The most well-known and popular of the three Gilis, Gili Trawangan is the largest island and the furthest from the mainland, but easily reached in less than an hour by local boat and only 10 minutes by speedboat from Lombok.
Previously tagged "the party island" by The Lonely Planet, Gili T (as it is affectionately known) has moved on and up.
Gone are the days when backpackers flocked to the island for IDR 20,000 a night huts on the beach and IDR 5,000 Bintang beers. Today, Gili T has a sleek sophisticated side that becomes more evident every year.
That's not to say that the original charms that attracted travellers in the beginning are gone. The perfect white sand beaches, clear turquoise waters and laid-back island style are still what attracts visitors today.
But the island has cast off its grungy origins and now combines the best of a tropical island paradise with a touch of chie and all the mod cons of a top holiday destination.
Gili T still hosts backpackers and budget travellers, but these days they are joined by expatriates and trendsetters from Java and Bali, together with singles, couples and families from all over the world.
The island itself is around 3km long and 2km wide, so walking is easy and you can cycle around the island in around 1 1/2 hours (but will need to get off and push your bike through sandy sections on the west side).
This is the only Gili to rise significantly above sea level and the hill in the south is a great lookout from which to enjoy the spectacular sunsets acoss the ocean to Bali; or in the mornings, the brilliant sunrise over Gunung Rinjani on the mainland Lombok.
On the far south end of the hill are the remnants of old WWII Japanese gun emplacements and crumbling bunkers, but the hand-dug tunnels have been blocked up.
The main development on the island is on the east coast, particularly southeast in the area called "Sentral", where the boats dock. Tracks meander from the main coastal "road" inland through coconut groves to pockets of secluded development.
Development runs all along the east coast with swish places rubbing shoulders with the older bars and accommodations. The north coast is quieter and offers peaceful alternatives to the central area.
Such is the appeal of the island, the south and west coasts are now dotted with small hotels, homestays, private villas and a couple of larger resorts. This part of the island is the quietest and, although the beaches aren't as nice as those on the east, the sunsets looking across to Bali are magical.
Accommodation on Gili T ranges from basic homestays to luxury hotels and villas. The old style bungalows with woven bamboo walls and thatched roofs are slowly disappearing, to be replaced by simple cottages with western style bathrooms to suit the budget crowd.
At the other and of the scale, boutique hotels and luxurious villas boast all the comforts of 5 star resorts, including designer furnishings, private swimming pool or Jacuzzis, WiFi internet, iPod docks, satellite TV and DVD.
Restaurants rival Bali in quality, if not numbers. there are lounges and sophisticated bars, Internet cafes, movie "theatres" and beachside cafes galore. Most restaurants and bars are located along the east coast, although the north coast has some lovely low-key options. Dining choices range from the typical Indonesian Nasi Goreng to sushi; barbecued seafood on the beach to international fine dining; and everything between.
There is a lively bar scene at night and the island has a rotating party roster, where some of the top places have licences to host a party on one night of the week (hence the "party island" reputation). These, and the full moon parties that take place on the beach during high season, are a big draw-card for the crowds of younger people who come to the island.
For those who prefer quieter entertainment, there are sophisticated dining opportunities, particularly at places such as ko-ko-mo Resort, Scallywags Resort, and on the beachfront at Hotel Villa Ombak, as well as the stylish Pearl Beach Lounge next door.
These days, Gili T is a serious tourist destination with a good infrastructure and renge of tourist facilities.
Many of the larger restaurant, hotels and dive shops accept credit cards; there are ATM's in front of Gili T Resort (near Sentral), in front of Villa Ombak on the east coast and further north., near Blue Beach, as well as on the west side at Ombak Sunset.
Internet cafes with WiFi are readily available, as are money-changers, tour operators and a large number of fast boat services.
There is a tennis club and fitness centre at Kelapa Villas and a medical centre at Villa Ombak with basic emergency facilities and a doctor on call.
Horses can be hire from The Stud on the southeast coast; sea kayaking is available at Karma Kayak on the north coast; yoga, meditation, massages and other health and beauty treatments are available at numerous places around the island.
There is even shopping at the Pasar Seni (Art Markets) in Sentral and at any number of shops and kiosks all around the island, selling everything from pearls to sarongs to hammocks. Innuendo has some upmarket resort wear and Silver Dragon sells beautiful silver jewellery.
But it is the beaches and the diving that remain the main draw card for Gili T. People flock here to sunbathe on white sand beaches and swim in clean blue waters, to dive the fabulous reefs and to bask in the hedonistic pleasures of a tropical paradise.
There is a good surf break on the south coast with a fast right-hander that really pumps in the right conditions. Local surfers will happily lead the way and rent you a board.
The best snorkelling on the island starts on the northern end of the east coast, where you can wade to the reef just offshore. The water is calm and there is a drift from north to south, making it easy to lie on the surface and float down the coral outcrops. Although much of the coral is damaged, there is still an abundant variety of tropical fish species to enjoy and patches of colourful coral.
Further of shore, the island is famed for its vast gardens of coral and is one of the best dive spots in Lombok, which is why thousands of divers visit Gili T every year.
It is also one of the safest and easiest places to learn to scuba dive, with warm water temperatures, calm seas and excellent visibility almost all year round. There is a very good selection of professional western operated dive shop and a range of dive locations suitable for beginners through to thrill seekers.
It's been a slow evolution over the past 20 years for Gili Trawangan, but the island's time has come. While the backpackers will no doubt lament, there's a whole new scene unfolding on Gili T.
A world class tourism destination is emerging - without the traffic and pollution - set down on an idyllic tropical island.