Gili Islands: Exploring Gili Trawangan ~ Lombok, Indonesia

by Tsvete Popp

Finally! The photos and stories from the last 2 weeks spent on Gili Trawangan are coming to LillaGreen – Travel Blog! After the last update of the mobile application for the Business Page of LillaGreen, I cannot see the messages, comments, likes, etc… Really annoying, that they make the posting even more complicated than it already was!

Anyways: We spend 2 weeks on the Gili Islands and Lombok (and now we are sitting in Jakarta and organizing all the documents for the next steps of our travels).

We came to Gili Island in October 2017 and got so disappointed because of the crowds, pollution, and destroyed marine life, that we never thought of coming back. In 2017 we stayed at Gili Air, which is known to be the best of all three islands.

In 2021 we decided to give Gilis a second chance and visit them without the crowds, hoping that the coral and pollution situation is getting better. This time we chose to stay on Gili Trawangan – the largest among the three Gili islands located in the northwest of Lombok Island. There are no cars or motorbikes on all three islands. People either ride a bicycle, take a horse carriage, jump in a boat or walk to where they need to go. The size of the island is only 3 km long and 2 km wide. It took just around 1 hour to run around the island while observing your surroundings.

Gili Islands belong to Lombok and to Bali which means that you will experience a different culture, people, and religions there. This time was really different as we were able to see the life of the locals as it is and not the life that was made for the tourists (as there were literally no tourists there). We were riding our bicycles around the island, and had the feeling of living on the little planet which was far-far-far away from the Covid-19-planet which is going completely crazy recently… and we didn’t miss it, to be honest…

The Corona crisis has a massive impact on the Gilis including Gili Trawangan, as more than 70% of the restaurants and hotels are closed. People are jobless l, and the worst thing – they are getting hopeless. The island was hit by another real disaster in 2018 when the island of Lombok experienced severe earthquakes that didn’t stop for a whole month! Many people lost everything they had: home, family, job… After several months, they could manage to stand up and continue with the hard life on the islands. The complete disaster arrived with 2020. The side effects of all these restrictions in this part of the World are so bad, that I’m asking myself every single day what would be the most humane solution in this case, as all these restrictions destroyed much more lives than the virus itself… And I know, if the solution was so easy, we already would have one…

One of the most successful blog posts (you can find it here), in terms of organic views and readers, is the post about the Gili Islands called “The Graveyard Underneath”. The water around Gilis is clear, there are many fishes, sharks, and turtles swimming around. However, don’t expect to see colorful corals as most of the corals are dead in this region

The marine life around the Gilis is in terrible condition and there are 3 main reasons for that:

1) Back in the days, the island’s beautiful corals have taken a hit from fishermen using bombs aka blast fishing to access the area’s abundant groupers and snappers. They destroyed the majority of the reef leaving tones of dead corals around which you can still find on the beaches of Gili Islands including Gili Trawangan.

2) The reefs around the Gilis were subjected to a completely natural event and stress factor known as El Nino. This refers to rising ocean temperatures across the tropical Pacific and is part of a recurring climate pattern.

3) Overtourism in a combination with uneducated locals and tourists. Too many divers and snorkeling people around who have no idea how to preserve the corals around. We saw dozens of people (in 2017) who were standing with their fins on the corals so that they can relax around… In other countries like the Philippines or Malaysia, it is not allowed to snorkel with fins. In all other countries there we so many rules for the boats and ferries – in Indonesia we could not really see any rules. Even in the National Park of Komodo, nobody was taking care of what the people actually do inside the water…

We were hoping that in 2021 the situation will be better because Gili Islands received fewer tourists in 2018 because of the huge earthquake and 2020 because of covid-19. But the corals don’t grow overnight. Everything looked almost the same as in 2017, but the water was much more clear and there was not so much plastic around.

Anyways, this time we could really enjoy the islands, we had some good time with the locals and saw how it would be without the mass tourism – namely beautiful!

Where to Stay: Gili Islands

As you would expect from a major touristic island in Indonesia, Gili Islands has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. As always, I’d suggest you stay somewhere central, to make accessing all the attractions as easy as possible.

The Gili Islands are a group of small islands surrounding the mainland of Lombok. Due to the fact that Gili Trawangan (The Party Island), Gili Meno (The Honeymoon Isnald), and Gili Air (The Best Sunset Island) are the best known among tourists, many think that the Gilis are only 3 islands, but there are actually 26 of them!

Gili Trawangan

You can find alternative hotels in Gili Islands here.

You can find villas in Gili Islands here (Airbnb + up to 41 € off).

Read more reviews and compare Gili Islands hotel prices here.

Indonesia Accommodation:

Ready to visit Indonesia? Start looking for your next accommodation now while it’s fresh in your mind.

Want stylish accommodation in Indonesia you can afford? Find the cheapest prices for the best accommodations possible:

Indonesia Flights:

If you are flying to Indonesia it is beneficial to use a flight comparison site to find the cheapest flights. I recommend and use  Click here to compare and book cheap flights to Indonesia.

Rental Car in Indonesia searches all the big car rental companies in Indonesia and finds the best price for you. This is probably the easiest way to rent a car in Indonesia and around the World.

Indonesia Tours

If you are the type of person who prefers joining a tour, there are all kinds of guided tours around Indonesia including Gili Islands.

Enjoy the day!




*This post contains Affiliate Links. I only recommend high-quality items and services I am confident about. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Follow Me On Pinterest!