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Last Updated on July 24, 2023 by Madison Krigbaum
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “the Gili Islands?” Does it conjure images of white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters flush with plump, green sea turtles? If I hit the nail on the head – you’re not wrong. I swam with plenty a heckin’ good sea turtle during my time on Gili Trawangan. But…that’s not all I did. Since I budgeted six days on this tiny Southeast Asian island, I had the opportunity to really explore the side of Gili Trawangan for solo travelers.
If you want your solo trip to Gili T to be riddled with yummy food, new friends, sunset drinks and chonky sea turtles galore…keep reading for my ultimate guide to Gili Trawangan for solo travelers.
Getting to Gili Trawangan
Fair warning for my seasick Sallys out there…getting to Gili T can be a bumpy ride. Since there are hundreds of tours and boats out there that run ferries back and forth from Bali and Lombok to the Gilis, it’s important to book with a reputable boat company with a good rating.
How to Get from Bali to Gili Trawangan
After doing some research and asking around, I’m confident that the Ekajaya Fast Boats are some of the safest and most reliable boats running consistent trips to the Gilis. I always air on the side of being extra prepared, so I booked my seat on the Ekajaya a day before leaving my apartment in Canggu. Thankfully, you can book a fast boat to Gili Trawangan from Bali easily online on 12Go.
I left from the Padang Bai Port, which is easily accessed by a Grab or Gojek taxi from anywhere in Bali. My ferry ticket cost 375,000 IDR or 24 USD one way and the journey took about two and a half hours.
How to Get to Gili Trawangan from Lombok
Getting to Gili Trawangan from Lombok is much faster than departing from Bali. Ferries from Lombok to Gili T leave from Bangsal Pier, only take about 45 minutes instead of 2.5 hours and only cost around 9 USD each way.
How to Get Around Gili Trawangan
There are no cars on Gili Trawangan, so the main mode of transportation is bicycles. Well actually, the main mode of transportation is walking, but it takes a lot less time to bike around the island than walk it. And let’s be honest…you’ve got Bintangs to drink.
You’ll also see horse-drawn carriages all over Gili Trawangan that take tourists around the island for a fee. However, I’ve spoken to many expats around Bali that have called into question the treatment of the horses in the Gili Islands. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the subject. Before deciding whether to hire a carriage or not, I recommend reading The Wandering Quinn’s take on the treatment of the horses on Gili T. This girl did her research 👏🏼 and you can make your final decision knowing all the facts.
Where to Stay in Gili Trawangan as a Solo Traveler
M Box Hostel
As a solo female traveler, I spend a lot of time traveling through hostels. They’re easy on the budget and the best way to make friends in new destinations. That being said…I prefer my hostels a little on the bougie side 😉 Specifically…with a bar, restaurant, A/C and a swimming pool. M Box Hostel on Gili Trawangan checked all those boxes and more.
M Box offers 3-bed, all-female dorms, which allowed me to make two new friends on my very first night on the island. I ended up hanging out with one of the girls in my room for the duration of my stay! (She’s pictured on the bike further down the page 🤫).
They have an on-site bar/restaurant near the outdoor swimming pool, where travelers hang out drinking Bintangs and playing cards until it’s time to head out to the beach bars. The rooms are extremely clean, the bike rentals are on-site and you can book tons of tours around the island at the front desk. All for around $9 per night! I’m just devastated I missed their sunset cruise party boat because the weather was looking a little iffy.
Other Gili Trawangan Hotels / Hostels for Solo Travelers
While biking around Gili Trawangan, I caught a glimpse of the Mad Monkey Hostel. It was a beacon of blended drinks, pool parties and sunburnt dudes in short shorts. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mad Monkey is THE Gili Trawangan party hostel. Honestly, it looked fun as hell 🙌🏼
However, keep in mind that the location leaves much to be desired. While M Box is located a short, five minute walk from the main stretch, Mad Monkey is a 30 minute walk across the island. You could rent a bike to get back and forth, but the only good biking area is around the main stretch. The roads going through the island are bumpy, rocky and sometimes just a stretch of beach. Believe me – biking on sand is f***ing hard.
My Mate’s Place is another great option on Gili Trawangan for solo travelers. It’s got a great location, only five minutes from the main stretch, and is the only hostel on Gili Trawangan with its own party boat and nightclub!
Gili Trawangan for Solo Travelers
Now that we’ve covered how to get there and where to stay – let’s get to the juicy part. If you’re visiting the Gili Islands solo, this itinerary to Gili Trawangan for solo travelers will be your all-inclusive travel guide to making the best of your time on Gili T.
Go Scuba Diving with Trawangan Dive
After getting my PADI Open Water and Advanced certifications diving in Roatan, Honduras – I’ve become a bit of a scuba junkie. Since the Gili Islands are known to have one of Asia’s only flourishing green sea turtle populations, I knew Gili Trawangan diving had to be on my bucket list.
