The Gili Islands, or “The Gilis” as they are affectionately known, are three small islands off of the coast of Lombok in Indonesia.
The islands are called Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air (pronounced “a-yer”).
The name “Gili Islands” is somewhat redundant, as the word “gili” simply means “small island”.
The islands can be reached by fast boat service from Lombok and Bali.
Gili Trawangan is the largest of the three, and the most developed, from a tourist perspective. It features more restaurants, bars, and dive centers than the other two, and is supposedly the smallest island in the world that features an Irish pub! It is also the most visited island.
Gili Air is the smallest of the three, and the one closest to Lombok. Perhaps as a result of this, it is the most developed by locals, and features a reasonably strong local community.
Gili Meno is nested between the two others, and is the most laid-back. If you’re looking for a (almost) private bounty island, this is the one you want.
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Scattered around all three islands are a large number of great dive sites, with exotic names like “Deep Turbo”, “Simon’s Reef”, “Sunset” and “Bounty”. All dive sites are available from all three islands, as they are all boat dives. A lot of dives are deeper than 18 meters, so AOWD or equivalent is recommended.
The best sites to go diving in Gili Islands are:
A great drift dive, and one often done best in the morning, as the depth is consistently between 25 and 30 meters for the entire dive.
Depending on the force of the current, the dive time can be anywhere from 40 minutes to under 20 minutes (!). The site is between Gili Trawangan and Gili Meno.
On the east coast of Gili Trawangan, this dive follows the reef just off the beach. Good site for an afternoon dive, as the depth is anywhere from 10-20 meters.
Good site for turtles, sea snakes, napoleon fish, and trigger fish.
Can be combined with Deep Turbo, if the current is strong enough to keep it within your no-deco time.
A wreck dive, of sorts, that takes you to Gili Meno, where, some years ago, the local government built a pier for luxury boats to moor at.
Check out the Top 5 Of The World’s Best Wrecks.
In a storm, shortly after it was built, the whole structure sank, and now rests in shallow water, around 15-18 meters. Lots of marine life, and even an old bicycle, standing upright and still locked and chained to a bit of railing.
A deep dive, typically done in the morning, often with a good bit of current, and with good chances of sighting turtles (in the shallow, final part of the dive), barracudas, and, of course, sharks, specifically black tipped reef sharks.
An easy dive, a good intro dive or afternoon dive, depth is around 18 meters, and follows a pristine sandy bottom and around a number of coral and rock formations.
Very photogenic site.
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The Gilis have loads of dive centers, Gili Trawangan has no less than 14!
We dived with Trawangan Dive, which, in addition to the dive center, features both dormitory and hotel rooms, pool, and a nice, beach-side restaurant.
Though, on The Gilis, most things are beach-side.