**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you buy something through those links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here to view my legal page. Thank you for your support!
Looking for the best things to do in Gili Trawangan? These are my top suggestions for solo travelers and anyone else looking to have an unforgettable vacation on the Gili Islands.
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 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.
The Lazy Girl’s Guide
🏡 Where to Stay:
*BUDGET & SOLO TRAVEL-FRIENDLY:
🌊 Things to Do:
- Go scuba diving with Trawangan Dive 🤿
- Or book a snorkeling excursion to swim with the sea turtles 🐢
- Head to sunset point for a spectacular Indonesian sunset 🌅
- Immerse yourself in Lombok culture at a local cooking class 🍛
- Rent a bike and cycle the perimeter of the island 🚲
- Participate in a Debris Free Friday – a beach cleanup with the Gili Eco Trust ♻️
- Learn to surf 🏄♀️
- Enjoy the nightlife and make new friends on an island pub crawl 🍻
- Be a little bougie on a snorkeling, sunset, and dinner catamaran cruise 🥂
*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 in 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!
My Review of 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 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.
👉🏼 Click Here to Book Your Stay at M Box!
Things to do on 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 in Lombok.
1. 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.
PSA: Diving is amazing all over Indonesia. Earlier in the year, I had the chance to dive in Amed and Tulamben on Bali’s east coast and it was 10/10 absolutely amazing.
2. 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. If you splurge on a private snorkeling tour, you might have a better experience.
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.
3. Take Day Trips to Gili Meno and Gili Air
Sadly, I didn’t have time to visit Gili Air during my solo trip to Lombok. 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.
4. Go on a Pub Crawl and Enjoy the Nightlife
My itinerary to Gili Trawangan for solo travelers wouldn’t be complete without a little pub crawl action! The Island pub crawl runs Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday nights for 250K (around $16 per person). Check-in at The Irish Bar from 7-9:00PM and the price of admission includes a free bucket, free shots, a free t-shirt, and a discounted menu.
5. 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 sunset over Gunung Seraya (Mount Seraya).
6. Catch a Movie at an Open Air Cinema
If you’re looking for a chill night, consider catching a movie at one of the open-air cinemas on Gili Trawangan. PinkCoco offers beach movies every night for free after sunset, or you can catch one at Hotel Vila Ombak for 100K ($6.50).
7. Eat Plenty of Local Food
Let’s just say, if you’re a foodie – you came to the right island.
Not only is the foodie scene on Gili Trawangan delicious, but it’s also unbelievably affordable. The island has a nice mix of local spots selling typical Indonesian fare like nasi goreng, nasi campur, bakso, and martabak, as well as tons of international options like sandwiches, pizza, and Jamaican food.
If you want to eat at the best restaurants during your trip, don’t worry, I would never leave you hanging! You’ll find a list of my personal favorite restaurants on the island below. Additionally, one of my favorite ways to immerse myself in the local culture is with a cooking class! I’ve taken cooking classes all over the world and learned how to make tons of delicious local dishes like fresh pierogi in Krakow. A local cooking class in Gili T would be a great way to learn more about the culinary scene and make some friends along the way.
👉🏼 Immerse yourself even further in the local foodie scene by booking a Gili T cooking class!
8. Rent a Bike and Cycle 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.
9. Participate in a Beach Cleanup
It’s more important than ever before to travel responsibly and practice ecotourism. I’ve always wanted to participate in a beach cleanup…and in Lombok 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! 🤯
10. 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 to get 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.
11. Visit the Trawangan Night Market
I LOVED the Trawangan Night Market 😍 I think I visited it three times during my six days on the island.
The Trawangan Night Market is filled with local vendors selling tons of tasty dishes 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.
The Best Restaurants on Gili T
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 January 2024.
12. Kayu Cafe
I love a good wrap. Kayu Cafe was the site of the best wrap I had during my eight months in Southeast Asia! This cute, oceanside cafe serves up yummy breakfasts, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and coffee for a reasonable 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.
13. Pizzeria Regina
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 Pizzeria Regina 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 in Lombok.
End of 2023 update: I just got back from another month eating the best food in Rome and I still think this pizza was delicious.
