- Dive Sites
- Dive Centres Gili
- Liveaboards Gili Islands
- Transport To Gili Islands
- Housing Options in
- What’s Gili Diving Like?
- History of Gili Trawangan
- Frequently Asked
Meaning “small island” in Bahasa-Indonesian, the Gilis are three little islands on the North-West of Lombok, Indonesia.
In the last decade, these islands have become a top spot for those who want to learn to dive, snorkel, or enjoy the tropical island feeling.
But be careful…
Once you make your first step out of the boat, you might never leave.
Gili Trawangan is certainly the biggest and the most popular of all three, so let’s have a closer look and talk about different dive sites.
Probably the most famous dive site around Gilis due to a large white-tip reef shark population.
It’s one of the most tricky sites to navigate with strong currents that can give you goosebumps.
Like a cherry on top between 25m and 30m sits Glen Nusa wreck, an artificial reef sank by the local community in 2016. It’s a fair size towing boat brought over from Bali that’s now home to all sorts of fish and creatures.
Often you’ll see few juvenile giant trevallies or a white-tip just chilling at the sandy bottom.
The spot can be hit or miss, depending on the general conditions that day and your experience level.
It’s 100% worth checking out though.
This site will take your breath away and is my absolute favorite!
Only a five-minute boat ride to the north in the channel between Gili Meno and Trawangan, this dive is accessible by advanced divers and those who can go to 30 meters. Likely the best way to dive is with enriched air nitrox increasing your bottom time.
With a series of pinnacles and ridges stretching over a massive area, this site looks like an underwater city, with sandy valleys, coral formations, beautiful fans, and massive sponges.
What’s so incredible about this site is that you can visit 10+ times and never have the same dive.
Often, you’ll see a spotted eagle ray passing by or a reef shark. However, for me, it’s all about topography here.
Halik is a dive site on the north of Gili Trawangan and is one of the best choices for divers supporting all different levels of certification.
The shallowest part is a small ledge, starting at 5-7m dropping down to 15-18m. Halik’s reef is very active, with a lot of cleaning behaviors, schooling fish, and baby white tip reef sharks hiding in the crevices.
Some even call it clownfish point as there are probably more than fifty anemones where you can find Nemo and his friends. The deep part is like an underwater highway and is truly stunning. Starting from 25m and as deep as 40m, you’ll often find yourself drifting with the current.
On your way, you’ll likely pass by some blue-spotted stingrays hiding in the sand, big schools of snappers, red tooth triggerfish, and maybe even a shark.
As always, extend your bottom time through the use of enriched air nitrox and enjoy the ride!
Legend says that the site was named after one of the locals, Mr. Han, that contributed to the discovery and protection of reefs around the Gili Islands. People often saw the man sitting in a Gili Air bar enjoying a cold
Bintang, chatting to the tourists and local instructors.
It’s a dive site perfect for those who love a bit of underwater scavenger hunt full of amazing fish and creatures.
You can often find a frogfish here, there is resident paddle flap scorpionfish that’s been hanging around for months. You’ll also find turtles, blue ring octopus, lionfish, and endless other reef life.
It’s usually protected from the current, which makes it a perfect training site, accessible for all divers from beginners to advanced. The deepest point is 24m, and it’s a must on your diving list.
Beauty in the middle of nowhere, the north side of Meno is a tricky one to drop. The shallowest part of the reef is a large pinnacle starting from 15m all the way down to 40m, making it an advanced dive site. With its dramatic topography, this site will satisfy every diver needs.
Full of schooling fish and astonishing coral fans its large area is impossible to cover in one dive. It’s also home to a banana nudibranch a species of a sea slug, cuttlefish, and if you’re lucky…
You might even find a pygmy sea horse.
Thanks to its location, the reef itself is mostly protected from strong current and is a perfect training ground for technical divers.
Just further north is a stunning part of it accessible only with more than one tank (sidemount, twins) and enriched air. Make sure to ask around how can you upgrade your certification and off you go!
Dive Centres Gili Trawangan
An important thing to know is that due to a price agreement between dive centers, the standard and quality of teaching is not compromised by the lowered costs found on the island.
You simply need to choose the dive center with the best vibe and start your adventure.
A majority of them are located on the main street, so have a bit of look-around and chat with the people that potentially will take you diving, before you decide.
Be aware that few shops might offer you a cheaper price but remember, there is a reason behind it, that should raise questions. There are over 20 options to choose from, but we’ll cover the most popular ones here.
Trawangan Dive Centre is the largest and highest certifying dive center in Indonesia. It is our favorite one! As soon as you enter the shop you can feel it’s energy.
The great thing about it is that you can get your experience on every level here. If you are up for “try dive” with the team of top instructors or get your first diving certification, this center will be the best start for your
They have an outstanding Divemaster program that runs along with the Instructor Development Course. Trawangan dive should be your first choice if you think of becoming a dive professional.
The team down at Trawangan dive is super fun, friendly, and very experienced. Once you get to know them you can’t but love that bunch. You can sense they all love what their doing and their passion for diving is contagious.
If you hang around, you might become apart of the family. You can be sure they will make your time on the island unforgettable. Trawangan dive works closely together with the Gili Eco Trust, which runs reef conservation and restoration projects.
So if you are an “Eco Warrior” or want to become one and expand your knowledge, you’re in the right place.
They also have a pool bar and who doesn’t love a pool party after hours?!?
Here you can have an amazing cocktail and yummy food from the Fat Cat’s Restaurant make some new friends and continue to unwind on your holiday.
