Gili Trawangan is the largest of the 3 island in this archipelago. It's known as a party island to the locals as it's favoured by younger tourist who seek entertainment and a bit of an island life. The main street is covered in shops, bars, restaurants and scuba diving companies. In the mids of all these you get cyclist and cidomo's passing through.
Coming from the sleeping island of Gili Meno into this can be a bit overwhelming but I indeed welcomed the crowd. There are so many touts trying to sell us a place to stay for the night. The dive schools do provide accommodation but they are expensive and it usually accommodates two people to a room if not dorms. Places further inland are cheaper, you are looking at about Rp.150,000 a night for 3 but that might not be fresh water in the showers. Dive school accommodations can range anywhere between Rp.250,000 to Rp.800,000 a night for two including breakfast during low season.
We checked out and stayed at Gili Backpacker. It's just on the way to Gili Divers, you'll see a sign saying Gili Backpacker on a wall that turns left onto a small street. Take that street down till you come to a cross junction at a mosque and then turn left. You'll immediately see Gili Backpacker. For Rp.100,000 per person a night, in a dorm room shared with 8 people, it's really good value for money. The shower and toilets are really clean and posh for a hostel and it's fresh water showers! Plus all the rooms are air-conditioned. The air-conditioning comes on about 6pm and goes off about 10am.
They have tea and coffee that you can help yourself to anytime of the day. As soon as you check in, fresh sheets are laid out for you and there are board games to play, they organise quiz nights and also drinking games. Oh and the accommodation per night comes with breakfast too which you have to take the ticket stub from the front desk and head down to Gili Viking cafe for breakfast. The staff are wonderful and helpful plus we got to meet a lot of other backpackers. In a few months time this place would have a pool at the back including a bar so for the price paid per person a night, it's a really good deal. Great location too.
Another thing I found weird is that not many of the locals on this island can understand English or speak Indonesian. They had a blank expression when I was speaking Indonesia to ask for directions. Compared to Gili Meno and Gili Air, this island has the most tourist and yet the other two islands, the locals spoke better English, had really good command of it and spoke good Bahasa Indonesia too. Gili Trawangan was just bizarre.
I've been hearing a lot about Vodka Joss. Apparently Joss is a type of energy powder which you add into your drink. The similar effect of having Vodka Redbull but according to the guys, after a Vodka Joss, you can feel all the gas bubbles resurfacing for your tummy. Not a drink to get when you're out on a date but it does certainly keep you energised all the way if that's what you're looking for.
All over the island you get people trying to sell you their 'special' shakes, where magic mushrooms are blended into. Also, Lucy warned that during big parties, drinks are easily spiked so keeping an eye out on drinks is important. Some of the bars that I personally think is worth the visit is Sama-Sama bar where the live band is pretty good and also Scallywags (they have another branch on Gili Air) where the cocktails are delicious. Pesona lounge has good cocktails too and if you are into sheesha, it's the only place on the island!
While the guys chilled, I booked myself into two more dives with Blue Marlin which is situated to the left of the harbour. Since I dived with the same company on Gili Meno, I choose to do the rest of my dives with them purely because I get a 10% discount for doing 5 fun dives and more. I initially signed up for Sunset Reef, but due to popular demand it got chanced to Turtle Haven. I only found out on the actual day I was diving and I was clearly not happy but I dived anyways. The visibility was good and it was actually quite a nice dive. Saw both Hawksbill and Green turtles on the site and so many too. Trumpet fish and beautiful Box fish can be found on the site as well. I did a deep dive, 30m and rented a dive computer from the shop for Rp.50,000. Honesty it was the best thing ever and now I want a dive computer! It's really useful.
The people at the dive shop are nice and friendly therefore the atmosphere in the shop and on the boat was rather pleasant. There are many dive shops on the island so you're spoilt for choice plus they all charge the same flat USD35 per fun dive so there is no competition.
I managed to walk and explore the inland a little. As you walk further inwards from the main street, you'll see many little boutique shops, bars and cafés. They are relatively cheaper than the main street and quiet.
I'll definitely be back to these islands!
Next up: Surfs up! Kuta, Lombok.