Gili T Island: A Guide to Indonesia’s Hidden Paradise
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Gili T Island: A Guide to Indonesia’s Hidden Paradise

Within the heart of the Indonesian archipelago is an island slowly gaining popularity from travellers around the world โ€“ Gili Trawangan. Commonly referred to as Gili T, this tiny island is part of the Gili Islands, a trio of islets situated off the northwest coast of Lombok. Gili Trawangan, with its white beaches, marine life and abundant sea turtles right by the shore has become a must-visit destination for those seeking an unforgettable tropical experience.

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Getting To Gili T

Gili Trawangan is easily accessible from Bali or Lombok. Visitors can take a fast boat from Padang Bai in Bali or Bangsal in Lombok to reach this paradise in under two hours.

The absence of motorized vehicles on the island adds to its charm, with bicycles and horse-drawn carts (cidomos) being the primary modes of transportation.

The entirety of Gili T can be walked in under two hours along the shore. There are plenty of bike rentals around, chances are your hotel might even have it free for you.

It is best to book departure ferries after arrival. There are endless companies offering transport with optional bus shuttle to your next destination in Lombok or Bali, for better prices than can be found online.

Transportation via horse carts on Gili T island.

Highlights of Gili T Island

White Sandy Beaches

One of Gili Trawangan's biggest draws is its white sandy beaches that stretch along the island's perimeter. The crystal-clear turquoise waters provide a perfect setting for sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. We are always happy to go snorkeling right off the beach and not having to pay for a tour.

Sunset enthusiasts should not miss the chance to experience the view of the sun dipping below the horizon. What's even better are the several restaurants with outdoor dining for viewing the sunset. You can also go on a horseback riding at this time.

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Snorkeling and Diving

Gili T boasts some of the best snorkelling and diving opportunities in Indonesia. The coral reefs surrounding the island are filled with healthy reefs, colorful fishes, turtles and even reef sharks.

Numerous dive shops on the island cater to both beginners and experienced divers, offering courses and excursions. There are several rental shops around the island where you can rent snorkeling gears from 25000 to 50000 IDR or you can bring your own.

Be sure to do a private or join-in snorkelling tour on the island where you can visit the surrounding waters of the other Gili islands - Gili Meno and Gili Air. The Gili's are known as one of the sea turtle capitals of the world.

Sea turtle spotted on a snorkelling tour in Gili T island, Indonesia.

Nightlife and Culture

While Gili Trawangan is quiet and peaceful during the day, the island comes alive at night. The main strip is dotted with beachfront bars and restaurants where visitors can enjoy live music, fire shows, and the company of fellow travellers. The island's nightlife strikes a perfect balance between vibrant and relaxed, making it a suitable destination for those seeking both adventure and tranquility.

Walking streets of Gili T at night lined with restaurants.

Sustainable Tourism

As tourism has flourished on Gili Trawangan, the island has made efforts towards sustainable practices. Many accommodations, restaurants and dive centres prioritize eco-friendly initiatives, including waste management and reef conservation. Responsible tourism is encouraged and visitors are urged to respect the local environment and marine life.

The absence of motorized vehicles and regulations around motorboats have clearly had a positive impact on the marine biodiversity of the area. Tropical fish and coral reefs flourish all around the islands.

Gili T is famous for it's turtle conservation. The neighbouring Gili Meno island is home to a baby turtle sanctuary, which is a common stop for tourists experiencing a snorkelling tour. The three Gili islands have over a dozen impressive snorkelling spots which are home to a healthy number of sea turtles.

Coral reef directions from a beach on Gili T island.

Which Gili Island is Best?

Gili Trawangan

While there are three Gili islands to choose from, most tourists opt for Gili T. This is because it's the most developed island with the most resorts, restaurants and tourism options. Depending on what you are looking for, the other Gilis are great options.

Gili Meno

The neighbouring Gili Meno island is the smallest and most walkable island. The proximity of coral reefs accessible from the shore as well as it's sea turtle sanctuary is an attraction for travellers. Its home to one of the most famous snorkelling spots accessible from its shoreline - a series of underwater statues among the corals and tropical fish.

View of Gili Meno at sunset from Gili T island.

Gili Air

Finally, Gili Air is the second busiest island in the archipelago. The snorkelling is on par with Gili Meno, and it also boasts impressive spas, beaches and sunset views. Those who want an even quieter getaway from the party culture on Gili T may opt to stay on Gili Air instead.

Do note that it's easy to explore all islands in one trip. You can choose any island as your base, then easily take a ferry to the other two quickly and inexpensively. You can book a ferry near the port where you got dropped off.

Things we didn't expect on our stay in Gili T

Transportation in the island.

We knew there would not be any cars, we didn't expect there would be a lot of bike rentals around. Prices range from 25,000 to 50,000 IDR for the whole day.

Transportation out of the island

As most of us would want to have the logistics planned before going to our travel destination, it would be cheaper for you to buy transport on arrival. Packages will include boat and land transfer to your destination (i.e Bali, Lombok or the airport).

Road Condition

The main street around the island is paved, however during rainy days, expect some flooding and puddles around. The side streets are mostly unpaved so expect deeper puddles and splashes when cycling or when riding a carriage.

Shrooms

At night, when walking around, or sometimes when waiting for your dinner in a beachfront restaurant, there would be a lot of people selling mushrooms. At one point, we were even offered marijuana and cocaine. None of these are legal in Indonesia, however Gili T police turn a blind eye to this fact.

Cats

Another positive - you can see a lot of friendly cats around, looking for pets and snacks. Our hotel has 2 and one of them often visits us, greeting us with a meow when we walk by.

Where to stay on Gili T island?

Since the island is so small and walkable, you cannot go wrong with your stay in Gili T. That said, there are some gorgeous properties on island which may meet your needs the best.

The eastern coast of Gili T is where the port is, as well as most development. Being nearby restaurants, nightlife, and even the port for ease of transport is what most travellers choose.

Some of the best coral reefs are on the north-eastern shores. Our favourite stay in this area is Gili One Resort.

Gili One Resort, a beautiful place to stay on Gili T island.

The western coast is best for sunset views. The strip is lined with bars and cafes which are perfect for watching the sunset. There is even an outdoor movie theatre with free daily viewings at night. This coast has some gorgeous resorts, such as the Kardia Resort Gili T.

The northern coast is famous for its sea turtles. They often swim around the shallow shores, making them easy to spot. We went snorkelling here and locals happily helped us spot sea turtles. While this part of the island isn't the most developed, there are still beautiful properties like Nero North which offer an excellent stay.

Finally, the southern shore of Gili T is where the most greenery and palm trees reside. It's located away from the nightlife and main tourists strips, and is where you'll find some of the most premium resorts on the island. If you're looking for a tropical staycation, PinkCoco Gili T will be your home in this tropical paradise.

Final Thoughts

Gili Trawangan, with its beautiful beaches, island vibes and diverse marine life, is surely attracting plenty of travellers. Whether you're seeking relaxation, underwater adventures or a lively nightlife, Gili T offers a perfect blend of experiences. As you explore this tropical gem, you'll see why everyone easily falls in love with the place.

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