There’s a reason why Gili Trawangan is becoming an increasingly popular stop on Indonesia travel itineraries: the island is incredible!
From its postcard-perfect beaches to its amazingly chilled-out vibe to its unreal sunsets, Gili Trawangan is an ideal place to wile the days away.
Gili Trawangan belongs to a cluster of three tiny islands (the Gili Islands: Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air) just off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia.
The name “Gili Islands” is a misnomer, because Gili simply means “small island” in Sasak. As a result, most of the islands around the coast of Lombok have Gili in their names, although confusion is averted by referring (in English) to the other Gilis around the Lombok coast by their proper names only.
Due to their close proximity to the Equator, the Islands have a warm, tropical climate with a dry and wet season. With Mount Rinjani to the immediate east on Lombok, and Mount Agung to the west on Bali, the Gilis are somewhat sheltered and actually enjoy a slightly drier microclimate when compared to the surrounding archipelago. Dry season usually lasts from May until October, with Monsoon season starting in November and continuing through to April. Temperatures range between 22 °C to 34 °C, with an average annual temperature of around 28 °C.
Gili Trawangan is the largest of the Gili Islands and the only one to rise significantly (30 m) above sea level. Measuring 3 km long and 2 km wide. It remains the most developed and is by far the most popular choice for travelers.
The waters around the island boast rich tropical marine biodiversity and offer good visibility all year round. Gili Trawangan has a good mix with quiet and serene beaches on the northern and western sides, and a multitude of dining and partying hotspots at restaurants and lively bars on the south.
The name Trawangan originates from the Indonesian word Terowongan (Tunnel) due to the presence of a cave tunnel built there during Japanese occupation in WW2.
Occupying Japanese forces used the islands as a lookout post and prisoner of war camp. Relics from this period include the remains of a bunker on the hill of Gili Trawangan, and the wreck of a patrol boat submerged at a depth of 45 m in the bay to the south of Gili Air (now a popular dive site).
Permanent settlement only began in the 1970s, mainly due to the lack of fresh water sources before that time. Previous to human settlement, these islands remained pristine wildlife mangrove habitats. The beaches of the Gilis are still powdery white and the water a beautiful clear blue.
On Gili Trawangan (as well as the other two Gilis), there are no motorised vehicles. The main means of transportation are bicycles and cidomo (a small horse-drawn carriage). For travelling to and from each of the Gilis, locals usually use motorised boats and speedboats.
Although originally discovered by backpackers in the mid eighties, and with a reputation as a party destination, the Gilis now boasts themselves as a great destination suitable for travelers of all types (families, backpackers, honeymooners) and all ages.
Most visitors only intended to stay a couple of days, but often, once there, they extended their time to one or two weeks. Whether you’re looking to party or just relax, the Gilis really do have a way of sucking you in.