From Bali to Gili Islands | Complete guide to visit Meno, Air, Trawangan Islands

From Bali to Gili Islands | Complete guide to visit Meno, Air, Trawangan Islands

From Bali to Gili Islands

A little paradise 1 hour away by fast boad from Bali to Gili islands. The Gili Islands in Bali are 3 small pieces of paradise land lined up off Lombok, Indonesia. Gili Trawangan is the largest and busiest of the three islands. It is also the most accessible by Fast-boat.

Getting to the Gili Islands:

The options are endless when it comes to choosing ferry or fast boat from Bali to Gili Islands. There are 9 ferry companies with a total of 13 ferry routes connecting Serangan to Gili Air, Gili Trawangan, Gili Gede & Gili Meno, Padangbai to Gili Air, Gili Trawangan & Gili Meno, Amed to Gili Trawangan & Gili Air, Sanur to Gili Trawangan, Gili Air & Gili Meno & Benoa Harbor in Gili Trawangan.

The fastest route between Bali and Gili Islands is Gili Trawangan with a crossing duration of around 1 hour 15 minutes. With so many routes on offer, we make it easy for you by comparing all equivalent crossings with just one click. So you can quickly find what you are looking for.

Gili Islands Region map
Gili Islands map. User:(WT-shared) Burmesedays,OpenStreetMap, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Getting around the Gili Islands:

The Gili Islands are small enough. There is no motorized transport on the islands apart from electric scooters. The short distances over land are covered on foot, by bicycle or cidomo (a small horse-drawn carriage). Accessible only by sea, the islands are visited by a variety of fast boats that operate various routes from Bali.

There are a range of direct fast boat services from Bali and Speed ​​Boat from Lombok to the Gili Islands, all of which also serve Lombok, some of which go past Nusa Lembongan en route.

Cidomo Senggigi
Cidomo. Midori, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Fast boat the best way to get to Gili Trawangan Meno and Air islands

In addition to this previous article on the different means of transport to get to Lombok, we will here address the same subject but specifically to get to the Gili Islands in Lombok via the port of Padangbai.

What is the best way to get to Gili Islands from Trawangan, Meno and Air?

As a reminder, the 3 Gili islands named: Trawangan, Meno and Air are part of Lombok and not of Bali. These 3 islands located northwest of Lombok have almost become a must for all travelers visiting Bali.
Although it is possible to go to the Gili Islands by Plane, Fast or speed boat or Ferry we will discuss these 3 solutions here but as much to tell you right away the Fast boat is the winning solution.

Ferry from Bali to Gili Trawangan Meno and Air Islands

We recommend this solution for travelers whose decision-making element is only the price (pay as little as possible). Because it is indeed the cheapest solution but the slowest and least comfortable and I would not recommend the Ferry for those going to the Gili Islands.

You need transport from your place of residence in Bali to the port of Padang bai about 1h30-2h from the south of Bali, then the crossing to Lombok about 5 to 6h, you disembark at the port of Lembar in the South West of Lombok , then transport to the port of Bangsal north of Lombok for the Gili and finally the public boat to one of the 3 Gili islands.

Finally the cost will not be very far from that of the Fast boat by including all the costs… The ferry is relevant if you want to go to Lombok and visit the south and the center and not the Gili Islands.

Plane from Bali to Lombok then transport to Gili Trawangan Meno and Air islands

The cost of the plane is quite close to that of the Fast boat but is slower because you will arrive at Mataram airport in the south of Lombok from where you will have to find transport to the port of Bangsal in the North of Lombok to take a boat to the Gili Islands. With this additional transport, the cost becomes higher than Fast boat and longer.

So here again the plane would be a very good solution for those wishing to visit Lombok but in the case of the Gili Islands the Fast boat remains the best solution.

But for some the plane will be more practical, if you are traveling with a baby, or if you are seasick because the waves are sometimes important during the crossing and if you have very little luggage to carry.

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The Fast boat best solution from Bali to the islands Gili Trawangan Meno and Air

The Fast boat remains in our opinion the best solution to go to the Gili Islands whether Trawangan, Meno or Air. For a fixed price you will have: the pick-up on the way to your hotel in Bali, the Fast boat round trip and the drop-off at your hotel on the return to Bali.

A driver picks you up at your hotel, drops you off at the port of Padangbai from where you board the Fast boat to Gili. On the return, the boat drops you off in Padangbai and a shuttle will drop you off at your hotel.

Transport Hotel Bali=> Port Padangbai

Transportation from your hotel to Padangbai port normally is included in your ticket. The transport zone covers hotels in the city center of the following cities: Ubud, Sanur, Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Jimbaran Bay, Candidasa.
If your hotel is outside the transport zone there will be a supplement to pay depending on the address of your hotel.

Transportation Port Padangbai=>Hotel Bali

The shuttle service area that drops you off on the return covers hotels in the city center of the following cities: Sanur, Seminyak, Legian, Kuta, Jimbaran Bay, Candidasa and also at the airport. For Ubud the free shuttle drops off passengers not at their hotel but in town. Likewise, if your hotel is outside the transport zone then they will drop you off downtown.

