The Gili Islands are well-known for being one of Indonesia’s best areas for diving. With around 25 different dive sites offering a variety of underwater scenes, the Gili Islands are well-suited to all divers regardless of their experience level. The warm waters, calm currents and great visibility make this area ideal for beginner divers completing their qualifying dives. The dive sites surrounding the Gili Islands are also world famous for sea turtle sightings and divers from all over the globe will flock to the warm waters of Indonesia to observe these placid creatures in their natural habitat.
The Gili Islands consist of three individual islands which are fairly small when compared with the nearby Lombok which is much larger. The water surrounding these smaller islands is a pleasant 28°C all through the year, making this area of Indonesia ideal for scuba diving holidays The first two of the three islands, Gili Meno and Gili Air, are relatively quiet locations when compared with the bustling party capital of Gili Trawangan. All 25 dive sites are easily reachable from any of the islands and each island offers all the services a tourist would need in terms hotel accommodation, restaurants and entertainment.
Best Diving Destinations in Gili Islands
One of the many reasons that diving near the Gili Islands is so popular is that it is available to every level of diver. Even the most experienced diver will continually be amazed by the variation in topography – these sites offer everything from reefs to canyons to healthy and plentiful coral gardens and even intimidating wall dives. Whilst the backdrop of each dive is colourful, varied and impressive, the marine life is equally diverse and remarkable. Sightings of large manta rays and sharks are common, but the locations also offer something for those interested in macro life such as pipefish, sea horses and the elusive frogfish.
One such muck diving site is Hann’s reef which is located to the east of the Gili Air island and presents the opportunity to take great underwater images of intriguing marine life such as nudibranchs and scorpionfish. On a larger scale, Shark Point is a collection of underwater canyons frequently visited by a number of shark species such as the leopard shark. Shark Point is also famous for manta ray sightings, particularly in the months of November to May. For advanced divers, Deep Turbo is a deep and daring dive featuring large numbers of garden eels and stingrays. To fully appreciate why the area is known as the sea turtle capital, visit the drift dive site known as Halik, where the turtles tend to be plentiful and unperturbed by the presence of divers.
Getting to Gili Islands
Although they are hardly comparable in terms of tourist traffic, the Gili Islands are in fact only an hour away from bustling Bali by boat. The nearby island of Lombok has an international airport that connects to a variety of destinations within Indonesia as well as Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and divers can simply get a boat from Lombok to the dive site of their choosing. Another option that is growing in popularity is that of Senggigi, a resort town to the west of Lombok where many divers choose to base themselves before heading out to the islands for their underwater fix.
When to Visit Gili Islands
Although diving is certainly possible and popular all throughout the year, especially for novice divers completing their first scuba qualification, the rainy months of December and January do result in reduced visibility and should be avoided if you’re aiming for the best possible conditions when diving the Gili Islands.
Where to Stay in Gili Islands
It is interesting to note that the price of diving at sites in the Gili Islands is fixed across all operators which means that no matter where you stay in the Gili Islands you will pay the same rate for diving services. This adds an element of fairness and ensures service and diving standards remain high.
The largest and most popular island for divers and tourists alike is that of Gili Trawangan. A number of dive shops are located on the island and there is a buzzing nightlife for entertainment when you’re not diving. Although Gili Air and Gili Meno are smaller both in terms of size and tourist numbers, these islands still offer a fair number of dive centers and provide the added benefit of being a secluded destination with everything you need for your holiday on your doorstep.
Feeling inspired and raring to go? Check out our Gili Islands travel guide and start planning your next diving trip!