Gili Trawangan Bali – Where To Eat Stay Play
Gili Trawangan is the largest of three islands sitting off the coast of Bali. Gili Air and Gili Meno are the other two islands in the group that are easily reached by fast boat.
Lombok Island is close by too and although all the islands look close enough to swim over it’s not recommended because either a) a boat will run right over the top of you or b) the current is way too strong. So even though you might be tempted don’t do it!
The little harbour at Gili T (as the locals call Gili Trawangan) has a constant stream of dive boats, fishing boats, passenger boats, supply boats and recreational boats. The boats ferry passengers on excursions for snorkelling or turtle watching so swimming there is pretty dangerous.
There are three ways to get around Gili T, either by pushbike or Cidomo, (horse and cart) or you can walk. There are no cars or motorbikes on Gili and as they are not allowed.
Getting To the Gili Islands
Getting to the Gili Islands from Bali
If you want to arrive in style to the Gili Islands you could charter your own helicopter or private yacht. If that’s out of your budget there are a few other alternatives by sea.
There’s a public ferry leaving from Padang Bai which is painfully slow taking around 5 hours to reach Lombok island. The beauty of the ferry is it’s very cost effective at only IDR40,000. Perfect if you have a lot of time on your hands and a small budget.
The other alternative is the Bali fast boats. There are several fast boat companies working from either Sanur, Padang Bai or Amed, however, the company we choose was Blue Water Express.
Blue Water Express
I’d read a few reviews and liked what I read about their service and route they took from Gili Trawangan back to mainland Bali. We were collecting a car at Sarangan just near Sanur to continue our Road Trip around Bali on our return, so that suited us perfectly.
Blue Water Express is a British owned and operated company established since 2005. As the company pioneered the concept of running fast boats from Bali to the Gili Islands they are also the longest running fast boat company too.
All staff whether it be Made who checks you in on Gili Trawangan or the crew on board are aware of safety and maintain a high degree of professionalism and concern for their customer’s comfort.
They take you through a set of safety instructions and although they mentioned they do supply sea sickness tablets, none was needed the days we travelled as the conditions and skippers driving skills were excellent.
Although I love being on the water, I have been known to be sea-sick and let me tell you it is the WORST sickness in the world!
I had absolutely no concerns with Blue Water Express and neither did any other of the passengers. All the crew are fully trained and have been sailing the waters of Bali and Lombok for many years so you are in good hands.
If you are travelling from Gili Trawangan to Sarangan the journey will take around an hour. You will stop along the way at Padang Bai for 15-20 minutes.
This allows passengers to get on and off, plus if you are hungry or thirsty and can’t wait to hit the mainland for your next Bintang there are ladies selling most things on the Jetty.
Another half an hour or so and you will be in Sarangan, mainland Bali.
All times are of course subjective to the weather conditions, how fast or slow passengers board, etc. One plus with Blue Water Express is they supply an air-conditioned pickup and drop off from your hotel in Bali.
This is not the case when arriving or departing Gili Trawangan though as the only method of transport to and from your accommodation is via a Cidomo. No fast boat carriers offer pickup and delivery service on Gili T.
Best Places To Stay in the Gili Islands
As we only stayed on Gili T I can only speak from our experience there. You won’t be stuck for a choice that’s for sure. There are many Gili Trawangan Hotels, Gili Trawangan Bungalows, Backpacker places, Villas and, of course, resorts.
There are two main sides of the island. The “quiet side” or the west side of the island or the “party side” where many backpackers prefer to stay.
We opted for the quiet side, not that there wasn’t anything happening on that side of the island, far from it as it has the best places for snorkelling, turtle watching (apparently, as we lucked out on that one when we visited) and those famous Bali sunsets over Mount Agung.
There are plenty of bars and restaurants too and the beauty of staying on the west side of Gili T is not having to navigate your way back after sunset in the dark. Don’t rely on street lights when crossing the Island as they rarely exist.
Villas Light House
Villas Light House is where we stayed. The property lies just off the main road that takes you right around the island. it’s easily accessible from either direction from East to West too.
It’s also away from the hustle and bustle and on the best side of the Island for sunset.
We were met at the open aired reception by Daniele and Alessandro the owners of Villas Light House.
After cold towels and a quick check-in, Daniele provided a map pointing out all the areas to see, what to do, where to go and best places to eat.
We also had access to the swimming pool and were also supplied with a bike each to get around the island easily. Trust me you won’t want to walk everywhere as it’s just too hot.
I was a bit concerned about riding a bike as I hadn’t been on one for years. It’s true what they say, though…you never forget.
I guess my real concern was riding home at night but I needn’t have given it another thought as Daniele and Alessandro had thought of everything and provided a night light to get us home safely. They were easy to use and we used them every night arriving back safely after dinner.