Let me just say…WHOA. They weren’t kidding. On my second dive (at an appropriately-named site called Turtle Heaven), you couldn’t go three feet without running into a massive green sea turtle. I like to call this experience “turtle naptime” since these sleepy bois seemed to be quite cozy napping on the reef (pictured below). If you’re an Advanced Scuba Diver, make sure to dive Shark Point during your visit. I saw two reef sharks, a green turtle and a massive eagle ray here during the first four minutes of the dive!
If you plan on scuba diving in Gili Trawangan, I would highly recommend diving with Trawangan Dive. The dive team is super fun and friendly and the instructors really make you feel safe while diving in a new destination.
Book a Snorkeling Tour and Visit the Gili Menos Underwater Statues
If diving isn’t your thing, no sweat. You can still experience the magic underwater in the Gili Islands!
Booking a snorkeling tour is a great way to see some awesome marine life and make some friends during your trip. There is a famous statue underwater off the coast of Gili Meno that is almost always included in snorkeling trips from Gili Trawangan. Fair warning: if you’re snorkeling with a large tour group, your visit to the statue might be somewhat hectic.
You also don’t need to book a snorkeling tour to visit the statue. We took the ferry to Gili Meno and snorkeled around the statue from the shore!
Take Day Trips to Gili Meno and Gili Air
Sadly, I didn’t have time to visit Gili Air during my solo trip to Gili Trawangan. However, I did have time to grab a quick ferry over to Gili Meno to enjoy some pool time and snorkel the world-famous underwater statues! The frequency of the ferry service between islands has decreased since COVID, so if the times aren’t convenient for you, you can ask for a quote from one of the many tour operators advertising their services near the ferry pier.
Go on a Pub Crawl and Enjoy Gili Trawangan’s Famous Nightlife
My itinerary to Gili Trawangan for solo travelers wouldn’t be complete without a little pub crawl action! The Gili T Island pub crawl runs Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday nights for 250K (around $16 per person). Check in at the Irish Bar from 7-9PM and the price of admission includes a free bucket, free shots, a free t-shirt and a discounted menu.
Watch the Sunset from Sunset Point
I’m a sucker for a sunset…and a viewpoint. It’s no surprise that Gili Trawangan’s Sunset Point was calling my name.
Head to sunset point with a couple of Bintangs and, hopefully, a couple of new hostel friends to enjoy a beautiful Indonesian sunset over Gunung Seraya (Mount Seraya).
Catch a Movie at One of Gili T’s Open Air Cinemas
If you’re looking for a chill night, consider catching a movie at one of the open air cinemas on Gili T. PinkCoco offers beach movies every night for free after sunset, or you can catch one at Hotel Vila Ombak for 100K ($6.50).
Bike Around the Island
I’ll be completely honest with you, biking around the island was advertised as a much more enjoyable activity than it actually was. About 75% of the trail was fantastic: paved, empty and with gorgeous ocean views. The other 25% was strenuous and consisted of dangerously unbalanced peddling over sand while dodging bikes coming the other way.
Now you have the facts and you can decide for yourself whether biking around the island is an activity you want to add to your Gili Trawangan island itinerary.
Participate in a Beach Cleanup
It’s more important than ever before to keep our oceans clean and protect marine ecosystems. I’ve always wanted to participate in a beach cleanup…and on Gili T I finally got my chance.
The Gili Eco Trust organizes a Debris Free Friday every week at 5:00PM. Volunteers get together at a new location (specified weekly on their Facebook page) for a 1-hour clean up followed by a free Bintang beer! Not only is it a great way to give back to the local environment, but it’s an awesome activity on Gili Trawangan for solo travelers to make friends.
Look at how many cigarette butts we picked up in just one hour! 🤯
Have Drinks at PinkCoco
This Gili Trawangan itinerary wouldn’t be complete without mentioning one of the best photo spots on the island…PinkCoco Gili Trawangan! Since the prices were much more than a hostel (around $60-70/night), and I wanted to meet people, I opted out of staying at PinkCoco and instead hopped over there for dinner and a quick photo sesh.
Tip: Do you struggle getting awesome content while solo traveling? Trust me, there are better ways than asking a stranger to take 1-3 mediocre photos of you and feeling too guilty to ask for a redo. A trusty travel tripod is going to help you capture gorgeous photos of yourself as you explore the world solo.
Visit the Trawangan Night Market
I LOVED the Trawangan Night Market 😍 I think I visited three times during my six days on Gili T.
The Trawangan Night Market is filled with local vendors selling delicious Indonesian fare for an insanely affordable price. Most of the stands are buffet style. Simply point to which items you want, and the vendor will scoop them onto a plate for you. A few of the stands are made-to-order; like the smoothie stands and the martabak.
Speaking of martabak…you absolutely MUST-TRY this Indonesian dessert. I really don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I went crazy for the martabak at the Trawangan Night Market. Both times I ordered mine with strawberries and nutella and holy shit was it delicious.
Martabak Manis is a thick and chewy sweet pancake with a texture like a honeycomb. It’s absolutely drenched in butter and condensed milk and typical toppings include chocolate sprinkles, fresh fruit, nuts and Oreos.
