Gili Trawangan: the island of the cats

A cat lounges on the beach at Gili Trawangan, IndonesiaTwo things immediately struck me as I arrived on Gili Trawangan. First of all, there was no traffic to speak of, and, secondly, what’s with all the cats?

The largest of Indonesia’s three Gili islands, Gili Trawangan is a peaceful, cat lover’s paradise. No cars, scooters or dogs inhabit the island – just lots and lots of cats.

Seemingly hundreds of felines roam the island’s streets and restaurants, lounging next to hotel pools and on beach chairs, jostling for scraps whenever and wherever people eat. My fiancé – a cat lover – was in her element, as were a lot of people who’d share their beach chairs with the small animals.

A cat sleeps on a beach chair in Gili TrawanganMost cats on the island are surprisingly affectionate, living something of a nomadic lifestyle as they roam around looking for food and affection. And most have either curled or stumpy tails, perhaps as a result of isolated breeding.

Now, dog lovers may feel slightly aggrieved by news of a cat-only island in Indonesia – but it’s on religious grounds that man’s best friend has been banned from Gili Trawangan, considering most of the island’s inhabitants are Muslim.

Gili Trawangan: no dogs, no cars, no worries – unless you’re allergic to cats.

A cat parades across the beach at Gili TrawanganA cat up a tree in Gili Trawangan, IndonesiaMan vs World will feature more about Gili Trawangan in the future; manly stuff, like the remarkable true story of my tussle with a sea snake and a turtle (not at the same time). Until then, happy travels!

About Simon Petersen 506 Articles
Travel blogger, journalist, sports and movie fiend. Chronicling the life and times of a Kiwi at home and abroad.


  1. I’m thinking of visiting Gili Islands but am wondering what condition the cats are in? Are they healthy and fed?
    I won’t enjoy myself if they are starving and in need of medical help.

  2. Ha ha……….I had a very similar experience in Gilli Meno this month. A ginger cat came out of nowhere, jumped on the bamboo structure where we were sitting without any inhibition, befriended us in a moment and shared our lunch 🙂 His antics were endearing to say the least !!

  3. I’ve swam from Gili Trawangan to Gili Meno (and return) back in 2009. that was awesome! but i wont recommend anyone to do to the same! it’s too dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. LOL

  4. I think I’d like the island of cats! I took a photo a day of the cats of Greece, so this sounds like paradise! You got some good shots of them too!

    • Yeah, my fiance had a ball taking photos of them all! And we both remember the cats of Greece fondly

    • I’m allergic to cats and I haven’t had a problem yet.. My antihistamine’s are untouched..l

    • I’m allergic to cats and I haven’t had a problem yet.. My antihistamine’s are untouched.. Normally when I see my friend at home I take a pull before I go see her and she only has 1

  5. i stumbled upon this post via RT by @DocWends.

    wow i never expected an island that is really abundant of cats!(?). but at first thought… i really though that @DocWends meant an island of “men”! haha which is because the locals here in our place sometimes refer “men” as “cats”. but wouldn’t it be interesting also if an island of “cats/men” would also probably exist? Lol… 😀 great post by the way! really… indeed… surprising!! ^^

    greetings from Rarusu Chin Blogs~ラルスGEMブログより♥
    Excite Cebu | ラルスGEM

    • Cheers! It’s a great place to visit – and such a relief to get away from traffic for a while!

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. The cheeky monkeys of Ubud’s Monkey Forest | Man vs World

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.