The Gili Islands off the north west coast of Lombok first became popular with budget travelers and backpackers over 20 years ago, but have now become famous for their white-sand beaches, luxury accommodation, high-quality services, crystal clear waters and pumping nightlife. It’s also now easier than ever to reach the islands thanks to numerous fast boats from Bali and also an international airport on the Lombok mainland.
All kinds of travelers love the Gilis but none more than divers. Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air all have their own distinctive vibes but all are worth visiting for their beauty both on land and in the water.
The Gili islands diving spots are more than spectacular, in fact you’ll find some of the best diving in the whole of Indonesia right off the coasts of these 3 low-key islands. Of course dive enthusiasts have known this for years, but divers of any level can go diving in the Gili islands and we’re going to tell you why you’ll find diving in the Gili Islands mind-blowing!
So why should you dive in the Gili Islands? There are many reasons but the waters are warm and clear and absolutely teeming with marine life, which are some of the top reasons. There are more than 20 dive sites, none more than 10 or 15 minutes from the islands. The sites range from 5 to 32 metres deep and therefore are suitable for first time divers getting PADI or SSI certified all the way up to those that have been diving all their lives.
Also, heading out on a traditional outrigger is an experience in itself. Early in the morning you have the possibility to see dolphins and throughout the day turtles and sharks. Later in the afternoon being out on the water means unhindered views of the sunset and even of Bali’s Mount Agung from some parts of the islands.
So where should you dive in the Gilis? Let’s start with the largest and most developed Gili, Gili Trawangan. Whether you are an absolute beginner or an experienced diver, there are dive spots in Gili Trawangan just for you. Shark Point and Manta Point are the most popular and what can you see… well sharks and mantas of course. You can expect to see black tips, white tips and reef sharks at Shark Point and cross your fingers tight and you will hopefully spot the breathtaking manta rays of Manta Point. However, even if you don’t see the mantas you will most likely see stingrays, some sharks and cuttlefish, which should make your experience just as special.
Once you’ve seen a manta ray or been swimming with sharks you’ll never look back. These are life-changing experiences that will show you the true power and beauty of the sea and the incredible creatures that live there. If you’re a beginner, expect to get totally hooked on diving after an undersea peek at one of these spots.
The other popular dive site off Gili Trawangan is Halik, which is heaven for underwater photographers and beginner divers because of the split between the shallow and deeper areas of the site. This site is teeming with colourful soft and hard corals and a huge variety of tropical fish. Sea turtles are also common here in the shallower water and are a huge draw for divers and snorkelers. Seeing the size and grace of a sea turtle in the open waters is feeling like no other. And if you’re diving around the full moon you might be treated to the sight of a bumphead parrotfish or two.
Moving on to the Gili in the middle Gili Meno, this is a quieter more romantic island than Trawangan but also attracts divers for its many beautiful dive spots that are also easily accessible from Gili Trawangan.
Meno Wall and Mirkos (also known as Secret Reef) are two of the most popular dives and are suitable for divers of all levels. At these two locations you’ll see everything from crabs, turtles, cuttlefish, scorpion fish and of course incredible corals. Secret Reef runs almost the whole length of the island so its home to tons of smaller creatures like glass shrimp and porcelain crabs, which are a treat to see and wonderful to photograph.
Meno Bounty, which used to be a floating dock but is now a haven for a breathtaking variety of marine life, is awash with schools of drummer fish, scorpion fish and batfish hiding under the sunken concrete platform.
Diving Gili Air is another experience altogether being the closest Gili to mainland Lombok and the least developed of the islands. Gili Air’s Haan’s Reef has become a major photography hotspot because of its great muck diving and possibility of spotting some really rare marine species. This also means that it’s rarely crowded so you might have the whole dive site to yourself if you’re lucky.
On the southwest side of Gili Air is Air Wall, one of the largest in the area. The vertical drop reaches a depth of 30 metres and is home to many unusual marine species including rare nudibranchs, orangutan crabs and octopus. This is not only a great dive spot but also attracts snorkelers who get the boat out for the chance to see bumphead parrotfish and many other brightly coloured tropical fish from the surface.
If there is one thing the Gilis are known for it’s the Gili Trawangan nightlife but this, the largest of the Gilis, also has it’s quieter side and is heaven for dive enthusiasts. With restaurants, entertainment and ease of reaching the dive spots around all 3 islands, Gili Trawangan is a great choice for a dive holiday. The incredible variety of marine life that is just below the crystal blue waters of the Gilis is waiting for you and this is why you should book a mind-blowing diving trip in the Gilis today!