The Party Paradise: Gili Trawangan
Close your eyes and picture an island with no roads, just sandy dirt tracks. No modern transportation, just horse and cart and bicycles. Picture turtles swimming in the clear turquoise waters and beach bars lining the powdery white sand beaches. You’re picturing Gili Trawangan or as it’s more commonly known, Gili T, the party paradise of the Gili Islands.
Gili T is where I spent Christmas 2017. Being away from home at Christmas is hard but when you’re thrown into a tropical paradise, it makes it slightly more bearable. Okay, it made it very bearable. Drinking cocktails with other travellers and snorkelling on Christmas Day is an experience I will never forget. I guess for that reason, it makes Gili T extra special to me and somewhere I’ll look back and think about on Christmas Day for a long time to come.
The island, which is only accessible by boat, is the most developed and consequently the most popular of the 3 Gili Islands. Over the years, it has become one of the must-visit destinations whilst travelling South East Asia and I’d be surprised if you haven’t seen it’s famous swing appear on your Instagram feeds. Trust me when I say, do not travel all the way to Gili to get THAT swing pic. It doesn’t quite live up to the photo!
Despite Gili’s party reputation, the island still manages to keep it’s natural beauty. With thankfully no McDonalds or KFC in sight, the island remains beautiful and still retains it’s charm. Plus, the island is what you make it. If you want a good night out, you can have one. If you want to chill and tan, you can do it.
You can walk all the way around the island in a couple of hours or alternatively you can rent a bicycle for cheap and ride around it. Try and avoid using the horse and carts – I’m not quite sure how well the locals treat the horses!
As well as hostels for the many travellers arriving daily ready to experience island life, Gili T is also home to hotels, villas and expensive resorts, catering to budget travellers, families and honeymooners alike. It’s an island for everyone. I’m 100% going back one day and staying in a resort. They looked stunning! If you want a party hostel though, I stayed at Gili Mansion which has it’s own pool too.
The beaches are lined with colourful beanbags where you can sit and drink cocktails whilst you sunbathe…bliss!
For such a small island, there’s surprisingly lots to do to keep you busy between sunbathing sessions.
For delicious food, make sure you head to Pituq Cafe…
The Banyan Tree…
And Kayu cafe…
For the best night on the whole of Gili T, you have to go to Sama Sama Reggae Bar. It’s SO much fun. You’ll be singing and dancing in no time at all. Every bar has a great atmosphere so it’s practically impossible to have a bad night on Gili.
The island is also famous for it’s snorkelling and for seeing turtles. Rent a snorkle and head out into the clear turquoise waters and swim right next to them, it’s amazing!
There’s also a night market where you can find cheap and tasty local food, an outdoor cinema where you can lie on beanbags and watch popular films in the evening heat and there’s plenty of little shops selling pretty boho dresses and accessories.
The other two Gili islands, Gili Air and Gili Meno are Gili T’s less developed and quieter neighbours but if you have time, they are well worth a short and cheap boat ride across to check out their beautiful beaches and snorkelling opportunities.
You just can’t visit Bali or Lombok and not make a trip to Gili T. The island has something for everyone and I can guarantee you’ll want to stay longer than you planned. I can now totally see why this has become one of Indonesia’s tourist hot spots.