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Written by Scuba Instructors ~ DIVE.in's Complete Guide to:

The Best Diving in Gili Islands

Weather in Gili Islands

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Gili Islands

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

Bath
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Language

Indonesian (bahasa Indonesia)

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The authors:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

The Gili islands are three closely situated islands north of Lombok which offer some of the world’s most easily accessible and spectacular diving.

However, visitors are not limited to underwater exploration, as the Gilis offers a really fantastic expeience and provide a welcome change for visitors coming from Bali.

The islands are called Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno, and Gili Air.

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.

More of Indonesia:
This Diving in Gili guide is part of our Diving in Indonesia guide that also has diving in the Bali, Sulawesi, Raja Ampat, and Komodo

What Activities to Expect

The beauty of these islands is that they provide options for any traveller. Whether you are looking for a party destination to enjoy the nightlife or prefer an isolated, quiet and relaxed holiday.

Most people spend a few days or a week here, but many divers opt to spend several weeks or even months on the Gilis to take their dive certification.

The waters around the Gili islands are a gorgeous twinkling blue which remain warm throughout the year, continually inviting people for a quick dip or dive. The coasts of the island feature long stretches of white coral sand, which is fine and gives the water that Instagram and photo worthy hue in every picture.

The Islands

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.

The 10 Best Dive sites in Gili Islands?

Sort this list to fit your scuba level and wishes

Location:


  1. Gili Trawangan
  2. Gili Meno
  3. Gili Air

Recommended Level:


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Dive Type:


  1. Macro
  2. Reef Wall
  3. Slope
  4. Coral Gardens
  5. Drift Dive
  6. Megafauna
  7. Sea Mound
  8. Deep Dive
  9. Wreck Dive
  10. Penetration Dive
  11. Coral Reef
  12. Artificial Reef
  13. Nitrox
  14. Sandy patch
  15. Canyons

Show only the very best:


  1. Yes
  2. No

Halik

This dive site is ideal for beginners along with any experts looking to start their dive trip on a beautiful multi-level diving site. There is a canopy of rich and vibrant coral stretching from 5-24m of depth. You can choose what depth to stay at to experience the beautiful underwater world.

  • Docile, tranquil turtles are year-round residence on this dive site
  • Gullies with rich variety of marine life at depth
  • Can be a great drift dive thanks to steady currents.

What you will see:

This coral filled dive site is the home to many reef fish which frolic in the shallow waters. If you want to practise your photography skills, then you will enjoy the shallow and colourful views at around 5m. Green and hawksbill turtles are also year-round residents who munch on the coral and let divers approach close enough for a great photograph.


Gili Trawangan Beginner Macro Reef Wall Slope Coral Gardens Drift Dive

Manta Point

For anyone who wishes to see a Manta Ray, this is a dive site they should add to their bucket list. The currents at this dive site tend to be mild, meaning divers of any level can enjoy seeing the spectacular creatures gliding overhead.  Often, manta rays will swim in trains, with certain divers being lucky enough to see up to 20 individuals on a dive dive! Ensure to not touch these regal creatures as contact with human skin can transfer bacteria and lower their immune system.

  • Manta Rays congregate at this dive site
  • The wall descent attracts reef sharks and sting rays.
  • Great dive for beginners.

What you will see:

Apart from the majestic manta, this dive site gives you the opportunity to enjoy seeing masses of staghorn coral with small fishes hiding within. There are also many sting rays passing in the blue water, cuttlefish swimming around, and octopus hiding in cracks and crevices.


Gili Trawangan Beginner Intermediate Reef Wall Slope Coral Gardens Drift Dive Megafauna Our Favorite

Deep Turbo’s

This deep dive site includes many sea mounds rising from the 30m sandy bottom attracting a variety of sea creatures and growing beautiful coral. The frequent coral means that massive sea fans have grown at a depth of 20m, where you can see many small invertebrates hiding.

  • Advanced Certification Required
  • Deep dive with beautiful sea mounds
  • Megafauna such as leopard sharks and rays pass through

What you will see:

There are plenty of hard and soft corals surrounded by reef fish. The depth of this dive site means that divers can see leopard sharks and giant rays cruising in the blue around the sea mound. Keep an eye out on the sandy bottom, as rays can camouflage extremely well. There are also garden eels poking their heads out of the sand, butterfly fish amongst the coral, and sea turtles making the occasional appearance.


