The largest of the three islands, Gili Trawangan, is the ultimate backpacker destination in Indonesia. Located a 30 minute local ferry ride from South Lombok or a 90 minute fast boat ride from Bali, Gili T is the car-free, motorbike-free tropical paradise you've been dreaming of. If partying til all hours isn't your scene, don't despair. Gili T also caters to the 'granny's' among us (like me!) who prefer an early night.
Here are my top 5 favourite things to do on Gili T:
1. Hire a bicycle and ride around the island - and through the island! This is the best way to get a feel for the Gili T lifestyle, and to stretch your legs away from the 'bar bubble' near the harbour. There are some great bars and restaurants on the West side of Trawangan but be prepared to get off and push your bike through sand at some points to reach them. After all that hard work you will definitely have earned a Bintang or two at your destination!
Hiring hint: There are tons of rental places all over the island. Make sure your bike is sturdy - the first one I rented kept losing the pedals and the second one kept losing its chain! The bikes won't be perfect, but you don't want to be stuck on the other side of the island pushing a broken bike through the sand. Rp30,000-50,000/day should get you a fairly decent ride.
2. Walking, cycling or hitching a ride in a cidomo (brightly-coloured horse-drawn carts) down to Sunset Bar is the must-do activity at around 5.30pm every afternoon. Add your bike to the pile under the shoe tree (you'll see what I mean when you get there!), ready your camera, grab a bintang and prepare yourself for sunsets that last forever and impressive fire-twirling shows by local residents. And Bob Marley. They sure do love Bob Marley!
Before you go: The cidomos have fixed rates now and it can be harder to negotiate for one to wait for you. If you aren't keen on walking back in the dark, speak to your driver and organise a time for him to return for you. Otherwise, grab a head torch and jump on a bike!
3. Shopping on Gili T is pretty basic, with the same ol' stuff you've seen all over Bali already mixed with some newer boutiques and jewellery stores (that come with much higher price tags). What's unique about Gili T is the recent influx of vintage clothing stores! There are at least three, which is a LOT for a tropical island that only measures 3km x 2km! My favourite, with two stores on the East side of the island and a new beach-side location on its way, is Vintage Delivery. Check out their latest finds on your next visit, or people-watch in the comfy chairs out front of their store.
Handy hint: Their larger store is opposite an amazing thai restaurant, definitely worth a visit!
4. After you've exhausted yourself cycling, shopping and taking in the sunset, tuck into a seafood BBQ at The Beach House or Scallywags for dinner. Choose from a selection of fresh seafood and eat overlooking the water. On my last visit we couldn't go past the whole lobster, shared between three. Not into seafood? The salads are fantastic!
In the know tip: During peak tourist seasons you may need to wait for a table as they rarely take bookings. Try your luck and speak to the staff earlier in the day to guarantee a spot, or settle yourself for some pre-dinner drinks at the bar until a table is available.
5. Recovering from a late night? Exhausted from all of the relaxing? It's a tough life, I know, but never fear, we have you covered. Pearl Beach Lounge is my go-to place for a full day of relaxation and delicious food. For only Rp100,000 (minimum spend on food/drinks), you can park yourself on one of the beach loungers facing the ocean or by the pool for the whole day. It's not hard to spend $10 here - the food is fantastic and indulging in a glass of white wine at the end of the day sitting at the in-pool bar is not to be missed! Make sure to arrive before 11 to guarantee a spot if you have a larger group.
Secret tip: the Snickers ice cream from the nearby store is amazing!
What are your favourite Gili T spots? How does your ideal day on Gili T differ?