When one talks of Indonesia, Bali immediately comes to mind — a popular tourist and holiday destination for many. Bali is home to beautiful beaches and a thriving nightlife, which in turn invites streams of visitors every year. Unbeknownst to many, in the eastward direction from Bali resides a hidden gem, the Gili Islands — home to three islands known as Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air.

Gili Islands lies near the coast of Lombok Island and is known for its sandy beaches, palm trees, and coral reefs. All three islands are known for being famous diving spots, which is one of the main activities. Gili Trawangan is the largest and the most popular of the three islands due to its well-established infrastructure. Gili Trawangan also offers a wide range of activities for visitors, whether you’re travelling solo, in a group, or as a couple.

Dining

Authentic Italian pasta dishes at Diversea Restaurant Lounge.

You’re not short on food when it comes to Gili Trawangan. With the ocean on all sides, seafood plays a prominent part while its cafe culture is also taking shape. If you’re looking to take diving lessons and also grab a bite to eat, Diversea Restaurant and Lounge is the place to be. The Italian restaurant has a wide menu with pasta dishes being the main focus, including various cocktails as well.

For vegetarians, Casa Vintage is your best bet as it offers homemade really good vegetarian food. From breakfasts to tapas, Casa Vintage has everything for everyone as well as a vintage store and even a rooftop bar to boot. Pearl Beach Lounge is another option that also serves up local Indonesian food with a unique twist. It’s also situated right on the beach to give you a great view of the ocean alongside its cooling breeze.

Accommodation

Ambary House is one of the many villas in Gili Trawangan.

Gili Trawangan is very much like Bali with plenty of villas available around the island. Staying in villas is a great way for a large group travelling to the island without having to pay exorbitant hotel prices. Ambary House is one such villa on the island, capable of accommodating up to six people in a single party in its two-bedroom villa. If you would prefer a hotel with the option to stay in a villa, Hotel Vila Ombak is just a few minutes away from Ambary House. It is also the first-ever international hotel to ever make its way to the island.

Sunset Palms Resort offers three types of villas: a one-bedroom, a two-bedroom, and a deluxe two-bedroom.

Pearl of Trawangan is also located within the same vicinity as the first two, offering a wide array of cottages and villas to choose from. It’s also just a stone’s throw away from the beach, giving you direct access to both sand and sea in mere minutes. If you’re looking for something more private and luxurious, check out Sunset Palms Resort and Pondok Santi, both of which are located on former coconut plantations on the island. Both establishments offer spacious, majestically designed villas at your disposal, whilst still providing a five-star service like no other.

Activities

There are abundant coral reefs and sea turtles around Gili Trawangan.

You can never run out of things to do when you’re in Gili Trawangan. With its blue waters on all sides, Gili Trawangan is a premier diving destination. The island is home to many diving schools where you can get your PADI Open Water or Advanced diver’s certification.

Blue Marlin Dive is a popular name with a diving school on all three islands. It also has another two diving schools in both Lombok and Komodo. It’s been around for 27 years with over 70 dive sites in total around the islands, making it one of the most experienced diving schools to learn from.

If diving isn’t your cup of tea, another way to truly appreciate the vast beauty of the deep blue sea is through snorkelling. The island is riddled with both snorkelling and diving spots, making it much easier for you to check out the coral reefs as well as regular sightings of sea turtles.

Wi-Liam Teh
Senior Writer
Wi-Liam is a geek at heart with a penchant for tattoos. Never without a drink in hand (preferably whisky, gin, or Guinness), he is also a writer by day and a keyboard warrior by night. On his day off, he masquerades as a streetwear and sneakerhead enthusiast while his bank account says otherwise.