Gili Trawangan Intermediate Advanced Macro Megafauna Sea Mound Deep Dive Our Favorite

Shark Point

This is one of the most popular sites at Gili T because of the amount of megafauna that aggregates here. The unique topography of the area attracts the animals in large numbers. The dive site has a flat sandy bottom which transitions into deeper canyons that run parallel to the shore.

  • Greatest variety of marine species to be seen on a single dive
  • Almost guaranteed shark sightings
  • Canyons providing excellent hiding spots for marine invertebrates.
  • The full moon brings a massive congregation of bump head parrot fish

What you will see:

Make sure to bring your camera on this dive to capture the reef sharks hiding in the canyons with fish fluttering all around them. This is also a great spot to see cuttlefish, stingrays, and green turtles hanging around in the shallow parts of this dive. Schooling trevally and other pelagic fish can be see swirling in the blue.


Gili Trawangan Beginner Intermediate Coral Gardens Drift Dive Megafauna Sandy patch Canyons Our Favorite

Glenn Nusa

The Glenn Nusa is a wreck that was originally a tugboat in Lombok. Then it was retired and bought by Trawangan dive centres to be purposefully sunk as a new dive site. It is situated between Halik and Shark Point on a sloping bottom. The hull is at a depth of 22m, with the other side of the ship descending to further down to 29m. Its depth means it is an advanced dive, and ideal to be completed as part of the Advanced Open Water Course or Wreck Specialty.

  • Ship that was purposefully sunk as a dive site
  • Deep dive with the wreck lying at 29m
  • Safe penetration possible

What you will see:

Since it was purposefully sunk, safe penetration into the wreck is able. You will be able to swim through the captain’s cabin, check out the anchor on the outside, see the massive cargo space, and ship toilets. The ship is slowly transforming from a massive hunk of metal into an artificial reef, with every passing month attracting more sea creatures.


Gili Trawangan Intermediate Advanced Wreck Dive Penetration Dive Coral Reef

Meno Bounty (Jubblies)

All that remains of the Meno Bounty wreck is a 30m long platform which has become the home to many fish species. It used to be a jetty for the bounty cruise ship until around 15 years ago when a stormy night broke it in half and sunk it beneath the waves. It is located at a relatively shallow 8m descending to 16m. The length of time and persuasive currents means the wreck is virtually hard to distinguish from the surrounding reef. The wreck is slowly breaking apart due to the currents, and divers are therefore not allowed to swim underneath the wreck.

  • Old Jetty which is now a great wreck dive
  • Shallow at 16m at the deepest point
  • Rich iron material stimulates coral growth

What you will see:

Due to the iron structure of the bounty jetty, this dive site is particularly stunning in terms of the soft and hard coral coverage. The coral is the home to many leaf scorpion fish, little crabs, frog fish, sea moths, and little rays. There is also a collection of other man-made items that have been placed in this area including car tires, mooring lines, and bicycles. Be careful not to touch any of these items, as they can easily cut you underwater.


Gili Meno Intermediate Advanced Macro Coral Gardens Wreck Dive Artificial Reef

Mirko's Reef

This deep dive site is also known as the secret reef and features a stunning long sea mound that stretches the length of Meno Island. It’s a stunning deep dive that requires divers to be a minimum of advanced certification. The sea mound is the home to a variety of sea life and provides a fantastic spot to practise deep diving and spotting micro marine life.

  • Deep sea mound along the East of Meno
  • Astonishing coral coverage
  • Macro photography

What you will see:

The amazing coral coverage hides plenty of small glass shrimps, porcelain crabs, leaf fish, scorpion fish, and other well camouflaged marine creatures. It also has plenty of schooling reef fish twirling in beautiful patterns above the diverse coral garden. You will be able to spot pufferfish, yellow trumpet fish, and plenty of species of butterflyfish.

In Loving Memory of Mirko Naumann


Gili Meno Intermediate Advanced Macro Reef Wall Coral Gardens Sea Mound Deep Dive Our Favorite

Simon’s Reef

A great deep dive site which allows divers to see unique coral species that are hard to find on other shallower dive sites. The bottom of this dive site is at 30m where bommies and sea mounds rise above the sandy bottom. The sea mounds are diverse in size and shape and attract a variety of wildlife to hide in the rocky safety.