Blue Marlin is one of the oldest and probably best-known dive centers on the island, with 5 locations around Indonesia. It’s history going back to the early ’90s when Gili Trawangan was nothing more than a few wooden shacks on the beach and a land full of coconut plantations.
Loads of the dive sites were explored by Blue Marlin founders back in the day.
Today, however, a fresh team of instructors will take you underwater and teach you in many different languages. If you want to become a technical diving instructor that is the place to go.
Blue Marlin Tech was the first technical diving operation around the islands and now is run by a professional team of instructors. After diving all day, you can lose yourself at the Blue Marlin Monday Party, and dance away your night.
Manta dive is well known for their outstanding social media appearance and popularity.
They have the best social media team on the island and they put great work to create their image.
Overall a super friendly and inviting team of instructors will welcome you as soon as you step off the boat, as the shop is located right next to the Harbour.
Their original tuxedo-looking like wet suits, look great on photos. Manta is the biggest SSI dive center in Indonesia and you can find them on both of the islands, Trawangan and Air.
Here you can gain your qualification on every level of diving from Open Water through Divemaster and Instructor. They also offer technical diving courses if you are interested to learn more about advanced diving techniques.
This dive center is always buzzing and at Chappie’s bar you’ll always find few people to have a cold beer with and chat about diving by the end of your day.
Dive Central Gili @divecentralgili On the other hand if you are looking for a cozy boutique dive center you can’t miss Dive Central Gili, located alongside Pesona resort and restaurant.
There you will be welcomed by a lovely and passionate team of instructors. You can learn all levels of recreational diving and you’ll be well looked after.
Discover their house reef Bio Rock that’s a coral restoration project and shelter for many marine creatures. You don’t need to scuba dive to see it, so grab a snorkeling set and have a look around.
After hours sit on a comfortable cushion and unwind smoking sheesha, eating some delicious Indian food or enjoy relaxing massage in Azure Spa that’s located inside the complex.
If you don’t fancy dealing with all the equipment but, you are tempted to immerse yourself in a silent world, try freediving! The top spot to do that is Free Dive Gili, located right next to the best vegetarian restaurant on the island.
Team of beautifully build, enthusiastic and experienced instructors will guide you through the mysteries of breath-hold diving.
In two days you will learn new breathing and equalization techniques and you might walk out with a level 1 freediving certification.
If you are up for some further relaxation take part in one of their yoga classes. Lastly, they also have two yoga shalas to practice in peace.
Liveaboards Gili Islands
Most liveaboards in Indonesia occur elsewhere in Indonesia. Learn more about Indonesian liveaboards in our in-depth guide.
Transport To Gili Islands
One way to get here from Bali is to fly to Lombok Praya airport, then take a taxi down to the smaller harbor called Bangsal. From there you can hop on a public boat to get to the island or grab a speed boat over.
The other way is to take a speed boat directly from Bali to the Gilis. There are plenty to choose from, that run every day on various time schedules. The most reliable one, with outstanding service, is Blue Water Express.
You can book them online, through your hotel in Bali or contact one of the local tour agents to make a reservation for you. Be prepared that the journey door to door will take you about 3 to 4 hours. Book yourself enough time to enjoy the place with two days being the minimum.
What’s unique about the islands is that cars or any motorized traffic are prohibited.
Once you arrive, the main ways to get around the island are by foot, bicycle, or unique horse-carts called cidomo.
What’s Gili Diving Like?
Gili islands are a popular diving destination because of their vast turtle population. On most of the sites, you can encounter Green on Hawksbill turtles passing by like it’s “no big deal” and some of them are gigantic!
Gili Trawangan is located furthest away from the Lombok island. And due to its location on the north of Lombok Strait, you might expect some currents.
Current brings nutrients and due to the currents, reefs around the islands are so biodiverse and full of life. Once you stay on Gili Trawangan, you can dive all the spots around three Gilis.
Besides the turtles, you might often see a white tip and blacktip reef sharks, rays, morays, anemone fish as well as sea horses, octopus, and frogfish. For those who love the small creatures, there are a few astounding muck diving sites in nearby Lombok bays.
Those with technical diving certification, however, can drop deep on a steep wall just 20 minutes boat ride away, where coral is completely untouched and breathtaking.
Gili Trawangan and its many attractions is a wonderful little piece of paradise. Give it time and it will grow on you, till the point that all you will think of is to COME BACK AGAIN!
If you are already on the Gilis you have to visit Lombok and get the feeling of how Bali was maybe 30-40 years ago.
You can join an educational snorkeling trip with an organization called The Dorsal Effect (check what an amazing job these guys are doing @thedorsaleffect)or explore some new dive sites around Kuta with the newest Blue Marlin location.
Whatever you choose to do, do not be rude to local people, remember that you are a guest in their country so be respectful of their culture. Be eco-friendly by reducing a single-use plastic item.
You can refill your water bottle in many places on the island. We recommend downloading an app called RefillMyBottle to check where.
say NO to plastic straws, plastic bags, and anything that can’t be reused.
At some point, it will all end up in the ocean and ruin your perfect holiday view so if you won’t do it for the planet do it for yourself.
Credits and Contributors
The Scubaotter team would like to thanks the Trawangan Dive Team for helping put this guide together. Many of the photos included in this guide are from @KarolaTakesPhotos and @djash_e.
We’d also like to thank Laura Kazimierska for helping structure and write the article.
We hope to see you diving at the Gilis soon!