Crossing The Sea To Reach Gili T.

/, Bali, Destinations, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, Lombok, Ubud/Crossing The Sea To Reach Gili T.

Gili Trawangan certainly brings to mind a number of pleasant memories. In fact I often think of going back there. While people have different experiences on the island, I was glad to have visited its shores during the low season. While at most times Gili Trawangan is a popular destination for young tourists many people are deterred from visiting the islands shores because getting there seems like an insurmountable task.

That is one of the main reasons why I decided to write this post. It was to make the planning your itinerary to Gili T. a little less daunting.


As far as I know there are two main islands that can get you to Gili T easily. They are none other than Lombok and Bali.

From Lombok To Gili Trawangan: Since the three Gili islands lie just off the coast of Lombok. It is pretty cheap to get a boat to ferry you across. If my memory serves me right the cost per head is around IDR 10,000 per head. You ride with the locals and it is a really pleasant journey.

There are more expensive boats if you are looking for a greater deal of comfort. We got into the local boat when we were traveling from Lombok to Gili. I enjoyed the journey immensely. Shawn was a wee bit seasick.

Where do you catch the boat? At Bangsal harbor! Getting there may be a tricky depending on where you stay the previous night.

From Bali To Gili Trawangan: Bali is a relatively big island. It is enormous when you compare it with something as small as Gili Trawangan. That being said you will be surprised that since a large number of fast boats that are available to take you across. They leave from two points on the island: Padang Bai harbor or Serangan harbor.

The Serangan harbor is to the south of Bali and works well if you are staying in Nusa Dua or Kuta area. Padang Bai on the other hand is popularly used by people staying in Ubud or along the East coast of Bali.


We were eternally worried about taking the ferry to Gili Trawangan. Our distrust stemmed from a bad experience we had in Port Blair (India). In order to avoid having a problem we booked the ferry (Blue Water Express Ferry) in advance at IDR 7,00,000 per person.

We realized our folly only when we reached Ubud. The actual cost of the tickets ranged from IDR 1,50,000 to 2,00,000. You apparently pay a big premium if you book online. It was one of those scams that we unwittingly bundled into. Where do you book your ticket? Almost every home stay in Ubud offered to book it for us. I’m sure the rest of Bali will also be similar.

Our mistake turned out to be very costly. So make sure you don’t fall in the same trap that we did.


Bali to Gili Trawangan

Trying to point Shawn in the right direction.

Since we could do nothing about the ferry we booked without losing a boatload of money (excuse the pun!), we decided to follow the original plan. Joal got his ticket on the same ferry for way cheaper and that added a good deal of salt into our already stinging wounds.

A van collected us from our home stay in Ubud. The drive to Padang Bai was pleasant. I for one found the AC of the van a big respite from the Indonesian heat. Once at Padang Bai our bags were loaded on to a small van and were then carried off to the waiting speed boat. We followed suit a minutes later.

Padang Bai isn’t the best place to wait but we used our stop to use the restroom and rehydrate ourselves with a lot of water. That’s one thing that we made sure not to forget. For a person who is not used to heat, sun stroke can become an all too real threat.


Bali to Gili Trawangan

My comfy spot!

Since we booked our seats ONLINE and since we were checked in we assumed that the ticket numbers referred to the seat numbers that we would be sitting on. Unfortunately it was on a first come first serve basis. Luckily someone volunteered to shift their seat so the three of us could sit together.

The top of the speed boat had a nice spot where we could have sunbathed if we wanted. I however chose to sit at the rear end of the boat where there was shade. A book on my lap, the wind in my hair and a spectacular view made the journey extremely pleasant.


Bali to Gili Trawangan

For a person who can’t swim this was being adventurous! 

One thing that really brings a smile to my face is how our trip from Bali to Gili Trawangan ended.

Step1: We performed a balancing act that got us from the back of the boat to the front of it.

Step 2: Then we had our bags were tossed to us on board the boat.

Step 3: Shawn then had to jump into around calf deep water because the boat docks at shore.

Step 4: I handed Shawn our luggage once he found his footing.

Step 5: My turn to take a plunge.

Step 5:  We made our way to shore!

Bali to Gili Trawangan

Gotta love the view!

It intrigues me how the smallest challenges can turn out to be adventures. When I look back at our journey from Bali to Gili Trawangan, I remember the breeze in my hair, the blue sea and the book on my lap. Sure our journey was fraught with mistakes but they weren’t overtly bad ones. Life after all is all about learning!

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2018-06-13T14:13:26+00:00 May 25th, 2017|Asia, Bali, Destinations, Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, Lombok, Ubud|26 Comments


  1. Flo May 26, 2017 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    Normally you’re rewarded for taking the initiative to book online and in advance! So annoying that the price was so much cheaper offline haha. I’ve heard good things about how peaceful it is at the Gili islands – hoping to make it there someday soon.

    • Penny May 26, 2017 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      I highly recommend the Gili islands. Some people say Gili Trawangan is more noisy. We experienced it just for a night. On the second night everything calmed down because it rained and then suddenly the island was deserted almost. Was amazing to just recline and relax.

  2. Samantha Sparrow May 26, 2017 at 11:38 pm - Reply

    This is such an honest post, and your style of writing did make me chuckle. I always book ahead for everything (epic over-planner) so this is a great heads up for not doing so on this occasion. I’d love to travel there one day!

    • Penny May 26, 2017 at 11:51 pm - Reply

      I think we are guilty over planners too! Over time we have started to get better. Sometimes we don’t make a list of all the things we want to do in a city. Scary thought right? But we still have our accommodation always figured out.

