Your Forgotten Island Paradise: Gili T (Gili Trawangan)

Gili T Indonesia

Let’s head back over to the Gili islands in Indonesia. The Gili islands are three islands off the coast of the island of Lombok which is right next to the island of Bali. The Gilis are very small and feel like you have gone back in time. In order of size it’s Gili Trawangan (Gili T), Gili Meno, Gili Air. Of the three Gili Air and Trawangan are the most popular. Gili Meno is the middle island and is largely forgotten about. Gili Trawangan is well known as the party and backpacking island, while Gili Air is the resorty family island. When we visited we were initially planning on island hopping a bit but we ended up being quite content to stay on Gili Trawangan (Gili T).

Gili Trawangan aka Gili T

Gili Trawangan is very poor nobody ever mentions this.The areas around the beach are built up and bit more upscale but the main center of the town where people live is relatively basic. As you progress further off the tourist path you’ll come across the actual homes of the main populace of Gili Trawangan and you realize how poor the island is. Gili Trawangan is beautiful don’t get me wrong! We really enjoyed our time there

Getting There

Gili T Mentor Travel
Expect to leap from the boat as it comes to shore.

To get to the Gili’s is really easy. There are many companies that you can book along the streets in the main tourist areas. Make sure the price is about 500,000 IDR for a ticket there and back and that the ticket is open ended. You’ll get picked up in any of the main locations for tourists like Ubud and Kuta and taken to the islands. The best part of an open ended ticket is if you wanted to go to Gili Air first and then thought you might leave from Gili T but weren’t sure. It’s all good because all you would need to do is confirm which island and day you are leaving from the day before. You also get to choose your drop off location (which can be different from your original pick up point). I love the flexibility so easy!

Island History

The Gili islands were relatively uninhabited until rather recently. They were used as stopping points for fishermen and sailors. The islands have no fresh water of their own so people couldn’t live there. The only source of commerce initially from the islands were small coconut plantations. Tourists only started to visit the island in the early 1980’s and were drawn to the islands due to the rustic lost paradise feel.

Modern Day

Gili T Mentor Travel
These are some hardworking horses .

Due to increased ease of accessibility the Gili Islands are becoming a hot spot for many travelers. This has also increased standards of living for tourists on the island and increased stress on the environment. The locals even though they are Islamic are fortunately very forgiving of odd tourist behavior. Being on Gili T you will hear the call to prayer every day and will feel sent back in time. This sound serves as a reminder that even though you are on a tropical island the local population is modest and to be mindful and respectful of their culture. Also, cars and motorbikes aren’t allowed on the island.

Sustainable or Not?

The Gili Islands are a shock because of how largely unsustainable they are. Everything all food, water, building supplies, etc. has to be imported onto the islands. Luckily, they are close to Lombok but if tourism stopped then the locals wouldn’t be able to live on the island due to lack of freshwater and ability to grow food. Additionally, the Gili’s don’t have sustainable waste and garbage management systems. You can find out more here. I think that the plight of the Gili islands should exposed so that funding can come in to assist the islands and make them sustainable. Otherwise tourists should question their desire to visit these exotic locations.

Activities on Gili T

Water Activities

  • Snorkeling- We snorkeled all day on Gili T and it was incredible! The amount of biodiversity and marine life was unbelievable and the coral was stunning. We even saw a flounder fish and sea turtles. Please, please be very conscious of all of your actions when in the water. Don’t stand on coral or touch aquatic life!! Leave everything as unharmed and as human free as you found it. One tourist was trying to pick up and touch a turtle!!! Don’t do that not cool!

Gili T Mentor Travel

  • Diving- Diving on Gili T was quite colorful they have many different types of corals and fish species. Lots of the fish here are neon colored and have long whiskers. I had never seen the species of fish I saw here in any other part of the world. They made for very unique diving. I also really enjoyed that in the spot we dove there were multiple levels that were deep drop offs. I found it exhilarating to swim so close to a deeper level and peer down on the creatures below.

Land Activities

  • Check out the far side of the island! From the main side of the island walk towards Turtle beach and you’ll come across a sign that says Mangos pointing towards the left. It’s right after Blue Marine Dive shop. It’s a 20-minute walk from one side to other and is very flat so it’s an easy walk. Plus, half way there is the cheapest food and drink we found on the island especially the drink! On the other side of the island the beaches are beautiful. This is also where the locals take the horses to get washed at the end of day. It’s such a picturesque scene. This isn’t the best swimming place. Plan your swimming for the other side of the island. Plus, when I was there these fish kept biting me I recommend staying away from the deep blue. Do check out these super fun swings though!Gili T Mentor Travel

Drinking on Gili T

Alcohol is very expensive though so bring your own. An alternative option if you forgot your own alcohol is to follow the main road that connects one half of the island to the other side. It’s right near the Mango sign. (It’s easy to find don’t worry.) You can walk to the other half of the island in 20 minutes. But half way down this street is a bar with the cheapest drinks on the island and really good food (although it is a bit slow.) You can’t miss it as it’s the only bar the whole way across the island.


The Gili’s are an island chain that is truly unique. Gili T is a fun amazing island it’s an interesting and unique mix of the old and new of the east and west. Fortunately, there are programs here that are working to support sustainable eco-tourism and sustainability on the island. If you do choose to visit these islands be conscious of the environment and how fragile the ecosystem of the Gili islands are.

Don’t forget to contact us with any questions you might have about your next travel adventure! If you have visited the Gili islands before let us know below in the comments. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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