Gili T has moved on, no longer the backpacker, mushroom-addled, hedonistic discount paradise of yesterday. "A pity," the old hands might say. Though Gili T has cast off its grungy origins -- it is the only island of the three where fresh well water and air-conditioning are the norm, and new developments are opening almost weekly with levels of service previously unheard of -- it's not quite on the jet-set radar, though it won't be long. The island still hosts backpackers but they are joined by families from Bali, professionals from Singapore, and couples on a weekend away. Many who come here now are married, faintly respectable, or families with parents who remember the island from the '90s.
Many are drawn by the still famous party nights; others for the lack of traffic. You can cycle the island in an hour and a half; the clean white sand beaches are endless; and the social options the same. Yes, Gili T remains a party island.
This is now a serious tourist destination with coffee shops, a doctor's surgery, pool bars, pizza, sushi, boutique hotels, and luxury villas. In the last 10 years, or even just 2, Gili T has come a long way. And while the hard-core traveler may have moved on, the essence of island life remains. It is calm, safe, and a beautiful place to hang out.
Fast Facts -- A Bank Mandiri ATM is in front of Hotel Vila Ombak. Queues are long and the machine sometimes runs out of money. You can get cash advances on Gili T, but expect to pay a hefty charge of at least 7% to 10%. A 24-hour English-speaking emergency clinic is well signposted just behind Vila Ombak Hotel; a nurse is available daily 8am to 6pm for basic first aid. Various places offer Internet access and most of the top-end villas and restaurants have Internet or even Wi-Fi. It can be very slow though. Tara Internet (tel. 08/1917903789; Rp400 per min.) has the fastest on the island. Gili T has no fresh water, it is mostly well water. None of the tap water, even piped into high-end hotels, is potable. The port is on the east coast. Most small boats moor just north of the port on the beach. Expect to get your feet wet. Perama Tours is also located just north of the jetty and can assist with transportation needs and trips to outlying islands on one of their boats.