  3. Christie May 27, 2017 at 12:11 am - Reply

    My boyfriend and I travelled to Bali and the Gili Islands in November, and we took the same boat! Luckily, we booked after we had arrived, and I think we paid about 20,000 IDR each for the boat and a shuttle from Seminyak to Padang Bai. I thought it was such a cool experience seeing the view travelling between islands and then docking on shore and having to wade through the water while holding our suitcases over our heads 🙂 I would love to visit Indonesia again!

    • Penny May 28, 2017 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      The experience was definitely worth it. I was just a tad bit over stressed because of all the electronics we were carrying. I loved sitting at the back of the boat. The spray of the ocean hitting my face and the beautiful view of ocean and the islands. A good book in my hand completed the experience.

  4. Sara May 27, 2017 at 1:34 am - Reply

    Ah some good advice. I went back in 2012 and I remember being so worried but we had hired someone from our hotel to take us to the proper ferry from Balangan and we ended up having no troubles at all! Hope you enjoyed Gili T!

    • Penny May 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      I loved every moment we spent on Gili T. It was so chill and laid back. There is so much that you can do if you want to and if you don’t well you can watch the world go by. 🙂

  5. Amália May 27, 2017 at 8:47 am - Reply

    I had the exactly same experience! Thank you for sharing as I think a lot of people don’t know this, Amalia

    • Penny May 28, 2017 at 10:59 pm - Reply

      Hopefully it helps people avoid the trap in future.

  6. Hannah May 28, 2017 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    I didn’t go to the Gillis but boat travel from island to island in Indonesia was pretty easy. Though a bit stressful getting on/off with my bags full of cameras and electronics in the rocking waves! I was almost waiting to fall over in the waves. Thankfully I didn’t!

    • Penny May 28, 2017 at 10:58 pm - Reply

      That was our problem too! I’m a klutz on my best days. Luckily my husband jumped off first and then I passed all the electronic gear to him. I can’t even begin to imagine the repercussions a fall would result in!

      • Kelly November 24, 2017 at 11:52 am - Reply

        if we arrive in Bali one day and want to get the ferry the very next day- I presume we should pre-book online incase they fill up?

        • Penny November 25, 2017 at 1:25 am - Reply

          Kelly in retrospect I would have preferred booking it on the ground in Bali. It all depends on whether you want to risk it or not I guess. It also depends on how much you are willing to spend. From what I saw, a number of boats head across every day.

  7. LaChaya Martinez-Truso January 10, 2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    How long was the boat ride?

    • Penny January 11, 2018 at 5:42 am - Reply

      If memory serves me right it was a little more than an hour. It also depends on the kind of boat you are on.

  8. Neha February 19, 2018 at 10:47 am - Reply

    What time did u take the boat from padangbai? How long was the drive from the hotel to padangbai?

    • Penny February 19, 2018 at 10:03 pm - Reply

      We took the morning boat across. Left Ubud around 7 in the morning. The drive took more than an hour. The company that you book the ferry from usually provides the transportation so they tell you what time your pickup will be.

  9. Mallika March 5, 2018 at 3:25 am - Reply

    Hey, this post was really helpful! My sister and I are looking to travel from Ubud to Gili T in the last couple days of March this year. We were wondering whether there are local tickets for Blue Water Express and if they’re cheaper? We’re on a budget, and booking online is far outside it :/

    I’ve read a lot of terrifying reviews about the rest of the operators, so it’s be super helpful if you could let me know anything! Thanks!


    • Penny March 5, 2018 at 3:50 am - Reply

      Hey Mallika. I wish I could tell you where it is. As you must have read we booked our tickets online and that cost us an arm and a leg. A friend booked his tickets by asking the homestay we staying in. Maybe you could inquire where you are staying. The ferries do sound scary sometimes but the local ones are quite a bit of fun. The one we took from Gili T to Lombok was open and cheap. It was a short ride and it was fun.

  10. Touhiduzzaman June 8, 2018 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    We are planning to go to Bali this August, 2018. Should we book the hotels online or we should look for accommodation after going there?

    • Penny June 10, 2018 at 7:23 am - Reply

      I think that it rather depends on the type of accommodation that you are looking for. Luxury accommodation then look out for deals in advance. Backpacking… That has two schools of thought. Hostels are pretty okay if you wander into them (so I have heard, we haven’t done it this way). We on the other hand prefer to book rooms. Since we are two of use we usually pay as much as we would if we booked two beds in a dorm. The best way to do that is to research in advance and check out the highest ratings before. The good ones get booked out pretty fast. We use for our accommodation and get some pretty cool genius discounts.

      It also depends on your schedule. Do you want to keep it flexible or do you have a plan in place? If you have a plan in place then book in advance. If its flexible then don’t. 🙂

  11. ajay July 29, 2018 at 11:55 am - Reply

    hi, me and my wife, planing to visit bali in November or December…..any advice for me ?
    can i book a tour package or what can do ?…please help me…..

    • Penny July 30, 2018 at 1:26 am - Reply

      Hi Ajay. It has been a long time since we have been there. To tell you the truth we love to travel on our own terms and book our own accommodation. I guess it depends on how you like to travel. Tours means that you don’t have to do the organization yourself. It does also mean that the cost of your trip can go up. Booking everything by yourself is fun but it does take time, planning and a lot of effort.

  12. Sheena April 3, 2019 at 2:46 am - Reply

    Hi there! Very informative post!! I am planning to go to Gili T, however I would be carting a heavy luggage. Is that a possibility or should I skip Gili T? Your thoughts would be useful! 🙂

    • Penny April 7, 2019 at 7:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Sheena, I personally travelled light. A friend had two suitcases and a backpack if I remember correctly. I’m not going to lie. It gets challenging but then there are people who will help you get in the boat. Once you are there however, it will depend on where you stay. There is no motorized vehicle on the island. You need to walk or use a horse carriage. The latter I do not like because of the way the horses are treated and how sad it is.

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