14. Hellocapitano Lifestyle Cafe
Another cute oceanside cafe, Hellocapitano Lifestyle Cafe serves up yummy local food as well as sandwiches, burgers, crepes, breakfast and salad bowls on the main stretch of the island near the ferry port. 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.
15. 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 I only paid a whopping $9 for a full meal, juice, and a smoothie.
16. 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!
17. 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 the island.
How to Get There
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 T
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.
👉🏼 Book your ferry from Bali to Gili Trawangan here!
How to Get to Gili T 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. Keep in mind that the more you spend, the more enjoyable your journey will likely be. Pay attention to the reviews of the company – I highly recommend paying a bit more for a reputable boat.
👉🏼 Book your ferry from Lombok to Gili Trawangan here!
How to Get Around the Island
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 near the pier that take tourists around the island for a fee. I am not a proponent of animal tourism, however, after researching and learning more about this subject, I don’t believe that taking a horse-drawn carriage (especially out of necessity to get to a further out accommodation) in Gili T is a horrible choice.
The conditions for these horses have greatly improved since the founding of the Horses of Gili T nonprofit. The Horses of Gili T operates under the Gili Eco Trust and has taken great steps to educate locals on proper care of the horses on the island. They’ve donated proper equipment to replace ill-fitting bits, brides, and boots that can cause injury to the horses; are selling nutritious horse feed to the owners at low costs; and have trained a farrier to properly groom the horses and change the horseshoes. Sometimes they will even buy mistreated horses on the island and re-home them to give them a better life.
The fact remains that, in order for these horses to be well-fed and well-maintained, their owners need to make a stable living. The best thing you can do for them is not as easy as walking your luggage for 40 minutes across rugged terrain to avoid a horse-and-carriage ride, the best thing you can do is to donate to the Horses of Gili T (linked below).
👉🏼 Donate Today to the Horses of Gili T Nonprofit Organization
Protect Your Trip to the Gili Islands
**I receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. I do not represent World Nomads. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
Whenever I plan a trip, I always make sure to protect myself and my wallet with trip insurance. In the past, I’ve had very good experiences with World Nomads. During my trip to Chiang Mai in 2019, I had an unfortunate ankle-spraining incident that turned into a hospital visit with X-Rays, crutches and physical therapy. When I submitted my claim to World Nomads, I was reimbursed within weeks.
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world! Click below to get a quote for your next trip.
👉🏼 Get your quote for trip insurance here!
Data in Indonesia
Regardless of where you’re visiting around the world, I would highly recommend that you purchase a reliable data plan. Having a data plan greatly increases the safety of every trip, especially as a solo traveler. Thankfully, with Airalo, purchasing data on the road could not be any easier! Choose one of the convenient data plans below for your trip to the Gili Islands. Simply download the app, select your data plan, install the eSIM, and you’re ready to go.
Just be sure your phone is unlocked and able to receive an eSIM before you check out.
- Indotel 1GB for 7 Days
- Indotel 2GB for 15 Days
- Indotel 3GB for 30 Days
- Indotel 5GB for 30 Days
- Indotel 10GB for 30 Days
- Indotel 20GB for 30 Days
Even if you’re not planning on visiting Indonesia for that long, I always recommend buying the largest data package. Chances are, you’ll underestimate how much data you’ll actually use and then you won’t need to worry about it during your trip.
👉🏼 Download Airalo and set up your eSIM here!
Gili T 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 the Gili Islands: 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 during my trip 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 they 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! This island 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, consider booking one of the hostels recommended above.
There is not a permanent police force present on Gili Trawangan. Instead, the 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.
There you have it – now you’re ready to snorkel with sea turtles, chow down on local food, and drink way more than you probably should in the Gili Islands. If you’re not an experienced solo traveler and are finding yourself nervous about your trip, don’t worry. This island is very solo-traveler and backpacker-friendly, so it’s extremely easy to make friends.
If you enjoyed this post about Gili Trawangan for solo travelers, you may enjoy my related posts below. And don’t forget to enter your email below and subscribe for new destination guides posted weekly 😊 (and to grab my awesome trio of freebies).