Read more about my Self Care Sabbatical and the other places I’ve visited!
For more about getting to the Gilis (and around the islands), read my post on Gili Air.
I was reluctant to leave Gili Air. I was already bummed that I didn’t book more time there and was so blissfully chilled out that I was not totally looking forward to arriving on Gili T. I’d heard rumors that it was the “party island” of the Gilis and I was not really looking for a party vibe. In fact, the only reason I was excited to go to Gili T was for scuba diving.
Gili T is the biggest of the islands and does come with a bit of a party reputation. It is also best known for scuba diving and, I soon came to find out, very similar to Koh Tao. It’s a popular place to learn how to dive (with pretty nice conditions), there are dive shops everywhere, and there is even a pub crawl just like the one on Koh Tao.
In my head, I imagined Gili T would be quite similar to Koh Tao and not much like the local, chilled out vibe of Gili Air. What I found is that it’s a bit of both! The island had a lot of what I loved about Air: there are no motorized vehicles allowed and it’s easy to get around the island on foot and bicycle. Getting off of the main street, which wraps around the perimeter of the island, you find yourself among locals and tourists. It is more developed than Air, but it is still not quite the same level of development you will find in Bali. The roads are mostly dirt. There are bigger hotels and resorts to be found, but there are quite a few small boutique hotels and hostels. The wifi is limited. And the food is excellent.
Once I walked a few blocks on T, I was psyched to spend a few days there diving and just hanging out. Unlike Air, where I could probably have gotten a little bored, I felt like I had so much more to do on T. And, to my surprise, my hotel did not have wifi. Which meant that I could unplug even more!
My hotel, Golden White, gave me a bike to use during my stay. I quickly jumped on and took a ride around, eventually making my way to the western side of the island where I could watch the sunset among the crowds. Other than the diving and the pub crawl, this is where I was reminded of Koh Tao. Beachfront bars and clubs with live music and DJs, full of people just hanging out to watch gorgeous sunsets. Much more of a party vibe than the sunset crowd on Air…and even more incredible sunset views.
I managed to eat very well on Gili T, getting a nice variety of local food and Western flavors. There are definitely more options than on Air.
Oh Warung – I ate here two nights in a row. If you are looking for good local food, go no further. It is cheap and delicious and the service is so friendly! There are a variety of dishes you can choose from and your plate will cost about 55-65K RPH (including a soda). Options are veggie and vegan-friendly – think jackfruit curry, banana tree curry, fried tofu, and pumpkin. And don’t skip the eggplant curry if they have it!
Kayu Cafe – Awesome little cafe with great AC serving breakfast through dinner. Healthy food – lots of veggie/vegan options and mostly organic. Also, great wifi. I ate there a few times, mostly because it was the one place I could get decent wifi! But the food and drinks were fantastic – excellent coffee.
Casa Vintage – Come here for a lowkey sunset spot. Goa Sunset is also nice (live music).
Night Market – I never ate at the night market but I did walk by a few times. There was one stand, in particular, that was ALWAYS packed with a line of at least 20 people. The market is pretty small with just a few vendors. My suggestion would be to jump in line with everyone else!
Regina Pizzeria – Big menu featuring tons of pizza options as well as salads and Italian food. The pizzas are huge and delicious (and quite reasonably priced). Highly recommended (especially if you’re very hungry)!
Things to do
Scuba Diving – While you can go diving on any of the Gilis, Gili T is the most popular place to go diving. There are tons of dive shops and most of the area’s best dive sites are closest to this island making it super quick to get to the dive site by boat. Most of the dive shops offer 2-3 dives per day: one in the morning (8-9am), one afternoon (around 2p), and maybe a night dive. I did some research before to figure out which dive shop I wanted to use and decided on Manta Dive. It was close to my hotel, had great reviews, and they were the most responsive to my inquiries prior to arriving on the island. I found everyone to be incredibly friendly and helpful here – I loved my time at this dive center! Manta Dive often offered two different locations for the morning and the afternoon (so a total of 4 dive sites per day) which gave a bit more variety. They were also planning to visit the 3 main dive sites I wanted to see so it was an easy choice! I really liked this shop because they paired fun divers with people of like level/experience meaning that more experienced divers would not necessarily be paired up with beginner divers. I had the same divemaster for all 4 dives I did with this shop and even had him all to myself the second day of diving!
We visited Seahorse Bay (great for muck diving and finding awesome macro stuff), Shark Point (one of the best dives I have ever done – a speedy drift dive, a really cool wreck with lots of marine life and we got to see some sharks!), Deep Turbo (beautiful deep dive site with lots of marine life), and Turtle Point (Turtles. Everywhere. Tons of turtles. Other than that, I was a little bored but the soft corals are really nice).
Snorkeling – If you want to go snorkeling, head up to the northern part of the island where it is more likely you will find lots of turtles. There are also snorkeling trips that can be arranged to take you around all of the Gilis. Alternatively, there are boat tours around the islands that you can take as well.
Hike to the viewpoint – The highest point of the island offers a great place to watch the sunset if you want to get some exercise and avoid the crowds at the beach bars. I skipped this because it was too damn hot to hike!
Hang at the beach / Catch the sunset – You must see the sunset here. Preferably every night. Because it is the westernmost island, it has the best sunsets by far.
Bike/Walk around the island – Though it is bigger than Air, it is still entirely possible to walk around the entire island in about 2 hours. I biked around and really loved seeing the different areas of the island.
Party – The biggest nightlife scene is on Gili T. There are tons of beach bars, Irish pubs, and, of course, that aforementioned pub crawl that happens 3 nights each week.
Where to Stay
The majority of accommodations are centered around the main part of the island where the boat terminal is. This is where you will find most of the restaurants, dive shops, stores, and the night market. The northern part of the island is pretty quiet and would be a great place if you really want to escape and not spend much time on the rest of the island. There seem to be more places getting built up around the southern and western parts of the island, especially some bigger resorts. It is rather easy to get around via bicycle no matter where you are staying, but if you are planning to go diving while on T, staying in the more remote parts of the island may put you far away from many of the dive centers. There are also tons of diving resorts where you can stay.
My hotel, Golden White, was a very small place – just four rooms. It was simple and cheap accommodation which included breakfast each day. There was no wifi or pool, but guests were able to visit La Boheme hostel down the road to use the wifi or pool there. I also had a free bike to use during my stay and the manager was very friendly and accommodating. I really liked my stay here. It was also super close to the boat terminal and the dive shop I was going to which made it even more convenient. Also, there are great restaurants nearby!