There are 3 gilis; Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air. Gili means “ small island “. The largest of the three islands is Gili Trawangan attracts the majority of visitors, local tourist or international tourist. It is only around thirty minutes boat ride from the northwest mainland of Lombok and regular daily fast boat depart in the morning from Bali (from Amed, Padangbai harbour, Sanur and Serangan) directly to Gili Trawangan island and all boats stop off at Teluk Nare on mainland Lombok as part of the return journey.
The beaches of the Gilis are still powdery white, the water a beautiful clear blue and they are positioned perfectly for sunsets over Bali’s Mt Agung and sunrise over Lombok’s Mt Rinjani. Thirty years ago the Gili islands were uninhabited and only discovered by the seafaring Bugis people from Sulawesi. It was only a matter of time before the more adventurous backpacker types discovered the islands and developed Trawangan into a hippy party paradise destination.
Unique to the 3 Gilis island all forms of motorized transport are still not allowed – meaning the only way to get around is on foot, by bicycle and in pony carts known as Cidomos.
One sign of change is the recent introduction four ATM machines on the three Gili Trawangan to be found at Hotel Vila Ombak and Coral Beach.
Hawkers are not so much of an issue on Gili Trawangan as in Bali; you’re likely to attract afriendly conversation from the locals rather than a hardcore sales pitch.
With over twenty-five dive sites surrounding all three islands there are opportunities to dive any of the Gilis regardless of where you base yourself.
Aside from the obvious lure of snorkeling and diving, sunbathing and bar-hopping, Gili Trawangan has a fair amount of distractions to keep visitors both amused and entertained throughout the course of their stay.
Most visitors stay on Gili Trawangan for the facilities and make the short hop out to the dive sites. Each dive school has its own fleet of traditional outrigger boats that ferry divers offshore to the walls and reefs where the best diving is to be found.
Fishing trips and charters can be made with the local outrigger fishing boats who offer day trips with line fishing and trawling.
The Bio Rock is an environmental initiative set up by the Gili Eco Trust that over the last six years has hosted an annual Bio Rock workshop on Gili Trawangan. The artificial metal reef cages are fed a constant voltage of electricity to encourage coral regeneration and are a natural attraction for all forms of marine life. There are now thirty three individual projects in the Gilis and it’s possible to snorkel or dive around them and there’s even a PADI specialty course tailored to educate and involve a wider community. Although the island once had a reputation among the back-packing community as wicked party destination, many establishments which once laid claim to hosting wild dance parties today trade on their reputations.
By a tradition that continuous today, only one establishment per night can play music and host dance party until 4 am. Of the seven weekly venues hosting parties, the one most anticipated by tourists and locals alike are the funk house and hard music parties with local DJ’s in spinning disks.
If wild dance parties are not to your liking, many restaurants and bars, including the Tirnanog – Irish bar, provide a range of more sedate and social gathering point for Al fresco dinning and drinking by the water’s edge.