Beaches on Gili Islands (Trawangan, Meno, Air)
east Trawangan beach north of the port; photo: Villa Almarik
Despite the fact that all three Gilis are different in vibe, these Islands are united by one geophysical feature. Gilis usually have a wide bank on the western side, and a narrow one and on the eastern side.
This is why, in most cases, it is almost always possible to bathe on the east coast, except for very high tide intervals, and bathing on the west side is better on the tide.
The beaches on the east side are predominantly more sandy with coral debris and on the west side coral with sand.
If you swim on the east or west side, you can see and feel the south current. It can be stronger or weaker, depending on the weather conditions. Do not swim beyond the shallow coral zone to the point where it ends and the cliffs start abruptly at the bottom, and do not try to swim across straits between islands. Use boats instead.
Meno is considered to be one of the safest islands. It is safe to leave belongings on the beach, however, if you're going to snorkel or swim for a long time without supervision, don't take any things with you that you'd be sorry to lose.
If you are going to swim or snorkel at low tide, don't walk barefoot on the corals. Wear coral slippers or go in your fins. Coral slippers are available on all three islands in dive centres, snorkeling, diving equipment stores, and sometimes in supermarkets.
1. East beach - north
The most comfortable and convenient swimming on Trawangan island is at the beach on the east side and north of the port. Leave the port at 200-300 meters and enjoy the soft white sand and easy access to the water.
Trees usually grow along the beach line, so you can hide in their shade. You can also chill at the beach cafes and restaurants along the beach if you buy something to drink or eat.
There are several dive centers with water sports and activities in Trawangan, such as Blue Marine Dive, Mango Dive, and Laguna. The boats of all these centers depart from the beach to dive sites. There are also boats on the beach, and it is possible to swim between them, and the captains of the boats are careful enough not to shoot down anyone.
Along the main beach street you can rent out snorkeling equipment for Rp. 50,000 a day for a set of mask, snorkel and fins. You can also book a snorkeling tour around the islands almost everywhere.
You can take off a kayak in some places, sign up for a yoga class on a board in the sea, try parasailing, water tube, wake boarding, and subwing.
In the northern part of the beach in the Turtle Bar area you can meet turtles while snorkeling. Trawangan slope dive site is located on the same side.
2. East beach - south
The beach on the east side remains comfortable for swimming, but the beach is widening and further to the south there are more corals.
There are expensive resorts with elegant clubs and beach restaurants.
There are also dive centres here: Manta Dive, Blue Marlin, Dive Central. Snorkeling sets are available for rent.
Even further south you will find picturesque places where you can chill out in the shade or take pictures with the background of ornate trees.
There is a diving and snorkeling site at a depth of about 3 metres, called Biorok, is located in front of the Ombak Hotel. It is an artificial reef where corals are grown at an accelerated rate. There are also famous underwater bikes that are popular with instagramers.
Behind The Pearl of Trawangan there are two points where you can rent surfboards because there is a surf spot on this side of the island. It is quite unpredictable, so we do not recommend going to Gili specially for surfing. In case the swell is about to come, now you know the place to get a board.
The south side is unsuitable for swimming, however, at low tide it can be an interesting spot for photo shoots.
There are many stylish and pleasant sunset beach bars in the western part of Trawangan. Among the most interesting are: Casa Vintage Beach, Excile, (with drum concerts), Aston (movie screenings in the evenings), Window Bar, which is popular simply because it is located right at the exit to the beach.
In the evenings the atmosphere is very pleasant here. Nice music is playing here, jockeys invite to ride horses at the beach and take pictures on a swing in the water. By the way, there are 7 swings on the island.
Swimming is better at the high tide. In some places, algae beat in the strong wind near the shore, making entering the water not very pleasant. Best places to swim and snorkel are in front of the big resorts and beach clubs, because these beaches are always being cleaned from garbage (which by the way is relatively little to say here), and from corals.
Beaches far from hotels can look wild and unsightly. Fallen leaves, pile of corals and fallen branches are everywhere. On this side of the island you can see a lot of coniferous trees at the beach, which are called "Cemara" and enjoy their flavor.
You can snorkel directly from the beach. Simply orientate yourself during the day on the boats of the dive centres and snorkeling tours. They usually come to the most interesting places. In the northwest part of the beach there are two points of Shark Point and Halik.
The beaches of the northern part of Trawangan are generally quite similar in terms of conditions to those of the western side. There are no more sunset bars there, but instead it is very quietly. Swimming is necessary at high tide. There are already much fewer deciduous trees and more conifers.