Duration of crossings from Bali to Gili Islands

The crossing takes 1h30 from Padangbai to Gili Trawangan, 1h45 to Gili Air. The return from Gili to Padangbai takes 1h45-2h.

Return or Depart via Amed

It is possible to leave from Padangbai and return via the port of Amed or vice versa. The routes between Amed <=> Gili are operated by the companies Freebird and Kuda Hitam.

Weather-related risks

There are some risks, if it is too windy the authorities will ban all Fast boat crossings until the situation improves, this rarely happens and when it does the ban lasts only 1 or 2 days I would say 1-2 times a year.
Then the sea can be rough so you can be more or less shaken.

Read also: Indonesia Weather Guide by Islands – Best Months to Visit for Your Holiday

Finally the companies are more or less good, I mainly use for myself, my friends and the readers of lebaliblog the Wahana, Patagonia and Ekajaya companies with which we have not had any problem for the moment and with which we are satisfied.
Overall it’s a great experience and you can even sit on the roof of the boat and enjoy the view during the crossing.

3 Main Gili Islands

The three main Gili Islands are Gili Trawangan, Gili Air, and Gili Meno. They’re situated off the northwest coast of Lombok, Indonesia, and are popular for their stunning beaches, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Each island offers its own unique charm and experiences, ranging from vibrant nightlife on Gili Trawangan to a serene and quieter ambiance on Gili Meno.

1. Gili Meno, a peaceful adventure and the smallest of the Gili Islands

If you want to live a whole new experience with a peaceful adventure, this is the right island for you! Located just one kilometer from Gili Trawangan, it is the smallest of the three islands, but also the most popular with tourists. There is a calm that will please you. In Gili Meno, the sand is powdery white, the landscape surrounded by the beach is charming. This is the perfect place for moonlit walks. No wonder so many couples choose it for their honeymoon. Gili Meno is a haven of peace.

Meno is the smallest and quietest of the three Gili. It is undoubtedly the one that has remained the most authentic with the western part of the island almost virgin of any construction with beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear water.

  • Activity: snorkeling, beach.
  • Housing: limited supply of housing.
  • Restaurant: limited offer of restaurants.

Gili Meno
Gili Meno. Flickr user: yeowatzup, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

2. Gili Air, suitable for snorkeling

Covered with powdery white sand beach, Gili Air offers, like Gili Meno, a peaceful atmosphere. If you love snorkeling, then put on your fins, your mask and grab your snorkel, because here the aquatic hike promises to be superb. Your exploration at the bottom of the sea will make you discover formidable aquatic species, you will swim with giant green turtles or hawksbills as well as tropical fish. The warmth of local life mixed with the sublime beauty of the landscape makes this site a destination of choice.

Gili Air is a mix of the other two Gili. It has facilities that have nothing to envy to those of Gili Trawangan (restaurants, hotels) while being much more peaceful.

  • Activity: some diving schools, snorkeling, some evenings, beach, bike…
  • Accommodation: mainly bungalows.
  • Restaurant: wide choice of restaurants for all tastes and all budgets.

This island is made for you if: you want to relax without getting bored and enjoy more upscale facilities than the one on Gili Meno.

Gili Air Eastern coast looking at Lombok
Beach on Gili Air, looking at Lombok Island. Laurent Bigué, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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5 must-do things in Gili Air

Discover the allure of Gili Air with these five must-do activities:

Swim with sea turtles

The island of Gili Air is known for its transparent waters and its magnificent snorkeling spots. Just a few meters from the coast, you can swim with turtles, see multicolored fish and admire the corals. You can easily rent mask, snorkel and flippers on the island, for 50,000IDR a day. The best spot to swim with turtles is in the East and North West part of Gili Air. Renting snorkeling gear is easy and affordable, allowing you to explore the best turtle-spotting areas in the East and North West parts of the island. Or you can bring your own snorkeling gear from your home country.

Visit the island by bike

Rent a bike for a few days and discover Gili Air! Most bike rental shops are located near the port to the south. You can also rent a bike from most homestays, lodges or villas. Feel free to explore the center of the island, which is more authentic and less developed than the coast: you can see farmers and farmers working in the coconut fields.

Admire the sunset in the northwest of the island

The sun sets on the same side where the turtles are: in the northwest of the island! If the sky is clear, you can even admire the sunset with Mount Agung in the background.

Sunbathe on a hammock by the sea

The southern part of Gili Air offers the most accommodation by the sea. If you book accommodation in this part of the island, you can enjoy the beach while resting on a hammock or under the coconut trees. . The east coast of Gili Air has the whitest beaches on the island. Be sure to cycle around the island to choose your favorite beach!

