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- 22 Oct 2019, 3 nights
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The largest of three sister islands, Gili Trawangan in Indonesia is hot on the backpacker circuit. It's the very picture of paradise: vibrant tropical forests are circled by white beaches and vivid turquoise water. There are diving schools, or you can hire snorkelling gear and hop on a boat to explore the surrounding coral reefs. In the evening, the island comes alive with all-night beach parties, earning its reputation as the most lively Gili sister.
Gili Trawangan hostels range from buzzing social hubs to quiet garden homestays, but they all have one thing in common – they're in easy walking distance to the beach. Stay in an elevated bungalow made from wood and bamboo for a traditional experience, or pick a Gili Trawangan hostel with a large outdoor terrace for meeting other travellers. In the morning, you could enjoy a free breakfast overlooking a colourful wildflower garden before organising a rental bike through the front desk.
While Gili Trawangan is small – it takes roughly two hours to walk around – it still has distinct areas. Along the east coastline is the main strip with its bustling markets, international restaurants and diving centres. Head here to try scrumptious Indonesian dishes like sate padang (marinated meat skewers) at a beachside café. The island's western side is quieter and hosts high-end resorts. For a great view of the sunset, walk to the southwestern point.
There's plenty to see and do in Gili Trawangan, both on land and underwater. Don a snorkelling mask and wade into the crystal-clear Bali Sea to catch a glimpse of tropical fish, or dive deep to see why this area is called the turtle capital of the world. When the sun goes down, the eastern strip turns into the Trawangan night market, famous for smoky, peanut sauce-covered meats and seafood. This is also where the island holds its beach parties with live DJ sets and the occasional fire dancer.
As there's no airport on the island, getting to Gili Trawangan means hopping on a boat from Bali or Lombok. If you're coming from Bali, catch a ferry across from Serangan Harbour or Sanur Beach. From Lombok, you can get a boat at Teluk Nare, Teluk Kodek or Bangsal. Once you reach dry land on Gili Trawangan's eastern shore, you'll need to hail a Cidomo (horse and cart) to get to your accommodation. There are no motor vehicles on the island, so most visitors use bicycles to get around the sandy, palm-lined paths.