Gili Trawangan is the largest of Lombok’s Gili Islands and is the only one to rise significantly above sea level. It is 3 km long and 2 km wide with a population of about 700. Of the Gilis, Trawangan has the most tourist facilities; the pub Tîr na Nôg claims that Trawangan is the smallest island in the world with an Irish pub. The most crowded part of Trawangan lies on the eastern side. It is administered under Lombok Barat Regency along with Senggigi Beach.
The 900 odd local residents of Gili Trawangan are mainly Sasak (from Lombok), and Bugis (from Sulawesi). The local language on the island reflects this ethnic mix, and is a dialect of Sasak which incorporates some Bugis terms and intonation.
Before the first tourists began to land on Gili Trawangan, the island was used as farmland to grow among other things, coconuts, corn, cassava and even at one time, rice.
Gili Trawangan locals:
The Gili’s are part of Lombok and the population is Muslim. People seem quiet and respectful and are used to westerners in bathing suits. If you need more privacy it’s not hard, you simply move around the coast a little way and another nice thing is that the locals will leave you alone. Tourists have commented that the people in the Gili’s are nice because they don’t make saucy comments unlike some of the Bali locals. Gili Trawangan locals are more reserved than people in Bali in general, many of them originating from mainland Lombok.
Tourists first began come to Gili Trawangan in the early 1980s, when a very basic guesthouse was set up on top of the hill. It was actually Gili Air that initially began to develop as a tourist destination, however by the late 1990s, development on Gili Trawangan had overtaken that on Gili Air, and now it attracts more visitors.
There is a daily market on the island which arrives by boat between 11am – noon. The dozen or so women unload their fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and other goodies and set up shop next to the village head’s office, opposite the harbour. It’s quite a busy and colourful affair, with the usual fun, hustle and bustle found at all local produce markets.
On the island there is one secular playschool and one religious playschool, one primary school and one junior high school. Children who want to continue their education must do so on the mainland. Almost all the local residents of the island are Muslim. There are two mosques on the island which call people to pray five times a day. Although Gili Trawangan is a ‘tourist island’, visitors are expected to behave with respect to the religion, and things such as topless sunbathing are very much frowned upon.
Getting to Gili Trawangan:
Below are some packages available with cruise or fast boats to reach Gili Trawangan (Trawangan Island) from Padang Bai or Benoa Harbour, Bali Island :
The flight from Bali airport just takes 30 minutes to Seleparang airport in Lombok Island then an hour by taxi to Bangsal and 45 minutes by local ferry to Gili Trawangan’s south coast.