Gili Air map
Gili Air map. User:(WT-shared) Burmesedays,OpenStreetMap, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

3. Gili Trawangan, the island to party

We cannot all unanimously love calm; that’s a fact. Fortunately, moreover, because I dare not imagine what our world would be like then. A festive atmosphere, nothing much better to enjoy life. Gili Trawangan is world renowned for this. The parties are exceptional on this island and leave a pleasant taste. More populated, more developed, it is an ideal destination for holidays. Do not be surprised that on the evening or the morning of your departure, a shadow of sadness appears on your face. This island has the magic of never being enough for the visitor. We never want to leave this island.

Read also: 2 Weeks Itinerary in Bali | What to do and visit in Bali for 14 Days | Best Itinerary

It is the largest but the most urbanized and lively of the three islands. The atmosphere in Trawangan is clearly festive with visitors coming from all over the world.

  • Possible activity: diving school, snorkeling, clubbing, beach, night market, cycling…
  • Accommodation: wide variety of accommodation (hostel, bungalows, high-end resort, etc.)
  • Restaurant: wide choice of restaurants for all tastes and all budgets.

This island is therefore rather made for you if: you like to party, you travel alone and/or you like to mingle with other travelers…

Beach - Gili Trawangan (16950555226)
Beach on Gili Trawangan. Jorge Láscar from Melbourne, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The diving sites in Lombok

Scuba diving in Lombok is organized mainly either around Senggigi in the west, or around the Gili Islands in the northwest, or in the south at Belongas Bay.

In Belongas Bay, we discover a wide variety of sites to see hammerhead shark, pinnacles with abundant marine life of tuna, barracuda and mobula rays visible particularly from June to the end of October. Senggigi dive sites are made up of rocky slopes and plateaus on which soft corals and colorful gorgonians host small marine species. They are more macro diving spots. The sites are accessible to all levels of diving.

The dive sites around the islands Gili Trawangan, Gili Air and Gili Meno are also a favorite area from Lombok. This truly charming, car-free Indonesia dive destination offers more beaches and reefs for scuba diving, snorkeling and snorkeling. The dive sites are easy to explore, there is little current, pretty coral gardens, a maximum depth of 32 meters (105 miles) and lots of turtles. Ideal for doing a PADI Open Water Diver (level 1) or for swimming with turtles while snorkeling.

Read also: Best Dive Spots in Bali

Best time to dive in Gilis Islands, Lombok

Diving in the Gili Islands is possible all year round but try to avoid the months of December and January. Heavy rains during these months reduce visibility somewhat. The best season for diving is from May to September.

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Things to do on the Gili Islands

The Gili Islands, consisting of Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air, are a popular destination among tourists visiting Bali. Here the list for things to do on the Gili Islands:

Snorkeling and diving

The Gili Islands are known for their clear waters and vibrant marine life. You can go snorkeling or diving to explore the underwater world and see colorful fish, sea turtles, and coral reefs. Read also: Best Snorkelling Spots in Bali You Can Go

Island hopping

You can take a boat tour to visit all three islands and explore their unique attractions. Gili Trawangan is known for its nightlife and sunset views, while Gili Meno is quieter and more secluded, perfect for romantic getaways. Gili Air offers a balance of both.

Relax on the beach

All three islands have beautiful beaches where you can sunbathe, swim, and relax. You can also enjoy a massage or spa treatment on the beach.

Cycling and horse riding

The Gili Islands are small enough to explore by bicycle or horseback. You can rent a bike or take a horse ride to see the islands’ scenery and local life.

Sunset watching

The Gili Islands have some of the most stunning sunsets in Bali. You can enjoy the sunset views while sipping cocktails at beachside bars or taking a sunset boat tour.

In summary, the Gili Islands offer a range of activities and attractions for travelers looking for a mix of adventure and relaxation. Whether you choose to snorkel, island hop, or simply relax on the beach, the Gili Islands are a must-visit destination when traveling to Bali.

Photo credit (main picture): Author: Kok Leng Yeo from Singapore (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Photo description: Gili Islands & Gunung Rinjiani, Lombok, Indonesia.

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2 Replies to “From Bali to Gili Islands | Complete guide to visit Meno, Air, Trawangan Islands”

  1. Hi, I’m preparing my holiday…
    What are the top three things to do on Gili Island? What to choose between Meno, Air, Trawangan Islands and why? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Sophie,

      As for choosing between the islands, it ultimately depends on your preferences and what you’re looking for in your holiday experience.
      – Gili Trawangan is great for those seeking a lively nightlife scene and a wide range of dining and entertainment options.
      – Gili Air is ideal for travelers looking for a balance between relaxation and activities, with a mix of beachfront cafes, water sports, and wellness retreats.
      – Gili Meno is perfect for couples or anyone seeking a quiet and romantic escape, with pristine beaches and a laid-back atmosphere.

      Here are the top three things to do on the Gili Islands:

      1. Snorkeling and diving: explore vibrant coral reefs and swim with sea turtles in the crystal-clear waters.
      2. Relax on the beaches: enjoy pristine white sands and tranquil settings for sunbathing and swimming.
      3. Experience island life: choose between lively nightlife on Gili Trawangan, a balanced vibe on Gili Air, or a secluded getaway on Gili Meno.

      Please let me know if you need more information!

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