  • Deep dive great for advanced divers
  • Unique coral species
  • Mounds attracting marine life from long distances

What you will see:

For this dive site it is advisable to bring a torch as you will get the best view of the marine creatures hiding under the various overhangs and outcrops on the sea mounds. Take you time to spot cuttlefish, invertebrates, scorpion fish, leaf fish, lionfish, and shy eels. This is the type of dive site where the slower you dive the more marine life you see.


Gili Air Beginner Intermediate Advanced Reef Wall Slope Coral Gardens Drift Dive Deep Dive

Air Wall

This stunning reef wall is one of the largest in the near by area. Divers will see a vertical drop from 5-30m on the East side of Gili air. Once divers descend, they begin their dive at the sandy bottom at 30m and pass impressive bommies along the wall. The currents can sometimes be strong here, so make sure you are comfortable with changing conditions. However, the range of depths means even beginner divers can visit this dive site.

  • Deep wall dive
  • Congregations of Bump Head Parrot Fish
  • Caution of the vertical drop

What you will see:

Wall dives allow divers to choose which depth to remain at and guarantee spectacular views at any point. The sea mounds have gorgeous coral with many macro creatures such as cleaner shrimp, porcelain crabs, scorpionfish, and leaf fish all hiding in the brightly coloured gardens. The wall attracts many reef fish including bump head parrot fish, butterfly fish, angel fish, and a range of brightly coloured wrasse.


Gili Air Beginner Intermediate Advanced Reef Wall Coral Gardens Drift Dive Sea Mound Our Favorite

Japanese Wreck

Mirko's Reef

The Gili islands were used during the second world war by the Japanese forces as outposts and prisoner camps. Now the ocean around the islands still holds mementos of this turbulent time. There are two Japanese Patrol ships just off the south coast of Gili Air. This dive site is reserved for experienced divers as the Japanese wreck lies at a depth of 45m. Dive shops require a minimum of advanced certification, nitrox, and enough logged dives to feel comfortable descending to 45m of depth and doing a decompression dive. The dive centres will provide divemaster’s or dive instructors as guides to ensure you have a safe and unforgettable dive.

  • Deep and advanced wreck dive
  • Historic Japanese patrol ships
  • Decompression Dive

What you will see:

The location of the wreck was discovered relatively recently, making it a spectacular artificial reef taken over by the ocean. For 60 years the ship remained undisturbed, and now in total has over 75 years of coral growth on it. It is covered in beautiful corals with massive groupers peering out of the wreck, batfish swimming overhead, and the densely overgrown sides of the ship holding a stunning variety of rare nudibranchs.


Gili Air Advanced Coral Gardens Drift Dive Deep Dive Wreck Dive Nitrox

Scuba Diving in the Gili Islands

The scuba diving around the Gili Islands includes stunning coral gardens which are flourishing with biodiversity. There are many dive sites which are shallow making it an appropriate destination for beginner divers and snorkelers who wish to see many beautiful reef fish in their natural habitats.

Caution: The currents around the Gili islands are sometimes unpredictable, so it is a good idea to go with a certified and knowledgeable dive guide.

Best Time of the Year to Go

This tropical paradise’s weather is split distinctly into the dry and wet seasons. The rainy season starting November until April and the dry season stretches for the remainder of the year. However due to the climate change occurring, the rains have been starting and finishing later every year.

However, even during the rainy season, the rains comes down hard for several hours in the day with the remainder of the time hot and humid. This means that visitors can still enjoy their Gili escape at any point during the year. However, water visibility is impacted by runoff and rain therefore diving is better during the dry season.

How to Get to the Gili Islands

The three Gili islands are not technically a part of Bali however they are a short boat trip away. This makes them easy to get to. You can simply fly into Denpasar then organise a transfer to one of the Gilis with one of the many companies.

The Three Gili Islands

Gili Trawangan is the most popular of the three islands as it is booming in the dive industry, with many dive shops congregating on this tiny island. There is an enormous range of accommodation options available for people on any budget. There are also plenty of restaurants, bars, crowds, and an active nightlife on the South Eastern Shore of Gili T.

Gili Meno is the ideal choice if you are looking for rest and relaxation. It is the least developed of the three islands with quiet sandy beaches. You can find your way around the island on the small dirt roads and enjoy the tranquillity of nature. The island has upheld a ban of loud music and late-night parties, meaning you can get some much-wanted peace.

Gili air is the littlest brother of the Gilis, being the closest one to Bali and providing a good combination of beach bars and relaxed accommodation options. There are plenty of dining options, water sports, and budget friendly hostels and hotels.

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