With the formalities over, we were shown to our accommodation, gorgeous little huts or villas made out of teak. I loved what Daniele and Alessandro had stamped their own personal touch and whitewashed the teak. It gave the villas a unique appearance inside and out.
The bedroom was large and spacious and most importantly the air conditioning worked a treat. It’s hot on Bali and Gili Trawangan is no different so a strong air conditioner is essential. Villas Light House didn’t disappoint.
There are a TV and DVD player and DVD’s available in the Villa to watch, although we didn’t switch it on the whole time we were there. It would be great if you wanted to chill out one lazy afternoon or if it rained during the day.
All the villas are ensuite with a toilet, vanity basin and shower. All were large, plenty of space both in the bedroom and ensuite and are fully enclosed so you won’t have to worry about mosquitos. We weren’t bitten once.
Outside a daybed and table and chairs sit on a terrace attached to the villa, ours overlooking the pool and beyond to the coconut grove.
It’s here that you’ll enjoy your breakfast in the price of your accommodation. Fresh fruit, eggs, toast, freshly made juice and tea or coffee. Don’t miss Daniele’s salad he serves with the eggs (I had an omelette) it was absolutely delicious, yes even for breakfast.
After breakfast, you can laze on the daybed or on one of the sun lounges around the pool you’ll always be guaranteed one at Villas Light House.
Need a cold drink, water or a Bintang? Daniele and Alessandro now have a small kitchen with a few supplies for nominal prices available.
Of course, Wifi was supplied throughout the little complex and worked well. When we travel it’s essential that we have good wifi as I am constantly updating this travel blog and Kevin needs online access for share trading.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Villas Light House and would highly recommend you stay with Daniele and Alessandro as they have beautiful villas surrounded by tropical plants. They are very helpful and knowledgeable about Gili Trawangan.
Restaurants Gili Trawangan – Where to Eat
Once we were settled into our accommodation the next thing to do was to jump on our bikes and head off to find a place to eat as we’d missed lunch.
Although Daniele had recommended the Gili Trawangan Night Market we never quite made it over to that side of the Island after sunset. We love going to food market anywhere in the world as we did at this one at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. On this occasion, we missed out on the night food markets and ate at restaurants on the west side of the Island.
One of our favourites was Le Pirate Beach Club, one of Daniele’s recommendations. We ate a couple of dinners there and a breakfast. The food was always plentiful and at a great price that won’t break the bank.
An added bonus one night was a movie playing on a large portable screen right on the beach across the road.
The Ombak hotel was another favourite, right on the beach for sunset with a perfect view of Mount Agung for sunset. This, coupled with the MAJOR attraction of two swings in the ocean. Girls queue for ages to have their turn on the swing to have a photograph taken. No doubt you’ve probably seen a few doing the rounds on social media?
Tip: Just down from Le Pirate was another swing which stood vacant for most of the day…would save you queuing!
The night we watched the sunset at Ombak there was a band playing, excellent music and a mixture of good cocktails and music swayed us to stay for dinner.
Again the food didn’t disappoint this salmon dish was great and the service was excellent.
Things To Do Gili Islands
The 3 top things to do Gili Islands are snorkelling, diving and relaxing either by the beach or pool or in a spa, yes massages are available on Gili Trawangan too. You can read about more things to do on Gili here.
Snorkelling Gili Trawangan
One of your must-visit places in Bali, when you visit, is snorkelling on Gili T.
No need to hire a boat as you can walk in straight off the beach with your gear. I would recommend you have something on your feet tho as the coral and rocks can start right at the shoreline. I used my dive boots as we scuba dive.
We also had our mask and snorkel with us too but you can hire them and fins too but we found we didn’t need them as there wasn’t any current to speak of with the swim out nice and easy.
It’s well worth a snorkel on Gili T, lots of fish to see and if you are lucky turtles too, we even saw a crayfish.
The best beach in Gili Trawangan for snorkelling or lazing about was opposite Le Pirate and if you have a meal or drink there you can use their pool, beach lounges and other facilities too.
Diving Gili Trawangan
Daniele suggested a couple of dive companies Diversia and Manta-Dive we believe a local recommendation goes a long way as they live on the Island and are privy to that inside knowledge of the local news.
Unfortunately, bouts of Bali belly and ear infections kept us from diving this trip but we thoroughly enjoyed Bali snorkelling.
We were halfway through a month-long road trip around Bali so charging around the Island on a bike didn’t make our list, although apparently that only takes an hour. Reading, sipping cocktails, snorkelling, and swimming was more our pace.
What about you, have you been to Gili Trawangan or any of the Gili Islands or are they still on your list?
Want to know more about Gili Trawangan? Leave a comment below and I’ll answer asap!
Disclaimer: We received our accommodation at Villas Light House and our fast boat trip from Gili T to Sarangan complimentary. Our opinions remain our own.