My experience of the overrated Gili Trawangan

 Well hello to my reader chums! Gili Trawangan and the rest of the Gili islands are raved about online and across the media, boasting their paradise status. For me, Gili Trawangan has to be one of the most overrated places I've visited.

Dreaming about clear-water beaches, hot sunshine and the best marine life, I thought Gili Trawangan would blow me away, but it showed me the detrimental effects of tourists and the climate crisis. 

If you're considering travelling to the Gili Trawangan, here's my honest experience of the overrated island.

My experience of the overrated Gili Trawangan

The journey

The experience of this island didn't start off on a high with one of the worst and most stressful boat journeys I've ever been on. The journey from one of Bali's ports was the busiest I've seen a port of that size - it had hundreds (or what felt like thousands) of people with luggage and impatient energy. A few different boats were heading over to Gili Trawangan and the system was incredibly disorganised with multiple boat companies and times. It seemed like forever for our boat to arrive and ended up being the last boat in port. 

The journey itself wasn't too bad, what I really expected from a cheap boat ride in Asia. It was loud, overcrowded and not the comfiest of seats but to be honest, on a backpacker budget, it's what I thought. I think I'd be a bit unsettled if it was a luxurious honeymoon and they were throwing my luggage around like it was nothing. The boat took 1 hour and 15 minutes which despite the delay made good timing.

The accommodation

This is where the issues really began as arriving on the island feeling stressed and overly hot from a delayed boat, I wanted to put my head on a bed and rest up before getting on with our day. However, when we got to the hotel which we thought we booked, the owner said that the place was fully booked and we didn't have a booking. Due to this and our frustration, we had to book the only place left on the island which wasn't a ridiculous price (but still four times what we originally paid). This accommodation granted was lovely, private and even had a communal pool. The only thing I would say is I think it was pricey for what it was compared to what we had booked for a similar level of luxury at a smaller price tag.

The beaches/marine life

I was most excited about Gili Trawangan for the beach scene and going snorkelling, seeing the phenomenal marine life and what was beyond the island waters. However, I've never been so disappointed with what lay beneath the waters. The beaches weren't exactly spacious as most of the sands were covered in sun loungers, and parasols, like a resort rather than spots to make the most of the soft sands.

The water was clear but not as clear as I thought it would be and you could tell the quality of the clear waters has been affected by too much tourism and the mass of boats that go in and out of the island every day. Also, this goes with the marine life. Unfortunately, as I snorkelled, I could see the dead coral reefs below me and the remains of what once was paradise for the underwater world. When you swim further out, you can see various coloured fishes, yet it wasn't the 'wow' factor that I expected compared to more untouched places, such as Pink Beach on Komodo Island.

The island itself

The island has the effects of tourism all over it. The front of the island looks quirky with its strip of restaurants, Instagram brunch spots, spas, ice cream shops and tour hire places. Whilst, behind that strip, the unpaved roads and shack-like houses emerge of residents who have the island as their normal, everyday life. As it was rainy before we got there, muddy puddles were everywhere and you could only ride around on bikes, meaning it wasn't the 'luxury' you'd expect from a 'paradise' island.

The only positive I would say is the places you can eat and drink at are fab and that gave the perfect holiday vibe, quirky bars and mini golf added the fun element to the island. But for me, it wasn't enough to override the over features of the island.

The tours

As an overpopular island, known for pub crawls and snorkelling tours, the range of water activities is endless. Snorkelling tours are the most popular and honestly, a massive disappointment. As they try and cram so many people onto a boat, you end up touring with 20+ people and when you arrive at a snorkelling spot, it's overcrowded and sometimes, you can barely find what you're meant to be looking for, such as turtles.

The overall vibe 

Overall, Gili Trawangan was overrated in many ways from the beaches, marine life and general vibe. It didn't have the 'wow' factor that many travel magazines and Instagram accounts chat about. I expected relaxation and dream-worthy experiences, but I got the opposite. The crowds stressed me out, I didn't feel entirely safe moving away from the tourist strip and generally, I left feeling disappointed. Despite enjoying some yummy brunches, and soaking up the gorgeous weather and sunsets, there are many better places in Asia to grab the wow factor.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What was your experience of Gili Trawangan?

Thank you for reading <3

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