Introduction

Gili Trawangan is a tropical playground of global renown, ranking alongside Bali and Borobudur as one of Indonesia's top destinations. Trawangan's heaving main drag, busy with bikes, cidomos and mobs of scantily clad visitors, can surprise those expecting a languid island retreat. Instead, a bustling string of lounge bars, hip guesthouses, ambitious restaurants, convenience stores and dive schools clamours for attention.

And yet behind this glitzy facade, a bohemian character endures, with rickety warungs (cheap eating houses) and reggae joints surviving between the cocktail tables, and quiet retreats dotting the much-less-busy north coast. Even as massive 200-plus-room hotels begin to colonise the gentrifying west coast, you can head just inland to a village laced with sandy lanes roamed by free-range roosters, fussing ibu (mothers) and wild-haired kids playing hopscotch. Here the call of the muezzin, not happy hour, defines the time of day.