Try All the Best Restaurants on Gili Trawangan!
Now that you’ve fallen in love with Gili Trawangan…it’s time to fall in love with Gili Trawangan’s FOOD. When I visited, I noticed many of the restaurants I was finding recommendations for online were permanently closed. You can be confident that the restaurants below are open and serving food as of March 2023.
I love a good wrap. Kayu Cafe was the site of the best wrap I had during my four months in Indonesia! This cute, oceanside cafe serves up yummy breakfasts, sandwiches, wraps, salads and coffee for a resonable price with a gorgeous view. If you get a chance to visit, I highly recommend ordering the tuna rillette wrap for 65K IDR or 4 USD.
The last place I was expecting to find authentic Italian pizza was on a 3 km long island in the Bali Sea. You could tell the chef from Regina Pizzeria was from Italy, because that 👏🏼 shit 👏🏼 was 👏🏼 delicious. Also, the website is in Italian and that melted my heart a bit.
I ordered the prosciutto fungi pizza, doused it with chili oil and washed it down with an ice-cold Bintang. It was one of my favorite meals I had on Gili T!
Hellocapitano Lifestyle Cafe
Another cute oceanside cafe, Hellocapitano serves up yummy local food as well as sandwiches, burgers, crepes, breakfast and salad bowls on the main stretch of Gili T. I ordered a tuna salad wrap with avocado (clearly I was on a tuna salad kick) and a fresh mango smoothie. With a fresh salad and a view of the sea, it was the perfect lunch on Gili Trawangan.
Scallywags Seafood Bar & Grill
Scallywags is the perfect spot to enjoy some delicious Indonesian or international food directly on the beach. I even went for a swim in the ocean while I waited for my spicy nasi goreng! The food at Scallywags was delicious and for a full meal, a juice and a smoothie I only paid a whopping $9.
Fat Cats Bar and Restaurant
Fat Cats is the bar and restaurant attached to Trawangan Dive Center. After a glorious morning of diving with reef sharks, turtles and rays, I stopped by for a falafel salad bowl filled with delicious falafel, couscous, hummus, feta cheese and pita bread.
I ate my meal at the swim-up bar with a good book while I soaked up the Indonesian sun. How’s that for a Tuesday afternoon? I have the digital nomad life to thank!
Warung Jaman Now
If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s more on the local side, Warung Jaman Now is a great spot for an affordable Indonesian meal. They do have some international options on the menu, but I would definitely stick to local cuisine at this restaurant. It’s located off the beach, tucked away in one of the many winding alleys on Gili Trawangan.
There you have it! Now you’re ready to snorkel with sea turtles, chow down on local food and make tons of friends as a solo traveler on Gili Trawangan. Below, you’ll find some helpful FAQs about the Gili Islands and the side of Gili Trawangan for solo travelers.
Gili Trawangan for Solo Travelers FAQs:
Yes! As a solo female traveler, I felt very safe on Gili Trawangan. There were tons of other like-minded solo traveler to meet, so I didn’t spend a lot of time on my own. Quick safety tip for solo travelers visiting Gili Trawangan: I would recommending packing a small headlamp or flashlight. The streets behind the main stretch can get very dark at night and they are full of potholes. I would also not recommend walking back to your hostel alone if you’re drunk and it’s very late (for the same reasons).
Yes and no! There are definitely tons of party options for those looking to dance the night away at a club. However, I did very little partying on Gili Trawangan and still found lots of exciting and unique things to do. Long story short – Gili Trawangan is a party island if you want it to be, but non-party animals will also feel very comfortable here.
No, the Gili Islands are not part of Bali. Although the Gili Islands are only a two and a half hour fast boat ride from Bali, they are actually part of Lombok Island.
The Gili Islands are an archipelago off the coast of Lombok made up of three islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno. Gili Trawangan is the largest island in the Gili Islands at around 3.4 square km. Gili Air is the second largest and Gili Meno is the smallest island.
I spent six days on Gili T during my time in the Gili Islands. However, I am a digital nomad who prioritizes slow travel over anything else. If you have limited time to visit the Gili Islands, you could fit a decent itinerary into three days.
Keep in mind, a vacation on Gili T is a bit like visiting Roatan – everyone ends up extending their stay!
Absolutely not! Gili Trawangan is made for solo travelers. It was so easy to meet people, I had a new friend two hours after arriving on the island. Booking a hostel is the best way to meet people as a solo traveler. So if your goal is to meet people on Gili T, consider booking one of the hostels recommended above.
There is not a permanent police force present on Gili Trawangan. Instead, order is enforced by private security officers on the island – with help from the mainland police force when necessary.
The best time to visit Gili T is between May and October, which is the island’s dry season. Keep in mind, this also means that it will be the busiest time of year to visit the Gilis. Peak tourist season is from mid-June to early September. My advice is to visit in the shoulder season to get decent weather but avoid the crowds.
The Gili Islands are located very close to the equator, so the climate is very warm and tropical. Temperatures vary in the dry vs. wet season, but typically the island’s temperature is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
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