Dive guide for the Gili IslandsMay 2, 2023
The Gili Islands are a group of three small islands in Indonesia. Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are located off the northwest coast of Lombok. These islands are known for their beautiful beaches, crystal clear waters, and particularly great scuba diving and snorkeling spots. We have put together the ultimate dive guide for the Gili Islands, including how to get there and a list of the best dive sites.
Which island suits you best?
Each of the three Gili islands offers a completely different experience, so to help you decide where to base yourself for your Gili Island vacation, here is a little overview for each:
Gili Trawangan: The largest and most popular island among the three, Gili Trawangan (also known as Gili T) is known for its lively nightlife and large selection of restaurants and bars. Gili T is most popular amongst young backpackers and party-lovers.
Gili Meno: The smallest and quietest island of the three, it is perfect for a peaceful getaway. Many honeymooners head to Gili Meno for its romantic atmosphere, nice restaurants, and relaxed atmosphere.
Gili Air: A mix of both of the other islands, with a less crowded and more laid-back atmosphere than Gili T, but a bit more nightlife on offer than Gili Meno.
How to get to the Gili Islands
You can take a fast boat from Bali or from Lombok to get to the Gili Islands. Once you arrive on the islands, there are no cars or motorbikes, so the best ways to get around are by bicycle, walking, or by horse-drawn carriage.
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Best dive sites in the Gili Islands
There are many dive sites to explore surrounding the Gili Islands, so no matter where you choose to base yourself, you will not be short of scuba diving options. Here is a rundown of our favorite dive sites around each island.
1. Meno Wall: A drift dive east of Gili Meno that takes divers along a steep wall with coral formations, colorful fish, and the occasional passing shark or turtle. Considered one of the best spots for night diving in the Gili Islands, Meno Wall is also home to many crustaceans that like to come awake at nighttime, some of these include lobsters, shrimp, and crabs.
2. Bounty Wreck: A sunken ship on the southwestern side of Gili Meno that is now home to various marine species like moray eels, lionfish, and scorpionfish. The wreck sits at a maximum depth of 20m/65ft, with the top at just 5m/16ft which makes it suitable for both beginner and more advanced divers, as well as snorkelers and freedivers, too.
3. Simon’s Reef: A shallow, protected reef just north of Gili Meno, boasting excellent visibility and an abundance of macro life such as starfish, crabs, and shrimp. Simon’s Reef has a healthy mix of soft and hard corals, and if you look closely you might see a pygmy seahorse, and (if you are lucky) an eagle ray might pass by.
4. Turtle Heaven: A site northeast of Gili Meno where green turtles are found feeding and resting amongst the corals and sponges, year-round. You would have to be very unlucky not to spot turtles at this aptly-named dive site. The dive drops from 10m/33ft to 30m/98ft, making it suitable for divers of all levels. Marine life on offer here (besides the turtles) include moray eels, nudibranchs, and schools of damselfish.
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1.Han’s Reef: North of Gili Air, Hans Reef features an incredible diversity of marine life between 5m/16ft and 22m/72ft, with a range of soft and hard corals, colorful sponges, and a variety of reef fish on offer for scuba divers. Han’s Reef is a popular dive site for night diving in the Gili Islands, and many dive schools use the site for teaching courses, too. It is suitable for both experienced and beginner divers who can all look out for octopuses, scorpionfish, and blue spotted stingrays.
2. Air Wall: On the eastern side of Gili Air is Air wall; A wall dive that drops vertically from 5m/16ft to 30m/328ft. The dive starts on a sandy bottom slope that offers some great coral bommies and ridges where you are likely to spot bumphead parrotfish. A highlight of diving Air Wall is viewing the gorgonian sea fans that call this dive spot their home, they are rare and quite an impressive sight.
3. Air Slope: Located to the east of Gili Air, Air Slope offers a maximum depth of 25m/82ft and strong currents that provide excellent drift dives. Air Slope dive site is a great place to spot beautiful fish including boxfish, sweetlips, wrasse, and angelfish. Nudibranchs and turtles are also a regular sight here.
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1. Shark Point: Shark Point is on the West Coast of Gili T and is a popular spot for sighting reef sharks, as well as other marine life like nudibranch and schooling fish. The best sites are to be found between 18m/60ft to 30m/98ft and mid to strong currents are common so it is most suited for advanced divers.
2. Sunset Reef (Manta Point): Southwest of Gili T, and as the name suggests, this site offers some breathtaking views of the sun setting over the water. It is a gentle sloping dive site which is suitable for divers of all levels. With great scuba diving on offer both shallow and deep, look out for green and hawksbill turtles, schooling batfish, reef sharks, and if you are lucky, manta rays.
3. Halik Reef: On the northwestern side of Gili T, this site offers amazing diving between 5m/16ft and 24m/80ft, and is known for its impressive array of coral formations and the diverse range of marine life that inhabits them, some of these include clownfish, shrimp, and usually many, many turtles.
4. Deep Turbo: It is a deep dive site with a maximum depth of 40 meters (130 feet) featuring a beautiful reef with colorful corals and a range of marine life such as parrotfish, groupers, triggerfish, and reef sharks. The highlight of the dive is a unique turbo-shaped pinnacle that rises from the sea floor, providing shelter to many fish species. Due to its depth and strong currents, this dive site is recommended for advanced divers only.