couple who said that they didn’t love Gili T because it was dirty and a bit run down and they preferred Gili Air. Like Gili T’s party reputation, this only tells part of the story. 

Yes, the inland area of Gili T, where most of the locals live, is dirty and undeveloped. But the more touristy areas are perfectly fine. And most importantly, the beaches are kept impressively clean (largely by the beach clubs that set up shop there)! 

We didn’t think the undeveloped areas of Gili T were much different than Gili Air. Given that there are simply fewer people who visit Gili Air, it probably is a little bit cleaner overall but we didn’t see a huge difference between the islands. 

Is the water safe to drink on Gili Trawangan?

No, drinking water in Gili Trawangan (and the rest of Indonesia) is notoriously bad so don’t even think about drinking unfiltered tap water. We tried using our water filters to sanitize the tap water for a few days but even after running it through our filter, it tasted bad. Plus most water filters (like LifeStraw) filter bacteria but not viruses, which can be present in the water in Indonesia.

Eventually, we heard about Refill MyBottle, an app that marks different hotels, cafes, bars, or restaurants that will refill your bottle with clean water for free or for a small fee. The initiative was actually started in Bali to help stop the use of single-use water bottles. 

We highly recommend downloading the app before you head to the Gili Islands and plan to refill your own water bottle throughout the day. To be completely honest, we walked into some places that are marked on the app asking to refill our water bottle and the people there had absolutely no idea what we were talking about. 

Other places that were listed as free refill spots ended up charging us. So the system isn’t perfect, but it’s better than purchasing plastic bottles every day. We ended up finding a convenience store that charged just 5,000 IDR ($0.33 USD) to refill a large bottle and just stopped there every morning and afternoon. 

A sign indicating a Refill My Bottle water station on Gili Islands
Some water refill stations are marked with a sign like this on the Gili Islands

What is the culture like on Gili Trawangan?

I think it’s important to note that, like the majority of Indonesia, the people of Gili Trawangan are devoutly Muslim. 

Frankly, it’s quite the contradiction to see string bikinis and countless bars in such a religious place but the locals obviously make it work and don’t seem to have a problem (as far as I can tell) about the scantily-clad tourists partying on the Gili Islands. That being said, you will hear the calls for prayer throughout the day (starting at 4:30a.m.!) and please be respectful of the local religion. 

If you are walking through a local village, please remember to wear a shirt or sarong over your bikini/bathing suit. 

At the end of the day, it’s important to add that, in general, the Indonesian people are some of the nicest, most hospitable people we’ve ever met. It seemed like everyone wanted to have a conversation with us and were proud of the area they call home. If you’re ever lost, confused, or need someone to point you in the right direction, just ask! Most people will be happy to help you.

Is Gili Trawangan Safe?

Given that you may be out late at night after partaking in a few adult beverages, you may be wondering about general safety on the Gili Islands. We found the Gili Islands to feel very safe and again, most local people are incredibly friendly.

If there is anyone you need to look out for, it’s probably the fellow tourists. As usual, it’s better to walk home in a group (remember there are no street lights) and use common sense. There are a number of medical service facilities on the islands should you have a health event that requires attention. 

Other useful resources

Looking for more adventures in Indonesia? You may also be interested in these resources!

Gili Islands

Nusa Penida

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Sarah Vaughan

Hello! I'm Sarah, one half of the couple behind Two Outliers! In 2023, I quit my job as a Data Scientist to travel around the world on an epic 15-month journey in search of the world's greatest hikes and outdoor adventures. Matt and I started Two Outliers in 2021 as a place for visitors to find concise, accurate, and honest information to plan their own adventures. We hope our experiences inspire you to hit the trail! Happy Hiking! Sarah

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